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8 things that make SFO my favorite US airport


SFO International Terminal Main Hall (Nighttime so dark photo.)

I tend to love the smaller airports. The car-to-gate time for small airports tend to be under twenty minutes; the vibe is chill and the staff is friendly.
That said, nothing beats a large airport for spectacular people watching, good food and amenities. My favorite large airport in the US is San Francisco International Airport (SFO). It’s also my home base since 2007.
Touted as the “gateway to the Pacific,” SFO is one of the world’s 30 busiest airports. SFO opened in 1927. In 2003, the long-awaited Bay Area Rapid Transit expansion finally connected SFO to the BART line. (In the ’90s, we had to take BART, walk to a bus terminal then take a bus to SFO. Not fun.)

Enduring Designs of Josef Frank Exhibit

Artwork: Thoughtful, interesting exhibits are strategically placed in SFO. Connecting corridors house a spectacular model plane exhibit, waiting lounges house displays of Japanese tea accoutrements. You’ll often see people slow down to take in the pretty.
Where: Exhibit Location Map

Terminal 3 and International Terminal G Connector

Inter-terminal connector: Nothing sucks worse than having to go through security again. I love that you can get from the International Terminal G gates (G-gates for United and most Star Alliance airlines) to Terminal 3 via a post-security corridor (United and American domestic, Air Canada). It’s airy, bright and filled with art and benches.
Where: Between Gate 75 (Terminal 3) and Gucci (International Terminal G)

Perfect Emporio Rulli cappuchino

Emporio Rulli: Hands down the best coffee in SFO. It’s the one place I am guaranteed a cappuccino with stiff foam, no added milk and espresso with rich crema on top.

Where: International Terminal, pre-scurity, Main Hall Arrivals Lobby, Main Hall North Food Court (near Boarding Area G) and Main Hall South Food Court (near Boarding Area A)

Toiletries for sale at Freshen Up!

Freshen Up! & Baggage Storage: Long layover? Drop off your bags at baggage storage and take a quick shower at Freshen Up!

Where: International Terminal, Main Hall just past the escalators

Open 7 am- 11 pm

Standard shower $11 (20 minute shower includes soap and towel)

Deluxe shower $15 (30 minutes, includes shampoo, lotion, shower shoes, plush towel, upgraded soap and 20 minutes in a massage chair)
Discounts for flight crew.

Baggage storage prices vary but suitcases are about $10-20 per 24 hours.

BART Entrance

BART: The Bay Area Rapid Transit station is in the International Terminal. Take BART into the city or connect to Cal Trans. It’s perfect for getting to your hotel or just to get out of the airport for a few hours. SF is only 30 minutes away.

Where: International Terminal Main Hall just past the Berman Reflection Room

Roundtrip adult fare to Powell Station: $16.20

Berman Reflection Room

Berman Reflection Room: Next to the BART station, this tranquil space is perfect to get away from the hubbub. There is no eating, sleeping or talking on cell phones so you can be assured some quiet time contemplating planes taxiing silently by.

Where: International Terminal Main Hall

Buena Vista Cafe

The Buena Vista Cafe: If you didn’t get a chance to go to Buena Vista at the Fisherman’s Wharf, stop in and get a Irish coffee here. The atmosphere isn’t as divey and cool but the barkeeps are still old school and the drink is a classic. Food’s good. You can catch the game or people watch.

Where: Terminal 3, Boarding Area F near Gate 82, post-security

Making Tornadoes

Kids’ Spot:  It’s an interactive play station with weather related exhibits from the Exploratorium.  Plenty of space and activities for the kids to burn up some energy (as long as some douchebag isn’t standing in the middle of it having an obnoxiously loud phone conversation).

Where: Terminal 2, Boarding Area D near Gates 54A and 58B, post-security  and Terminal 3, Boarding Area F near Gate 87A, post-security

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