Hotel between Mtn View and Oakland
August 3, 2017 2:27 PM   Subscribe

In October, I am planning a visit to the Bay Area that will include an evening show in Mountain View and a weekday at the Oakland Zoo. I will fly into SFO and rent a car. Where should I stay?

I don't need a specific hotel recommendation, but what area should I stay in? I was going to stay in Mountain View since they have decent prices on hotels and the drive to the zoo is just over an hour. But, looking at the maps, maybe Hayward is a better idea? The zoo is open 9-5 , so I will be on the road during rush hour.
posted by soelo to Travel & Transportation around Oakland, CA (10 answers total)
I'd stay as close to the zoo as you can for the rush hour reasons you mentioned. It's pretty easy to get to Mountain View outside rush hour.
posted by bleep at 2:49 PM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

In general, it pays to plan to be close to where you need to be before you hit rush hour in the Bay Area; it's known for having one of the worst commutes in the nation.

The more direct routes between Oakland and Mtn. View can bottleneck pretty badly on the bridges and on the highways that take you around the South Bay; that said going to Oakland from Mtn. View in the morning and then back in the evening appears to be opposite the prevailing flow of traffic from what I can tell in Google Maps when I use the predicted traffic feature for a weekday, so you might be okay staying in Mtn. View. I'd highly recommend plugging your plans including times and dates into Google Maps and checking for expected traffic in any case, so you can adjust your plans around it.
posted by Aleyn at 3:24 PM on August 3, 2017

Can you clarify: how long is this trip? Are you only asking where you should stay for the night after the concert, or do you want one "home hotel" for multiple nights, including the night in question? If the latter, where are other activities? Also, do you need to be at the zoo at 9 am?

If the former, close to the zoo does seem like the way to go.
posted by freezer cake at 3:51 PM on August 3, 2017

Just FYI: The Oakland zoo does not open at 9, it opens at 10, or 9:30 for members. Maybe you're there for a special program or something, I don't know, but just wanted to point that out.

I wouldn't stay in Mountain View if you want to be at the Oakland Zoo at 9 or 10 am on a weekday because of traffic. Hayward might be a good option, as is probably cheaper, though there's not a lot to recommend Hayward specifically.

If you want to also be near other things, you could try Emeryville (which has a lot of big chain hotels) or downtown Oakland (which has a pair of Marriotts) or Berkeley (you'll pay more for less in Berkeley in particular). They will all charge you parking fees, so take that into account.

Emeryville and Oakland are not between MV and the Zoo but they are not that far from the zoo. Any of the Hayward/Eville/Oakland/Berkeley options will be reverse commute.
posted by vunder at 4:19 PM on August 3, 2017

(First, I'm assuming you definitely need to go to the Oakland Zoo and not just any zoo, because SF would be more convenient to your other plans...). If you'll have more time to explore the area, I might recommend staying at an Airbnb near the Rockridge BART, since there are a variety of good restaurants in that neighborhood. You could consider avoiding traffic completely; you can easily ride BART from the airport directly to Rockridge. Then, you could ride BART to San Leandro when you want to go to the zoo, and take Uber/Lyft from the station to the zoo. For your Mountain View excursion, you could possibly use a rideshare car for a few hours (, or take BART to Caltrain. I think public transit is much less stressful than typical traffic here, especially if you don't usually deal with insane rush hours.
posted by pinochiette at 4:29 PM on August 3, 2017

I live in Oakland and am a huge Oakland booster and I think you should stay in Mountain View. Getting a bit bogged down on the way to the zoo is not going to be as traumatic as being late for a show. Plus then show ends and your bed is in the same town.

Normally I would suggest that either situation shouldn't be a problem because they are reverse commutes, but traffic has gotten so bad and unpredictable here that who knows. I do know that I would rely on a car between those cities (I don't own a car and use public transit, and public transit between the East Bay and the Peninsula is grim).
posted by oneirodynia at 7:03 PM on August 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

The problem with Emeryville is that it's on the other side of the only traffic worse than 880. From everything, except Berkeley, and even then.

I like the Hayward idea. Downtown (A & Foothill or whatever) is still kind of a snapshot of 60/70s when Hayward was a suburb, and you're well placed for a visit to Castro Valley, which has a great minigolf course and Val's Burgers.
posted by rhizome at 7:03 PM on August 3, 2017

Stay in Mountain View if that's where the show is; you don't want to be driving across the bay at 0-dark-thirty. If you have another night in the Bay Area after the zoo, you might consider changing hotels, but you don't really have to. Getting from Oakland to Mountain View in the afternoon will be less awful than going the other way at that time.
posted by suelac at 10:04 PM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I will need the hotel for 3-4 nights. It wouldn't be a big deal to be "late" to the zoo, plus I would be fine staying in Oakland for dinner to avoid some traffic. The show runs for multiple nights, so I have wiggle room. I have been to the SF Zoo once already, so this time it is Oakland. I looked at public transit times and it is 2+ hours between MV and the zoo, plus I like to see the ocean when I am near it, so I will have a car.
posted by soelo at 8:10 AM on August 4, 2017

Driving from MV to Oakland at midnight is 1000x easier than during business hours.
posted by rhizome at 2:43 PM on August 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

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