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Author Topic: Trip to San Fransisco in late January  (Read 3645 times)

mvak36

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Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« on: December 01, 2016, 09:48:33 AM »

I'm going for a friend's wedding in late January, but I'm going a couple of days early to do some sightseeing and maybe clinching all the 3di's in the Bay area and Sacramento.

Which bridges in that area have tolls and which direction do they collect the toll? I think I heard that they only take them going in one direction (toward SFO maybe). The bridges I know I'm going to go see are the Golden Gate, the Oakland-San Fran I-80 bridge, and the I-580 bridge (and if I have time, the 80 and 680 bridges). Do they accept either cash or credit card?

Are there any other interesting places to visit in the area? Other than the Golden Gate bridge, I haven't really planned anything. Also, what time is bad for traffic? I'll try to avoid the big rush hour traffic and all. I'm flying in late on a Thursday night and flying out early Monday morning.
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pumpkineater2

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2016, 01:55:12 PM »

If I remember correctly, The I-680 bridge is tolled only in the northbound direction, and cash is accepted in certain lanes. The Richmond-San Rafael bridge (I-580) is tolled only in the westbound direction.

I would recommend CA-24 through the Caldecott Tunnel(s); I think its a fun ride through the mountains and into the city.
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mvak36

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2016, 02:25:32 PM »

If I remember correctly, The I-680 bridge is tolled only in the northbound direction, and cash is accepted in certain lanes. The Richmond-San Rafael bridge (I-580) is tolled only in the westbound direction.

I would recommend CA-24 through the Caldecott Tunnel(s); I think its a fun ride through the mountains and into the city.

Will do. Thank You.
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Rothman

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2016, 02:33:08 PM »

Depends on what you consider to be interesting.  There's the typical tourist-y stuff:

Alcatraz, Golden Gate Park (and the museums/aquarium therein), the cross atop Mount Davidson (made famous by Dirty Harry), Coit Tower, Fort Point (made famous by Vertigo, Ghiradelli Square, Lombard Street...

SFSU has a modern monstrosity of a campus center that's fun to see.  Blondie's Pizza was a fun place to get a quick slice, but I read that it's closed now due to health inspection problems. :/

Skip the cable cars.  They really aren't all that exciting or worth it in my book, in terms of price or waiting time.  I never saw a seal or sea lion on Seal Rock, either. :D

Muir Woods is north of the City; I haven't been to Point Reyes yet.  Colma = very large graveyard ("Glad to be alive in Colma!" was a common bumper sticker when I was there).

Haven't made it there yet, but I'm planning on going to Eugene O'Neill's house, John Muir's house and the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument some day.

Anyway, lots of stuff to do and see in the area.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2016, 02:37:41 PM »

If you're into scenic drives you have CA 130 up to Mount Hamilton nearby in San Jose and CA 1 with Big Sur also.  Pretty much anything on 1 north or south of the Bay Area will be worthwhile.  The Muir Woods are north of the Golden Gate Bridge or you have Big Basin south of the city of you want some Redwoods. 

DTComposer

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2016, 02:46:14 PM »

Which bridges in that area have tolls and which direction do they collect the toll? I think I heard that they only take them going in one direction (toward SFO maybe).

Tolls on the Bay, San Mateo, Richmond and Dumbarton Bridges are westbound only.
Tolls on the Carquinez, Benicia-Martinez and Antioch Bridges are northbound only (Carquinez is directionally north, but carries I-80 east).
Tolls on the Golden Gate are southbound only.

As for what to see, it depends on your interests: do you want scenic and nature? Museums and culture? History? Urban flavor? "Touristy" spots? Foodie? You could easily fill up a few days focusing on any one of these areas.
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mvak36

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2016, 05:00:08 PM »

Which bridges in that area have tolls and which direction do they collect the toll? I think I heard that they only take them going in one direction (toward SFO maybe).

Tolls on the Bay, San Mateo, Richmond and Dumbarton Bridges are westbound only.
Tolls on the Carquinez, Benicia-Martinez and Antioch Bridges are northbound only (Carquinez is directionally north, but carries I-80 east).
Tolls on the Golden Gate are southbound only.

As for what to see, it depends on your interests: do you want scenic and nature? Museums and culture? History? Urban flavor? "Touristy" spots? Foodie? You could easily fill up a few days focusing on any one of these areas.
I'm usually interested in these. I'm trying to find stuff to do for like 2 days before all the wedding stuff

If you're into scenic drives you have CA 130 up to Mount Hamilton nearby in San Jose and CA 1 with Big Sur also.  Pretty much anything on 1 north or south of the Bay Area will be worthwhile.  The Muir Woods are north of the Golden Gate Bridge or you have Big Basin south of the city of you want some Redwoods. 
Depends on what you consider to be interesting.  There's the typical tourist-y stuff:

Alcatraz, Golden Gate Park (and the museums/aquarium therein), the cross atop Mount Davidson (made famous by Dirty Harry), Coit Tower, Fort Point (made famous by Vertigo, Ghiradelli Square, Lombard Street...

SFSU has a modern monstrosity of a campus center that's fun to see.  Blondie's Pizza was a fun place to get a quick slice, but I read that it's closed now due to health inspection problems. :/

Skip the cable cars.  They really aren't all that exciting or worth it in my book, in terms of price or waiting time.  I never saw a seal or sea lion on Seal Rock, either. :D

Muir Woods is north of the City; I haven't been to Point Reyes yet.  Colma = very large graveyard ("Glad to be alive in Colma!" was a common bumper sticker when I was there).

Haven't made it there yet, but I'm planning on going to Eugene O'Neill's house, John Muir's house and the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument some day.

Anyway, lots of stuff to do and see in the area.

Thanks to everyone for their replies. Keep them coming haha. I like having all these options.
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DTComposer

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2016, 12:23:37 AM »

For scenic and history (and roads), maybe something along the lines of:

Start at Muir Woods, take CA-1 south to US-101 south, over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Stop at Fort Point and/or the Presidio; also of historic interest in San Francisco - the Old Mint, Mission Dolores, Fort Mason, Palace of Fine Arts.
Head out of San Francisco on CA-1 south, go through the new tunnel bypassing Devil's Slide. At Half Moon Bay, take CA-92 east to Skyline Boulevard (CA-35 south). Take Skyline to CA-9 south, then take the CA-236 loop through Big Basin.
Depending on your time/inclination, continue back on CA-9 to Santa Cruz (several interesting historical sites there), or cut over to CA-17 north into San Jose. Historical interest in the area: Mission Santa Clara, Winchester House (kitschy side of history), Moffett Field, Stanford. Take I-280 back to San Francisco.

All of that together is probably more than one day's worth, but just some thoughts. Probably could do a similar type of loop for the East Bay as well.
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Rothman

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2016, 11:14:32 AM »

I was going to mention the Old Mint as well.
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mvak36

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2016, 04:31:54 PM »

Other than the rush hours, is there any other time that the traffic is bad over the weekend? Any places that are bad bottlenecks?
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DTComposer

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2016, 07:26:03 PM »

Other than the rush hours, is there any other time that the traffic is bad over the weekend? Any places that are bad bottlenecks?

Getting into San Francisco itself can be congested almost any time, getting out less so. Outside of the city, I-880 between Oakland and Fremont can be congested during weekend days.
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mvak36

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2016, 09:46:03 AM »

Are there any restrictions on the Lombard street hill? Like maybe we can't drive it at a certain time, etc., I might go see it if I have the time.
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Rothman

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2016, 01:12:41 PM »

Are there any restrictions on the Lombard street hill? Like maybe we can't drive it at a certain time, etc., I might go see it if I have the time.

It is one-way down the hill.  Other than that, I know there have been attempts to slap time restrictions on the road over the years, but I'm not aware of any that are on it currently.

Some argue that Vermont Street near McKinley Square on Portero Hill is more "crooked" due to having tighter turns and, I believe, a steeper grade.  I believe Lombard jams more turns into a block, however.
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kkt

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2016, 07:38:21 PM »

The Golden Gate Bridge northbound, the right lane is a bottleneck for traffic to the parking area north of the bridge for visitors to walk over the bridge.  If you want to walk the bridge, and it's a spectacular view, I suggest parking in the Presidio on the S.F. side and walking to the bridge.  You can usually get within a couple of hundred yards with no waiting.
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mvak36

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2016, 10:40:08 AM »

The Golden Gate Bridge northbound, the right lane is a bottleneck for traffic to the parking area north of the bridge for visitors to walk over the bridge.  If you want to walk the bridge, and it's a spectacular view, I suggest parking in the Presidio on the S.F. side and walking to the bridge.  You can usually get within a couple of hundred yards with no waiting.

I'm not sure if I'll be walking it this time (depends on the weather that day). I will go to Hawk Hill though. I'm excited for that.
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coatimundi

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2016, 05:55:23 PM »

Are there any other interesting places to visit in the area? Other than the Golden Gate bridge, I haven't really planned anything. Also, what time is bad for traffic? I'll try to avoid the big rush hour traffic and all. I'm flying in late on a Thursday night and flying out early Monday morning.

I don't see you mention where, in the Bay Area, you'll be staying. If in SF proper, it can be absurdly expensive to stay overnight with a car. Hotels often charge $50 per night for parking. And parking it on the street overnight gets really complicated because of rush hour lanes and street sweeping zones.
If you can, look at renting the car outside of SFO. They tack on a pretty hefty tax for the privilege. You're probably arriving too late but, if you take BART up one stop to San Bruno then walk next door to the Sears Auto Center in the Tanforan Mall, and there's an Avis/Budget office. I've done that a couple of times and have saved money, since Avis/Budget usually doesn't charge for one-way rentals in the same area (so you can return the car to SFO without paying the taxes). Otherwise, there are several offices from several companies in the city.

If you're not in SF proper, there are a lot of places to visit in the area that are interesting, but really very little compares to San Francisco itself if you've never been. I've always thought it a great walking city: you can just take transit somewhere, walk around for a couple of hours, then grab a bus or train back. There are some great museums and really nice sites, but I just like to walk around the neighborhoods.
My sister-in-law was here a few months ago, and I was given one day to take her up there and show her the city. So we started at the Ferry Building, walked to Union Square, ate in the cafe at Nordstrom's, walked up the hill to Chinatown, went to SFMoMA, then she really wanted to go to Castro. That took pretty much the whole day and there was a ton of stuff we missed. You have to plan the days pretty well. If you like live music too, there's always someone playing somewhere in the Bay Area. Not some BS bar cover band, but really good bands. There's a really good music scene there.

For road geek stuff, in addition to what's been mentioned, you can brave SR 35, Skyline Drive. I think it's also interesting to stand in the median of the Embarcadero by the Ferry Building and imagine the decked freeway being there.
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mvak36

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2016, 08:46:17 PM »

Are there any other interesting places to visit in the area? Other than the Golden Gate bridge, I haven't really planned anything. Also, what time is bad for traffic? I'll try to avoid the big rush hour traffic and all. I'm flying in late on a Thursday night and flying out early Monday morning.

I don't see you mention where, in the Bay Area, you'll be staying. If in SF proper, it can be absurdly expensive to stay overnight with a car. Hotels often charge $50 per night for parking. And parking it on the street overnight gets really complicated because of rush hour lanes and street sweeping zones.
If you can, look at renting the car outside of SFO. They tack on a pretty hefty tax for the privilege. You're probably arriving too late but, if you take BART up one stop to San Bruno then walk next door to the Sears Auto Center in the Tanforan Mall, and there's an Avis/Budget office. I've done that a couple of times and have saved money, since Avis/Budget usually doesn't charge for one-way rentals in the same area (so you can return the car to SFO without paying the taxes). Otherwise, there are several offices from several companies in the city.

If you're not in SF proper, there are a lot of places to visit in the area that are interesting, but really very little compares to San Francisco itself if you've never been. I've always thought it a great walking city: you can just take transit somewhere, walk around for a couple of hours, then grab a bus or train back. There are some great museums and really nice sites, but I just like to walk around the neighborhoods.
My sister-in-law was here a few months ago, and I was given one day to take her up there and show her the city. So we started at the Ferry Building, walked to Union Square, ate in the cafe at Nordstrom's, walked up the hill to Chinatown, went to SFMoMA, then she really wanted to go to Castro. That took pretty much the whole day and there was a ton of stuff we missed. You have to plan the days pretty well. If you like live music too, there's always someone playing somewhere in the Bay Area. Not some BS bar cover band, but really good bands. There's a really good music scene there.

For road geek stuff, in addition to what's been mentioned, you can brave SR 35, Skyline Drive. I think it's also interesting to stand in the median of the Embarcadero by the Ferry Building and imagine the decked freeway being there.

I'm going to be staying near the Fremont area. My friend says he's going to book the hotels so I've held off booking tickets. Will there be free parking at the hotels in that area?
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coatimundi

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2016, 11:26:18 AM »

I'm going to be staying near the Fremont area. My friend says he's going to book the hotels so I've held off booking tickets. Will there be free parking at the hotels in that area?

The hotels I've seen in Fremont offer free parking.
Fremont is not that close to San Francisco. Without traffic, it takes at least 40 minutes to reach the edge of the city, but there's usually traffic. Someone else mentioned 880, and that's the freeway you have to use at least a little to reach SF from Fremont. It's a total wild card: you could hit traffic at 3am on a Sunday night or you could drive it clear all the way to Oakland at 5pm on a Tuesday. You just never know. I hate that freeway, but I end up on it a lot because it's useful.
When there's traffic, it's quicker to take BART in. There's a big BART station in Fremont with a large parking area, as that's the end of the line right now. I parked there about a year ago, and I recall it being $2 for the day. You note your space number, then pay at a machine in the station on the streetside of the turnstiles. If you get in after 3pm, then it's free up to the following morning (you can park for 24 hours, or buy a long-term permit).
San Jose is a lot closer and easier to reach. There's some good nightlife there and things to do, but it still pales in comparison to San Francisco, in terms of tourist activities. Certainly a more car-friendly city though.
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mvak36

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2016, 01:19:02 PM »

I'm going to be staying near the Fremont area. My friend says he's going to book the hotels so I've held off booking tickets. Will there be free parking at the hotels in that area?

The hotels I've seen in Fremont offer free parking.
Fremont is not that close to San Francisco. Without traffic, it takes at least 40 minutes to reach the edge of the city, but there's usually traffic. Someone else mentioned 880, and that's the freeway you have to use at least a little to reach SF from Fremont. It's a total wild card: you could hit traffic at 3am on a Sunday night or you could drive it clear all the way to Oakland at 5pm on a Tuesday. You just never know. I hate that freeway, but I end up on it a lot because it's useful.
When there's traffic, it's quicker to take BART in. There's a big BART station in Fremont with a large parking area, as that's the end of the line right now. I parked there about a year ago, and I recall it being $2 for the day. You note your space number, then pay at a machine in the station on the streetside of the turnstiles. If you get in after 3pm, then it's free up to the following morning (you can park for 24 hours, or buy a long-term permit).
San Jose is a lot closer and easier to reach. There's some good nightlife there and things to do, but it still pales in comparison to San Francisco, in terms of tourist activities. Certainly a more car-friendly city though.

Ok. I will keep that in mind. Thank You. I'm not sure how much of the city I'll be seeing this time. I might just do the scenic places outside of the city for this time since I have only about a day and a half of sightseeing to do.
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Roadrunner75

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2016, 11:49:40 PM »

Depends on what you consider to be interesting.  There's the typical tourist-y stuff:

Alcatraz, Golden Gate Park (and the museums/aquarium therein), the cross atop Mount Davidson (made famous by Dirty Harry), Coit Tower, Fort Point (made famous by Vertigo, Ghiradelli Square, Lombard Street...

SFSU has a modern monstrosity of a campus center that's fun to see.  Blondie's Pizza was a fun place to get a quick slice, but I read that it's closed now due to health inspection problems. :/

Skip the cable cars.  They really aren't all that exciting or worth it in my book, in terms of price or waiting time.  I never saw a seal or sea lion on Seal Rock, either. :D

Muir Woods is north of the City; I haven't been to Point Reyes yet.  Colma = very large graveyard ("Glad to be alive in Colma!" was a common bumper sticker when I was there).

Haven't made it there yet, but I'm planning on going to Eugene O'Neill's house, John Muir's house and the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument some day.

Anyway, lots of stuff to do and see in the area.
The above was pretty much our itinerary on our honeymoon.  I couldn't find the cross from Dirty Harry even though I tried - but that was before usable internet on the phone.  We saw exactly one (1) sea lion at Pier 39.  Alcatraz and Muir Woods were awesome.  Don't call the cable cars trolleys or risk getting sternly corrected.  The cable car museum was neat (where the giant spools actually run the system).  Lombard St., Coit Tower, Golden Gate, Route 1, Sausalito, Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury (and Amoeba Music), Alamo Square, finally seeing the Pacific - all good.  I would do it again in a second.

Of course, there had to be some boring the wife with assorted roadnuttery - bridges, freeways, Route 1 to the south and north, etc.
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michravera

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2016, 04:07:23 AM »

I'm going for a friend's wedding in late January, but I'm going a couple of days early to do some sightseeing and maybe clinching all the 3di's in the Bay area and Sacramento.

Which bridges in that area have tolls and which direction do they collect the toll? I think I heard that they only take them going in one direction (toward SFO maybe). The bridges I know I'm going to go see are the Golden Gate, the Oakland-San Fran I-80 bridge, and the I-580 bridge (and if I have time, the 80 and 680 bridges). Do they accept either cash or credit card?

Are there any other interesting places to visit in the area? Other than the Golden Gate bridge, I haven't really planned anything. Also, what time is bad for traffic? I'll try to avoid the big rush hour traffic and all. I'm flying in late on a Thursday night and flying out early Monday morning.

If it crosses the bay, they collect the toll westbound. If it stays in the East Bay, they collect it eastbound. The Golden Gate collects tolls southbound. I don't think that you can even pay cash anymore.
If you are going to drive around and pay tolls, get a FasTrak. No credit cards at the toll crossings (but you can use a credit card to pay for FasTrak).

"Rush Hour" runs from approximately 6AM to 7PM in the core areas and 5AM-9AM and 3PM-7PM in the outlying areas. Traffic Paralysis sets in at about 1:30PM on Fridays. If you aren't where you are going by 2PM, you may or may not get there.

The whole area is interesting. The question is what will be interesting to you. Roadrunner gave you a partial list for the north end of the Bay. We also have an East bay, a South Bay, and a Peninsula (which is the west side of the bay). In addition, we have a coast.
A trip along CASR-1 (especially south of San Francisco) for as far as you are able to handle it (Half Moon Bay, Davenport, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Morro Bay, or all of the way to Long Beach) is a drive that you just shouldn't miss.
It is not impossible that they will call the "Big Wave" surfing tournament at Mavericks (they do it on just 24 hours' notice) when you are there.
Aimes Research Center
San Carlos Air Museum
Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
Mystery Spot near Santa Cruz


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mvak36

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2016, 09:22:37 AM »

If it crosses the bay, they collect the toll westbound. If it stays in the East Bay, they collect it eastbound. The Golden Gate collects tolls southbound. I don't think that you can even pay cash anymore.
If you are going to drive around and pay tolls, get a FasTrak. No credit cards at the toll crossings (but you can use a credit card to pay for FasTrak).

"Rush Hour" runs from approximately 6AM to 7PM in the core areas and 5AM-9AM and 3PM-7PM in the outlying areas. Traffic Paralysis sets in at about 1:30PM on Fridays. If you aren't where you are going by 2PM, you may or may not get there.

The whole area is interesting. The question is what will be interesting to you. Roadrunner gave you a partial list for the north end of the Bay. We also have an East bay, a South Bay, and a Peninsula (which is the west side of the bay). In addition, we have a coast.
A trip along CASR-1 (especially south of San Francisco) for as far as you are able to handle it (Half Moon Bay, Davenport, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Morro Bay, or all of the way to Long Beach) is a drive that you just shouldn't miss.
It is not impossible that they will call the "Big Wave" surfing tournament at Mavericks (they do it on just 24 hours' notice) when you are there.
Aimes Research Center
San Carlos Air Museum
Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
Mystery Spot near Santa Cruz

What do you mean by core areas? Like the cities?

Depending on how much time I have, I will try to get down to the Big Sur Park along CA-1. I might do that on the Friday to get away from the traffic.
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coatimundi

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2016, 11:16:50 AM »

If it crosses the bay, they collect the toll westbound. If it stays in the East Bay, they collect it eastbound. The Golden Gate collects tolls southbound. I don't think that you can even pay cash anymore.
If you are going to drive around and pay tolls, get a FasTrak. No credit cards at the toll crossings (but you can use a credit card to pay for FasTrak).

Good point about the cash-less Golden Gate. I had forgotten about that. You either have to do FasTrak (which is unfortunately incompatible with EZ-Pass/I-Pass) or pay by plate. If you get a transponder in the rental car, you can use that, but there's a daily service fee, usually about $4 per day for each day you have the car, maxing out at about $15. Meanwhile, if you use pay by plate in a rental car, you typically get charged a service fee of $20 or so for them to look up your info (the pay by plate stuff is run by a third-party) to send you a bill.
So, if you want to drive the Golden Gate, try to drive it northbound only, and come back on the San Rafael Bridge (which is free eastbound).

Depending on how much time I have, I will try to get down to the Big Sur Park along CA-1. I might do that on the Friday to get away from the traffic.

If the weather is nice, then everyone else will be coming down here also. During the summer, the backups start on 101 in Gilroy at about 2:30 on Friday and don't let up until about 8pm, then continue the following afternoon. It's better in the winter, but you still need to leave fairly early. There's a lot of commuter traffic on 101 south of San Jose, all the way past the Hollister/SR 25 exit.

There are several state parks in the Big Sur area. Garrapata just had a pretty major fire this past summer, so probably skip that one, except for the beach area (there's a great beach at Garrapata). The other two are nice for hiking, and Point Lobos (that's in Carmel, but some people think of it as Big Sur) is really nice. At California parks, if you don't want to pay the $10 parking fee, you can generally park on the highway and walk in. However, at Pfeiffer-Burns at least, you pretty much have to park in their parking lot. It's a good walk in from the highway at Point Lobos too. But, once you pay that $10, you can enter other parks the same day without paying an additional fee.

It'll take at least 90 minutes to get here from Fremont, and an additional 30-60 minutes to reach Big Sur, depending on where you're going there.
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michravera

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Re: Trip to San Fransisco in late January
« Reply #23 on: December 14, 2016, 05:38:41 PM »

If it crosses the bay, they collect the toll westbound. If it stays in the East Bay, they collect it eastbound. The Golden Gate collects tolls southbound. I don't think that you can even pay cash anymore.
If you are going to drive around and pay tolls, get a FasTrak. No credit cards at the toll crossings (but you can use a credit card to pay for FasTrak).

"Rush Hour" runs from approximately 6AM to 7PM in the core areas and 5AM-9AM and 3PM-7PM in the outlying areas. Traffic Paralysis sets in at about 1:30PM on Fridays. If you aren't where you are going by 2PM, you may or may not get there.

The whole area is interesting. The question is what will be interesting to you. Roadrunner gave you a partial list for the north end of the Bay. We also have an East bay, a South Bay, and a Peninsula (which is the west side of the bay). In addition, we have a coast.
A trip along CASR-1 (especially south of San Francisco) for as far as you are able to handle it (Half Moon Bay, Davenport, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Morro Bay, or all of the way to Long Beach) is a drive that you just shouldn't miss.
It is not impossible that they will call the "Big Wave" surfing tournament at Mavericks (they do it on just 24 hours' notice) when you are there.
Aimes Research Center
San Carlos Air Museum
Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
Mystery Spot near Santa Cruz

What do you mean by core areas? Like the cities?

Depending on how much time I have, I will try to get down to the Big Sur Park along CA-1. I might do that on the Friday to get away from the traffic.

The "core areas" are basically inside the ring created by (going anti-clockwise from San Francisco) I-280, I-680, I-580, and US-101. Go anywhere within that ring and you can't count on averaging 100 km/hr between 5AM and 7PM. After 1:30PM on Friday, you can't count on averaging 10 km/hr. Remember, a road is at maximum safe speed capacity at about 1800 vehicles per hour per lane. We have several sections of road here that exceed that on a 24 hour average (more than 43200 vehicles per lane per day).
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