a VirtualTourist member
WE are staying in Santa Clara but have plans to go into San Francisco for 2-3 days. We will have a car available but I'm being told NOT to drive into SF. So our and options are? Drive to & park at CalTrain, BART and take it in/out? Thanks for any advise offered..
All depends on if you're used to driving in a congested city. I drove in to the theater just last night and found traffic to be very light. Parking will be the biggest issue depending on where you want to go. Downtown parking can be expensive and the meters worse but can be conveninent if you can even find a place.
CalTrain/BART is an option. Add to that MUNI and you can slowly get to anywhere in the city. Where do you want to visit while in the city? That will help determine which might make the most sense.
Since its the first time to SF will do the regular Tourist stops..
Golden Gate Bridge & Park
San Francisco Railway Museum
It's not really the traffic that makes driving in San Francisco a bad decision (I think traffic in LA is actually worse), it's the parking. It's an old city, so it's not set up for the car and, by driving, you'll be spending much of your time looking for parking spaces.
The places you mention you'd like to go to are relatively near one another. Parking at Fisherman's Wharf is a nightmare. Don't try there.
If you have more than two people, you may want to consider driving up and parking at a garage or lot somewhere around North Beach or near where Van Ness and Lombard meet, pay for the day, then walk or take public transit around.
Something not often mentioned also is that street parking is free (for the most part) in San Francisco all day on Sunday and official holidays, so those are good days to go. We did that a few years ago.
For such a large city, I found SF (last April) to have the least traffic of any, major U.S. city I've ever been in. I was really surprised. I think one reason is that the BART etc. is a great way to travel around with no hassle. It's very easy to walk most of the city or hop in a cab for going up the steep hills if there is no cable car or bus around. We had a great time!