Stuck on a San Francisco layover at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO)?
The airport is located 13 miles south of downtown San Francisco which makes the city an accessible destination for those stuck on long layovers. If you’re trying to determine whether you can leave the airport during your San Francisco layover, click here for useful tips.
If you are stuck in SFO airport during your San Francisco layover, there are a number of things to keep you entertained as you wait for your connecting flight. Check out the interactive map of the terminals to help locate various services. The airport has a selection of shopping and dining options, banking, DVD rentals, TripTel Business Center in the International Terminal, banking, a medical clinic, and more. In addition, Wi-Fi is available throughout the terminals.
If you’re looking to rest and unwind in the airport during your San Francisco layover, there are two XpresSpas – one in Terminal 3 and one in the International Terminal. You can also use the Freshen Up showers located in the Main Hall of the International Terminal, where you’ll find ironing services as well.
The airport has an aquarium, “Under Water Planet: Learning About the Fishes of the World” at Boarding Area C (pre-security area) in the Departures Level of Terminal 1. The aquarium displays three aquatic environments: The Coral Reef, Lake Malawi, and The Amazon.
You can also check out Kids’ Spot II in the North terminal near Gate 87a, which features interactive exhibitions from San Francisco’s Exploratorium. There are displays featuring weather elements (Turbulent Orb, Aeolian Landscape, Fluvial Storm), a Plasma Wall, and other hands-on displays.
If you arrive at night or are looking for a place to rest, there are a number of hotels nearby the airport. For a comprehensive list of San Francisco hotels at varying price points, click here.
If you have the time to check out some sights, you may want to ditch your luggage at the Airport Travel Agency (International Terminal, Main Hall, pre-security 650-877-0422), and hop on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). To give you a rough estimate, travel time to the downtown financial district (Powell or Montgomery stations) is roughly 40 minutes each way. Remember to always budget extra time to get back to the airport and get through security, especially if you’re flying Internationally. Additional transportation options include taxis, rental cars, Caltrain, and more.
Layover Guide’s Suggestions Of Things To Do On A San Francisco Layover:
Ride A Cable Car
You can check out all the different cable car routes in San Francisco here. One route that we suggest, is from the Powell Station in the Financial District (right near Union Square), hop on the cable car at 4th and Powell. You can hop on and off, and it will give you a true San Francisco experience and some great views.
Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf
Take the BART to Market Street, and take a cable car (The Powell/Hyde cable car bring you to the Wharf’s western end at Hyde and Beach Streets). Although the pier can be a bit of a tourist trap, there’s come great things to see from Fisherman’s Wharf that make it worth the trip. The sea lions usually hang out on the wooden docks off the side of the pier, and there are great views of the Bay, and Golden Gate Bridge. If you have the time, take a ferry tour for a two hour tour of Alcatraz prison.
Nothing epitomizes the hills of San Francisco quite as much as the curvy, Lombard Street. Grab a taxi and drive down the steep hill. You can ask the taxi driver to drop you off at a great North Beach restaurants for lunch such as North Beach Restaurant or Trattoria Contadina.
Viator has a great list of San Francisco tours including some more unusual tours. All tours are two hours or less.
Got a suggestion for a San Francisco Layover? Leave a comment below!