OK, so I was doing one of my periodic “check old topics for comments I might have missed” and found one that might actually be useful for a lot of folks:
On an off-topic side conservation……I’m flying out to Pleasanton, CA the middle of November. What are the mechanics of airport usage, i.e. cheaper small ones…closer to Pleasanton….. supersonic availability ;o)….sights to see (outside of San Fran-I don’t care to fight crowds of Californians) …etc. I need to book a flight, from Wichita. You have my e-mail address. Sorry for this intrusion, but I hate to travel without advance knowledge.
I responded with some points in a comment just below that one (though a week and a half later). Still some time though. So my general take on it (somewhat edited from my comment) are:
San Francisco / San Jose / Bay Area airports and rail
Airports: I assume “commercial” flights. SFO San Francisco is usually cheapest, but on the wrong side of the bay, yet BART will take you to Dublin / Pleasanton:
Bart stations and map here: http://bart.gov/stations/
so It’s nearly nothing to get there (an hour or two, BART is INSIDE the SFO complex / station) just watch out for arriving at midnight… Comfortable cars, reasonably safe service and stations.
Note that on the other side of the bay from SFO is OAK Oakland. Looks like they have bus service to the Oakland Colosseum BART station:
AirBART operates between OAK and the BART Coliseum/Oakland Airport station daily, approximately every 10 minutes, until midnight. Service begins at 5 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and at 8 a.m. on Sundays and holidays. There is a single shuttle stop for both terminals, conveniently located between Terminal 1 and 2 at OAK’s third curbside.
TICKETS & FARES
One-way regular fare is $3.00; One-way fare for Seniors (age 65+), Children (age 12 and under) and Disabled passengers with I.D is $1.00.
Fares can be paid on-board bus with exact change only or with a $1.00 or $3.00 BART ticket (available for purchase at the Coliseum station). NOTE: Bus ticket machines do not make change.
Bart has machines that take most any kind of US bills (and credit cards in select machines). It’s a ‘few bucks’ to get around. $4 or $5 last I did it.
After that, you have SJC San Jose which is ‘close’ if you rent a car; and has both light rail ‘nearby’ and an Amtrak line within taxi / light rail range.
This page lets you find train schedules, but in my playing with it, it did not want to give me a route from San Jose to Pleasanton:
AMTRAK can be a pain, so I’d only use them if all else fails, or if you want a train ride to Los Angeles or Chicago ;-)
The “best bet” is likely the bus connection to Fremont, then pick up BART there.
Though CalTrain has regular “commuter service” up the peninsula to SF (with a major hub at Millbrae) from which you can pick up BART and proceed on around the whole bay back down the other side to Pleasanton. Yeah, long way around the mountain… But you DID say you wanted to sight see!
CalTain map from here: http://www.caltrain.com/stations/systemmap.html
Doesn’t run in the dead of night…
Schedule more limited than BART, so check it…
Note that the dotted blue line at the top is BART.
There’s easy taxi / bus service from SJC to the CalTrain / AMTRAK station and there’s a bus to light rail in San Jose (that also connects to CalTrain at selected stations. Such as that Tamien station in south San Jose and up the peninsula near Mountain View. Though ‘walking distance’ between the two at the San Jose downtown station).
More maps of the San Jose Transit system than I care to think about here:
It connects to some other local Transit Authorities so in theory you can get anywhere… if you have enough time and can work the connections right. Their site also has a map of ‘interesting things’ they go to ( including Malls and Hospitals… ) so the others might have that kind of thing too.
This link shows the route from VTA / Light Rail to Fremont Bart:
While this one has the whole system map in giant form. Has a detailed inset for downtown San Jose including the Greyhound connection. Also some alternate routes to get to Fremont also show up on it and “route 10″ at San Jose airport that connects to CalTrain at the Santa Clara University station (called “Santa Clara Transit Center” on the map.). That is walking distance (across the street) to one of the California Missions. Mission Santa Clara.
WELL worth the time if you have never seen a mission. There are several in the area.
One is even ‘close’ to the Fremont BART station (as it is technically in Fremont now). Mission San Jose:
On the “120 and 140″ bus lines here:
So two missions easy to reach by mass transit (not counting the San Franciso or Marin missions as Tim said he wanted to avoid San Francisco).
So depending on stations and interest, you can land at SJC, take a bus to light rail, swap to that 180 line, then at Fremont take BART to Pleasanton. ( I think OAK has it easier ;-)
Oakland and Hayward are not too different from SJC in distance, but don’t know what mass transit options (ie. BART / Amtrack) are at Hayward, so best to check on them or buses. Both are OK airports ( I’ve done Oakland to other parts of the country) and sometimes it has lower fairs (why I’ve done it ;-) Hayward is a Biz Jet class and former military site. So if you have a personal Jet, just fly on in ;-)
Some of it depends a bit on what part of Pleasanton and why. (House of a friend in the ‘burbs, or downtown convention center?) And do you need a rental car. Just flying into any of them with a rental car is fairly easy (though I’d likely do Oakland then).
Sights to see depends on what you like. In San Jose we have the Woz tech museum and the Winchester Mystery House (mostly just a strangely built old house, despite the hype) along with more stuff reachable by light rail than I can list. (Even things like getting off near Moffett field and seeing Hangar One being (torn down / remodeled depending on the week / politics du jour) or or you can hit up Castro Street in Mountain View for more restaurants than I care to think about.
Doing a south run on CalTrain puts you in Farm Country…
There is usually some kind of sports or shows going on at the Oakland Colosseum. San Jose has one too: Shark Tank / HP Pavilion I’m fond of “Egyptian Stuff” so like the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose (Real Mummies!). Lots of parks, libraries, strip clubs, fine dining, … Heck you can even take light rail to a ‘connector’ bus over to Santa Cruz and do the Beach Board Walk / Pier with your choice of dining, fishing, swimming (cold water!), surfing, and a large wooden roller coaster. Oh, and a “tops optional” beach last time I was there (a decade? back) but probably a bit cold for that right now ;-) Oh, and the “Chili Cookoff” happens Oct 27, so you will miss that too…
There’s a steam train in Scott’s Valley and a connector to it from Santa Cruz.
This says they have a “Beach train” so you could go over to the beach, and pick up that train into the hills:
which would run you through some of the smaller redwoods along the way (not the preserved giants in the parks, though). Which reminds me: Lots of camping in the Santa Cruz mountains including in those large old redwoods..
So “what to see” sort of depends on “what you like”. More shore, forests, city and such than any person can see in a lifetime ( I’ve been trying… they build new stuff faster than I can get to it ;-)
Finally, Pleasanton is part of the Livermore Valley Transit system:
They have some kind of fancy generated map (that gave me an error message about some plug-ins being ‘out of date’ so YMMV) of the system here:
That’s the ‘weekday’ map. Saturday and Sunday have their own maps. So you might want to start from that map and see if it goes where you want as your destination, then work back to ‘places to see’ or land a plane…
If it were me, I’d just take a flight into SFO and get on BART inside the terminal… see the whole Bay Area ‘en passant’ from a nice seat in a decent car, and get off in Pleasanton… then figure out what to do after parking the luggage…
BTW, there’s a nice connection via Transit Authority into Marin County from BART and from San Francisco local mass transit. So if you want to go ‘up there’ to look around, that’s possible too. A search on any particular area (such as “Oakland”) and the words “Transit” or “Transit Authority” will likely pull up the local bus / light rail system. It all connects “somewhere” and “some times”, so mostly it’s just an exercise in schedule planning.
So “where do you want to go” and “what do you want to see”, then work the details from there.
There are about 22 museums in Livermore alone. ONE example:
If you like ships, there’s the USS Hornet.
Not too far from CalTrain is the Palo Alto Hiller aviation museum:
To which I’ve never quite made it…
And so much more… things like ‘walking tours’ of the salt marsh near San Jose and a less rugged one up in San Mateo and dirt bikes at a track out in the boonies near Livermore / Pleasanton and a couple of drag race places and…
So folks with other favorites, post a link! And Tim can tell us what kind of things he likes.
UPDATE: 14 Oct 2012 to add ACE Map
As I was looking around, found out That ACE stops in Pleasanton, so adding that map:
Image from their web site: http://www.acerail.com/Home.aspx
So at some times of day, ACE lets you skip BART and the long path between Fremont and Pleasanton while also connecting to the ‘inland cow country’ ;-) As it connects on through to San Jose / Caltrain that means you can go around the entire south bay entirely by train (and via Amtrak connect to the rest of the nation…)