How to Get Around the Bay Area

This article was contributed by Sacramento DUI Attorney Michael Rehm. The San Francisco Bay Area in northern California is absolutely stunning. You can find just about everything in the Bay Area from huge bustling urban metropolises and sunny beach fronts to beautiful hiking hillsides and the world renowned Napa Valley.

The Bay Area is composed of nine different counties. San Francisco is the hub of the Bay Area as it exists in the middle of all the other counties. Solano, Napa, Sonoma and Marin County compose the North Bay Area. Contra Costa and Alameda County make up the East Bay Area. Most of Santa Clara County composes the South Bay Area, with the exception of the Northern region. The Northern region of Santa Clara County along with San Mateo, compose the Peninsula of the Bay Area.

When you’re in the Bay Area, there are many different ways to get around and see the sights. Depending on what you want to see, there could be different ways to go about seeing them. In any case, traveling around the Bay Area is relatively easy due to the variety of options available to you.


Driving: It’s the most obvious choice when travelling anywhere, but with driving comes headaches. The Bay Area has a series of networked freeways, which makes going from County to County a bit easier. However, during rush hour all the major freeways are subject to terrible congestion.

The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), runs along the coast and is the slower, but more scenic route. The PCH is 500 miles long and full of twists, hills, turns and stunning views.

In some of the larger cities like San Francisco, driving can be a terrible experience. It can be congested and confusing due to one way streets, narrow lanes and steep hills. Parking downtown can also be quite costly at up to $30.

BART: The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), is a light rail transit system, which runs from six a.m. to midnight, 7 days a week. BART connects San Francisco, the East Bay, Contra Costa, some portions of the Peninsula and both the San Francisco and Oakland airports.

Ticket prices for BART vary on the distance being travelled and tickets are sold at the stations through vending machines. Instead of having to buy individual tickets, every ticket is loaded with a dollar amount by the traveler. The ticket need to be scanned upon entering and exiting the train and the appropriate travel fee is removed from the balance of the card. In essence, $20 on a BART ticket could last a person a few days, depending on the use.

As with driving, BART can get quite crowded during rush hour or big events. BART also has a limited amount of stops, which mean you may still need to take other public transit systems to get to your final destination.

Public Transit: Aside from the rail system, public transit consists of buses and the iconic cable cars in San Francisco. It’s a great method to get around the more downtown areas, but if you’re looking to get out of the core Bay Area, having a car or using BART is a much better choice. Trying to get to say Napa Valley by bus would take quite some time (days potentially) and multiple transfers to different buses.

Caltrain: Caltrain is a commuter train that runs in the Peninsula. It goes from San Francisco to Gilroy. Just like the BART system, ticket prices vary by distance travelled and ticket are bought from vending machines. The train typically runs every half hour and once an hour during evenings.


Taxis: Of course, like any other city there are plenty of taxis available. They’re mainly used in the downtown areas, but they can also take you just about anywhere else in the Bay Area. Although the price of a taxi to take you between counties could get a little high.

Uber: The Bay Area is home to Silicon Valley, the base of many of the biggest and smallest tech companies in the world. The mobile app Uber, is headquartered in San Francisco and it’s used for people to request rides. Uber services much of the Bay Area and if you’re a little more adventurous, using Uber could be a good way to get around. You could also gain some valuable insight about the Bay Area from your local driver.

Boat: There are passenger ferries available that can take you around the Bay Area. Obviously, the ferry destinations are limited, but it’s an excellent way to see the San Francisco skyline from the water or get a great picture of the infamous Alcatraz.

With the number of different ways to navigate the Bay Area, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting anywhere. If you take your time and plan accordingly, you should be able to not only see, but travel throughout the Bar Area with relative ease.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *