Around San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco sits at the top of a peninsula, which anchors one end of the Golden Gate Bridge, the entry to the Pacific. For almost 360 degrees, except for the entrance to San Francisco Bay, there are other communities which form the San Francisco Bay Area.

There are 5 major bridges which cross the Bay, only 2 directly from the City. Several require fees to cross, usually as you enter San Francisco. The list also shows the direction used when leaving San Francisco. It is mentioned first:

1. Golden Gate Bridge – South to North
2. San Rafael Bridge – West to East
2. Oakland Bay Bridge – West to East
3. San Mateo Bridge – West to East
4. Dumbarton Bridge – West to East

In my opinion, the best bridges to use are the Golden Gate — there’s a large scenic vista parking area on the North East end of the bridge! It has great skyline views of the whole San Francisco skyline. It is a toll bridge.

The next one is the San Mateo Bridge, which goes from just South of the San Francisco Airport over to Hayward. It is mostly a low bridge so you have a much more intimate connection to the Bay than on any other bridge. It also makes easy connections to either Highway 101 or Highway 280 (a beautiful drive back to San Francisco). It is a toll bridge.

Last is the Oakland-Bay Bridge, the everyday work-horse which is having new sections built now. It is a toll bridge.

Traffic is not fun. But, if you have a host familiar with the roads, take advantage of that.

As an overview, people can also drive the Bay Area circle, North across the Golden Gate Bridge, then East across the San Raphael, next South across the Carquinez Strait or 680 Martinez bridges (those cross the exit of the Sacramento River into the SF Bay), then West on the Oakland Bay back into SF. That’s the Northern Circle.

Heading South from San Francisco, you can go West on the San Mateo Bridge then back North to Oakland OR South towards San Jose.

If to San Jose, just drive the roads and come around the bottom of the Bay, then head North to the Dumbarton Bridge near Palo Alto. You can cross back to the East Bay or continue North on the Peninsula, without crossing the Dumbarton.

Whichever you choose, you will miss a small section of the complete circle: either San Mateo Bridge north to Oakland OR Palo Alto to San Mateo unless you want to backtrack.

If you come back along the Peninsula twice, (which I recommend — better neighborhoods, more to see and do) then go down South on Hwy 101 and come back North the much more picturesque Hwy 280 into the City. From 280, you can link up with 39 Mile Drive, in San Francisco, a classic 4 hour scenic drive.

Now, the weather is great for a drive and beyond San Jose, down near California’s first capital at Monterrey, the US Open Golf Championship is happening this weekend, at Pebble Beach Golf Course! Just in time for Father’s Day.

More on that tomorrow!

San Francisco Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Leave a Reply