Skip to Content

Compact Guide when Driving around San Francisco via a Rental Car

Disclaimer: Some posts on Tourism Teacher may contain affiliate links. If you appreciate this content, you can show your support by making a purchase through these links or by buying me a coffee. Thank you for your support!

There are several important factors to think about when planning a trip via a San Francisco Airport car rental to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. So, before you arrive at the airport, you should already be well informed about the ins and outs of the City by the Bay.

Things you need to prioritize when planning your trip

Time of year. San Francisco experiences mild temperatures year-round, but weather patterns can vary. Consider the time of year you are planning to visit, as summers can be foggy and cooler, while fall and spring offer more pleasant weather conditions. Moreover, popular events like Fleet Week or Pride Weekend can affect hotel availability and prices.

Accommodation of choice. San Francisco offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. That said you have to determine your budget and preferred location as part of choosing accommodations. Likewise, book in advance especially during peak seasons.

Mode of transport. Decide how you’ll get to San Francisco and how you’ll navigate the city once you’re there. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the main airport serving the city, with various transportation options available, including taxis, ride-sharing services, and public transit. So, it should be ideal to consider renting a car if you plan to explore beyond the city, but note that parking can be challenging and expensive in these areas. 

Attractions and activities. Find out more about the top attractions and potential activities you would like to experience in San Francisco, such as visiting Alcatraz Island, exploring Golden Gate Park, or riding a cable car. In this case, you have to purchase tickets in advance for popular attractions to avoid long lines and ensure availability, especially during peak travel seasons.

Options for dining. San Francisco is famous for its diverse culinary scene, offering everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to casual eateries and food trucks. Look for possible dining options in advance, especially if you have dietary restrictions or specific cuisines you would like to try. Also, don’t forget to sample local specialties like clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl or Mission-style burritos if you haven’t already.

Budgetary requirements. You need to set a budget for your trip to San Francisco. So take into account transportation, accommodation, dining, and activities. Also keep in mind that San Francisco can be an expensive city to visit, but there are plenty of free or low-cost attractions and activities available, such as exploring its neighbourhoods or hiking in nearby parks.

Tourism in San Francisco

Driving limitations when renting a car in SFO

Driving in San Francisco can be both exciting and challenging, given its unique terrain, diverse neighborhoods, and bustling traffic. To help you navigate the city with confidence, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

Things you have to do

1. Plan Your Route in Advance. San Francisco’s complex street layout and various one-way streets can be confusing for drivers, especially newcomers. This should prompt you to plan your route in advance using a GPS or navigation app to avoid getting lost.

2. Be Mindful of Parking Regulations. Parking in San Francisco can be scarce and expensive. So, pay attention to parking signs and regulations to avoid parking tickets or towing.

3. Drive Defensively. San Francisco’s streets are filled with pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles. So, it is recommended that you have to drive defensively and be aware of your surroundings all the time.

4. Utilize Public Transport. While driving is convenient, try to consider using public transport, such as buses, trams, and cable cars, for short trips within the city. This should be a smart way to get away from traffic or parking hassles.

5. Drive Slowly on Hills. San Francisco is also known for its steep hills, which can be challenging to navigate, especially for drivers unfamiliar with the terrain. That being said, you have to drive slowly and use caution when ascending or descending hills to avoid accidents.

Things you need to avoid

1. Ignoring traffic signals. San Francisco has strict traffic laws, including red light cameras at many intersections. Thus, always obey traffic signals and stop signs to avoid fines or accidents.

2. Tailgating. Following too closely behind other vehicles is not only dangerous but also illegal. You need to leave plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front of you to allow for sudden stops or changes in traffic flow.

3. Parking illegally. San Francisco has strict parking regulations in which parking illegally can result in heavy fines or even towing. You also need to avoid parking in bus zones, loading zones, or areas with street cleaning restrictions.

4. Leaving valuables in your car. Car break-ins are unfortunately common in San Francisco, especially in tourist areas. In such cases, avoid leaving valuables in your car, and always lock your doors and windows when parked.

5. Distracted driving. Whether you are texting, talking on the phone, or adjusting the radio, distracted driving is dangerous and can lead to accidents. So always keep your focus on the road and avoid distractions while driving.

By following these simple guidelines, you can navigate the streets of San Francisco via Hertz Rental Car safely and confidently, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable driving experience in the City by the Bay.

Liked this article? Click to share!