By Car, San Francisco
Finding parking in San Francisco is like herding cats - difficult at best and impossible much of the time!
But I was able to find weekend parking in the NE corner of the city for just $5 per day (several open lots). But leaving your car in one of these places overnight probably isn't such a great idea.
The best overall deal I found was an indoor lot near Sutter & Leavenworth. It's run by some great guys and costs just $15/day; more for in&out privileges.
HEARST PARKING CENTER
45 3rd Street (Right behind hotel)
$19.00 (24 hours)
680 Mission St.@Third
$19.00 (Starts after 2 ½ hours--
Good until 6am the next morning)
Early Bird Special: $15.00 (Arriving @ 8am)
$16.00 (Arriving before 9:30 am)
123 O’Farrell @ Powell
$2.00 per hour
$10.00 (5 hours)
$13.00 (6 hours)
$28.00 (24 hours)
SUTTER / STOCKTON STREET GARAGE
Sutter/ Stockton Streets
$2.00 (every 2 hours)
$10.00 (5 hours)
$13.00 (6 hours)
$31.00 (24 hours)
FIFTH & MISSION YERBA BUENA GARAGE
$2.00 (1 hour—increases by $2.00 every hour)
$20.00 (24 hours)
UNION SQUARE GARAGE
$1.00 (½ hour)
$1.00 each ½ hour after (Increase amount may vary)
$28.00 (24 hours)
SF Airport - $8-10/day
Many people say that driving in San Francisco is somewhat difficult; in reality it’s not. If you have ever done any city driving you will find that San Francisco is one of the easiest cities to navigate through.
There are two main streets in San Francisco that can get you all over town. From north to south is Market St. and from east to west is Geary Blvd. Remember the difference between the numbered streets (9th St. and 9th Ave. or 19th St. and 19th Ave.) the numbered streets and number avenues have no relation. All numbered streets are all running off of Market St. and Mission St. (the downtown, Mission, and Castro) and the Avenues are all crossing Geary Blvd. (the Richmond District). Numbered avenues are north to south and the numbered streets are east to west.
Just watch for “one way” streets!
We have searched the best solution for the car. The lowest price found from France was 1148$ for a Compact car for 4 weeks, tax and insurance include.
Finally, I discover Holyday Autos on Internet. They rent the cars of the other rent-a-car companies but cheaper. The idea is to make some saving on insurance. A comprehensive cover worths rougthly the same amount than the renting itself. Theft and collision damage are not really covered by an insurance company. The rent-a-car Cy prefers to self-insured them and to received a sum from the client for the waiver. HA makes mandatory the underwriting of the comprehensive coverage and reduces itsprice.
To avoid to be in competition with their partners, HA renunces to rent to locals.
So I paid 810$ for the car on the picture, with SLI, CDW, TP (with deductible, without personal accident, luggage and cancellation, all insurances provided by our VISA).
The car provided was given by NATIONAL.
Only concern : I prefer a 4 doors car even it is a compact...
We had a rental car in San Francisco which was nice. Traffic didn't get out of control, but we didn't drive much either. We had free parking at our hotel and only drove to places that had free parking or were really far away. otherwise walking, taxi, and bus were our best bet.
If you're driving in & around the area (you brave soul) with more than one person in the car you can use the 'carpool' lanes on some freeways and bridges which are marked with a diamond. They operate during certain hours and a carpool is defined in some areas as two people sharing, three in others. Do check the signs as times and requirements do vary between areas. Don't hang about in a > lane solo unless you can afford a fine of around $200. On the Bay Bridge, and some others, carpools don't have to pay the tolls which saves you money and is also immensely satisfying breezing past the other choked lanes of traffic.
If you are coming from or going to the East Bay and you aren't taking B.A.R.T, most likely, you will be going over the Bay Bridge. This bridge connects San Francisco to Emeryville, Berkeley and Oakland. The city in the distance is Oakland.
Better come and take a picture - quick! When all the internal squabbling stops, this bridge will be torn down and replaced with one intended to withstand a major earthquake. The new bridge has a very modern design and of course the very opinionated San Franciscans are all weighing in. Either you love the new design or hate it.
One evening, late evening, I enterred San Francisco on my way north along the coast. I wanted to cross the Golden Gate. But somehow I got all mixed up trying to follow signs. I blamed it on the atlas I was following, because it just didn't have enough detail. Anway, I ended up crossing the Bay Bridge and toured some neighborhoods I didn't really want to tour in the wee hours.
If you're planning on staying inside the city of San Francisco, then renting a car is really unnecessary (and costly for parking). You're better off with walking, mass transit, etc.
If, however, you want to get out of the city to take a drive down the coast, across the Golden Gate Bridge, wine tasting, etc., then you'll want a car.
If you're planning to stay in the San Francisco area while you're here, do not spend the money to rent a car. Driving in the city isn't particularly fun (and not for the timid... have you seen some of these streets??) and parking is horrendous (both finding and prices).
If you're planning on getting out of town, then the car can be rented for only those days (or you can take one of the tours of wine country, etc...).
Oh, and don't park on the sidewalk (like this picture), you see a lot of people doing it but it is illegal and you can get a ticket.
There is finally a reasonable long term parking alternative for those cruising Alaska or those short turn around cruises to Seattle or Van Couver and reverse out of the Port of San Francisco. SF Cruise Park at Pier27( 2 blocks south of the Pier35 cruise terminal ) provides secure indoor parking and FREE shuttle service for passengers AND luggage to and from the cruise terminal. They accept all major credit cards AND personal checks! The other operators charge cash in advance. I found out about them by calling (415)-806-4300 or (415)-274-0608, the Port of San Francisco parking info line.
Parking a car in San Fran can get to be expensive.
Some places charge $24 for all-day parking. At the Pier 39 parking garage, they charge $30 for all-day parking. But if you go to Pier 33, it's only $10 for all-day parking.
CAR - Some cities need to be seen. More than its attractions, the city itself is a must-see. And without a car, one gets very limited in SF, not being able to discover its architecture, its slopes, legendary street names... Only with a car it is possible to cross the bridges, to drive up Twin Peaks, to drive down Lombard Street, go from one beautiful square to another or drive around the beautiful houses of Pacific Heights. It'd take much longer to do all that on foot of with public transportation.
You really need a car - as a New Yorker I thought we could walk most of the town, but I was wrong. Drive and search for a parking spot seems to be the transportation mantra of each San Franciscan.
Just for fun - take the tram. It does not go very far and sometimes you need to wait on line to get on it, but if you have never tried it, you should definitely explore it.
It depends from where you are coming but I prefer to drive but get yourself familiar to the map or advice from someone who knows the city. Most stree are one way street so you need to plan where to go.
Once you are in the city, either walk or talk the tram from Wisherman Wharf right up to Union Square.
If you are planning to stay in the city, you don't really need a car. However, if you are planning on doing anything like Wine Country, Golden Gate Bridge, Monterey, etc, you'll probably need a car. Just a warning, parking in the city can be totally crazy, but locals break almost all the parking rules to get a spot (count the number of cars on the sidewalk when you are there).