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1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

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Canton of Zurich...
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1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

Hi,

I will be visiting San Francisco for 1 day from San Jose. I will be a first timer :-)

I would like to do the following:

1. Visit Alcatraz

2. Golden gate bridge (to take pictures mainly)

3. Maybe walk around fisherman's wharf or other cool neighborhoods if there's time.

I will be a solo traveler. What is the best way to get from San Jose to San Francisco, and how should I travel from site to site (and in what order)?

Thank you!!

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1. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

Take Cal Train from San Jose to SF (www.caltrain.com)

The train station in SF is at 4th and King. To get to the Alcatraz Pier exit the train station and to your right. The Muni Metro runs in the middle of King Street. Ticket machines are at the corner. Take the Metro to Embarcadero station (it's underground), come to street level and catch the F-Market & Wharves trolley (runs in the middle of Market St) to Pier 33 where the Alcatraz ferry is.

You will want to buy your Alcatraz tickets in advance as they always sell out -- www.alcatrazcruises.com

From the Alcatraz ferry to the Golden Gate Bridge: Either catch the F to the end of the line at Jones and Beach or walk through Fisherman's Wharf. Go to Columbus and Bay (in front of the Marriott) and catch the 30-Stockton with a destination of "Broderick" (do not get the bendy bus with the destination "Van Ness") and get off at Laguna (there are usually a number of people getting off here) and transfer to the 28-19th Ave bus which will go to the vista point at the south end of the bridge. When returning be sure to catch the 28 with the destination "Fort Mason" as the stop is used by the line going in both directions.

An alternative to catching the 30-Stockton: continue walking through Fisherman's Wharf along Jefferson St and then through Aquatic Park. At Aquatic Pier, head up the hill through Fort Mason (there are some great views from the top of the hill) and down through the Great Meadow. Catch the 28-19th Ave at its starting point in Fort Mason.

On the way back if you'd like to stroll the Marina neighborhood, get off the 28 on Lombard at Divisadero. Cross Divis and walk 1 block to Chestnut and head east (to the right) and wander to Fillmore. Catch the 30-Stockton anywhere on Chestnut and it will take you back to the train station.

Noshing/Dining options along the route: Friends of the Library has a small cafe in Fort Mason. Walk down the hill from the vista point to the Warming Hut which is run by the National Park Service. All sorts of selection along Chestnut and the side streets running from Chestnut to Lombard.

Canton of Zurich...
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2. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

Wow, thanks for your detailed answer!! How long do you think it should take to get from the train station in San Fran to Alcatraz to begin the tour (I would like to get tickets ahead of time, but I need to know what train I should take)? It the train typically on time?

San Francisco...
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3. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

From CalTrain to the Alcatraz pier is about 35 minutes - but you need to transfer, so I'd give yourself an hour, depending on the time of day and how your trains line up.

From CalTrain you'll take either an "N" or "T" train outbound. There are only two lines that run to the train station, so either one "outbound" will get you there. I know outbound seems like it would be wrong, but most of the tracks are on the other end so they consider those "inbound" to downtown. You'll know you're headed in the right direction as you pass the ballpark and the water appears on your right.

Either line will eventually go underground to become the subway. You'll want to get off at the first underground stop. Exit the train doors to your left and take the furthest stairwell to the top and you should be facing the Ferry Building.

Walk toward the Ferry Building and you'll see the F-line historic streetcar stops in the middle of the road - in a plaza area. You'll want to grab the first one you see headed "inbound" toward Fisherman's Wharf.

Then just exit at Pier 33 for Alcatraz. If you give yourself even more time, it's walkable from the Ferry Building. I find the F-line tediously slow, but since you will have already bought a ticket for the "N" or "T" portion of the ride, that ticket or transfer will still be good for the "F" portion of the trip.

San Francisco...
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4. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

I meant to add that the MUNI lines N, T, F and the rest don't really run on a set schedule. There's usually something about every 6 minutes or so, but you never know. If you have a smartphone, you can use google maps to give you realtime data - or you can go to nextbus.com

Berkeley, California
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5. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

Caltrain usually runs on time, unless there has been an "incident" with a pedestrian. That happens a few times a year--as much as once a month during the worst of it--but is not something you can plan for. Just expect your trip to be smooth sailing.

The easiest way to get from the Caltrain depot to Pier 33 is to take Muni's 82X bus line. It picks up at Caltrain and drops you off at the end of the line (Sansome & Filbert) 20 minutes later. From there, it is a short 4-block walk to Pier 33.

If you do not catch the 82X, you will have to take the N or T to Embarcadero, then transfer to the F streetcar. Although these trains tend to operate frequently, they are not very reliable if you are on a tight schedule. Check http://www.sfmta.com for maps and schedules.

Even though the 82X tends to be reliable, I recommend building a time cushion into your morning trip anyway.

Once you are done with Alcatraz, I recommend walking (via Fisherman's Wharf and/or North Beach) towards the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping along the way as you see fit. Fort Mason and Crissy Field are attractions along the way. You can use a Muni bus (30 and/or 28, depending upon where exactly you are) if you do not feel like walking the rest of the way.

Once you are done at the GGB, you can opt to return to the main part of the City (Chinatown, Union Square, etc.) as noted above, or continue your counterclockwise loop back to a different Caltrain station. If you continue the loop, your next stop would be Golden Gate Park (via the 28 going towards "Daly City BART" as opposed to "Fort Mason"). When done there, you can take the 28 to Daly City BART or the 43 to Glen Park BART, then BART to Millbrae, where you would take Caltrain back to San Jose.

Berkeley, California
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6. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

Oops, I meant to type 44, not 43. The 43 is a different bus line in the area, which conveniently does run to a BART station, but it doesn't pick up *in* Golden Gate Park like the 44 does. I guess, really, you can take the 28, 43, or 44 to get back to BART...

Canton of Zurich...
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7. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

Does the 82X bus line only run on weekdays? The schedule I found online shows times leaving from 6-9 am only.

Thanks!

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8. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

Yes, it is weekdays only. Is your trip on a weekend? Caltrain is a lot slower on weekends... Where exactly in San Jose are you staying? It is a (geographically) huge city. So much so that it may be faster to take a VTA express bus to Fremont and ride BART into San Francisco that way, rather than put up with the extra slow weekend Caltrain service.

Canton of Zurich...
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9. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

I think I will make this trip on Friday (from downtown San Jose-- just a few miles form the CalTrain Station). If I leave from San Jose on the 8:03 train, I should make it around 9:02. From there, can I take the 82X? How late does that line run?

Thanks!

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10. Re: 1 day trip to San Fran: transportation question

The 82X is designed to get commuters from the train station to Levi Plaza. In the morning it runs from the train station between 6:04AM and 9:05AM. Your 9:02 arrival may allow you to catch the 9:05 but I'm not sure I'd buy an Alcatraz ticket that depended upon it.