Although Oakland Airport primarily serves East Bay Area communities, including Berkeley, Concord, Hayward, Walnut Creek and out to Fairfield, the airport’s promoters argue it is also close to downtown San Francisco across the Bay and to Napa wine country. OAK is less congested than San Francisco’s airport and is also less susceptible to flight delays caused by fog and other weather.
The airport is accessed off Interstate 880, the Nimitz Freeway, using either Exit 35, 98th Avenue, or Exit 36, Hegenberger Road, to Bessie Coleman Drive. From the airport, downtown Oakland is about 10 miles north, or about 20 minutes driving time in normal traffic; the University of California campus in Berkeley is 14 miles, or about 35 minutes; San Francisco’s Downtown Financial District is about 19 miles across the Bay Bridge or about 40 minutes; and the heart of the Napa Valley is about 55 miles and just over one hour drive time.
Passenger facilities at OAK consist of two terminals that are interconnected via a walkway inside the TSA secure area. Gates 1-17 are in Terminal 1 and Gates 20-32 are in Terminal 2. Departures are on the upper level and baggage claim for arrivals is on the lower level.
Ground transportation options at the airport include taxis, app ride services and shuttles. Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) operates a bus route between the airport and Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood and Alameda.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) operates a free connector train between OAK airport and its Coliseum station. The airport stop is above the parking garage directly across from Terminal 1 (and a short walk from Terminal 2). At the Coliseum station, passengers can buy tickets to continue on BART to other destinations in the Bay Area and there is a pedestrian bridge to connect to Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor intercity train. BART trains operate about every 6 minutes daily until 11 p.m. when they depart at 20-minute intervals for one more hour. The scheduled travel time from OAK to downtown Oakland is about 30 minutes, to the Embarcadero, the first stop in downtown San Francisco, is 40 minutes and to Berkeley is 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Check BART’s operating hours here, especially if you have an early morning departure on weekends.)
Southwest Airlines flights arrive and depart at gates 4 and 6 in Terminal 1 and gates 20-32 in Terminal 2. Connecting passengers can reach all other gates in the terminal without exiting the TSA secure area. Southwest’s check-in counters are in Terminal 2.
The Bay Area isn’t only about San Francisco. The East Bay has its own vibe and unique attractions. Oakland is well-known for being multi-cultural – U.S. Census data show no ethnicity or race makes up more than 29% of the city’s population – and that can be seen in its cultural offerings and restaurants, including Michelin two-star award-winner Commis, with a décor so minimalist there’s no sign out front and some of the most coveted seats are at the counter overlooking the open kitchen. In Berkeley, Chef Alice Waters in the 1970s pioneered California cuisine using organic, locally grown ingredients at her restaurant Chez Panisse which has inspired others to open unique eateries nearby. OAK is also the Bay Area’s most convenient major airport for reaching California’s famous Napa Wine Country.
Learn more about visiting Oakland and its Neighborhoods here.
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