Travel

Getting to San Francisco | Getting around San Francisco | Weather | Time Zone | International Visitors | Tipping Guidelines | Special-Service Needs | Local Attractions | Dining |

Getting to San Francisco

Air Travel

San Francisco is served by two major airports: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK), both less than 30 minutes away from downtown San Francisco and serviced by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in addition to taxis, buses, vans, and private car services.

You may also consider Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, located in neighboring San Jose, CA, about 50 miles or 1 hour away from downtown San Francisco. All three airports provide access to San Francisco via taxis, buses, vans, subways, trains and private limo car services.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Voted “Best Airport in the Americas,” SFO is located about 14 miles from downtown San Francisco. SFO offers non-stop service to more than 75 U.S. airports on 15 domestic airlines and more than 30 international points on 30 international carriers.

Getting to San Francisco from SFO:

  • Reserve a Super Shuttle
  • Taxi: estimated taxi fare is $45, 13.8 miles (15 minutes).
  • BART Train: $8.65 each way; 30 minutes to/from downtown. The SFO BART Station is easily accessed from any terminal by riding SFO’s AirTrain to the Garage G/BART Station stop. Trains leave every 15 minutes.
  • SamTrans Public Bus Service: starting at $2.25.
  • Rental Cars: Prices vary. SFO’s Rental Car Center is served by Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National, and Thrifty.
  • Prices vary for private car services and ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Oakland International Airport (OAK)

Located about 20 miles from San Francisco, OAK’s two passenger terminals provide service for eight domestic airlines and three international airlines.

Getting to San Francisco from OAK:

  • Taxi: estimated taxi fare is $60, 20 miles (30 minutes).
  • BART Train: estimated $10.20 each way; 45 minutes to/from downtown. The Oakland Airport BART station is located just across from the Terminal 1 baggage claim area and a short walk from Terminal 2. Trains leave every 6 minutes.
  • AC Transit Public Bus Service: Local bus fare is $2.10 for adults 19 to 64, $1.05 for youth (ages 5-18) and $1.05 for seniors (ages 65+) and the disabled. AC Transit operates between OAK and San Francisco daily. AC’s Line 73 connects OAK with the Coliseum/Oakland Airport BART station every 15 minutes between 4:56 a.m. and 12:06 a.m.
  • Rental Cars: Prices vary. OAK’s Rental Car Center is served by Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Firefly, Fox, Hertz, National, and Thrifty.
  • Prices vary for private car services and ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC)

Approximately 45 miles from downtown San Francisco, SJC averages 150 commercial and 50 general aviation departures daily. A combined 13 domestic and international airlines operate out of SJC’s two terminals.

Getting to San Francisco from SJC:

  • Taxi: Estimated taxi fare: $167, 45 miles (1 hour).
  • BART Train: The closest BART station to SJC is the Fremont Station, accessible by Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) buses. Board VTA Airport Flyer at Airport VTA stop across from Terminal B. Exit at the Metro Light Rail Station. Board Light Rail at Metro. Exit at Civic Center. Take the VTA #180 Express Bus to Fremont Bart Station.
  • Rental Cars: Prices vary. SJC’s Rental Car Center is served by Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Firefly, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless, Sixt, and Thrifty.
  • Prices vary for private car services and ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Other Ways to Get Here

In addition to nearby airports, San Francisco is easily accessible via an extensive network of bridges, trains, light rail, buses, heliports, and even cruise ports. Driving to San Francisco is an option, but you certainly won’t need a car to get around once you’ve arrived—the fastest, easiest way to explore the streets of San Francisco is by foot, public transportation, or by ridesharing.

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Getting Around San Francisco

Measuring 49 square miles, San Francisco is not only a very walkable city, but also offers a variety of options for public transportation.

MUNI

MUNI/San Francisco Municipal operates buses, trains, cable cars, and the F-line heritage streetcar. The MUNI buses remain above ground while MUNI metro runs on rails and sometimes go underground. Use the MUNI website to plan your trip, or download one of many smartphone apps that provide maps, routes, and times.

MUNI Visitor Passports and CityPASS may be useful if you plan to use MUNI to get around during the conference. They provide unlimited rides on Muni, Muni Metro, historic streetcars, and cable cars. There are multiple locations throughout the city where you may purchase tickets and day passes.

If you want to widen your travel radius to the entire Bay area, 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, and Muni Metro, but NOT 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.

Cable Cars

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.

Ride Sharing and Taxis

Uber and Lyft are both available in San Francisco. You must first download the app, register, and set-up a credit card payment system. Get more ride sharing tips here. As is customary in most U.S. cities, you may also hail a taxi directly or use a smart phone app. Taxis are typically under $20 for most trips around the city.

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Weather

January has the coldest weather of the year for San Francisco, but temperatures remain mild and well above freezing. In early January the average high in San Francisco is in the upper 50s while the average low is in the lower 40s. Conference attendees are encouraged to bring a mid-weight jacket and to check the forecast for rain or unusual temperature drops/spikes prior to travel.

Time Zone

San Francisco is in the Pacific Standard Time Zone. Check here for the current date and time in San Francisco.

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International Visitors

If you’re visiting San Francisco from outside the United States, you may need a visa to enter the country. For details, visit the US State Department’s visa information website.

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Tipping Guidelines

  • Hotel doorman: $3 for hailing a cab
  • Porters and bellhops: $1–$2 per bag
  • Maids: $1–$2 per person, per day of your visit, or as much as $5 per day
  • Waitstaff and bartenders: 15–20 percent of total bill
  • Taxi drivers: 15–20 percent of total fare
  • Tips for other service personnel, such as theater ushers, tour guides and coat-check staff, are always appreciated.

It’s worth noting that if you’re having drinks at a bar, bartenders typically expect a $2 tip for every drink they serve you.

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Special-Service Needs

San Francisco is committed to ensuring accessibility for everyone with special needs, and has equipped all forms of public transportation with a variety of features to make transportation easier for those with disabilities. The MUNI bus fleet includes electric trolley coaches, clean diesel coaches and hybrid low-floor vehicles. Downtown, the MUNI Metro runs underground and all stops are accessible. In the neighborhoods, trains run at street level and accessible stops are located at major destinations and transfer points. All streetcars are accessible. Many street-hail taxicabs accommodate wheelchairs. To request a wheelchair-accessible taxi for scheduled pick-up, call Yellow Cab (415-333-3333), Desoto Cab (415-970-1303), or Town Taxi (415-333-3333) for priority service. Passengers with disabilities are eligible for reduced fares on most mass-transit trips. For more information about San Francisco accessibility, call 415-701-2311 from outside the city or 311 within the city; or contact the Mayor’s Office on Disability (415-554-6789, sfgov.org/mod).

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Local Attractions

San Francisco’s scenic beauty, cultural attractions, diverse communities, and world-class cuisine are just some of the many wonderful experiences that the “City by the Bay” has to offer. Popular destinations include the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island, and the city’s many vibrant neighborhoods.

Dining

Dubbed “The Best Food City in the Country,” San Francisco is home to one of the most innovative, diverse, and forward-thinking culinary scenes in the United States. Fresh, locally sourced food is served at many restaurants year-round, and San Francisco’s unique cultural diversity is reflected in the many ethnic cuisines available throughout the city. San Francisco is a city of delicious depth and range, its dynamic restaurant scene shaped by world-class chefs drawing on the bounty of local farms. For restaurant information and recommendations, visit the San Francisco Travel Dining Guide at www.sftravel.com/explore/dining.

For your convenience while at the Annual Meeting, please see suggestions for dining close by the Annual Meeting hotels.

Nearby Lunch Spots
Nearby Late Night Spots
Nearby Cuisine

Sightseeing

When you think of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and steep city streets often come to mind. While these mainstays never lose their luster, the reasons to visit San Francisco are even more numerous. Each of San Francisco’s major neighborhoods has its own distinct culture and charm, from shopping around Union Square to dim sum in Chinatown. You can certainly visit the most famous attractions, but consider wandering a little farther into the many diverse neighborhoods that San Francisco has to offer. With endless museums to explore – from world-class aquariums and zoos to interactive science exhibits and diverse art collections – you’ll have no problem filling your free time and entertaining your family.

Shopping

In a city of abundant retail options, San Francisco’s Union Square neighborhood is the most renowned. With its palm trees, cafes, and historic theaters, Union Square is also home to the venerable department store Gump’s, founded in 1962, and the elegant jeweler Shreve & Co., founded in 1852. Virtually every brand of fashion is on or near the 2.6 acre square, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, and a cluster of upscale boutiques. From “made in San Francisco” souvenirs to trendy threads, San Francisco has something for everyone. For the latest retail deals and information, visit the San Francisco Travel Shopping guide at www.sftravel.com/explore/shopping.

Additional Fun Activities

San Francisco is an exciting destination for all. It is home to diverse neighborhoods, historic landmarks, glamorous restaurants and bars, and some of the best museums in the world.
Views of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay are often laced with fog, creating a romantic mood in this most European of American cities.

The city has a colorful past, growing from a small village to a major city nearly overnight as a result of the 1849 gold rush. The writers of the beat generation, the hippies of the Summer of Love in the late 1960’s and the LGBT population have all contributed to making San Francisco the fascinating and diverse place that it is today.

The city is home to world-class theatre, opera, symphony, and ballet companies and often boasts premieres of Broadway-bound plays and culture-changing performing arts.

Become immersed in the adventure and culture that San Francisco has to offer! For more information about how to make the most of the Golden City, please visit San Francisco Travel.

Social Media and Mobile Applications for Visitors

While you are in San Francisco, there are some mobile apps to enhance your visit. For more information on these mobile apps (ranging from bike sharing to fine dining searches) please visit Best San Francisco Travel Apps.

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