Which San Francisco area airport should I fly into?

Because the City by the Bay is actually on a mountainous peninsula, getting to where you're going in and around San F...

Posted: May 1, 2018 5:51 PM
Updated: May 1, 2018 5:51 PM

Because the City by the Bay is actually on a mountainous peninsula, getting to where you're going in and around San Francisco, California takes some strategic planning unless, of course, you've cashed your stock options from a startup and now fly exclusively by private jet.

For those of us without equity in a multibillion-dollar company, it's easy to cut down on commute time after the airport with some careful planning.

San Francisco proper occupies a mere 49 square (and hilly) miles, but everything known as the Bay Area encompasses eight sprawling counties, each of which offers a smorgasbord of diversions, distractions, and day trips.

North of Silicon Valley's massive tech industry in San Jose, there's a plethora of museums for those seeking culture, pristine redwood forests in Marin County just over the Golden Gate Bridge for those looking for some nature therapy, and, of course, around 400 wineries when all of that sightseeing (and hill-climbing) becomes too much.

That's why we've outlined the best airports to fly into based on what activities you'd like to do while you're in the area.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Located in: Technically, it's in San Mateo County, only 13 miles south of the city proper.

Choose it if: Your destination includes San Francisco; a trip to Alcatraz, Sonoma or Napa Valley; or a big tech meeting in Menlo Park or Palo Alto.

Think again if: You're looking for an easy way out to Yosemite National Park. You'll have to cross the bay, which can tack on a substantial amount of time. The same goes for those wishing to live out their "Big Little Lies" fantasies in Monterey.

Worst thing about airport: The fog is so prevalent in the Bay Area that it has a name - Karl - and a Twitter account to chronicle all of his foggy misdeeds. Couple Karl's constant presence with a record 55 million passengers who flew into SFO in 2017 and you've got the recipe for a potentially cramped, cranky terminal situation. In 2016 alone, Karl was responsible for a record 25,061 delays.

Best thing about airport: SFO operates less like an airport and more like a startup. Wi-Fi is free throughout (of course). Terminal 2 boasts the world's first in-airport yoga studio and a museum with rotating exhibitions that honor the Bay Area's art and history.

Grape expectations: Don't expect regular subsistence airport fare here; instead, head over to Terminal 2, where you'll find Iron Chef Cat Cora's eponymous restaurant, serving up locally-sourced small plates and innovative cocktails. If you'd prefer a taste of Napa ahead of actually going to Napa, hoof it to Vino Volo for local wines, cheeses and nibbles.

Distance to the Golden Gate Bridge: The 18-mile trip can take as little as 25 minutes by car or as much as an hour if you're fighting hordes of commuters. BART, the oft-complained about public transit system, can get you to downtown San Francisco in 30 minutes for $9.65, but it'll take a transfer and another 30 minutes or so to get you to your destination.

Oakland International Airport (OAK)

Located in: Oakland, about 10 miles outside of downtown.

Choose it if: You're heading out into Yosemite National Park or Lake Tahoe, or if you want to save a few minutes getting to Napa or Sonoma. For those worried about Karl snarling air traffic, worry not -- Oakland is nearly impervious to San Francisco's famous fog. More good news: You can find a cheaper flight here vs. SFO (OAK has considerably fewer flights and airlines, but many of them are budget-friendly).

Think again if: You're looking to head to some of the scenic spots on Route 1 along the southern part of the peninsula, like Half Moon Bay. The serenity of the coast isn't worth battling the city traffic.

Worst thing about airport: Oakland has long been one of the most diverse cities in the US, but the same cannot be said for its airport. Its two terminals are mostly full of mediocre chain restaurants and passing through customs can be a time-sucking ordeal.

Grape expectations: Vino Volo, located in Terminal 2 at Gate 26, offers wine tastings, small plates to nosh on before your flight, and bottles to go.

Distance to the Golden Gate Bridge: Depending on traffic (and your chosen route), all it takes is 25 miles across I-880 (that'll take you across the Bay Bridge) or a scenic drive along I-580 that takes you by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the breathtaking Muir Woods.

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)

Located in: San Jose, the epicenter of Silicon Valley

Choose it if: You're on your way to San Jos-, want to drive through some of the southern Redwood forests on the peninsula or are heading south to Monterey and Carmel. It's also decent for San Francisco-bound travelers looking for a smaller, less frenetic airport.

Think again if: You're hoping for a straight shot to wine country, since you're in the wrong direction.

Worst thing about airport: Although SJC was the first airport in the country to offer customer service robots, it seems unnecessary to have droids like Norma ask you for a cheeseburger as you try to find your gate

Best thing about airport: SJC has a respectable amount of national and international airlines, including non-stop flights to booming business capitals like Tokyo, London and New York. There's also strong -- and free! -- Wi-Fi throughout.

Distance to the Golden Gate Bridge: Fifty miles and an hour or more in varying levels of traffic; by public transit, you're looking at 2+ hours.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 331863

Reported Deaths: 7494
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22855279
Hinds22625437
Harrison19462326
Rankin14765286
Jackson14233251
Madison10658227
Lee10398178
Jones8713169
Forrest8164157
Lauderdale7528243
Lowndes6761150
Lamar665988
Lafayette6446124
Washington5497139
Bolivar4907134
Pearl River4889149
Oktibbeha476898
Panola4719112
Marshall4648106
Warren4612125
Pontotoc438873
Monroe4243137
Union424379
Neshoba4179180
Lincoln4088115
Hancock402788
Leflore3562125
Pike3511111
Tate348988
Alcorn343174
Sunflower342293
Adams331987
Yazoo330573
Scott330175
Simpson313690
Copiah311467
Itawamba309580
Coahoma308285
Tippah298368
Prentiss292563
Covington280183
Marion278980
Leake277975
Wayne269942
Grenada265688
George259851
Newton256064
Tishomingo235769
Winston235084
Jasper225748
Attala220373
Chickasaw215960
Stone209137
Holmes194974
Clay191554
Tallahatchie181542
Clarke181480
Calhoun177332
Smith175334
Yalobusha169240
Walthall140448
Lawrence137026
Greene134934
Amite131843
Noxubee131135
Perry130838
Montgomery130644
Carroll124531
Webster116732
Jefferson Davis112934
Tunica110827
Benton104425
Claiborne104231
Kemper100329
Humphreys99033
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw80919
Wilkinson73232
Jefferson69028
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 565510

Reported Deaths: 11468
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson828061584
Mobile44938853
Madison36534532
Tuscaloosa26589465
Shelby26409255
Montgomery25598623
Baldwin23319324
Lee16691179
Calhoun15030332
Morgan14877288
Etowah14563368
Marshall12723235
Houston11302292
Elmore10576217
St. Clair10449251
Limestone10420158
Cullman10198204
Lauderdale9883253
DeKalb9226191
Talladega8705187
Walker7545286
Autauga7388113
Jackson7216117
Blount7147139
Colbert6522142
Coffee5962131
Dale5224117
Russell463942
Chilton4603117
Covington4502125
Franklin439781
Tallapoosa4343156
Escambia414782
Chambers3813124
Dallas3674163
Clarke361562
Marion3354106
Pike323179
Lawrence3176101
Winston289672
Bibb276165
Geneva267383
Marengo257367
Barbour241860
Pickens238862
Butler233571
Hale230578
Fayette223863
Henry203345
Cherokee192347
Randolph192244
Monroe190241
Washington174539
Macon167252
Crenshaw163457
Clay161859
Cleburne158445
Lamar149138
Lowndes143854
Wilcox128431
Bullock125342
Conecuh117730
Coosa115229
Perry109628
Sumter107532
Greene95935
Choctaw63125
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