Destination guide: San Francisco, United States

San Francisco is in the state of California, on the Pacific coast of the western United States. Its main attractions are the Golden Gate Bridge, the trams that go up and down the city’s hills, Chinatown, Silicon Valley, Alcatraz and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

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  • San Francisco- Transportation

    For Bay Area transit options with departure and arrival times, check www.511.org or call [tel] 511.

    From San Francisco Airport

    BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit; [tel] 415-989-2278; www.bart.gov; one way $5.35) offers a cheap, fast, direct ride to downtown San Francisco.
    SamTrans ( [tel] 800-660-4287; www.samtrans.com; one way $4.50) express bus KX gets you to Transbay Terminal in about 30 minutes. 
    SuperShuttle ( [tel] 415-558-8500, 800-258-3826; www.supershuttle.com; one way $17) door-to-door vans depart from baggage-claim areas, taking 45 minutes to most locations within San Francisco.
    Taxis to downtown San Francisco cost $35 to $50, plus tip.

    From Oakland International Airport

    SuperShuttle offers shared van rides to downtown SF for an average fare of $25. Airport Express ( [tel] 800-327-2024; www.airportexpressinc.com) runs a scheduled shuttle every two hours (from 6am to midnight) between Oakland Airport and Sonoma ($32) and Marin ($24) counties.
    Taxi fares from Oakland Airport average $25 to Oakland and $50 to $60 to SF, plus tip. To avoid higher fares during rush hours, ask for a flat rate to/from the airport.
    BART is the cheapest way to get to San Francisco from the Oakland Airport. AirBART shuttle ($3) runs every 10 minutes to the Coliseum station to catch BART to downtown SF ($3.55 to Powell St, 25 minutes).

    Boat

    Blue & Gold Ferries ( [tel] 415-705-8200; www.blueandgoldfleet.com) runs the Alameda-Oakland ferry from Pier 41 and the Ferry Building. Golden Gate Ferry ( [tel] 415-455-2000; www.goldengate.org) runs from the Ferry Building to Sausalito and Larkspur in Marin County.

    Car

    If you can, avoid driving in San Francisco: street parking is harder to find than true love, and meter readers are ruthless. Convenient downtown parking lots are at the Embarcadero Center, at 5th and Mission Sts, under Union Sq, and at Sutter and Stockton Sts.

    Public Transportation

    San Francisco MUNI (Municipal Transit Agency; [tel] 415-701-2311 & 311 inside San Francisco; www.sfmuni.com) operates bus and streetcar lines and three cable-car lines; two cable-car lines leave from Powell and Market Sts, and one leaves from California and Markets Sts. A detailed MUNI Street & Transit Map ($3) is available at newsstands and the Powell St MUNI kiosk. Standard fare for buses or streetcars is $1.50; cable-car fare is $5. A MUNI Passport (one-/three-/seven-days $11/18/24) allows unlimited travel on all MUNI transport, including cable cars; it's sold at San Francisco's Visitor Information Center and at the TIX Bay Area kiosk at Union Sq. A seven-day City Pass ($59) includes transit and admission to six attractions.
    BART links San Francisco with the East Bay and runs beneath Market St, down Mission St and south to SFO and Millbrae, where it connects with CalTrain.

    Taxi

    Fares run about $2.25 per mile; meters start at $3.50. Major cab companies include the following:
    DeSoto Cab ( [tel] 415-970-1300)
    Green Cab ( [tel] 415-626-4733; www.sfgreencab.com) Fuel-efficient hybrids; worker-owned collective.
    Veteran's Taxicab ( [tel] 415-648-1313)
    Yellow Cab ( [tel] 415-626-2345)