We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

Which Oakland hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Houston
posts: 201
reviews: 6
To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

We will be landing at OAK on Friday, May 24th (so the start of Memorial Day Weekend) around 2PM. We will need to go to SFO to pick up the others in our group at 5:00 - wonderful timing. Then we will head north to Santa Rosa, in all of that lovely Friday-afternoon-start-of-a-holiday-weekend traffic. We were thinking of grabbing a bit of lunch on Alameda Island, maybe check in on one of the wineries, then head to SFO. Which way would be the easiest/fastest: over the Bay Bridge or south and over the San Mateo Bridge? I have no idea which direction the traffic goes at that time of day, so I'd appreciate some insight. Thanks!

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 21,603
reviews: 114
1. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

well 880 and 101 which run about parallel on the East and West side of the Bay respectively are busy both ways typically. But there are more people going North in the morning and more going south in the Evening

Bay Bridge normally is busy in the morning every week day going toward SF and less crowded in the evening but on Fridays that is different as people will be coming to the city.

On the day before Memorial day, well people wil be trying to leave early so there will be traffic going both North and South

bottom line -- I think you may find the San Mateo bridge better to get to SFO instead of going through the city. But getting to the San Mateo bridge from alameda, you will still hit traffic and the drive on 880 is boring.

Edited: 3:42 pm, March 14, 2013
California
posts: 10,878
reviews: 12
2. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

Could the others in your group spare you part of the drive by taking BART into the city? Instead of spending time outside the city between 2 & 5 you can make your way to say the Embarcadero and hang out until the others arrive? Maybe then all of you could spend some time in the city before heading north to Santa Rosa?

Dublin, California
posts: 10,734
reviews: 29
3. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

Why not grab something to eat after you cross the San Mateo Bridge, somewhere close to the airport? By the time you get to SFO it'll probably be 3:30. You barely have time for a quick bite. No time for any winery tour.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 21,603
reviews: 114
4. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

Just realized you are going to Santa Rosa close to some of the finest wineries in the World all around you so I am not sure why you would want to taste wine in Alameda. -- Agree with both my fellow posters. Either have a nice meal close to the airport or have them meet you in SF at the BART station

San Francisco Bay
posts: 2,830
reviews: 13
5. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

I'd definitely have a meal with the whole group in San Francisco after you meet up. Otherwise you'll be sitting in traffic all the way to Santa Rosa; that direction is brutal in the afternoon from Mill Valley all the way to Santa Rosa.

The drive in the dark isn't too bad, so don't worry about that.

Houston
posts: 201
reviews: 6
6. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

Some good tips, thanks for your help!

The logistics are goofy because 6 of us are landing in Oakland, and the other 2 are finishing a business trip and driving to SFO from Palo Alto to drop off other business travelers and that rental car. We are picking up a 12 passenger van at OAK and going to get them at SFO, then heading to Sonoma Co/Napa Valley.

The only reason I thought of stopping off at Alameda Island was to grab a bite, because my group will be hungry and they are cranky when they get hungry. There is also a Rosenblum tasting room there and one of our party likes their Desiree. I think what we might do is skip that, and get on over toward SFO.

It occurred to me that we will want to get a cooler to have along for water and cheese and so forth, so using that time to go by a Target or a grocery store might be better. And I suppose we could drive through someplace to grab a bite to hold them over until a proper dinner in San Francisco. I do like that idea - have a lovely dinner while the traffic subsides :)

Again, thanks for the responses! Cheers!

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 21,603
reviews: 114
7. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

if you are renting a van and then driving to SFO then do the San Mateo Bridge route. I would avoid the area around the Airport and if everyone can wait until you cross the bridge into San Mateo,(15 or 20 mins) there is a strip mall just after the bridge with Target and all that I have seen on the San Mateo side that I think has restaurants as well.

Dublin, California
posts: 10,734
reviews: 29
8. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

There is a Target right after you cross San Mateo Bridge at the Fashion Island shopping center, 2220 Bridgepointe Parkway, San Mateo. There is one at San Bruno closer to the airport, at 1150 El Camino Real, San Bruno.

Berkeley, California
Destination Expert
for Berkeley
posts: 5,567
reviews: 60
9. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

I don't see a need to rush over to SFO to wait for your friends. Traffic is going to be bad in all directions, so you might as well take your time, grab some food, go for a tasting, and then meet up at SFO.

I understand the desire to take the San Mateo Bridge, but honestly, the drive will be shorter if you take the Bay Bridge. Once you pick up your rental van, you are going to be very close to Alameda. Assuming your flight lands at 2, you get your bags by 2:15, and leave with your van at 2:45, you could be eating in Alameda by 3:00. There is a shopping center with easy parking at Park & Otis, and if you are willing to parallel park the van, there are countless restaurants and bars further up Park Street.

If you want to go for a tasting, I recommend grabbing something quick to eat. Once you are done with the tasting, take the Posey Tube to Oakland, hop on 880 north, and cross the Bay Bridge. Once you get near SFO, you can stop off at the Target in San Bruno. Then you can pick your friends up at SFO. (Or if you are running late, you can pick them up and then go to Target.)

Traffic is going to a PITA to Santa Rosa (well, from Mill Valley to Petaluma technically), so I would hang back in San Francisco and get dinner there. Try the Inner Sunset district--street parking can be a challenge but you might be able to snag a metered spot right aorund 6 PM. Also, parking just inside Golden Gate Park is not too bad around that time.

Assuming you take an hour for dinner, that puts you back on the road at 7. That's a good time to cross the Golden Gate and head up to Santa Rosa, as the traffic will have eased by then.

P.S. I recommend checking http://traffic.511.org or listening to 106.9 FM (on the 8's) for updated traffic conditions. If something serious happens on one of the bridges in question, you might want to consider alternative plans.

P.P.S. If you want to save all your wine tasting for Wine Country, Alameda is home to the excellent St. George Spirits. They make Hangar One vodka amongst other things. They have a tasting room similar to what you will find at a winery.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 21,603
reviews: 114
10. Re: To drive from OAK to SFO, which way?

Davdaven. Are you saying traffic at 2.30 is going to be as bad as 4.30 ? Yes it is the start of the long weekend but surely 2 hours will make a big difference

No one suggested they rush over to SFO. Nothing to do at SFO . We suggested they get closer to SFO, shop, eat and get to SFO in time

Edited: 2:43 pm, March 15, 2013