I grew up in the Bay Area and lived in San Francisco proper for two years before leaving the west coast for library school. Four months into my first full time position, I can’t wait to represent my “hometown” at ALA! Yes San Francisco is extremely expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find great deals.
Take it from a local, here’s a few ways to do SF ALA on the cheap:
1. Fly into Oakland
You wouldn’t try to fly into Manhattan without checking LGA, right? Oakland is slowly becoming the Queens/Brooklyn of the Bay. My last minute flight across the country from Florida home to the Bay Area was $414 because I skipped out on SFO.
2. Get a $3 Clipper Card
Clipper cards are re-loadable cards that make hopping MUNI or BART a breeze. You can order in advance, or buy one at a corner Walgreens or other grocery store. It saves you from having to have exact change or hold on to tiny paper transfers; just make sure you tap out on your way off the bus.
3. Take the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
BART is fast, safe, and reliable. You can get from downtown Berkeley to Powell St. station (the closest stop to the Moscone Center) in 25 minutes, and it’s an even shorter trip from nearby cities like Daly City. The only downside is to BART is that it stops running at 12:30 AM.
4. Stay with Air BnB
If you haven’t made the leap to Air BnB yet, it’s high time you checked it out. I’ve used this service for two different conferences now, and have never been disappointed. Whether you rent out a private space with a group or just take up a room in someone’s house, Air BnB is inexpensive and centrally located, plus you get the added perks of contributing to the local economy while having a nice place to stay. My ACRL stay included a cedar lined outdoor sauna. No extra cost.
5. Cheap(er) Eats Around Moscone
$-$$ Mel’s Drive-In– Forget Denny’s, Mel’s is the consummate SF diner experience. Plus you get to experience a little bit of cinematic history.
$$ The Grove– Open till 11 o’clock, everyone pays separately and their cardamom ice cream is dreamy. For those of you coming from out of town, the sticker shock will be lower than chain restaurants, and you get to feel like a smug San Franciscan by eating local (and delicious!).
$$ Thirsty Bear– Get ready for Spanish tapas and big crowds at this local craft brewery.
Check out Katherine Ahnberg’s blog for more tips and colleague comments