Driving times: San Francisco to Napa Valley/Sonoma and back.
Replies: 31 - Last Post: May 8, 2010 4:59 PM Last Post By: DownUnderBabe
May 4, 2010 5:08 PM
Driving times: San Francisco to Napa Valley/Sonoma and back.Going to be in San Francisco for 4 days in September and looking at either driving out to the wineries or doing a bus tour.
If driving, I understand that the drive from San Francisco to Napa Valley is about an hour. What is the driving time between Napa Valley and Sonoma then Sonoma back to San Francisco?
I'll then drive to the airport the following morning, flight departing at 9.00am Thursday. How long should I allow to get to the airport?
May 4, 2010 6:03 PM
1Google maps will do that for you.
When you use it, you might want to put in a location other than the vague "Napa Valley" and "Sonoma" (unless you mean the town of).
If your flight is international, you should be there two hours ahead. 1.5 for domestic. Add that to your transit time.
May 4, 2010 6:50 PM
2Google maps actually won't tell you the best way to get there, which is Hwy 101 north, 37 east to Vallejo, then north on 29. The route it recommends takes you through the worst of the East Bay traffic, not to mention TWO toll bridges instead of one.
You cannot make the drive in an hour, regardless of which route you take. 1 1/2 hours would be the minimum I would allow. Returning, you will be fighting the morning commute traffic all the way, so I would allow at least 2 1/2 hours to get there.
May 4, 2010 7:13 PM
3Napa & Sonoma Wine Country
If you're going to drive to Napa and Sonoma, figure on a leisurely day doing it. If you're in a hurry, you defeat the whole purpose.
From the way you wrote your query, I'm presuming you are staying at a hotel in downtown San Francisco. To catch a 9 a.m. flight out of SFO, I'd leave my hotel downtown no later than 6:30 a.m., but I'd be more comfortable if I left at 6 a.m. Traffic will be light at 6 a.m., giving you enough time to get there, return your car, and get through security.
By the way, this might be just me, but I've flown international from the U.S. a couple dozen times and have never found international departures from the United States to be any more complicated or time-consuming than domestic ones. As long as your travel documents are in order, it won't take any more time.
May 4, 2010 8:29 PM
4Keep in mind that Napa and Sonoma are the names of counties and valleys. They are also the names of the towns at the south end of each county.
Simply entering Sonoma into Google Maps won't tell you how far it is to get to Healdsburg, more than a hour north of Sonoma but still in Sonoma county. The question is where you want to go--Calistoga or (city of) Napa?
Rent a car rather than taking a bus, but return it when you get back to the city so you don't have to pay for expensive overnight parking.
Are you going to the airport from San Francisco? Taking BART (which you should) it's a little over half an hour. There won't be any traffic going south out of the city. Two hours ahead for intl, 60-90 minutes for domestic, especially if it's a busy time like summer.
Driving south from Napa or Sonoma on a weekday morning is not advised unless you leave at dawn.
May 4, 2010 9:00 PM
5I'm flying domestic to Honolulu.
Staying at Best Western Americana and I think they have overnight parking, though not sure if they charge.
I think the closest rental place is in Union Square.
For Napa, I'm using Yontville (?) as a guide as that is where one of the wineries that I want to visit is located.
I was considering taking the BART from the airport to the hotel.
Still have time to decide. Thanks everyone for you advice.
May 4, 2010 9:07 PM
May 4, 2010 10:06 PM
May 4, 2010 10:22 PM
May 5, 2010 2:09 AM
May 5, 2010 3:22 AM
10You do know you have to pay for each tasting, and to see any more of a winery than the main lobby and gift shop, right? For a combination of scenery and wineries, maybe Monterey? Point Reyes is indeed scenic, though no wineries.
May 5, 2010 7:32 AM
11Scenic is in the eye of the beholder. I think the wine country is very scenic--it's just different than Point Reyes in that it is less natural scenery and more agricultural scenery.
If photography is your thing, a bus tour may not work. You won't be able to stop every time you see a great photo opportunity. Bus tours will not go to the smaller, lesser known wineries, many of which can't handle large crowds. "Smaller" means really small, maybe producing only a hundred cases of wine a year. Domaine Chandon in Yountville produces several thousand.
On the considerable other hand. September is high season there, because it is "crush," harvest time. If you are interested in winery tours and really seeing the action, then that's the time to go. So every one does. Don't even think of going on a weekend, unless you like massive traffic. A bus at least will spare you from driving. Some smaller wineries close their tasting rooms during crush.
Yes, you will have to pay for tasting in most wineries in the area.
May 5, 2010 10:45 AM
12Google maps will answer your question about driving times outside of rush hour, though I agree with the poster who said you're better off taking the Golden Gate Bridge (Hwy 101) rather than Google's default routing. As long as you use the correct spelling of "Yountville", you can enter it into Google and then when it shows the proposed routing, drag the mapped line over to the GG Bridge to make it recalculate.
"Sonoma" in Google maps will mean the town of Sonoma, which is a lovely little winery destination in the Sonoma Valley (aka Valley of the Moon). You may have had another destination in mind -- as others point out there are many other wine growing areas elsewhere in Sonoma County.
Downtown SF to the airport is 20 minutes without traffic, up to 40 minutes with traffic. I wouldn't recommend going directly from the wine country to the airport at rush hour -- you'd be fighting traffic towards downtown SF and again leaving downtown towards Silicon Valley. You can also have Google maps show the historic average traffic speeds for a given time and day of the week by clicking on "Traffic" and then on "Change" next to where it says "Live Traffic".
May 5, 2010 1:15 PM
13Scenic is in the eye of the beholder. I think the wine country is very scenic--it's just different than Point Reyes in that it is less natural scenery and more agricultural scenery.
I like both areas very much, and the distinctions are minor. I stand corrected in saying that the drive to Pt. Reyes is "much" more scenic than the wine country, but I do prefer it. Just to be accurate here, I was referring not just to the seashore at Pt. Reyes, but the drive into it, which as I recall has a few vineyards. Still, I didn't want to leave the impression that there is something wrong with the wine country, because there isn't.
May 5, 2010 4:14 PM
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