One day I took the Larkspur Ferry from San Rafael in to San Francisco. $6.75 for one way it was much less hectic than driving plus free parking. I sat out front and watched the scenery go by, but most of the ferry (pedestrian only) was enclosed and protected from the weather. There was a bar which I didn't visit. It was about a half hour quiet and gentle ride.
There is easy access to the Larkspur terminal just off Hwy 101. At the other end when you get off at the Market Street Pier there is a transfer box. Push the button and you will get two transfer tickets. You can use one to take the bus, the trolley or the F line to anywhere in the city. Then when you want to come back use the other transfer ticket towards the terminal. I thought it was very efficient. There are bus and F line connections just outside the terminal building.
San Rafael has a great transit center, named after a former mayor, C. Paul Bettini, and located at 3rd and Hetherton. It's a main transfer point for the Golden Gate Transit bus system, which serves Marin County and San Francisco.
You can also get to San Rafael from San Francisco International Airport, via the Marin Airporter, and from Oakland International Airport via the Sonoma County Airport Express.
There's a taxi rank at the Center, and if you want to get to the town of Sonoma, there's one Sonoma County Transit commuter bus, the #38, that leaves San Rafael for Sonoma at 6:25 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The most relaxing way to shuttle back and forth between San Rafael and San Francisco is by way of the ferry.
See link below for current schedule.
The ferry has a snack bar and serves coffee, wine and beer. Highly recommended for Happy Hour on Friday afternoons after work!
I take this ferry to and from work almost every work day. If you'd like to commute into work with me, click on this link:
Is Commuting All That Bad?
San Rafael is served by Golden Gate Transit's fleet of buses. However, unless you are traveling to San Francisco during commute hours, the bus system may not get you where you want to go. Buses are otherwise not that frequent, and during the day they serve only the most well-traveled areas within San Rafael and Marin County.
To really experience San Rafael and Marin, you'll need a car. You can get by with the bus by going to a limited number of places, but you won't get the full flavor.
The Marin Airporter makes trips to and from the San Francisco airport every 30 minutes from 5am to midnight. There are numerous drop off and pick up points in San Rafael and other parts of Marin County.
You can get around downtown San Rafael on foot, but the town is very spread out and you'll generally need a car. The public transportation system in Marin County is not very good, sadly, and cars are the only logical choice. There was a time when I lived a 15 minute drive from work, but I attempted to take the public bus one day and found that it took two transfers and an hour and a half. That about sums it up.
Not sure if this is really in San Rafael or near but I stayed in San Rafael and used the ferry, so this is where I put the tip.
To and from San Francisco and the Giants game.