If you have a hotel downtown, take the Market Street antique trolley toward the Castro District. Get off at Church Street then walk to behind the Safeway Grocery Store where N trains tend to collect in the afternoon. The Sunset District is a very popular place for Silicon Valley workers to live because the N Judah Muni Train starts at the CalTrain depot, where workers can come and go from their commutes to San Jose and other cities south of San Francisco. So the train is very convenient for them. On a sunny day though, walk up Duboce, past the park where people can let their dogs off leash for some fun. Then, just before the Sunset Tunnel, get on the train going west. The N Judah train emerges on the western side of the tunnel, alternately climbing hills and zigzagging from Carl to Arguello to Irving (UCSF), and 9th Avenue before extendingn out into the Outer Sunset along Judah to La Playa Streets. At the end, the train turns around and returns along the same route. At the Pacific Highway and Ocean Beach, one can see the Dutch Windmill and head in that direction. From there walk through trails of Golden Gate Park as long as you like, then head south again to catch the train on the return.
I usually use google to guide me when I have a car in San Francisco. Without a car however, I had to find another means to determine the best way to go to a place, whether it's walking, using the MUNI, BART or any other transportation means.
If you have a smartphone, either Iphone, Blackberry or an Android (which was the one I have), download the hopstop application. It will allow you to use your phone to get the directions when Wifi is available and let's you save the results in your smartphone allowing you to view it even if the Wifi connection is no longer available. A map of the route is even included. I find it very helpful and quite accurate even on the bus and subway schedules. Don't get lost in San Francisco, download it now...
I checked on your planned trip. You might like to check on the AMTRAK website because it has trips to at least 500 destinations in 46 states. It also shows you the Time Tables, Stations, Routes and you can plan your trip.
From San Francisco to Los Angeles:
You can catch the AMTRAK in different stations depending on where you end up touring that week. You can catch the AMTRAK at the Ferry Building, Civic Center, Financial Dsitrict, Caltrain, Shopping Center or at the Fisherman's Wharf. Whatever the station you have chosen, this will bring you to Los Angeles Union Station or Westwood Station. The travel time from San Francisco to L.A. is at least 9 hours and the cost of the ticket in April 2012 is about $54-$59 depending on what time you are travelling. The cheapest time is usually in the morning. Make sure to pack your lunch or dinner because the food at the AMTRAK is very limited to sandwiches and clam chowder!
The cold sandwich costs a minimum of $6.75 and the pop cost $2.00. They also have salads but not as great as those you can buy outside.
From Los Angeles to San Diego:
From Los Angeles Union Station or Westwood Station to San Diego (You have to choose from four stations: Old Town, Balboa Park, Seaworld, Zoo Bus Station), this will cost you in Apil 2012 about $36 dollars approximately. The travel time is about 2 hours and 29 minutes.
From San Diego to Las Vegas, which is the closest to the destination that you want to see which are Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon? I can't find an AMTRAK trip directly from San Diego to Las Vegas. So, from San Diego, you have to take two to three trips via AMTRAK or via Greyhound. Or, you might like to rent a car. From San Diego to Las Vegas is about 4 hours. It will be cheaper for you to rent a car at this time because going to Grand Canyon are mostly on group tours and also to Hoover Dam. With a car, you have freedom and accessibility.
I hope this helps! Take care and good luck!
P.S. I have great budget tips on my Las Vegas pages. Please visit my pages to check out cheap hotels and cheap restaurants and how to stretch your money there!
If your party is two or more and you need to get from SFO to a city location such as Fisherman's Wharf or other popular tourist points I would recommend taking a cab. For very close to the same cost as a shuttle our cab ride was in a much newer/cleaner vehicle, was 100% brainless/no-fuss, and got us to the hotel in a very direct route. Conversely, we found some of the shuttle services' employees to be somewhat rude, pushy, dirty and driving some beat up/dirty vans. You can get scammed if you're not up to speed on how they work.
If I was traveling alone, and on my dime (not for business) I would use a shuttle as long as I was studied up on all the ins, outs, and scams one needs to be aware of with the shuttle services.
Transbay Terminal is a transportation complex serves long-distance buses and transbay buses from San Francisco north to Marin County, east to the East Bay, and south to San Mateo County and to Sacramento, Reno, Lake tahoe Area.
Terminal for Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway): F-5-14L-38-38L-42-45-46-108
Golden Gate Transit routes (Marin and Sonoma Counties): 10-20-50-60-70-80;
AC (Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District or East Basy Counties) Transit Routes: B, C, CB, E, F, FS, G, H, J, L, LA, LC, M, MA, NC, NL, NX, NX1, NX2 NX3, NX4, O, OX, P, S, SA, SB, U, V, W,Z
Sam Trans routes (San Mateo County Transit District): 5M-7B-16F-17F-19F-41F
It is Located at Fremont Street between Mission and Howard St. SOMA, San Francisco, CA 94105
My wife and I were in San Francisco last November and purchased the 3 day Muni Passport for $20 each. The 1 day passport is $13. The passport allows you to ride not only the Cable Cars (which are $5 for each ride), but also any buses, trolleys or light rail in San Francisco. With those options you can literally ride anywhere in town. Even for 2 days the 3 day is the best value.
Everything you will want to see in San Francisco is accessible by any of those transportation methods. The only exception is that BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) which runs between San Francisco and the Airport and San Francisco and a number of suburbs of San Francisco is not included with the Muni Passport.
We picked up our Passport at the Visitors Center which is at the corner of Market and Powell. You can purchase the tickets at a kiosk right across the street from where the cable car turns around.
The cable cars stop at almost every corner and the cable car drivers will announce what is coming up at each stop. You can also pick up a cable car map when you buy your Passport.
During summer there's no need to pay big bucks to go to Muir Woods from San Francisco. A good route is to take the ferry from SF Ferry building to Sausalito, then take a shuttle bus to Muir Woods. For $8.50 adults can catch the Golden Gate Ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito. Then from there it's a $3- round trip fare to Marin Transit's "Stagecoach" to Muir Woods. Golden Gate Transit also runs a Route 66 shuttle bus service for a nominal fare between Sausalito and Muir Woods, and direct from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods and Sausalito for those who don't have time for the ferryboat ride. See the links below for more details. These transit services also provide a variety of options for those heading between SF and the rest of Marin County, including Stinson Beach, Tomales Bay, Mill Valley, etc. Fares for all these services are sharply reduced for senior citizens.
I loved to walk in San Francisco, the city is so beautiful that deserves to walk in many corners. The hills will be tough thought to going up and down for too long so here’s your alternatives when you want to save some energy:
1)renting a car in SF is stupid! There is huge traffic all the time, the parking spots are rare and if you find one you have to pay a lot. The only reason to rent a car is to go to Marin County which way out of the city anyway. Sometimes it’s better to rent a car just for the day, do your day trip and give it back. You will probably pay for parking near the hotel as much as the rental cost of the day!
2)using a taxi(pic 1) in SF is nice if you have a lot of time and money to spend because of the traffic
3)the BART train is useful only for the SF and Oakland airports or to visit the east side of the Bay (Oakland, Berkeley, Pittsburg etc). There are no BART stations at Golden Gate Bridge or at Fisherman’s Wharf so you won’t need it inside the city.
4)the beautiful Cable cars (pic 4-5) is a great way to see some areas but there are only 3 routes Powell>Mason and Powell>Hyde are the most famous but we tried also the one at California Street going through Nob Hill. The single ticket costs $5, too much I know, but you can use your CityPass and ride for free :)
5)The “Muni”, this will be your friend here, it’s the city’s bus and streetcar system. We used buses every day for every corner with no problem. There were many buses or trolley buses(pic 2) in almost every route and rarely we had to wait more than 5-6 minutes. The drives are very friendly and helpful. The bus stops were tricky though, some times it was just a yellow strip on a column (pic 3) with the number of the bus written on it!
The single ticket costs $1.50 and lasts 90 minutes (ask the driver for free transfer). If you plan to use MUNI many times (we did) it’s better to check the passes that give you unlimited rides on buses, cable cars(single ticket cost $5!), street cars, hybrid train etc There are 3 passes and you can find them at the airport or at central stations in SF:
1 day pass ($11)
3 day pass ($18)
7 day pass ($24)
Another good option is to buy the City Pass for $59 which also gives you free ride for 7 consecutive days. It costs more because it includes free entrance to several attractions that you want to see anyway like:Aquarium Of The Bay, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, SF Museum of Modern Art, California Academy of Science, Exploratorium, de Young and Legion of Honor Museum. We visited all of them so saved a lot of money. We bought it outside the Powel Street Station at the SFO visitors bureau center. Go there first anyway to get city maps and any other info you need about the city.
Do they speak normal English in San Francisco? When you arrive at the SFO airport you may start to wonder as you try to figure out how to get from the airport to your local destination. The signage guides you with:
"airporters" = location specific vans as in hotel shuttles.
"samtran" = public buses to south to Palo Alto ($1.50) and points between and north to downtown SF ($4.00).
Exact change needed or pay more.
"charter buses" = I guess this would be for people who already have chartered a bus.
"bart" = Bay Area Rapid Transit --the local mass transport system
"caltrain" = I am not sure how this works, but I think the train that goes south is caltrain and the BART goes north.
"bus shuttle" = the free shuttle bus between the domestic and international terminals
After you see the signs directing you as above you may just decide to take a taxi or rent a car.
The Muni Passport comes in 1, 3, and 7 day varieties and covers your fees on all Muni lines, street cars, and cable cars for unlimited rides during those days. The 3-day cost my wife and me $18 each and paid for itself within the first day. Basically, it will cover everything but cabs and BART.
Know the place of departure and destination within California but do not know how to get there?
Here is a great website that plans it for you. Not only does it show you the fastest routs, provides maps and rates, it also lets you select the time of either departure or arrival, so you know when to expect your bus and when you are going to arrive. Allow a small margin of error of course. ;-)
I found this article in the LA Times about how MegaBus offers $1 fares to San Fransisco. The $1 deal only applies to those that book early. The Fare can be as high as $35-- still not too shabby!
I copied my tip from my LA pages in case those researching how to get to SF would run across it here.
SF isn't a car town. I called my car "my baby" and gave it a name (Mr. Put Put) before I moved here, and now I NEVER drive it. However, SF doesn't have a fabulous public transportation system either. Although, maybe I'm spoiled cuz I'm comparing to other major metro areas... not counting LA because I just don't go there.
SF is a non-car city for residents , but, see, no one lives on the golden gate bridge, the curvy part of Lombard st or Fisherman's wharf. ....Ok, actually I guess people do live on Lombard st, but they are so rich they are more like Uper-People.
Bart : For a subway, Bart's pretty comfy. Which is great for the, like, 6 stops it makes in the city. It's a commuter train, so it just doesn't really go anywhere.
Muni Trains : Goes slightly more places than BART
buses : They go basically everywhere. But be warned about some lines. My friend used to take the one which goes through the TL and saw people fight, pee, throw up, carry live chickens etc. on the bus.
Foot SF is the reason I have giant calves
Bikes This is what the locals do, but may not be convenient for people flying here.
Cars Still probably the best option for tourists as far as convenience in going to see all the sites. (You can't take the train to the golden gate bridge, and the bus will get you there in about 2 days). Just be prepared to give your first born child to the department of transportation for parking. A better option might be to use public transportation, and then see if your hotel offers shuttles, or buy a one-day tour of the touristy sites.
Trolleys Trolleys go to the pretty places in the city, so lots this might be convenient for tourists. The best, though, is the Embarcadero trolley at rush hour: you'll see these dignified old commuters with their nice suits and leather breifcases get on the croweded trolley and hang off the outside, clinging for dear life to a pole --- like they're on a train in an movie about old-timey India. Hilarious.
SF is a small city, but with daunting hills and little parking. The bus/metro (MUNI) can get your most anywhere, if you have the little extra time. Calling 637-MUNI gets you "here to there" directions and nextbus.com even has real-time coverage of some routes. There are a variety of ways to pay (per ride $1.50) or getting a 1-, 3-, 7-day unlimited pass, or even montly. Check out the muni website below. Be aware that rush hour on some routes can be busy, and as always, there are lines for the Cable Car ($5) - there is a discount if you have an extended pass for the cable car. Not all lines are the cleanest, but generally it's safe. There are a lot of FUN walking tours however for those who can make it. My favorite is the comedian- led walking tour - foottours.com.
If there is one thing San Franciscans love to do, it's talk about San Francisco. They love to talk about the history and the old haunts and what their favorite restaurants are and how to get around. And they will be happy... no THRILLED... to answer any questions you have about virtually anything to do with the City.
Sometimes it can be a little disconcerting... an open map is considered by San Franciscans to be an open invitation to jump in and give their opinions! Let them, and you'll make friends!
However, AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, there is one group of folks whom you should NEVER ask for directions... and that is bus drivers! They are notoriously short with tourists, often give wrong directions (either unintentionally or on purpose), and sometimes speak such poor English that they can be impossible to understand.
Now, if I was a bus driver - and THANK GOD I'm not - I'd get pretty fed up, too. I remember one driver on the F-Market line who put a huge sign over the fare box that said "THIS BUS GOES TO FISHERMAN'S WHARF!!!" Guess what nearly every tourist asked when they got on the train?
Bus drivers have enough to deal with - with fare evaders, crazy drivers and cyclists and pedestrians, and the insane who ride the bus and insist on talking to them. Usually it's just at the moment when they get a little peace that some tourist asks them "How do we get to Market St.?" Honestly, you'd think some people had never ridden a bus before...
So, ask the person sitting next to you. You'll make a new friend.