Logistics problem with a single day in SF.
May 28, 2014 7:20 AM   Subscribe

After a conference next week, my coworker and I have a day to kill in SF. We'll have a rental we're driving up from San Jose. And we need to be at SFO at 10pm. I'm making this MUCH harder than it needs to be. (snowflake details within)

I've been to SF a dozen times, but none in the last 15 years.

1) the only touristy thing we DEFINITELY need to do is Fort Point. I'd welcome suggestions for the rest of the day.

2) Should we drop the car at the airport in the morning, and use mass transit to get the to the city proper? Where do we stow our luggage? Airports don't have lockers anymore do they?

3) Should we drive into SF proper, and find a daily parking spot? How much time do we need to leave to get to the airport?

4) is this whole idea dumb and we should just CalTrain from San Jose?
posted by DigDoug to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (9 answers total)
SFO says it has Baggage storage and it's easy to hop on BART into the city. However Fort Point is not easily accessible by public transit. To do any stuff in the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, etc. you're going to need a car or a taxi. So I'd keep the car for the day unless you want to drop the Fort Point idea and just do stuff in and around BART/Muni (Ferry Building, Chinatown, cable cars, the Embarcadero, etc. are all on BART).
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 7:30 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Doing the hokey-pokey with a car in the city will eat into your time.

You can commit to the car, and just pay for parking as you go. Here's a Parking Finder. San Francisco is a mass of one-way streets and if you're unsure, you may spend a lot of time behind busses, waiting for someone to turn left, and all sorts of other driving delays. I'm VERY comfortable driving in San Francisco, but I have a Kamakazi attitude about it (I also lived there for 20 years).

The benefit is that you store your luggage in the car, and you go where you want, when you want.

Downsides are the cost of the car, the cost of all that parking, and the hassle of finding that parking and the driving.

Check out SuperShuttle and see if you can get from San Jose to SFO (Or any other car service.) Do bag storage, and then BART into the city.

Take a taxi to the Presidio to see the Fort, then back to a Muni Stop for other stuff.

I recommend lunch in Chinatown if you want cheap, tasty eats. New Woey Loy Goey is where my family has gone since 1968 (the New is relative.) Then check out Chinatown for a bit.

Or take the bus out to the Cliff House and Sutro Baths and check that out. It's pretty cool.

Or go to the Exploratorium.

Or go to Golden Gate Park and see the Japanese Tea Garden, and the Museum of Natural Science and the Steinhart Aquarium.

Grab some dinner, and head back to SFO.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:42 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you need to see Fort Point, I'd keep the car. You can park in the Crissy Field parking lot and walk the most beautiful walk in the world along the coast path to Fort Point.

In the afternoon you could drive through the Presidio and the Richmond District to Golden Gate Park (if it's a weekday you'll have no trouble parking) and see the museums, the botanical garden, the Beach Chalet, etc.

You could leave the car in the park and walk out to 9th and Irving for dinner. After dinner head over to 19th ave. and then down the Peninsula to the airport.
posted by gyusan at 8:45 AM on May 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

You should definitely keep the car. San Francisco is easy in terms of traffic and parking - it's not difficult to get around and you can find parking basically anywhere. Plus, since we don't have one unified public transit system, if you didn't have a car you would have to deal with CalTrain, BART, Muni + cabs. Not worth it. Plus, you can just keep your luggage in the trunk of your car and it will be fine. The only place it's even remotely frustrating to drive is downtown; if you happen to be down there, just park in the garage at the Metreon (5th and Mission) and walk.

As far as where to go/what to do, it depends on what you like doing. There's always the DeYoung Museum and Cal Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. You could do that, then walk through the park out to Ocean Beach. Or, if you'll be at Fort Point, you should definitely walk across the GG Bridge. Or even do halfway. Then head back to the Warming Hut at Crissy Field for a beverage and people watching.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:47 AM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I like the idea of parking at Fort Point/Crissy Field. Then just getting back there to get to the airport. My cohort's never been, and just wanted to do 'something', but not try and pack it all in. Luckily I talked him out of Alcatraz.

Keep your fingers crossed for the weather next friday.
posted by DigDoug at 9:44 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I live here. For sure keep your car. Just be willing to pay to park if needed. Pay parking is very easy to find everywhere. Then very little of you day will be wasted. Public transit is quite annoying with the many different not well integrated systems. Also during a weekday traffic is not bad. It's just slow moving but not very aggressive or anything like that.
posted by saradarlin at 9:54 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since you asked for suggestions for the rest of the day, I'll offer a few from my favorite walking tour organization, San Francisco City Guides.

All their tours are free. (Donations accepted.)

Keeping to the western half of the city and avoiding downtown, you might be interested in these tours for next Friday:

9:30 am: Japanese Tea Garden/Stow Lake/Strawberry Hill
1:00 pm: Japanese Tea Garden
1:00 pm: Presidio: From Earthquake Refugee to National Park

If the Tea Garden tours interest you, you might check with City Guides about the admission fee - you have to pay for admission on the 1 pm tour for sure, but it might be waived for the 9:30 am tour.

If you're interested in museums, the ones in Golden Gate park have already been mentioned, but there's also the Legion of Honor, which is not far from Fort Point at all.

If you want to grab a bite near the ocean, Louis' is decent diner food with a bit more of a local vibe than the Beach Chalet or the Cliff House. There's free parking nearby, and if you go off-hours (10:30 or 11 am, or 3-4 pm) you might not even have to wait for a table. (If you go, it's worth popping across the street to Sutro Heights Park for a bit of a stroll.)

Have fun!
posted by kristi at 10:19 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am in agreement with the SF residents who say keep the car. There's plenty to see and do on the Northern and Western side of the city, and which are difficult or time-consuming to get to from SFO on public transit. Chrissy Field is great and nice for a walk out to Fort Point and back.

Golden Gate Park has plenty to see, including the De Young art museum, Academy of Sciences, AIDS Memorial Grove, Japanese Tea Garden, etc. If not the Beach Chalet, the Richmond neighborhood has lots of great restaurants for dinner. It's an easy drive down 19th Ave to 280 to the airport.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:36 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You guys, thanks so much.

We kept the car. Driving was a cakewalk. I'd totally do that again.

Parked at one of the Crissy Field lots, walked around a bit. Spent some money in the gift shop down by the pier. Went to fort point, drove to Golden Gate park and did the City Guides Tea Garden tour.

Then to Union Square area and I got my wife a kickass Dr Seuss print that's going to overflow my brownie point bucket.

Walked way too many hilly miles and arrived at the airport 4 hours before our redeye, just to crash out. (SFO is *quite* nice these days. That was another welcome surprise)
posted by DigDoug at 11:57 AM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

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