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Layover Ideas San Francisco Airport SFO

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Top 5 Layover Ideas for San Francisco Airport

Long layovers can often be a drag, but not when you're at the San Francisco Airport (SFO). With a plethora of activities both within and outside the airport, you can turn your layover into an exciting mini-vacation. Here are our top 5 layover ideas for SFO.

1. Explore the Airport's Museums and Galleries

Start your layover exploration right inside the airport. SFO is home to the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, dedicated to the history of flight. Or, you can visit the various galleries displaying a rotating schedule of art, science, historical and cultural exhibitions. If you're seeking peace and tranquility, the Berman Reflection Room is a center for quiet self-reflection and meditation.

2. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge

Step out of the airport and head to one of the most famous bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge. Spanning 6450 feet across the waters between San Francisco and Marin County, this impressive structure offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

3. Stroll Down Lombard Street

Known as the "crookedest street in the world," Lombard Street is one of San Francisco's most photographed sites. Its eight switchbacks within a beautifully landscaped one-block descent make it a unique sight to behold. Plus, a cable car ride along Hyde Street offers spectacular views of Alcatraz, Angel Island, Coit Tower, Yerba Buena Island, and the Bay Bridge.

4. Enjoy the Vibrancy of Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf, stretching from Telegraph Hill to Fort Mason, is a carnival-like assortment of shops, eateries, and attractions. You can take a bay cruise, visit the collection of 19th-century ships at Hyde Street Pier, or indulge in some sweet treats at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory and Soda Fountain.

5. Discover Art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

If you're an art enthusiast, don't miss out on the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Housing more than 15,000 pieces of artwork, SFMOMA offers five floors of gallery space with a dynamic range of modern and contemporary art exhibits.

Helpful Tips & Resources

Need help navigating your way through an unfamiliar airport? Look no further than iFly.com for expert tips and advice. Here are some helpful tips to help you travel stress-free through SFO Airport:

  • Don't let heavy bags slow you down! Make use of our airport's complimentary baggage carts, available for all travelers in the baggage claim area.
  • If you have some time before your departure, relax, grab a bite at one of SFO's restaurants, peruse the shops, or jump on the free internet and surf galore!
  • If you are flying in business or first class (or are a member), check out where the airline club lounges are located.
  • Once you have passed through security, you can use the airport map to find your gate, as well as the various restaurants and shops that are available on your route.
  • Surf to your heart's content. Jump on San Francisco airport's internet (free!)
  • For those (dreaded) early-morning flights, consider one of the airport hotels on or near SFO to spend the night prior to your flight. In many cases your parking for the trip's duration is free!
  • Have a flight arriving and want a fast way to get to your destination? Here are a few taxi and limo airport service providers that service the airport.

Nearby Attractions for an Extended Layover

If your layover extends between 12 to 48 hours, consider venturing out a little further from the airport. San Francisco is a city brimming with cultural diversity, stunning views, and incredible experiences that you can explore within this timeframe. Here are some attractions that you can consider.

1. Explore the Wine Country

Take a day trip to the nearby Napa Valley or Sonoma County, both less than two hours away from SFO. These regions are famous for their vineyards and wineries. You can spend your day touring the vineyards, tasting world-class wines, and enjoying the picturesque landscape of rolling hills and vineyards.

2. Visit the Historic Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island, located in the middle of San Francisco Bay, is home to the infamous former prison. The island offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast, and the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public. A tour of Alcatraz takes about 2-3 hours and includes a ferry ride to and from the island.

3. Hike in Muir Woods National Monument

If you're looking for a nature escape, consider a trip to Muir Woods National Monument. Just a short drive north of San Francisco, this stunning forest is filled with towering redwood trees. The park offers several hiking trails that range from easy to moderate, making it a perfect outing for all fitness levels.

4. Explore the University of California, Berkeley

Experience the vibrant student life and academic excellence at the University of California, Berkeley. The campus is beautiful with its mix of classical and modern architecture. Don't miss out on visiting the iconic Sather Tower, also known as the Campanile, one of the most recognized symbols of UC Berkeley.

5. Discover Silicon Valley

Take a trip down to the heart of the tech world, Silicon Valley. Located south of San Francisco, it's home to many start-ups and global technology companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook. You can drive around the campuses, visit the tech museums, or even take a guided tour.

Updated on: November 22, 2023