San Francisco – Holiday Weekend

This is Memorial Day Weekend in the United States of America and therefore it is the traditional start of the summer vacation season.

Some colleges and universities have held graduation in May and others, along with high schools and lower schools, will close this school year in the first weeks of June.

On Memorial Day weekend, about 1/3 of Americans are away from home by auto, and more by other transportation. San Francisco is a treasured destination.

So, if you are flying into the City by the Bay, from Seattle, Portland or LA, as many people do regularly, then you will be familiar with the City’s options, but if you are not a regular visitor, then here are a few quick tips.

For International visitors, San Franciscans are well organized, friendly, and just ask your questions. Help will be nearby!

The City of San Francisco is on a long peninsula, at its tip. There, the City anchors one end of the famous Golden Gate Bridge (the other side is anchored in the prestigious northern county called “Marin”). A little down from the tip, on the east side of the peninsula, there is the access to the Oakland-Bay Bridge, which crosses over to Berkeley and Oakland and the rest of the “East Bay”.

When you arrive at San Francisco Airport, you are about half-way down the peninsula, on the eastern edges of the cities of Burlingame and Millbrae. From there, you need to head North into the City and can do so by B.A.R.T. (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train (you need to connect with it and it’s not quite at the airport), bus or taxi cab (or rent a car there, although I do not suggest that for short visits).

The City offers a variety of transportation. The one that goes the fartherest is BART. It heads all the way east to Concord and Pittsburgh and south to San Jose. But it may or may not meet your needs, as it is not a well-branched system, but it is well-run.

There are commuter trains operated by CalTrains, which travel the peninsula between SF and San Jose, and without a car, this and taxis will be your best bet to visit Stanford University in Palo Alto.

Most visitors don’t see the wonders of the San Francisco Bay Area and confine themselves to the City itself. There are the famous cable and car streetcars in certain sections but there are Muni buses and modern trams into much more of the City, and there are ferries.

Get information online on all of these different choices at: SF Transportation Trip Planner. Information won’t be easy to come by once you are there trying to get from point A to point B.

San Francisco is hilly, so only figure to do lots of walking if you are in good physical shape. The rest of the Bay Area is a variety of topography, but most of it is flatter than the bigger hills in SF, Marin, the spine of the Peninsula and far East Contra Costa county.

If you are planning to visit California’s famous wine-country, north of San Francisco, you’d be best to engage a tour, if this is your first time. Driving in the Bay Area has become a nightmare as the population has tripled to around 3 million people. Even though freeways have been widened and expanded, it’s sheer volume and times have doubled to get to the same place over what they were 30 years ago.

OK. Have fun and there’s SO much to do in the City, unless you have a specific interest or are visiting family, there’s no reason to go beyond downtown, especially on a short, weekend visit.

San Francisco Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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