how to leave your heart in SF

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San Francisco is one of the world’s great cities.  Sitting up high on the tip of a Northern California peninsula, it’s natural beauty and cooler climate is as unique as the citizens that inhabit it.  For being such a small area in terms of acreage, SF packs so many things to see and do in every square mile.  There’s no way you can see everything, or afford everything, as it is one of the most expensive places in the world.  But, there’s also many free or affordable things to do as well, which we’re all about.

One visit, one dozen visits are not enough to experience the entirety of “the city,” but this what I like to do on a weekend visiting the city by the Bay.

save me, san francisco

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know before you go: Oakland (OAK)

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This is not my favorite airport.  I actually don’t care for either SFO or OAK, but at least SFO has a decent international terminal.  Oakland is an older airport that has limited amenities and dining options.  If you are stuck here as I was on a delay, it can be painful.

The airport itself is located about 10 miles from Downtown, and is very close to San Leandro.  There’s two terminals, T1 and T2, with 17 and 12 gates respectively.  T1 serves Alaska, Allegiant, American, British Airways, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Norwegian, Southwest, Spirit and Volaris.  T2 is exclusively Southwest.  The terminals are connected by a walkway and it’s a small airport, so it’s not too much of a hike from one end to another.

The thing it has going for it is that the BART station is very convenient to get to Oakland or SF.  I used to fly into Oakland to get to SF to avoid SFO.  And if there’s delays for SFO, usually you can hop on a flight to Oakland that may get you to the Bay earlier.  Of the NorCal airports, San Jose and Sacramento are better, but for convenience sake, Oakland just edges SFO out in my experience.

Remember: ✈️ = basket case to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = time of your life

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (BART and amtrak stations; freeway access can be real crowded at rush hour)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (not too big of an airport)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️ (the check in area is small and the security lines can be long and slow)

Dining: ✈️✈️ (T1 there’s a chili’s to go and the Silver Dragon chinese isn’t bad.  They also have blue bottle coffee cartons, which is a plus for the bay area.  T2 has more options in typically airport fare: vino volo, gordon biersch, CPK and Fenton’s ice cream)

Bathrooms: ✈️  (I would literally give it negative planes if I could–the toilets are old and missing porcelain–every toilet is like this)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi available, could have more charging areas)

Amenities: ✈️ (very few shops including Raiders store and an Escape Lounge)

 

 

know before you go: San Diego (SAN)

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San Diego (SAN) airport is a condundrum to me.  It is beautiful for sure, the weather is always 70 degrees and sunny, but the planning of the airport itself is very strange.

My main gripe about it, is that you have to exit one area of the terminal one to get to another, having to go through security again, if you’re making a connection.  This is the worst.  I’ve done this several times for Southwest.  Once, they actually took me onto the tarmac to get from one terminal to the other to help me catch a flight due to a delay (this was the time I was trying to make a game of the World Series and had to go to Oakland instead of SFO).

There are technically three terminals in this airport (one is a commuter terminal).  Terminal one serves Alaska, Frontier and Southwest and has 19 gates.  Terminal 2 has 32 gates for everything else: Air Canada, American, British Airways, Delta, Hawaiian, Japan, JetBlue, United, Virgin America, etc.  Each terminal is split into East and West which is where the whole confusion of security happens during layovers.

It is a single runway airport, so taxi times can be long.  There’s also sound ordinances so you won’t be taking many red eye flights from here.  On the plus side, it is pretty close to downtown, and has a very easy pick/up drop off area.  And the weather can’t be beat. Because it is a single runway, the planes land the same every time, so try to get a seat on the left side of the plane from your destination for the dramatic ocean view upon arrival.

There’s some local restaurants in Terminal 2, the usual airport market cafe grab and gos and a decent burger place in Terminal 1.  Not much shopping other than your typical Hudson News and bookstores.  There s a Delta and United lounge and some Be relax spas.  They are undertaken an expansion, so hopefully more shopping and dining options will be available to this very busy airport for both air and cruise travelers.

Remember: ✈️ = San Diego Zoo is less of a zoo than this place to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = stay classy, San Diego

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️

Dining: ✈️✈️

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️  (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (minimal shopping, spas, airline lounges)