Getting Here: 3 different airports service the Bay Area San Francisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK), and San Jose (SJO). Oakland is closest, while San Francisco has more flights; both are accessible via public transit, while San Jose is a 45 min drive from Oakland (with no traffic). If you live near an airport that Southwest Airlines flies out of, we highly recommend Southwest; there are no fees for baggage and the service is much better than standard airlines. You won't find Southwest on travel search engines though; check out www.southwest.com to search for flights. If you don't live near a Southwest hub, we recommend using www.kayak.com to search for flights.
Lodging: In general, lodging is expensive in our area. We have found a hotel that is nearby and accessible by public transit that has reasonable rates, the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Oakland. We've reserved a
Getting around: Public transit will probably be cheaper and less hassle. Oakland has multiple stops on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system (www.bart.gov), as well as a network of buses (www.actransit.com) and trip planning help (www.511.org). If you choose the public transit option, let us know, and we will have a friend provide transportation to/from the wedding site (which is somewhat secluded and not near public transit).
The other option is a rental car; you can compare rates using www.orbitz.com. Most hotels charge extra (sometimes a lot!) for parking, which is difficult to find on the street in downtown areas, so weigh this option carefully. The wedding site does have a parking lot, so wedding day won't pose a problem for drivers.
Fun (besides our wedding, of course!): There are so many things to see and do in the Bay Area; we hope you'll make a vacation out of it! Oakland itself has attractions, restaurants, and sights, while San Francisco is a quick trip (12 min by BART, 15 min drive w/ no traffic) away. For those of you wanting to stay longer, you might like to tack on a trip to Yosemite National Park or Lake Tahoe (each a half day's drive) or a day trip to wine country or Calistoga (spa town). Let us know if you have vacation desires, and we may have suggestions.
What to pack: Many people think of California and think of surfing and shorts and sunglasses. Well, that's Southern California. Up here, we dress in layers; sometimes we wear shorts and sunglasses, sometimes jackets and scarves, sometimes both in one day. October is a relatively warm time of year here, but temperatures are variable. Check the weather forecast before you pack, and bring a jacket regardless of what it says! Also, keep in mind that this area is quite casual; no need to "dress" for dinner, for example. And if you want to tour San Francisco or Oakland, be sure to have sneakers or comfortable walking shoes; the area is hilly, and you're likely to be walking from public transit or wherever you were able to find parking.
block of rooms for a discount rate, which is $89 a night. You can take one of these rooms by dialing 1-800-321-2211 and telling them you're with the Bearden-Rice wedding group. You can ask to add valet parking, which should be $5 extra, if you plan to rent a car. Check their website here;
The hotel itself is clean and has a professional staff (we were impressed), but please note that at night the surrounding area clears out a bit (it is on the edge of a business district), so be cautious if you are walking around outside. The hotel doesn't have a restaurant inside, but it does offer breakfast, and there are many restaurants within walking distance (the hotel is also on the edge of Chinatown).
If you need something less expensive, please contact us for recommendations. There are clean, decently safe hotels for less in the area, though they are less likely to be accessible to public transit and may not be as nice inside. There are also less expensive places that are bad news though, so do drop us a line before booking something for less! Also, if you're on a really tight budget, let us know; there are hostels in the area, or we might be able to find a friend's couch.