Do you know the way to San José? If not, we attempt to explain all of the travel options here.
If you have any specific questions, please ask them in comments below.
Getting Your Bearings
The convention will be at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California. San Jose is the largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco itself, being hemmed in on three sides by water, has limited options for growth). San Jose is approximately 50 miles (80 km) south of San Francisco. It is not in Southern California! There are infamous stories of people who don’t realize how long California is and go to the Los Angeles area expecting San Francisco to be a short distance away. Don’t make that mistake.
The convention site is in downtown San Jose. If you attended the 2002 Worldcon, you will remember this hotel as ConJose’s headquarters and party hotel.
The Bay Area has three major airports: San Francisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK), and San Jose (SJC). Mineta San Jose International Airport is only about 3 miles (5 km) from the Fairmont. If it is at all convenient, we recommend flying to San Jose. The other two airports are around 40 miles (65 km) away, and getting from them to San Jose can be time-consuming and inconvenient. However, we recognize that, particularly for people traveling from outside the USA, SFO is a better choice due to being able to get a direct flight. Just bear in mind that the time you save in the direct flight to SFO may be eaten up by getting from SFO to downtown San Jose.
Getting from SJC to the Fairmont
Taxis and Shuttles: There is no hotel shuttle. Your options for getting from the airport to the hotel include a taxi or shared-ride shuttle ($20-$25). You could also rent a car, but we don’t recommend this unless you need it during the convention, because parking is not free at the hotel — only valet parking is available at the hotel itself, plus surface lots and parking garages nearby.
Public Transit (VTA Light Rail): For the economy-minded, there is public transit available, in the form of the free #10 bus (catch the bus marked “Light Rail” on the headsign) to the Metro/Airport light rail stop, then catch a light rail train heading downtown (headsigns for “Winchester” or “Santa Teresa”). Light rail fare is $2 (buy a ticket from the vending machine at the station) and light rail stops in front of the Fairmont Hotel. Leave a comment expressing interest and we’ll expand on the detailed steps on how to use the bus/light rail connection.
Getting from SFO to the Fairmont
Taxis and Shuttles: A shared-ride shuttle will cost $30-$40 one-way, while a taxi will be at least $75 (not including tip). Renting a car is usually the fastest (and most expensive) option, but remember that you’ll have to pay $26/day to park that car at the Fairmont (or much less in one of the surface lots or parking garages in the area).
Public Transit (BART/Caltrain): The least expensive but most time-consuming way to get from SFO to downtown is to take the train. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system does not go to San Jose, but you can use it ($4.00 fare) to get from the airport to the Caltrain commuter rail line, then ride Caltrain to San Jose ($6.00), then take a taxi, light rail, free downtown connection bus, or even walk the 0.8 mi (1.3 km). One of the webmasters here is a transit buff and will post detailed directions for using BART/Caltrain if there is any interest. One of the comments below goes into this in further detail.
You can also use the 511 transit system to map out a ride on Bay Area public transit: Use “SFO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, San Francisco” and “Paseo De San Antonio Station, San Jose” as your start and end points, then provide your expected time you will leave SFO as your start-of-trip time to get an idea of the cost and time your travel will take. A typical trip is expected to cost about $12 and take around 2 hours, but times vary considerably depending on when you arrive, and may not be available for very late night arrivals at SFO.
Getting from OAK to the Fairmont
Taxis and Shuttles: Taxis and shared-ride shuttles from Oakland International to downtown San Jose will cost approximately the same as from SFO, and a rental car presents the same challenges as well.
There are two public-transit alternatives from OAK. Both require taking the AirBART shuttle bus ($3) to the Coliseum/Oakland Airport BART station. From there, you have two choices, one relatively frequent and one that only works at limited times of the day.
Public Transit (BART/VTA): Take a BART train from Coliseum (trains run at least every fifteen minutes) to the end of the line at Fremont ($3.60), then catch the 180 or 181 bus operated by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) ($4.00). This bus will drop you off within a block of the hotel. Be sure to check the schedules before making your plans, especially if arriving late at night.
Amtrak Capitol Corridor: The Amtrak Capitol Corridor service runs seven trains per day that stop at Coliseum Amtrak (connected to the BART station by pedestrian skywalk) and to to the San Jose Amtrak/Caltrain station. See “By Train” below for more information. Fare from Coliseum station is $13 (buy a ticket from the vending machine in the Amtrak station).
San Jose is served by Amtrak’s long-distance Coast Starlight as well as the Capitol Corridor trains from Sacramento. In addition, there is frequent commuter-train service to San Francisco that is a good option for people coming to World Fantasy Con who might want to head up to San Francisco for the day without having to drive and find parking.
San Jose Diridon Station is 0.8 miles (1.3 km) from the Fairmont Hotel. On weekdays, the DASH bus provides free service from the train station to downtown points, including the Fairmont. Alternatively, you could take a short taxi ride, hop on light rail, or even walk.
Long Distance Trains
Amtrak’s Coast Starlight (Los Angeles-Seattle) serves San Jose daily. In addition, the California Zephyr (Chicago-Emeryville) will get you to Emeryville (near Oakland), where you can connect to a Capitol Corridor train for San Jose.
Amtrak Capitol Corridor
The state-sponsored Amtrak Capitol Corridor runs seven trains each way daily between Sacramento and San Jose.
Caltrain Commuter Rail
Caltrain runs at least half-hourly (less often nights and weekends) throughout most of the day between San Jose and San Francisco. The San Francisco station is at 4th & King Streets, where you can take a San Francisco Muni light rail train downtown and connect there to take you to many of San Francisco’s famous sights.
Altamont Commuter Express (ACE)
Altamont Commuter Express runs a limited weekdays-only commute-direction-only service between Stockton and San Jose.
VTA Light Rail
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s light rail system runs through Downtown San Jose. The Fairmont is located at the Paseo de San Antonio stop.
The San Jose Fairmont is in downtown San Jose at 170 S. Market Street. The only parking at the hotel itself is the hotel’s valet parking garage, which is $26/day. However, there are numerous downtown public parking facilities, including surface lots and garages, detailed at the San Jose Downtown Parking web site. Different lots and garages charge different rates, and some lots have free night and/or weekend parking. Most of the lots and garages near the Fairmont allow overnight parking, but you need to check the individual lot to confirm this. We have found that in some lots and garages near the hotel, even if you parked for several days, if you leave late at night or on a weekend, there is no charge; however, parking conditions change from time to time, so we cannot guarantee that you will be able to get free parking.