Top of the Ninth and Top of the Mark – San Francisco Baseball Weekend

categories: Northern California

Oracle Park
Is there anything more perfect than sitting in the ballpark up in the view level of Oracle Park watching the San Francisco Giants play baseball? The vivid green field is below you. Container ships and tankers sail by from the port of Oakland. Sailboats and kayaks fill McCovey Cove.

It turns out that the answer is yes. There is something more perfect and that’s turning your afternoon at the ballpark into a weekend splurge in the city.

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Mark Hopkins Hotel

InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

I had been in touch with the PR firm for the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco which is one of the city’s premier hotels. They invited me to visit the hotel, offering to pay for a one-night stay, parking, and two drinks at the Top of the Mark (more on that later). There is only one answer to that offer. We scheduled our stay for the night after the San Francisco Giants played the New York Mets, and this post will tell you why you should think of doing the same.

Nob Hill

Getting to the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco is on the top of Nob Hill, which is been some of the priciest real estate in the city since the 1800s. Mark Hopkins was one of the “big four” railroad tycoons who built the Central Pacific Railroad. The hotel was built in 1926 on the site of the original Mark Hopkins mansion. The original mansion was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.

The reason why the wealthy built their mansions on Nob Hill was for the view, which is the same reason that the Mark Hopkins is located there. That does mean if you’re going to drive your own car up to the hotel, you need to not be too squeamish about driving up steep hills. You also need to know how to put your car into a low gear and for the love of all, that is holy, don’t try and bring a standard up to the top of Nob Hill. The hotel does offer valet parking for $72 a night plus tax. There are some other parking garage is in the area.

We dropped off our car at the hotel before our afternoon game. We did not expect to be able to check in early at the hotel but the staff member that greeted us suggested we ask. It was nice to be able to check in before we went to the game and leave our bags in the room. Both the valet staff and the front desk staff were extremely helpful. If you wanna get great service at the Mark Hopkins… show up. If you want to get even better service, make sure you’re a member of the IHG One Rewards loyalty program. You can join for free. We were able to get a room upgrade and access to better Internet… Not because I’m a blogger, but because I’m a loyalty member.

Union Square

Getting to the Ballpark

It is a 15 drive or a 40-minute walk from the Mark Hopkins to Oracle Park. You can also take a cable car for part of that distance if you can catch one that has space at nearby Powell and California where two cable car lines cross. Taking an Uber to the park would normally be $15 but during surge pricing before the game, it was $35. We opted for the exercise, walking through Union Square and past Moscone Center.

Getting there is downhill, but walking back means climbing Nob Hill and working off those nachos and beer from the ball game.

The Game

Our San Francisco Giants were in a bit of a funk on the weekend we were there. But we figured that if they won, we could celebrate, and if they lost we could use the rest of the weekend to get over the sting of the loss. Our outing turned out to be a celebration!

Major League Baseball has made many changes to speed up the game of baseball and a typical 9-inning game now only takes 2 and a half hours. So for a 1:05 pm start you will still have much of the afternoon to enjoy the city. Sure, you could go home and have time to mow the lawn but why leave a beautiful city like San Francisco unexplored?

Traveling Soon? These useful links will help you prepare for your trip.
Yerba Buena Park
Yerba Buena Park

Meandering Back

We wandered back from the ballpark, taking time to do some shopping in Union Square and making a quick stop in Yerba Buena Park which is a small urban park located just behind the north part of the Moscone Convention Center. It was a beautiful spring day in the city and a great day to be outside. San Francisco is not always like that.

Mark Hopkins Hotel
Mark Hopkins Hotel

InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco Room

We settled into our room at the hotel. It has a classical decor but is not without modern upgrades. The clock by the bed not only had USB outlets but also had the latest induction charging. The wi-fi was fast which is good for someone who always has a podcast to edit or upload and a blog post to write.

Nob Hill

Our room at the Mark Hopkins was on the 14th floor overlooking Nob Hill, Grace Cathedral, and the elite Pacific-Union Club. I may never be asked to become of member of the Pacific-Union Club… but I have in my own way looked down on them.

Top of the Mark

At the top of the Mark Hopkins used to be an 11-room Penthouse, which meant that one of the best views in the city was only available to a few whealthy guests. In the 1930s, the penthouse was converted into a glass-walled cocktail lounge with great views in every direction. When you exit the elevator on a Saturday night the room fills with the music of a jazz quartet.

Top of the Mark Dress Code

There is no dress code at the Top of the Mark. Some were dressed to the 9s but some looked like they had come straight from the ballgame. One brave young man was wearing a tiara and a sash that declared it was his birthday.

Top of the Mark

Drinks and Food

We tried a couple of signature cocktails from their menu. I had the Golden Gate (left) made with Hanson Original, coconut rum, peach schnapps, pineapple, orange, and cranberry juice. My wife had the Top Paloma (right) made with Patron Silver, grapefruit, lemon, and honey syrup. We were both pleased with our choices.

When there is music on the weekend, there is a cover charge of $10 for hotel guests for the Top of the Mark and $15 for non-guests. But, as my wife pointed out, she paid $15.75 for a beer at the ballpark and the beer with this excellent view was only $9.

Top of the Mark

Since we arrived before sunset we were in no hurry to leave. Also, after walking to and from the ballpark we did not really want to head back down the hill in search of dinner. We ordered the flatbread and a cheese platter from their menu of appetizers. The Top of Mark does not serve a full-dinner menu.

Top of the Mark

Dessert was a bread pudding served with caramel sauce and a crème anglaise.

Top of the Mark

The Squadron Bottle Tradition

Since the Top of the Mark opened in 1939, it was still the new hot place to go when WWII broke out and a tradition was started that aviators passing through the city on their way to or from the Pacific Theatre would have a free drink from a bottle left for members of their squadron. The rule was that the person who had the last drink would buy the next bottle. There would be a journal with each bottle where the servicemen would leave their tributes and well wishes.

Top of the Mark

This tradition continued into the Korean War but then stopped. It was revived in 2009 by Lieutenant Mike Hall of the United States Navy. Now you can see these squadron bottles in the lobby of the hotel and in glass cases by the entrance to the Top of the Mark.

The View

The food, the drinks, the music, and the service at the Top of the Mark are all top-notch, but let’s face it. You come for the view. Get there before sunset and linger there as the night sky glows orange and the city lights twinkle on. Every street becomes a light show and every skyscraper a work of art.

View from the Top of the Mark
View from the Top of the Mark
View from the Top of the Mark
View from the Top of the Mark
View from the Top of the Mark
View from the Top of the Mark

When you have finished your drinks and your food… when you have finished drinking in the view… return to your room and drift off to the occasional clink of cable car bells.

California Street Cable Car drives by the Mark Hopkins Hotel
California Street Cable Car drives by the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco
Breakfast in the Nob Hill Club

Breakfast in the Nob Hill Club

We sleep in, savoring the late check-out which we received because we were members of the IHG One Rewards loyalty program. We had breakfast at the Nob Hill Club where again the service was exemplary and the food delicious.

Breakfast in the Nob Hill Club

I had the breakfast sandwich and my wife had the blueberry pancakes (actually she had the chocolate chip pancakes with an offered substitution of blueberries).

Conclusion

Win or lose, you can have a memorable outing in San Francisco by combining a San Francisco Giants game with a stay at another one of San Francisco’s treasures, the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco. When it came to service, the staff at the Mark Hopkins hit it out of the park.

Top of the Ninth and Top of the Mark - San Francisco Baseball Weekend at the Mark Hopkins Hotel #travel #vacation #trip #holiday #sanfrancisco #california #hotel #baseball #sfgiants
Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won numerous awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine. He move to California in 1964.

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