What day of week and time of day? Outside of rush hour, Oakland would be easier. During rush hour, both may be terrible options. SFO and OAK are almost the exact same distance from Rohnert Park.
I really prefer SFO. You do not have to deal with the I880 traffic and etc.
It seems more straightforward to me to simply take Hwy 380 from slightly north of SFO to Hwy 280 and cross he city on it, and 19th Avenue, with timed traffic lights, through Golden Gate Park, and cross the Golden Gate Bridge. From there it is a straight shot up Hwy 101 to Rhonert Park....less than an hour, I think.
It is also a nicer drive, not through industrial areas.
While I would agree that a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge (if you have never done it before) is the more scenic way to go, I think it would be faster and easier from Oakland. That is, of course, assuming that you aren't arriving at 4 pm, in which case you are in for a long haul no matter which way you go.
I live in Oakland and work at times in both SF and Santa Rosa. I once had to commute from my SF location to my Santa Rosa one for a few weeks, and actually discovered that it was almost 10 minutes faster on average driving from SF, over the Bay Bridge, then up 80 and back over the Richmond Bridge to 101 than it was to drive through the city, over the GG Bridge and up 101. It looks crazy on a map but the roads are so much wider, faster and clearer in the East Bay that it actually was faster.
But again, in commute traffic time, all bets are off.
We are arriving mid afternoon on a Sunday, but we are leaving Rohert Park at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday. I was thinking to take the 8:30 p.m. flight out of Oakland just to be safe (with car return, traffic, etc.)
The drive takes closer to 75 minutes than 60.
Oakland seems more straightforward to me than SFO--take 880/80 to 580 across the Richmond Bridge rather than trying to deal with city streets in SF. In fact, some sites like Google will give directions across the Bay Bridge and back across the Richmond Bridge rather than through SF. It is arguable whether this actually saves any time because traffic on the Bay Bridge is so unpredictable, but it's certainly interesting to note.
Oakland is a smaller airport, so it will be easier to get into and out of.
Your Sunday afternoon drive will be relatively painless from either airport. On Tuesday afternoon, you are going to get stuck in some rush hour traffic no matter what. Leaving Ronert Park at 5:00 to reach either airport should be fine for an 8:30 flight. You'll have 2.5 hours to get there and drop off your car, as you only need about 60 minutes to check in at the airport.
It sounds like you already have your flights, but there is the option of flying into Santa Rosa (STS). It's probably a bit more expensive but a *lot* more convenient.
I have purchased tickets to Oakland, did not want to miss out on the $49 airfare each way.
I checked out STS, the flights are $$$$$ on Horizon Air and they all seem to have layovers.
Thanks everyone for your great help!
It's $159 (includes tax) round trip (2 weeks in advance). That's only $60 more than going to OAK. Frankly, I think it's worth the extra not to have to drive to Oakland.
I don't know how they could lay-over between Santa Rosa and LAX ... it's 1hr 35min flight.
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