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10 Things To Do in San Francisco Airport | Enjoy Your Layover

Layovers can be annoying, but a long layover at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) doesn’t have to be a drag.

In fact, with a little creativity, you can turn that extended airport layover into a fun trip.

In this article, we’ll cover the best things to do in San Francisco to have a great time.

10 Things to Do in SFO Airport

SFO has plenty of activities and amenities to keep you entertained, and the city itself offers unique opportunities if your layover exceeds half a day.

Good thing you can get an affordable car rental SFO any time of the day if the wait in the airport becomes too boring!

Let’s explore some cool things you can do in and around the San Francisco Airport during a long layover.

1. Shop ‘Til You Drop

Who doesn’t love a little retail therapy?

SFO has an impressive array of shops selling everything from trendy clothing and accessories to quirky souvenirs.

Wander through terminals and browse eclectic stores like InMotion Entertainment for the latest electronics.

You can even snag some gourmet goodies at retailers like Banana Republic and GR Chocolate Boutique.

There are tons of stores within and outside SFO where you can shop around. You can say that the selection is endless!

2. Feast Like a Foodie

The San Francisco International Airport is a foodie’s heaven, with over fifty different dining options.

You can satisfy your appetites with delicacies from all over the world, such as a hearty Vietnamese curry at the Asian Box, a Mexican classic at Andalé Mexican Kitchen + Bar, local classics at the Lark Creek Grill, or a fragrant bean-to-cup coffee at Roasting Plant Coffee when you visit these restaurants.

A great number of restaurants also provide iPad ordering, which provides the utmost ease.

Lastly, check out the Napa Farms market for some local and fresh produce.

Airport food does not have to be all Burger King.

3. Check In to an Airport Hotel

Have a layover that lasts for the night? If you want to get some real rest, rather than camping out at the gate, why not get a room at an airport hotel?

There are a few hotels at SFO that are situated near the airport such as the Grand Hyatt.

Relax, enjoy a yoga room, get some rest, and be just a few steps away when your next flight is scheduled to take off.

4. Explore the SFO Museum

For a dose of culture mid-travel, pay a visit to the SFO Museum found within the terminals.

It features over 20 galleries of art, history, and aviation exhibits, it’s an excellent way to stretch your mind and legs.

Things to do in San Francisco airport

The Aviation Museum is a great place to soak up some local flying history.

Best of all, admission is free!

5. Enjoy the View From the Sky Terrace

Sky Terrace has comfortable seating and a view of the airfield viewing deck in all directions.

It’s free for everyone and not behind the security fence, so you don’t need a boarding pass or to go through security.

The staff may ask to see your ID and will look through any bags you bring in.

6. Get a Furry Welcome From the Wag Brigade

There’s nothing quite like getting a warm welcome from SFO’s Wag Brigade – a crew of friendly therapy dogs certified by San Francisco SPCA, with some pigs joining the party too!

Pet a pup, feed the piggies, and feel your stress melt away in their adorable presence.

Pretty cool, huh?

7. Test Your Swing at the Golf Course

Why just sit around when you can hit the links?

The California Golf Club of San Francisco is just a hop from the airport.

Even if you don’t have clubs, you can rent gear and play a quick 9 holes amidst gorgeous Bay Area views.

8. Book a San Francisco Bay Cruise

If you have a layover that is longer than five to six hours, you will have sufficient time to fly into San Francisco and take a boat around the famous Bay.

Things to do in San Francisco airport

Obtain tickets for a picturesque boat cruise after renting a car from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) or taking a shuttle into the city.

See the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and other historical landmarks from the ocean.

9. Explore the City by the Bay

Have a full 12+ hour layover? Don’t stay cooped up at SFO.

Get out and experience some downtown San Francisco culture.

Book cars through rental agencies like Budget Car Rental for easy transportation. Alternative head to the BART station on the departure level of the International terminal.

Visit touristy but cool spots like the Golden Gate Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, or Chinatown.

Just don’t forget to head back to the airport in time.

10. Rent a Car For a Wine Country Jaunt

With a 12-hour layover or more, you could even take an incredible day trip up to Sonoma’s fabled Wine Country, just an hour north of SFO.

Wine tour

Hop in a car rental service and drive away.

This way, you can follow breathtaking routes and spend a few hours sipping your way through vineyards.

A great way to treat yourself between flights.

Make the Most Out of Your SFO Layover

As you can see, a long layover at SFO doesn’t have to be a boring downtime.

The airport and surrounding areas offer lots of opportunities to relax, have fun, and even go on mini-adventures.

From museums and cruises to Wine Country road trips, an extended SFO stopover has the potential to become an experience in itself.

Just remember to build in enough time to catch that next flight out!

If you liked this article, check out the most romantic retreats in the US.

FAQs: Things to do in SFO Airport

Can I go out of the airport during a layover in San Francisco?

Yes, you can leave the airport during a layover in San Francisco. Just make sure you have enough time to return and pass through security again before your next flight. Also, people who are not US citizens will need a visa to be in transit and leave the airport.

What can I do on a 10-hour layover in San Francisco?

With a 10-hour layover in San Francisco, you can explore iconic sites like the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoy seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf, visit Alcatraz Island, or stroll through Chinatown.

Can you walk around San Francisco airport?

Yes, you can walk around San Francisco airport. There are art exhibits, shops, and restaurants to explore in the various terminals.

Is San Francisco airport close to the city?

San Francisco airport is relatively close to the city center, about 13 miles south. It’s easily accessible by public transportation, taxi, or rideshare services, taking around 30-45 minutes.

The article may include affiliate links, meaning that I may receive affiliate compensation at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. Read more in my Affiliate Disclosure.


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