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San Francisco Layover

| December 15, 2014

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.

 San Francisco layoverIf 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.

You can also check out Kids’ Spot – the airport has three of them – where kids can burn off some energy before the flight. They are located in Terminal 2 Boarding Area D, near Gates 54A and 58B, Terminal 3 Boarding Area E near Gate 62, and Terminal 3 Boarding Area F, near Gate 87A, which features interactive exhibitions from San Francisco’s Exploratorium. There is also a Flight Deck, a Christian Science Reading Room, a Meditation Room, and an Aviation Museum and Library (located in the International Terminal Main Hall). Art is also on display throughout the terminals.

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, and for hotels specifically near the airport, 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:

Tours Galore
Viator has a great list of San Francisco tours including some more unusual tours. There’s everything from bus and segway tours to helicopter rides and food tours. Many tours are two hours or less.

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.

Lombard Street
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.

CLICK HERE to read all about  Gwyneth Paltrow and the Turlington sisters favorite San Francisco hotels, restaurants and shops!

Got a suggestion for a San Francisco Layover? Leave a comment below!

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Category: California, layover, North America, things to do, United States

Comments (6)

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  1. johnny says:

    I’m looking at seeing my gf who lives in Seattle for Christmas.My flight layover is 3 hours on Christmas Day in San Fran before I go to Seattle.Is this enough time to board a flight to Seattle going through customs?

  2. Gary Doss says:

    A 5 minute cab ride from SFO is the Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia.
    You will see every Pez dispenser ever sold, plus other classic toys.


  3. Daniel Long says:

    For people on layovers:
    Afraid of getting stuck in traffic and not making your connection? Within one hour, I can show you anything you want to see in San Francisco from my bike. Motorcycles are the best way to see the city, as most people here agree, you would have to be crazy to drive a car here. The back seat has a comfy backrest, saddlebags for any souvenirs you might pick up, and footrests for posture. No experience with motorcycles required. email me [email protected].

  4. Yes! Finally someone writes about san francisco storage.

  5. Fiona says:

    Hi I am flying from Vancouver to Las Vegas with a layover in San Fran of 38 minutes in Terminal 3 is this enough time to make the connecting flight? Both flights where booked through Expedia and have only realised the layover time.

    • Diane says:

      Fiona. I’m curious if you made your connection. I just realized the same thing. 38 minutes in Terminal 3 layover. Thanks.