Visiting Downtown San Francisco
All roads really DO lead to downtown San Francisco! From the Gold Rush Era through today, the core of San Francisco has been the center of transportation in the Bay Area, making it fairly easy to get to and get around.
It doesn’t get more San Francisco than riding the hills of San Francisco in a cable car. The City offers three separate cable car lines, one beginning at Market St and California St, and two beginning at the Powell St turnaround, that will give you some of the most striking views in SF.Learn more about schedules and ticketing.
Wanna beat the traffic? BART is one of the fastest, most dependable, and most affordable modes of transportation in downtown San Francisco. With stations at both San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport and 50 stations throughout the Bay Area, BART can almost always get you where you need to go. Clipper Cards (which can be used for both BART and Muni) are available at all BART stations or via the Clipper App. You can find BART’s route map here.
Muni is SF’s transportation system that operates buses, trains, and cable cars throughout The City. You can spot MUNI stops in San Francisco with either their red-roofed stops, yellow painted street poles, or white paint on the street. Muni stops can be both underground or above ground, and can make for some pretty scenic rides. Clipper Cards and CityPASS San Francisco Pack are accepted as fare.
Caltrain is a hi-speed rail system that runs between San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose, and Gilroy and connect with other transportation systems like BART and Muni. Caltrain is ideal for folks visiting from southern California or flying into the San Jose Airport, as its large trains only run up and down the peninsula. Caltrain fares are based on the number of Zones traveled through. You can find the Caltrain Zone map here. Like MUNI and BART, Caltrain also accepts Clipper Card. You can also snag a ticket at the ticket machine if that’s your jam, but fare at the ticket machine is more expensive than if you utilize a Clipper Card.
You’re the captain now! Ferries are one of the most scenic ways to get to downtown San Francisco and feature routes from Alameda, Harbor Bay, Oakland, Richmond, South San Francisco, and Vallejo. Much like Caltrain, fare levels are broken down by zones, which can be found here. The most cost-effective payment method on the ferry is Clipper Card, which ranges from $1 to $9 depending on the length of your trip. Discounts for youth and seniors are also available. Learn more about ferry fares here.
There are a multitude of parking garages available in downtown San Francisco. When parking, be mindful of the hours of the garage, as many close in the evening hours. Check out parking garages in downtown SF.