So I'm heading to San Fran in no from the 4th to the 7th trying to sleep somewhere on the cheaper end with 4 other people. Is there a spot outside of town to look on air bnb or any good spots anyone knows of to stay at? We will have a car with us.
I think where you stay should depend completely on what you plan to do. Even if you have a car, it's often easier and cheaper to not use the car and use public transit. With that said, I believe you will have the most fun staying along the Muni and BART lines. I personally favor the Mission over other parts of the city due to its convenient location, ample transportation options, and it's wide selection of restaurants and bar.
And yes, Airbnb is probably your best option for a cheaper place to stay.
I've been living in SF for 2 years with a car, so I know how challenging parking can be. But with that said, you can have a car and avoid getting parking tickets or towed.
First of all, almost all streets in San Francisco have street cleaning rules. The signs will tell you when the cleaning happens so just don't park there during those hours. Street leaning usually happens once a week in the morning.
Protip: You can immediately park your car after the cleaning truck has passed, even if it's still in the cleaning time period.
All meters are different so make sure you read the rules before you park. Most only allow you to park for 2 hours.
Also, some meters are colored differently and have very specific rules. As a rule of thumb, don't park at meters that look different if you don't know the rules.
Fortunately many meters in SF take credit card, so you don't need to have a pocket full of change to park your car.
Next thing to know is that most neighborhoods in SF use residential parking permits that allow you to park in specific areas for as long as you want. The letter tells you which neighborhood you can park in.
For visitors, you can get a short-term parking permit. That's a solution if you expect to park your car during the day for long periods of time.
Curbing your wheels:
The rule is you must curb your wheels on any street with a steep gradient. That way, if something were to happen to your car, it won't roll into traffic but roll against the curb. In SF, you should curb your wheels everywhere just to be safe.
Watch the curb color:
The curb in some areas will be painted different colors to show what type of zone it is. The colors can be white, yellow, green, or red. As a tourist, just avoid any curbs that are painted to be safe. And NEVER park next to a red curb.
You can definitely keep a car in SF if you're careful and pay attention to the rules. If you are in a street cleaning zone, set a timer to remind yourself to move the car. Do the same for meters.
If you want to avoid the hassle, buy the temporary parking permit. It will save you a lot of headaches, and if it saves you from 1 ticket, it has already paid for itself.
Good luck with your trip!
If you're looking outside the city, the East Bay has some cute pockets that are also near BART and potentially cheaper than the SF options. I did a quick search on AirBnB and there were properties available for 4 people. Check out Rockridge& Elmwood neighborhoods – the properties there are fairly close to Rockridge BART, which could take you directly into SF if you didn't feel like driving in to the city.
However, it seems like you might be a bit limited on time so just a head's up that staying in the East Bay would probably add at least 35 minutes to your time just getting into downtown SF. Also, BART is not a 24 hour service, so you'd need to be on a train on the way back before 12:30AM.
I'd second Matthias -- parking is awful in SF. However, since you'll have a car, I think that you'll have good luck out in the Sunset District or the Richmond District. If you can find a place out there, and you have a car, you'll be very connected to the city. And, you'll still have the option to take public transit downtown!
I can't recommend getting a hotel in the city...it's just not worth it here. You are much better off using airbnb.
I'd go for Airbnb for sure. However, parking is "hell" in SF - that is my experience at least having visited 10+ times over the last 2.5 years. Some neighbourhoods are better than others, but generally it can be pretty hard to find parking all-over SF and street cleaning makes it even worse.
If you can find an Airbnb WITH parking, I would go for that.
Hotels generally charge a massive premium for parking in SF, but I've found Hotel Del Sol to be the cheapest ($10 pr. night I believe) and the hotel is great - prices for rooms are also very reasonable. It's located in the Marina District and has a ton of good places to eat nearby - "Umami Burger on Union", Tacolicious Greens Restaurant to mention a few. Furthermore, you're one street from the 101 leading you north over the Golden Gate Bridge.
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