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Hey Traveler, Welcome to San Francisco!

It is important for the first-time visitor to plan their stay strategically. Although you can just join the party anywhere you find yourself in this lively City, to make the best use of your time and resources, we have some suggestions to help you get the biggest bang for your buck during your vacation in this part of Northern California.

Because the Bay Area is so open and liberal about accepting many diverse individuals, you must first embrace the freedom to "be yourself". This means that you can hold hands in our streets, enjoy our eclectic restaurants (even wearing chaps!), and that a good percentage of the people you will interact with during your stay in the San Francisco Bay Area will probably also be "friends of Dorothy".

First of all, when planning your stay, we suggest you book with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, as they have proven their support of our community through the strength of their sponsorships of gay events and programs. Second, we suggest you check out the accommodations (http://www.sfgay.org/hotels/business-directory) listed on sfgay.org to book your reservations. You may want to visit the websites listed and call the innkeepers first, to make sure that their location and amenities are a good fit for you, but before booking directly, it’s always wise to see if there are any specials, packages or discounts available that sound appealing to you.

If you are going to spend most of your stay actually in San Francisco, do not rent a car unless you want to show your elderly aunt around without ever leaving the comfort of your vehicle or you are coming in with a group and there are enough of you to keep a car in motion all day. Parking in the city is pretty hard to come by, and it is an unnecessary expense, as public transportation is quite cheap and has less down-time than the infamous Bay Area traffic will offer.

Our two top suggestions for “first-day wanderlust”: 1. Take a roundtrip ferry excursion out of Pier 41. We have three fleets in San Francisco; the Blue & Gold (Tiburon, Angel Island & Sausalito); the Red & White (excursion) and Hornblower Yachts (historic Alcatraz tours). You can also catch ferries at the Ferry Building Marketplace, but these ferries are operated by Golden Gate Transit and are mostly for commuters to the North and East Bay; 2. Take the historic trolley from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Castro, or from the Castro to Fisherman’s Wharf, should your lodgings originate there.

The reason we make this our top suggestion is simple. On these two view-savvy tours, you will get the lay of the land and see a lot of the city while doing so. Having a cocktail on the ferry and a zip through the waterfront up Market Street and into the Castro will allow you to both sightsee and become comfortable with the city's easy-to-use public transportation system. In just one day, you'll realize why we all pay such high real estate prices to reside here!

Stay tuned for Day Two of our travel plan for new visitors…