ALERT: Car break-ins and thefts have become common in California due to a change in criminal punishments. In “safe neighborhoods” of San Francisco and other major cities any purse, briefcase or backpack left in sight in a parked car on a busy street in broad daylight for even five to ten minutes may be gone when you get back, with the car window shattered. If it’s dark and an isolated area the odds get even worse.
Locals have gotten used to always putting everything in their trunks when they park. If you rent a car, be sure it has a trunk or other space where you can hide suitcases etc. It is not as common in Sausalito as in San Francisco and larger cities, but there is nowhere in California where this is not an issue.
There are several options for getting to Sausalito from San Francisco International Airport:
Marin Airporter Bus from SFO to Sausalito
This is the most common service used by locals and the one with the shortest wait times. Marin Airporter serves Marin (the County in California where Sausalito is located) from SFO from 4 AM to Midnight every day, with buses departing every 30 minutes.
Fares as of Fall, 2019 are $23 for adults, 12 and under are free (max. two kids per paying adult).
The bus runs going southbound from Sausalito to the airport stop at Sausalito at about 10 after and 40 after the hour (e.g. 6:10 and 6:40) , but you should always get to the stop a few minutes early in case they run a little ahead of schedule.
The bus runs going northbound from SFO airport to Sausalito stop at each of the airport’s four major terminals (1, 2, 3 and International). Although their pick-up circuit of the airport is aimed at around the hour and the half hour (e.g. 6:00 and 6:30) the different numbers of passengers at each terminal each half hour create big variations in when they actually arrive.
In Sausalito the bus stops at the Spencer Avenue bus pad off of Highway 101 at the top of the hill. THE AIRPORTER BUS DOES NOT GO THROUGH DOWNTOWN SAUSALITO, just to the freeway bus pad that it shares with local commuter buses. To reach downtown Sausalito from the Spencer bus pad you’ll need to call a ride share or taxi.
Insider Tip: Even in nice weather bring extra layers of clothing if you take this route. The Spencer Avenue bus pad can be cold and windy, and it’s often very foggy. Even on very nice days temperatures and wind chills can drop dramatically in the late afternoon and evening. In the rain this is an especially wet and windy spot.
The pickup spot at San Francisco airport is outside each terminal’s baggage claim area, on the island across the street from the terminal curb, under the sign that says “Airporters.” A Marin and Sonoma County Airporter bus schedule is attached to a pillar nearby. The trip takes about an hour, depending on traffic.
Insider Tip: If you don’t want to wait at the Spencer Exit Bus Stop for a ride share driver, you can pre-request a taxi to meet you there. When you get on the bus at SFO, tell the driver “I’m going to Sausalito and when the time comes I’d like you to please call me a taxi.” They’ll call ahead so one meets you at the bus stop, which is too far up a steep hill from downtown to walk.
Ride Share or Taxi from SFO to Sausalito
Uber and Lyft both serve San Francisco and Sausalito. Uber fares to Sausalito are likely to be in the $50 to $70 range, depending on the time of day and the amount of traffic, though during evening commute hours the cost could be higher.
As at many major airports, ride share drivers are required to pick you up on the top level (Level 5) of the airport parking garage, and are not allowed to do pickups at the terminal curbs. Follow signs for the parking garage as you leave your concourse. You cannot walk to the parking garage directly from either the arrivals or departures level of the airport, but must cross via pedestrian bridges above or take a tunnel below the roadways.
Most terminal concourses include an option to go upstairs via escalator or elevator from the departures level and cross a pedestrian bridge that leads to the parking garage elevators.
All terminal concourses include an option to go downstairs via escalator or elevator from baggage claim and take a tunnel that leads to the parking garage elevators.
Taxi stands are located downstairs outside the baggage areas for all terminals at SFO, on the island across the street from the terminal curb. They are generally more expensive than taking ride share services.
BART and Ferry from SFO to Sausalito
If you’re arriving during the day, the weather is nice and your luggage has wheels, you can combine the BART subway system and the Sausalito Ferry to get from SFO to downtown Sausalito and see beautiful scenery as you do so. You can check the BART system news page to confirm that there are no current service problems that would affect your trip.
Step 1: Take the SFO airtrain shuttle to Parking Garage G. The BART terminal at SFO in connected to Parking Garage G. Both the “Blue Line” and the “Red Line” Airtrains at the airport stop at Garage G. Take the Airtrain to Garage G and signs will direct you to the ticket machines and boarding area for the BART trains. A map of the Airtrain system showing the BART station is here.
Step 2: Take BART north to the Embarcadero Station in San Francisco. Trains to San Francisco are scheduled about every 15 minutes, and they can be bound for Richmond, Pittsburg / Bay Point, Dublin / Pleasaonton, or Fremont (since all those routes take the same path through San Francisco before diverging in the East Bay) — any route will work EXCEPT Millbrae. Take BART to Embarcadero Station and exit, since this is the northernmost stop in San Francisco before the subway goes under the Bay to Oakland.
Step 3: Walk across the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The Embarcadero BART station and the Ferry Building are less than a block apart, but watch the signals since the Embarcadero is a wide and busy street. At Embarcadero Station when you exit you will come up onto Market St. Look around for the big clock tower nearby — that’s the Ferry Building, where you want to go. Walk through the building (it has a great high-end shopping arcade) and out the back to reach the piers, where signs will direct you to the Sausalito Ferry.
Step 4: Take the Sausalito Ferry to Sausalito. The Ferry pier on the Marin County side of the Bay is in the heart of downtown Sausalito.
Shuttle Services from SFO to Sausalito
Insiders Tip : If you book through an Airport Shuttle service that is based in Marin County (where Sausalito is located), Sausalito is much more likely to be the first stop and everyone else has to take the side trip to drop you off. If you use one of the national services, you may have to endure multiple stops in San Francisco before you finally reach Sausalito. Local shuttles include Marin Door-to-Door.
Rental Cars and Driving to Sausalito from SFO
Take the lane labeled “380 to 280” as you exit the San Francisco Airport. Stay to the right and take the exit for Highway 380 just north of the airport. In about 2 miles it will meet Highway 280 — stay to the right to go North on Highway 280. After several miles the freeway will split — stay to the left for Highway 1 “Golden Gate Bridge”.
The freeway will end as it becomes San Francisco’s 19th Ave., which is also Highway 1 North. Follow this street all the way to Golden Gate Park, where you want to be in the middle or right hand lanes. Highway 1 curves in the Park and emerges onto Park Presidio Blvd. going North. Follow Park Presidio and it will take you onto the Golden Gate Bridge.
Insiders Tip: If you are in the middle lane of Highway 280 as you enter San Francisco and stay in that middle lane as it transitions to 19th Avenue, twists through Golden Gate Park and then becomes Park Presidio Blvd., it will bring you all the way to The Golden Gate Bridge with no chance of getting off track!
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge on Highway 101 headed north; there is no toll going north but on your return trip south the toll is $6. After you pass the mid-point of the Bridge get in the right lane, and watch for cars that may be stopped ahead in traffic.
You’ll pass Vista Point, with great views of the Golden Gate, at the far end of the Bridge. This is where traffic often backs up. Immediately after Vista Point the Sausalito exit will be on your right, and will place you on Alexander Ave. Follow Alexander down the hill and it will change names several times and then become “Bridgeway”, the main street in town.
Bridgeway will bring you into the heart of Sausalito.