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Drive time to Napa - GG or Bay Bridge?

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Drive time to Napa - GG or Bay Bridge?

Can anyone say, from experience, what the difference is driving from SFO to Napa by taking the GG or Bay bridge?

We were orginally thinking we wanted to get to Napa ASAP when we arrived, so we'd take the Bay bridge and take the GG back after our 4 days in Napa. We plan on stopping at Cliff House on the way back, so GG bridge makes the most sense coming back I believe.

However, from what I've been reading, GG is just so much more scenic that we might want to consider taking it both ways. Can anyone give us the 'logistical details' between GG and Bay bridges? We'd be landing in SFO on a Tuesday at 11:15am.

Thanks in advance for the insight!

Fremont, California
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1. Re: Drive time to Napa - GG or Bay Bridge?

Both the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate is scenic - however the Golden Gate is more scenic. There is a nice parking lot at the north end of Golden Gate bridge for visitors so you can park there and see the city from there. It is well worth the stop if its clear enough to see San Francisco from there (i.e. sometimes the fog is more foggy.) You might also want to see Muir Woods (if interested in that.)


If its a clear day, driving the Bay Bridge is also nice and then head to the Berkeley Marina for nice views of San Franciso from there also. http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/marina/

There's a fishing pier to walk out on with gorgeous views of San Francisco from that perspective.

Given you are arrriving at 11:15 on a Tuesday, I'd probably enjoy driving over the Golden Gate and seeing San Francisco view from that perspective and driving through Sonoma over to Napa. On the way back, decide if you want to back track or if you want to see the view from Berkeley Marina.

After driving across Golden Gate, drive to the Sonoma/Napa turnoff - suggest stopping at Viansa Winery and Sonoma Square on your way to Napa for some touristy stuff on the way.


Sonoma Square has a park in the middle surrounded by shops, wine tasting, olive oil tasting....and if you like cheese stock up at the Sonoma Cheese Store so you're ready for a nice evening when you arrive at your lodging in Napa.



Going Golden Gate (since you'er arriving so early) will let you get into "visitor spirit" quickly. Then think about driving back possibly over Bay Bridge. (If not going both ways on Golden Gate is always WONDERFUL so enjoy.)

Have a great trip. (Note: I did not address the mileage factor as its a minor factor to enjoying your vacation.)

Napa, CA
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2. Re: Drive time to Napa - GG or Bay Bridge?


If you land at SFO at 11:15, you will probably have your bags by noon, and rental car by 12:30. This puts you on the Bay Area freeways at the best time of the day (least traffic).

At this time of day, it takes me about 1 hr 20 min to get to Napa if I take the Golden Gate, and it takes about 1 hr 5 min if I go via the Bay Bridge. That's assuming everything is a clear shot.

Add 1-1.5 hrs if there is an accident, or road work.

The Bay Bridge commute traffic gets terrible going in that direction from about 3:00 pm on, and the Golden Gate gets bad in Marin (around Lucky Dr, and then around Central San Rafael) from about 4:00pm on (earlier on Fridays).

The Golden Gate bridge is free when going north (from SF to Napa)-- if you took the Bay Bridge you'd also need to cross over the Carquinez Bridge (by Vallejo), which costs $3.00

Coming back to SF, the Golden Gate costs $5, and the Bay Bridge costs $3 (the Carquinez is free in this direction).

I agree with mini-- the drive across the Golden Gate and through the Carneros wine region is much prettier than what you see going over the Bay Bridge. When going to/from SF, I nearly always take the Golden Gate route.

When you go north (from SF to Napa, across the Golden Gate), stopping at Vista Point (the first exit over the bridge) affords a wonderful view of the bridge and SF city skyline. Going south (coming back from the wine country), the view of the bridge and city of SF from the fast lane as you come out of the Waldo tunnel (over the grade) is breathtaking.

Hard to go wrong either way, though. The Bay Area is a beautiful place. :)

-Russ Herschelmann


Napa Old World Inn

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3. Re: Drive time to Napa - GG or Bay Bridge?

Thanks guys... I believe we'll do the GG both ways. Since we've got an appointment at Caymus around 3pm, I think we'll just head on in to Napa. Possibly stop at Grgich either before or after Caymus, and then check in to our B&B.

Thanks again for the info!