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Take a Car-Free Vacation in the San Francisco Bay Area

Take a Car-Free Vacation in the San Francisco Bay Area

h2> North of San Francisco by Ferry or Bus

To visit destinations across the Golden Gate Bridge by bus or ferry, you'll use Golden Gate Transit.

Ferries to Sausalito or Larkspur

Ferries, departing from the Ferry Building in San Franicsco, are a nice way to visit Sausalito or Larkspur. Check current schedules and fares.

Golden Gate Transit Buses

Most buses originate at Folsom and 7th Streets. Some also have stops at Pine and Battery, the Civic Center, on Market or Mission, and along Van Ness Avenue. Some routes only operate Monday through Friday. You can buy your ticket on the bus with exact change (fares vary by distance). Be sure to check the online schedules for the most recent information.

Popular tourist destinations on bus routes include:

  • Marin Headlands (route 2)
  • Tiburon (route 8)
  • Sausalito (routes 2 and 61)
  • Larkspur Landing (route 24)
  • Golden Gate Recreation Area and Visitors Center (route 76, Sundays only)

East Bay Cities on BART

BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, is a convenient way to get to downtown Berkeley or Oakland and the Oakland Coliseum and Airport. In San Francisco there are four stations downtown and at the Civic Center, accessible from Market Street. BART stations are downstairs and have ticket machines (fares vary by destination and are posted on the machine).

Be sure to use a ticket machine labeled BART tickets (not Muni as they share the stations). After buying your ticket, insert it in the slot at the turnstile and go down another set of stairs to the platform for east bound trains. Note that there are no parking lots at these BART stations.

Four BART lines leave San Francisco to cross the bay underwater heading toward Richmond, Fremont, Dublin/Pleasanton, or Pittsburg/Bay Point. Inside each car is a route map so if you realize you've boarded the wrong train you can transfer to any of the other lines at the West Oakland station, just across the bay. During the day, three trains run each hour on each of the lines. Service is less frequent in the evenings and on Sundays or holidays.

See BART website for schedules and fares.

East Bay BART stations most useful to tourists are:

  • Downtown Berkeley on the Richmond line
  • 12th Street Oakland City Center on Pittsburg/Bay Point line
  • Rockridge on Pittsburg/Bay Point line
  • Lake Merritt on both the Fremont and Dublin/Pleasanton lines
  • Oakland Coliseum (Air Bart shuttle bus to Oakland Airport) on the Fremont and Dublin/Pleasanton lines

South of San Francicsco on Caltrain

Caltrain leaves from the station at 700 4th Street in San Francisco. On Caltrain you can get to cities south of San Franciso including Palo Alto and San Jose. You must buy your ticket at the station before boarding the train. Trains run frequently on weekdays and also have a weekend schedule. Find schedule and fare information on the Cal Train website.

Wine Country and Coast Tours

While it's possible to get to the towns of Sonoma and Napa in the wine country on public transportation, it's not very efficient. The best way to see the Sonoma or Napa Valley and visit wineries is to take a guided tour. An advantage of a guided tour is that you won't have to worry about drinking and driving if you want to taste wine.

A guided tour is also the easiest way to visit the beautiful coastal towns of Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur to the south. You can even take a tour to Yosemite National Park.

Two recommended tour companies are A Friend in Town and Blue Heron Tours. The San Francisco Visitors Center or your hotel can probably give you more information about other tour companies.

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