Car Hire in San Francisco
This information is correct as of July 2015.
Many travellers rent cars in San Francisco, California mainly to explore the city's magnificent coastal road. A rental car will be useful for road trips and travelling to destinations outside of the city. Another perk of independent travel is there is no need to worry about transportation to and from the airport, meaning no more missed flights!
Where to hire a car in San Francisco
Major car rental companies offering their services at competitive rates in San Francisco in the U.S. state of California are Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, National, Enterprise, Hertz, Bandago, Economy Rent a Car, Exclusive, Europcar, Fox Rent a Car, Sunnycars, Rent-A-Wreck, City Rent-a-Car, and Zipcar San Francisco. Offices can be found all over San Francisco, and many can be found in the centralised SFO Airport Car Rental Center. Some of the common pick-up and drop-off locations within the city include Civic Center, South of Market, Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Sunset District, San Francisco International Airport, and hotels.
What to expect when hiring a car from San Francisco
San Francisco is unique in that instead of several highways within the city, it features arterial thoroughfares. The most significant ones include Interstate 80, US Route 101, Mission Street, Van Ness Avenue, Lombard Street, Richardson Avenue, and Doyle Drive. The Golden Gate Bridge provides the only direct automobile connection Marin County and the North Bay.
Unlike most cities in the United States, driving conditions in San Francisco are not so great. The road you should be most cautious in (or steer clear of) is a stretch of road on Lombard Street, between Hyde and Leavenworth, known as "The Crookedest Street in the World". Parking is also difficult, especially throughout the city centre. Pay garages are available and are your best bet, albeit expensive.
Getting to your destination
Oakland is a major port city in California and the third largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has an active arts scene and boasts of one of the highest concentration of artists per capita in the country. Several galleries and art venues can be found all over Oakland. Attractions include Oakland Aviation Museum, Oakland Museum of California, Oakland Zoo, Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, Children's Fairyland, Chabot Space and Science Center, and Fox Oakland Theatre.
Oakland is accessible via I-80 E. It is just a short drive from San Francisco, in just about 20 minutes covering 12.3 miles.
The city of Berkeley in the East Bay is home to the oldest campus in the University of California System and is noted as one of the most politically liberal cities in the country. It promotes the environment and boasts of several parks, such as the Tilden Regional Park, the East Shore State Park, and César Chávez Park. Other points of interest in Berkeley are Berkeley Art Museum, Indian Rock Park, Sather Tower, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, and the Greek Theatre.
From I-80 E and I-580 W, take exit 11 to merge onto University Avenue in Berkeley. Driving to Berkeley from San Francisco can take only about 20-30 minutes.
Santa Cruz is a city resting on the northern edge of Monterey Bay noted for the beauty of its coastline and redwood forests. It boasts of beaches, parks, and marine protected areas. Popular activities are watersports such as swimming, diving, sailing, and paddling. It is also known as one of the prime spots for surfing.
There are three routes to Santa Cruz from San Francisco: via US-101 and CA-17 S, via I-280 S and CA-17 S, and via I-880 S and CA-17S.