The two of us are thinking of making a day trip to SF (in a weekend), visiting touristy places such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, etc. we live in South Bay, and I have a car. The possible transport arrangements seem to be:

  • Drive from South Bay and use the car to visit the attractions. This sounds convenient, but I heard parking in SF is difficult and expensive.
  • Drive from South Bay, park somewhere, and use SF public transport for getting around during the day. This seems to be the best, because I won't have to find parking all the time, and I can avoid taking Caltrain (more on Caltrain below). But I am wondering where would be the ideal place to park the car for the day.
  • Arrive in SF with Caltrain. This will remove the headache with parking, but the downside is Caltrain in the weekend is superslow (only 1 train per hour, 1.5 hour travel time each way). Besides, the Caltrain station in SF is not close to the tourist attractions, so further connection is needed. The cost from South Bay is $28 for two people round-trip, so it isn't a cheap option either.

Which option is the most efficient in terms of cost, time, and comfort? I am leaning towards the second option, where would be the ideal place to park?

1 Answer 1


Did that last year- starting from San Carlos station.

The train parking lot was quite empty on the weekend (a small charge for parking). Looked like a safe place to leave the car. It's only two zones from San Carlos (or Redwood City), so it was only $5/trip per person (and half that for the under-18) and 51 minute train trip each way.

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We just walked and took the metro (eg. to Haight-Ashbury, which was great, at least for those of my generation) from the Caltrain. No problems. Walked from the baseball stadium to Chinatown, for example.

If you really want to park someplace touristy like Union Square, there are garages such as this. I don't think you'll save money, especially considering gas, but it's certainly possible. There's no daily maximum on the lot so you'll have to add up all the hours you'd be there (and partial hours); looks like it might be $25-35 or so. If you wanted to drive over the Golden Gate bridge it might make sense.

In any case, pay attention to the hours of the parking lot, or the time of the last train in the evening. Taxi fare would not be cheap. Apparently if you show up at the parking lot after "closing" you can still get your car, but you'll be out another $50.

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  • Which Caltrain station did you alight in the city, that allows you to easily take the metro to Haight-Ashbury?
    – user69715
    Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 0:38
  • We didn't go directly over, but from the 4th and King Caltrain station (near AT&T Park) you can take the Judah line, it's about 12 stops. Downtown is between the two (about 7 relatively close stops). staysf.com/upload/desc_pdf/… Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 0:53

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