Nonstop flights from New York to San Francisco take about 5½ hours, and with the three-hour time change, it's possible to leave JFK by 8 am and be in San Francisco by 10:30 am. Some flights require changing planes midway, making the total excursion between 8 and 9½ hours.
More than three dozen airlines serve San Francisco's airport, and a few of the same airlines also serve the airports in Oakland and Sacramento. Fares to San Francisco are often the cheapest, but the two smaller airports can sometimes be more convenient, especially if your destination is southern Napa. Alaska, American, Delta, jetBlue, Southwest, and United serve all three airports. Frontier and Virgin America serve San Francisco. Alaska's subsidiary, Horizon Air, serves Sacramento and the regional Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport, in Santa Rosa.
Alaska Airlines (800/252–7522. www.alaskaair.com.)
American Airlines (800/433–7300. www.aa.com.)
Delta Airlines (800/221–1212. www.delta.com.)
Frontier Airlines (800/432–1359. www.frontierairlines.com.)
jetBlue (800/538–2583. www.jetblue.com.)
Southwest Airlines (800/435–9792. www.southwest.com.)
United Airlines (800/864–8331. www.united.com.)
Virgin America (877/359–8474. www.virginamerica.com.)
The major gateway to the Wine Country is San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 60 miles from the city of Napa. Oakland International Airport (OAK), almost directly across San Francisco Bay, is actually closer to Napa, which is just 50 miles away. Most visitors choose SFO because it has more daily flights. If you're headed to Sonoma, check out flights into Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS) in Santa Rosa. The airport is only 15 miles from Healdsburg. Yet another option is to fly into Sacramento International Airport (SMF), about 68 miles from Napa and 76 miles from Sonoma.
Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (707/565–7243. www.sonomacountyairport.org.)
Oakland International Airport (1 Airport Dr., Oakland, CA, 94621. 510/563–3300. www.flyoakland.com.)
Sacramento International Airport (916/929–5411. www.sacramento.aero/smf.)
San Francisco International Airport (McDonnell and Link Rds., San Francisco, CA, 94128. 800/435–9736 or 650/821–8211. www.flysfo.com.)
San Jose International Airport (1701 Airport Blvd., San Jose, CA, 95110. 408/392–3600. www.flysanjose.com.)
Two shuttle services serve Napa and Sonoma from both San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport. Evans Airport Service, affiliated with California Wine Tours, is an option for travelers without cars staying in the communities of Napa or Yountville. The service, which costs $45 per person, drops you off at any hotel. If you're heading elsewhere in the area, the company will arrange for taxi service from its drop-off point. The Sonoma County Airport Express shuttles passengers between the airports and the cities of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, and Petaluma for $34. Ask the driver to call ahead so that a taxi is waiting for you when you arrive.
Private limousine service is more expensive—up to $300, depending on your destination. The dependable SF Limo Express charges $149 to take up to four people to the town of Sonoma, $189 to Calistoga, and $270 to Healdsburg.
Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport is just off U.S. 101 in Santa Rosa. Healdsburg is north of the airport via U.S. 101. For the town of Sonoma, drive south to Highway 12 and head east.
If you're headed to downtown San Francisco, a taxi ride from San Francisco International Airport costs $50 to $55. More economical are GO Lorrie's Airport Shuttle and SuperShuttle, both of which take you anywhere within the city limits for $17 per person. Both can be found on the airport's lower level near baggage claim. On the other end of the scale is SF Limo Express, which charges $75.
Bay Area Rapid Transit commuter trains take you directly to downtown San Francisco. The trip takes about 30 minutes and costs $8.25. BART trains depart from the international terminal every 15 minutes or 20 minutes, depending on the time of day. Another inexpensive option are two SamTrans buses: the 292 (55 minutes, $2) and the KX (35 minutes, $5; only one small carry-on bag permitted). Board SamTrans buses on the lower level.
A taxi from Oakland International Airport to downtown San Francisco costs from $40 to $45. By airport regulations, you must make reservations for shuttle service. BayPorter Express provides private service only ($90 for up to seven passengers). With SuperShuttle ($27 for the first passenger, $15 for each additional passenger), other travelers may join the ride.
The best public-transit option is BART. Take the AIR BART bus ($3) to the Coliseum/Oakland International Airport BART station; from there, the BART train to downtown San Francisco costs $3.85.
BayPorter Express (415/467–1800. www.bayporter.com.)
Evans Airport Service (707/255–1559 Ext. 302. www.evanstransportation.com.)
GO Lorrie's Airport Shuttle (415/334–9000. www.gosfovan.com.)
SF Limo Express (415/990–6364. www.sflimoexpress.net.)
Sonoma County Airport Express (707/837–8700 or 800/327–2024. www.airportexpressinc.com.)
SuperShuttle (800/258–3826. www.supershuttle.com.)
Bay Area Rapid Transit (415/989-2278. www.bart.gov.)
SamTrans (800/660–4287. www.samtrans.com.)