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Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

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Kansas
posts: 142
reviews: 81
Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

Our flight is landing at Oakland airport on a Friday in October about 5 pm. We plan to drive north to stay around Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We know this is a 4 hour drive so we are planning on driving to maybe Santa Rosa or a little further that night but not sure what traffic is like at that time of day, etc.

Says about 1 hour drive on google maps but with traffic, I am wondering if it will be a crawl.

Thanks.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 20,904
reviews: 114
1. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

yes it will be a crawl. 880 and 80 and 101 will be slow. I would get a car and get to downtown Oakland have a good dinner and then leave around 7.30 or so for your overnight stop

Kansas
posts: 142
reviews: 81
2. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

That is what I was afraid of. Thanks for the info. We will probably do as you suggested. Having a nice dinner is preferable to sitting in traffic anyday.

Thanks

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
posts: 4,901
reviews: 22
3. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

That's a horrible time to arrive in the Bay Area on a Friday. It means you will also be driving mostly in the dark if the trip is in October. If it was my trip, I'd probably opt to stay in San Francisco that first night and then rent the car the next morning. Or stay near the airport if you come in much later than 5.

An alternate plan would be to take the Evans Airporter to Napa (it uses the diamond lanes), spend the night in Napa, have a nice dinner, and then rent your car on Saturday morning in Napa for your drive north.

I recently priced rental cars and found them much cheaper in Napa than at any of the major airports. Check it out.

Berkeley, California
Destination Expert
for Berkeley
posts: 5,545
reviews: 59
4. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

You should not subject yourself to the drive to Santa Rosa during rush hour. Except for the stretch of 580 from 80 to 101 (across the Richmond Bridge), the drive will be horrendous. I recommend having a leisurely evening in the East Bay (or even San Francisco) and heading out of town the following morning.

If you pick up your rental car at OAK, you can stick around Alameda, Oakland, or Berkeley. Lots of dining, drinking, entertainment, and/or sightseeing can be had in this area, and there are several hotel options in all price ranges. Let us know what you like and we can give you tips and suggestions.

If you put off picking up the rental car, you can take BART into San Francisco (or Oakland or Berkeley) and spend the night there. As noted above, you can look into taking one of the airport bus services. However, even with the carpool lanes, it'll be a long slog to most places. Consider taking the Sonoma County Airport Express to San Rafael. I wouldn't bother otherwise.

Kansas
posts: 142
reviews: 81
5. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

I like both of your suggestions on taking the shuttle to Santa Rosa or to Napa and then renting a car there. That way we would not have to drive in the busy traffic as well. However, I did a quick peek at the shuttles and rental cars. Seems shuttles leave airport at 5:30 and our flight arrives at 5 - not sure we will be at the gate with luggage, etc but might make it. Then, they arrive about 7:30 at Napa or Santa Rosa and the car rental places all look to be closed between 5:30 and 7. Unless there is a late one somewhere.

So - we may just get the car, drive somewhere close for dinner and spend the night. Suggestion on traffic from airport to a safe hotel and restaurant be too unbearable? Suggestions?

Thanks you so much.

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
posts: 4,901
reviews: 22
6. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

Yes, the Napa shuttle probably won't work for you. I should have checked the schedule before suggesting it.

My first choice would still be San Francisco. And it would be best to pick up the car in the morning not in the evening.

You say it's only a 4 hour drive to Humboldt Redwoods. I guess you are planning on driving 101 and not the scenic route along the coast. If you have the time, Mendocino is a great place to spend the night on the way up or back.

Kansas
posts: 142
reviews: 81
7. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

We are planning the 101 to Miranda on the way up and then going the scenic route on the coast on the way back. Thought North Cliffs in Fort Bragg looked like a good place to spend the night on the way back and Miranda gardens while at Humboldt Redwoods.

Why recommend getting the car in the morning instead of Friday night? We will be coming into Oakland because that is a direct flight and cheaper than SF so we probably won't go across the bay to stay there but may stay at The Marina in San Leandro - someone recommended that earlier. Have been to SF before but a while ago.

Thanks so much for all the good advice.

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
posts: 4,901
reviews: 22
8. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

Looks like you have a good plan. I have never heard of the Marina in San Leandro so can't help you there. My suggestion about renting the car the next morning was if you stayed in San Francisco. You could take BART in and avoid the parking charges and maybe a day's car rental depending on when you have to return it. When I rent a vehicle, I always check all options and try to find the cheapest. But, of course, I have no idea about the particulars of your trip. So, I will stop making suggestions.

Berkeley, California
Destination Expert
for Berkeley
posts: 5,545
reviews: 59
9. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

The Marina Inn is a nice spot not too far from the airport, but it's technically the opposite direction of your planned travel. You can stay there if you like, as it isn't too far out of the way, or you could choose from one of the many other hotel options to the north instead.

Since you'll have a car, the Executive Inn & Suites is a great first choice. I am less familiar with it, but the Homewood Oakland Waterfront is nearby and also rated highly here on TA. Also consider the Hawthorn Suites in Alameda and the Waterfront Hotel (Joie de Vivre). The Executive Inn and Homewood are a short drive from everything, and Hawthorn Suites and the Waterfront Hotel have walkable destinations in addition to being a short drive away from everything.

As noted elsewhere, don't bother with the airport-area hotels. If you can't make up your mind, try your luck on a site like Hotwire or Priceline; those sites will pick a hotel for you. There are some hotels further north in Emeryville and Berkeley, but the options I've listed here allow you to avoid most or all freeway traffic.

10. Re: Driving from Airport to Humbodt - traffic at 5 pm?

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