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This blog will provide resources and tips about San Francisco for participants at the ATA's Conference from November 2-5, 2016.


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Top tags: San Francisco  Activities  Bars  Bikes  Culture  Cycling  diversity  languages  Music  Tourism  Transportation 

The Second Languages Spoken in the Neighborhoods of San Francisco

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

San Francisco, given its history as a place of new beginnings and a land of opportunity has drawn generations of immigrants and has woven together a community made up of strands from throughout the world. Although this is true of much of the West and certainly California, we have long felt from local pride that this city has a unique make-up. Let’s take look at the data on the languages spoken across the U.S., California and San Francisco.

To read the rest of this post from our guest blogger and NCTA member Fernanda Brandao-Galea, please click here.

Tags:  diversity  languages  San Francisco 

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Pre-Conference NCTA Tour de Marin

Posted By Sarah Llewellyn, Monday, September 19, 2016

Tuesday, November 1, 9.30 am

Join some NCTA road cycling enthusiasts on this Pre-Conference NCTA Tour de Marin ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to the beautiful coastal roads of Marin County. This is one of the best known and most beautiful rides in the area and easily accessible from San Francisco. For example, Bill Oetinger says in his recent book 75 Classic Rides Northern California that "I cannot think of another ride in this book that is so consistently beautiful and rewarding as this one" and "From beginning to end, it is a landscape of pristine wilderness and spectacular natural beauty." And now you have a chance to see it for yourself with some friendly local colleagues -- you are so lucky!

Our ride starts from Sports Basement Presidio store at Crissy Field, where bike rentals are available (see below for details), goes over (and under) the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and then climbs up to a ridgeline (625 m / 2050 ft) overlooking the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean – the views are just incredible. After 6 km (4 miles) of beautifully undulating hills on the ridgeline, another 6 km of a curvy descent brings us down to sea level where we follow Bolinas Lagoon to Stinson Beach, a small beach resort with a great bakery. The lagoon is famous for its rich bird life and happily sun-bathing seals that are known to cheer on passing cyclists. After a coffee/lunch break at Stinson Beach we follow the Pacific coastline on Highway 1 south for a few more miles but this time on a rollercoaster road up and down above the ocean and then turn back inland towards the famous redwood trees of Muir Woods National Monument. This climb and the following descent eventually take us back to Sausalito and the final stretch over the Golden Gate Bridge back to the City.

There is also a shorter and longer option of the ride available for those who prefer. The shorter version is about 16 km shorter and the longer one about 10 km longer and adds the Mt. Tamalpais peak –certainly worth it if you don't mind the extra climb. You can also join us along the route if you are coming from Marin, or wish to rent a bike from Sausalito (see below). For details of the ride, see the table below and linked maps.

And if you want to see photos of some of the views, check out our Flipagram. All photos were taken at various points along our route (including the summit of Mt Tam) at different times of year.

Ride statistics: 


The Ride (map)

Shorter version (map)

Longer version (map)


88 km / 55 mi

72 km / 45 mi

98 km / 61 mi

Elevation gain:

1500 m / 4940 ft

1290 m / 4230 ft

1780 m / 5850 ft

Highest elevation:

625 m / 2045 ft

460 m / 1510 ft

760 m / 2500 ft

Steepest grade:





As you can see, this ride is challenging and should not be attempted without previous experience of similar rides. Note also that this is a voluntary, unsupported group ride with some local NCTA volunteers who want to share one of their favorite rides with local and out-of-town colleagues. Everyone is riding at their own risk. NCTA does NOT provide insurance, assume any responsibility or provide any support, nor guarantee that there are any croissants left at the bakery.

Bike rentals: If you can't bring your own bike, there are a few options. Black Sheep Bike Rentals will deliver a bike to your hotel and pick it up later for just $10 per delivery/pickup. A carbon road bike starts at $59 for the day. You can also rent good road bikes from Sports Basement but please reserve ahead of time to be sure that you'll have a bike in the morning when we are ready to go. Daily rental (9am to 9pm) for a carbon-fiber bike costs $60 plus a credit card deposit of $1,000 charged only in the event of loss or damage. If you want to keep the bike for more than one day, the cost for each subsequent day is $30. Helmets are provided free of charge and pedals can be changed to accommodate standard cleats (road/mountain). You can leave any gear you don’t want to take on the ride at Sports Basement until you return your bike. Bike sizes range from 44cm to 61cm. Sports Basement also offers a 10% group discount for 10 or more people, although we don’t think that will apply in our case! But we’ll certainly monitor interest and make sure the discount is passed on if we reach that number. To reserve your bike, email:

Sausalito Bicycle Co. also rents bikes but they are more expensive than Sports Basement. This store opens at 10am and is a 12-minute walk from the Sausalito ferry.

Weather: The weather conditions along the route can vary depending on the fog. Particularly the long downhill sections can be chilly when foggy, so a light windbreaker in your jersey pocket is a good thing to have.

If you have any questions about the ride, please contact Sarah Llewellyn (

Registrations: Please click here to register.

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Some key info to help you plan your visit!

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 29, 2016

NCTA is excited to be the host chapter for ATA57. Here are some ideas on how to make your visit more memorable, but keep checking back as we continue to update this page!

Planning your trip

Exploring the city

Looking for something different?

Top 100 restaurants

25 things to do in SF for $10 or less

A $1,000 Day in SF for $100

Free and Cheap Events and Things to Do in San Francisco


A couple of "cheap eats" options near the conference hotel

- Eatsa: San Francisco's only fully automated restaurant! No staff - you just place your order on a tablet and collect it from a box when it's ready. Worth going for the novelty value alone. But be warned - everything is vegetarian and quinoa-based! It's only two blocks from the Hyatt on the other side of Market Street. (Open for lunch only.) And yes, the food is delicious!

- Fuzio: a (relatively!) inexpensive restaurant featuring fusion cuisine. Dishes range from pasta and pad thai to steak and fries and burgers. Nothing fancy but consistently good food. It's next to the movie theatre in Embarcadero 1.

Walking/Offbeat stuff

If you don't have much time, there are good opportunities for nice walks starting right from the conference hotel. Cross over The Embarcadero to the Ferry Building, which itself is worth a visit, and then head along the Bay either south or north. Both directions have bike and pedestrian paths, beautiful views and lots of fresh air. Following the northern route will eventually take you to Fisherman's Wharf (1.8 miles), Fort Mason, Crissy Fields and Golden Gate Bridge (5.5 miles).

You can make a nice little loop by heading north from the Ferry Building for about half a mile, crossing back over The Embarcadero to Sansome St, turning right on Sansome and then left on Filbert St (or Greenwich St). These two streets look like dead-ends but there's a staircase at the end of both streets. Take the Filbert Street steps (or Greenwich Street steps) up to Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower. These are lovely, quiet staircases that lead through green backyards all the way to the top with beautiful views. Check the views at the tower and the murals inside on the ground floor. You can also take an elevator to the top of the tower.

Then continue by heading down on Greenwich or Filbert towards North Beach (west) where you can find several coffee shops, restaurants and bars for refreshments. Columbus Avenue takes you back near the conference hotel. It's about a 20-minute walk from North Beach to the hotel.


Macondray Lane

This was the inspiration for Barbary Lane in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City and is not too far from the conference hotel (1.5 miles), but it does involve a stiff uphill walk when you get to Green Street. It’s nestled between Green and Union and Leavenworth and Jones. But it’s beautiful and unique, and definitely worth checking out if you are nearby.



Pacific Heights/Mrs Doubtfire’s house

As soon as news broke of the tragic death of Robin Williams in August 2014, the Pacific Heights home featured in the movie Mrs Doubtfire quickly turned into an enormous shrine to the late actor, with flowers and remembrances strewn up the steps of the house and along the entire sidewalk. Today, there are still two little “rock gardens” outside the house, bearing poignant messages to Robin Williams, while messages can be found written on leaves in the trees.

The neighborhood itself is worth exploring if you have time. It has a “walk score” of 96/100 (the four points presumably being deducted because of the hills!) and some of the most beautiful (and most expensive) homes in the city. Nancy Pelosi lives in Normandy Terrace, between Broadway and Vallejo, Larry Ellison lives on Broadway near Broderick, while Dianne Feinstein has a home on Lyon Street at Vallejo, along the famous “Lyon Street steps.”

Getting to Mrs Doubtfire’s house from the Hyatt is easy. Just walk one block up Sacramento Street, hop on the number 1 bus (the “1 California”) to Fillmore Street, then cross back over the road to transfer to the “22 Fillmore” and ride it half a dozen blocks or so to Broadway and Steiner. Or walk up Fillmore Street (it’s not too steep at this point!), past trendy boutiques, bars and restaurants, until you reach Broadway, then turn left for one block (downhill!).By the way, you get a nice glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge if you go a few steps down Fillmore Street at Broadway.


The Presidio

This national park is only a few miles from the Hyatt but when you’re there, it seems a world away. What’s more, you can get there by free shuttle from near the hotel! The PresidiGo downtown shuttle picks up at the Embarcadero BART station at regular intervals, seven days a week.

The Presidio boasts 24 miles of easy hiking trails and offers spectacular views of the Bay, Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge and even the Pacific Ocean. You can also visit Crissy Fields on the same trip. Walk along the waterfront and have coffee and a snack in the Warming Hut, which is at the Golden Gate Bridge end. (You might even want to visit Fort Point while you’re there, or walk a mile or so back towards the city and visit the Wave Organ.)



If you’re interested in visiting some of our museums, the conference couldn’t be better timed since many of them offer free admission at the beginning of each month.


Click here for the full list.

Unfortunately, the newly reopened SF MOMA doesn’t have a free day, but it is home to the largest collection of modern art in the US and is an absolute must if you’re a modern-art lover.



Classical: During conference week there are four different concerts being performed at the SF Symphony, while the SF Opera will be performing Aida (Nov. 5) and Madame Butterfly (Nov. 6 matinée). You might also want to check out the SF Opera Lab, an intimate space (with a bar!) near the Opera House that offers innovative programming and pop-ups in alternative venues in the Bay Area.

Blues: Two of the best clubs in San Francisco are The Saloon (one of the city’s oldest bars) in North Beach and Biscuits & Blues, close to Union Square.

Jazz: San Francisco has its very own Jazz Center, located in Hayes Valley.


San Francisco’s Secret Bars

The most famous “speakeasy” is Bourbon & Branch in a rather seedy part of town (take a cab or ride share), but here’s a list of 15 secret bars (including Bourbon & Branch).



There are plenty of places to rent bikes to cycle along Crissy Fields, out to the ocean or across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito or Tiburon. However, if you are a serious cyclist and want to rent a road bike to discover some of the more challenging routes, some of NCTA’s road-cyclist members will be leading a tour of Marin, which has some of the most spectacular riding in California. For details, see the above blog page: "Pre-Conference NCTA Tour de Marin."



Tags:  Activities  Bars  Bikes  Culture  Cycling  Music  Tourism 

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Getting Around San Francisco

Posted By Isabelle Pouliot, Sunday, May 15, 2016
Updated: Sunday, May 15, 2016

Here are some tips about how to travel around the city durung the next ATA's Conference in November 2016.


San Francisco is made up of 49 square miles of long boulevards, curvy streets, hidden alleyways and lots of hills. But have no fear; follow these tips and you’ll be the transportation hero of your San Francisco adventure.You'll find zipping around the city without a car is not only easy and affordable, it's actually more convenient 99% of the time (driving in the the city and searching for parking is the stuff nightmares are made of).


MUNI/San Francisco Municipal operates buses, trains, cable cars & the F-line heritage streetcar. The MUNI buses remain above ground while MUNI metro runs on rails and sometimes go underground. Bus stops come in many forms; small bus shelters, yellow paint on street poles, and white paint on streets. Metro stops can be found on an island in the middle of the street and stations. Using the Metro Map, find the nearest metro to your locations.

The price of a bus journey is $2.25 (exact money required, or you can buy a Clipper card - see below). Ask the driver for a transfer and you can use this for 90 minutes of travel on MUNI (and sometimes longer - check the time on the transfer).


Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) connects the San Francisco Peninsula with Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton and other cities in the East Bay. BART fares are calculated on the distance traveled, and there are no "time-based" passes for BART. 


Tips: For all MUNI times, BART and buses you can go online to or you can call 511. In addition to this there are also many different smartphone apps that provide maps, routes, and times.



Cable Cars and street cars are San Francisco’s historical cars and run along cables that are affixed to the street. Cable Cars are located downtown and run on three lines; Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California St. The F-Line Street Car runs up and down Market St. all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf. For these you may pay the conductor on board or purchase tickets at multiple locations.

If you are using public transit as your main mode of travel, as it should be (we have nightmares about driving and finding parking), then the Clipper Card is an easy and fast way to use the various modes of transportation. Purchasing this pre-loaded card will give you access to all bay-area transportation such as Bart, Muni buses, Muni Metro, INCLUDING Cable Car. When you board, hold the card over a scanner and listen for the beep. Cards can be bought at multiple locations and re-filled at Bart Stations.


As is customary in most U.S. cities, visitors may hail a taxi directly or use a smart phone app.



Uber and Lyft are car services operated by San Francisco locals. You must first download the app, register, and set up a credit card payment system. With Lyft, you can request a private car service, or use the shared car service called “Lyft Line”. This is useful when travelling with another person because you get a shared discounted rate. Uber has a similar service called “Uber Pool” with rides running at a flat rate of $7. To use any of these services, set a pick-up location and end destination and within minutes, you will be matched with a driver. Make sure to communicate with your driver; call, text, or wave down their car.


Source: San Francisco Travel and Bay Area Rapid Transit.

Tags:  San Francisco  Transportation 

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