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.

By Air

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).

By Train

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.

By Car/Parking

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.

By Randy McCharles on 03.02.09 8:49 pm

I’m looking into travel arrangements from Calgary to San Jose. So far I see that airfare for is about $100 more to SJC than SFO. BART doesn’t look especially appealing, but I would like to know the travel time involved. If the time is not too bad, BART may be an option.

By Kevin Standlee on 03.02.09 9:02 pm

Randy: Do not try to take BART from SFO to San Jose, except for the very tiny first leg to connect to the Caltrain commuter system. Read what we wrote under the heading “Getting from SFO to the Fairmont.” To get from SFO to San Jose by public transit, you have to get on a BART train toward San Francisco, get off at San Bruno, take another BART train going the opposite direction to Millbrae, then get off BART and board the Caltrain commuter rail system to San Jose. At downtown San Jose, you can either walk about two kilometers or get on a light rail train that will drop you off right outside the hotel. The fares will run about $10 and it will take around two hours or so depending on exactly when you arrive.

Examine the BART map and note that it doesn’t get any closer to San Jose (off the bottom of the map shown) than Fremont. Compare it to the Caltrain map — San Jose Diridon Station is the one that is a short distance from downtown San Jose and includes a connection to light rail.

(BART is a heavy rail metro or subway; Caltrain is a conventional passenger commuter rail system. They’re run by different agencies, and have a connection at the Millbrae station, shown with an airport symbol on the Caltrain map.)

–Kevin Standlee (Committee transit geek, who remembers using bus and light rail to get from Calgary Airport to downtown for Westercon)

By Randy McCharles on 03.03.09 4:02 pm

It does sound awful. I suspect sharing a cab 4 ways may be the best method. Not much different than Saratoga, really. (I agree that Calgary city planners have much to be desired. LRT all the way to the airport is a no-brainer. Apparently they have less than no brains.)

By Kevin Standlee on 03.03.09 4:14 pm


It’s less bad than it sounds, actually, and I wouldn’t shy away from doing it, although having to transfer three times is annoying as all get-out. It is more convenient than Calgary’s bus-to-train connection, I think, because handling luggage on the trains is easier than buses.

The BART station at SFO is in the airport. You get on a train heading for San Francisco. (Very rarely there will be one for Millbrae, and if there is, get on it, but don’t expect it.) Ride one stop, then get off and walk across the platform. (BART is level boarding, so you can just roll your bag on and off the train.) Catch the next Millbrae-bound BART train (destination of trains is shown on the overhead signs).

At Millbrae, get off the train and exit the BART system. BART and Caltrain share this station. Buy a ticket to San Jose from the ticket vending machine and go to the track for trains to San Jose (you’ll have to negotiate elevators/escalators and an overhead walkway to get to the correct track). Get on the next southbound train (all trains heading south from here go to San Jose).

At San Jose Diridon station, exit the train and follow the signs to the light rail station, which is adjacent to the main rail station. Buy a ticket from the vending machine. (Both Caltrain and Santa Clara light rail use the same “proof of payment” system that Calgary light rail uses.) Get on the next train not heading toward Winchester — that’s toward downtown. Ride it several stops to Paseo de San Antonio and get off there. You’re now in front of the Fairmont. Door to door service, albeit with three changes of train.

Having said all that, if I could share a taxi with four people, even though it would cost more — probably around $20-$25/person — I would probably do it. Any large groups should consider one of the large limos. I’ve done groups of seven or eight from the airport to conventions in other areas before, and it’s very cost-effective.

By Sarah Goodman on 07.19.09 10:31 am

There are also Shuttle Services of various sorts (Super Shuttle is the one I know, but I think there are others) which take you from the airports to wherever you are going. Usually cheaper than a cab for one or two people, but beyond that you might as well get a cab.

By Chip Hitchcock on 10.17.09 10:11 am

Can you comment on options for people renting a car for tourism beforehand? It looks like the only downtown-San Jose dropoffs are Enterprise, which requires returning the car to where it was rented. (We’re stuck coming into SFO due to available frequent-flyer seats.) Google maps says the Dollar dropoff is less than a mile from the airport light-rail station; is this (a) walkable and (b) likely to be simpler/faster than taking a rental shuttle back to the airport and the #10 to the light rail?

By Kevin Standlee on 10.17.09 11:04 am


Normally I would say that for anyone who doesn’t mind walking a mile that they should go ahead and walk; however, not in this case. SJC Airport, which in the past has been very walkable, is in the midst of construction and the pedestrian access is temporarily closed off. (I checked this out on the ground a couple of weeks ago during SiliCon.) The Rental Car Center is actually on the airport grounds, albeit on a different part of the property than the terminals. Therefore, the only practical way I can see to get from the Rental Car Center to the Light Rail Station is to take the shuttle in to the terminal and the #10 bus over to Metro/Airport station. If the pedestrian access wasn’t all torn up, it would certainly be faster and easier to walk it, but that’s not an option right now. Sorry about that!

By Sarah Goodman on 10.18.09 12:23 am

[At] S*F*O there is a people mover that goes out to the car rental place. (There are also some off-site rental folks, who have shuttles.)

By Kevin Standlee on 10.18.09 8:49 am

Yes, the SFO Rental Car Center is connected to the terminal by people-mover. Chip appears to be saying that he wants to fly to SFO, rent a car, go and tour the area, then drive to San Jose and drop off the car in San Jose, then go to the hotel. In this case, it means dropping the car at the SJC Airport Rental Car Center, taking the SJC Airport shuttle into the airport, then the free #10 bus over to Light Rail for the short trip downtown. Doing this saves having to pay rent (and parking) on a car he won’t be using during the convention.

By Chip Hitchcock on 10.18.09 9:01 am

Exactly so. I was also misled by Dollar’s listing; they have an address on the far side of the light rail line from the airport, but further digging finds that their cars go to the SJC ARCC. Knowing about the SFO people-mover is useful as the car sites just say “common shuttle”. I recall not missing a car during ConJose and don’t expect to need it this time.

By Sarah Goodman on 10.18.09 7:41 pm

Aha! Now it makes sense.

Nope, you really don’t need a [car] during the con.

By Kenne on 10.25.09 3:49 pm

Yo, Kevin. S’up?

I’m probably going to take the light rail from the “the airport”. Is the listed diagram complete?

I’ve just been spec-ing out all the parking and travel for both sides of this Parking and stuff can almost be as much as the flight costs. Sheesh.

By Kevin Standlee on 10.25.09 4:29 pm


Which listed diagram? It’s fairly straightforward: Take the free VTA #10 bus (that’s the only route that serves the airport). Board only buses with LIGHT RAIL headsigns, because the other ones are going the opposite direction. This bus will take you to a bus stop next to the the light rail station at Metro/Airport. Buy a ticket from the vending machine in the light rail station and board any train heading south toward downtown, then get off at Paseo de San Antonio station.

I assume you mean San Jose airport, not one of the other two Bay Area airports. It’s more complicated from those airports, as described above.

By Lisa Harrigan on 10.27.09 1:46 am

Just a reminder – Parking is FREE at the Fairmont IF you drive a Hybrid Car.
Yes I drive a Prius which is why I noticed. 🙂
Probably should still plan on tipping the valet person.
But it beats $26 + tips.

By Sarah Goodman on 10.27.09 4:30 pm

Thank you for posting this.


Another Prius Owner

By Tina Connolly on 10.29.09 8:02 am

What about getting back to the airport via the light rail? Is there a train marked airport to look for? thanks!

By Kevin on 10.29.09 8:49 am


No trains are marked “airport” because light rail doesn’t run into the airport — you have to change to the #10 bus at the Metro/Airport station. Have a look at the light rail map. The Fairmont Hotel is at the Paseo de San Antonio stop. You’ll want to catch a train signed either “Mountain View” or “Alum Rock” (it doesn’t matter which one) and ride it to Metro/Airport. When you get off the train, cross the street to the west site (to the left of the direction you were traveling on the train) and board any #10 bus — from this stop, they all go to the airport.

Note that the light rail tracks run on two parallel streets in downtown. The track running north (toward the airport) is the one closer to the hotel, along 1st Street.

Light Rail fare is $2 — buy a ticket from the vending machine before boarding, because you can’t buy tickets on board and there is a large fine for riding without a ticket. No tickets or transfers are required for the #10 bus, which is free.

If the train is heading south (from left to right with your back to the Fairmont) and thus has a headsign of “Winchester” or “Santa Teresa,” don’t get on it — you want to go the other direction — and go back to the 1st street platform. The important thing here is that if you are taking the train both from and to the airport, you will arrive near the hotel on a different platform (on 2nd Street) than the one from which you will depart (on 1st Street).

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