What’s the best way of getting around on your San Francisco City Hall wedding day? Whatever you have planned on your big day at City Hall, you’ll undoubtedly need some form of transportation!
In this article, I outline the 10 best transportation ideas to & from San Francisco City Hall. I also include some pros and cons of each mode of transit. I’m sure there are ideas on this list you were not aware of!
I always say: San Francisco City Hall weddings are simple, yes. But the key is planning. This way, your day can go off without a hitch! If you know what to expect, you’re less likely to be caught off-guard or experience unnecessary stress.
The location of San Francisco City Hall right in the heart of the City. The hustle and bustle has the potential to cause delays. This can be connected to traffic, parking or going to the wrong side of the building.
If you’re considering going for a meal or reception right after your SF City Hall wedding, I’ve created a guide to my 12 favorite hippest spots that welcome City Hall couples and their guests.
The first piece of advice I will give you is to strongly consider spending the night in San Francisco before the wedding. Even if you live somewhere fairly close by (San Jose, Oakland, Marin etc), do you really want to deal with freeways and road bridges on your wedding day?
Especially if you have a morning ceremony! I’ve seen couples who live in the Western part of San Francisco (the Outer Sunset for example), take a room closer to City Hall. They wanted to wake up closer to the building, and add a little luxury to what can be an impersonal experience.
A word of warning though – be careful with the hotels in the Tenderloin/ Civic Center area itself. It is a seedy area with a lot of crime and homelessness.
My previous couples have stayed in places like Hotel Kabuki, the Fairmont Hotel and the Palace – and had fab experiences! Even free upgrades 😉 Check out Airbnb for something special for this momentous occasion.
Stuck for places to go for your portrait session? Check out my article linked below!
With that out the way, let’s dive in!
Check out my page packed with info and more resources about City Hall weddings: San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer. You’ll find plenty more resources that will make planning your day a breeze!
Car (driving yourself)
The nearest parking garage to San Francisco City Hall is Civic Center Garage at 355 McAllister St. The entrance is easy to miss but it’s actually a large underground lot, modestly priced too. Problem is, it’s often full unless you get there first thing in the morning.
The main concern with driving yourself is allowing enough time for traffic. By ‘enough time’, I don’t just mean an extra 10 minutes! Realistically I would allow at least an extra hour just in case.
It’s advisable to skip driving unless there is really no other way. Some of the spots around there will not allow you to park for a long enough time.
The extra hour minimum gives you leeway in case of crazy traffic and the lot is full.
Uber / Lyft ridesharing apps
I recommend Uber/ Lyft for getting around San Francisco on your City Hall wedding day. It’s simple, stress-free, extremely efficient. There isn’t even anything to book!
It cuts down on the amount of time you’d spend finding parking and walking to/ from the car if you were driving.
Uber and Lyft are also extremely low-cost for the convenience they provide. What it lacks in that ‘special je ne sais quoi’ it makes up with affordability and efficiency!
You can book a regular car with a driver to be with you for the whole day! Simply give them the schedule and they’d be happy to help you out and drive you wherever you want to go!
This is a simple and easy choice if you just want someone to ferry you and your partner around. You won’t stress about your driver driving off to pick up the next fare if you’re not out in time. They’re working only for you!
It makes the whole hired car thing a little more personal than getting an Uber. Works best for longer days of coverage, but different firms will work with you for shorter bookings.
This is such a fun one! You can pop the bubbly and tuck into that sushi & chicken satay, or whatever you choose to bring 😉
Stretch limos are a favorite for fun photos! The way everyone’s facing each other and just gets lost in the moment. Makes for great candids and a memorable guest experience.
Plus the two of you will totally be canoodling in the backseat. Most firms will offer options from 10 passengers right up to 20. Vehicles include SUVs, Hummers, Lincolns, some of which have a HOT TUB!!
I probably would think carefully about whom to ask for this one, some would hate it especially if they’re not used to San Francisco traffic!
But sometimes the option presents itself because you’re thinking “oh, I have the perfect friend/ family member who’d love to help us out in this way!”
If you have a kind friend-turned-chauffeur that always works amazingly in my experience!
I myself don’t drive to City Hall. Generally, I only rent cars for weddings taking place further afield. I take BART or Uber to weddings I shoot at San Francisco City Hall.
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), San Francisco’s Metro trains
The BART system is pretty reliable, particularly during the week. It’s about 2 blocks from the Civic Center stop and an easy walk. We might even make the news!
If you wanted to head to a portrait location, there are a few that work well by BART. Powell Street is in the Downtown area, a stone’s throw from the iconic Cable Car turnaround.
The Clarion Alley Mural Project is located a few minutes’ walk from 16th Street Mission BART station. Other BART stops that are worth exploring are Embarcadero and 24th Street Mission.
Muni, San Francisco’s cable cars
Some portrait locations that I recommend work well with the super cute little Muni streetcars. They are vintage trolley cars gathered from all over the world! I’ve seen streetcars from as far afield as Milan.
These cute streetcars can be a little unpredictable in their schedule. But if you have the time, it can be a really nice, authentic touch to the experience. As it’s regular mass transit, they can’t be booked out. But you could get pics with Muni in the background, or ride from Civic Center, close to City Hall.
The F Train runs up Market Street and is totally unique. You can get to the Castro or to Fisherman’s Wharf via the beautiful Embarcadero.
Iconic San Francisco trolley car
A trolley is SO San Francisco Though this one looks like the cable car mentioned above, it’s a motorized road vehicle.
And it’s a completely novel transportation experience! It’s honestly so full of charm. You can privately charter the trolley and it’s great for SF City Hall weddings.
It is partially covered in the central section, but mostly open air. Bring friends, bring booze and have a great time!
Hornblower’s Party Trolley has a cooler, LED lighting and sound, disco ball and a bubble machine!
Your guests will have the most memorable transportation experience. This works especially well for out-of-town guests. They may never have seen one of these before!
The Hornblower Cable Car is SO San Francisco. Edit: Hornblower Cable Cars has shut down and the new parent company that their old website redirects to, no longer offers this service, or at least they didn’t at the time of checking.
A client informed me that (currently, as I edit this) in May 2021, 4 different firms she tried were no longer operating cable cars. The final one that may still be open soon, is Events West. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve had any success booking a motorized trolley for your wedding – I would love to give them a shout-out here and help other couples!
If you’re considering a bus – consider the Jellybus! It’s so cool for larger groups of up to 40 guests. When this rocks up outside San Francisco City Hall… your guests will probably faint.
It runs on bio-diesel and has a solar-powered sound system. It’s a lovingly restored vehicle that will turn heads wherever you decide to go. Plus, the company is committed to sustainability. They take being low-impact seriously – it’s inspiring!
The Jellybus is totally a way to do good and support a local Bay Area business that gives back.
You just have to be 25 years of age or older to hire the Jellybus.
There is one more exciting option for San Francisco City Hall wedding day travel. This one’s probably the quirkiest of all! My fellow City Hall lover, Kai of KaiTours, offers an amazingly unique way of getting around San Francisco.
A becak is an Indonesian rickshaw. Riding in one is such a novel experience, and makes for great wedding pictures.
I’ve ridden with Kai a couple of times and I usually can’t stop smiling. It’s exhilarating, memorable, and is a unique way of seeing the city!
There are a few restrictions around hills and maximum distances, but Kai will give you customized planning assistance. The becak seats two. Kai is currently in the process of expanding his fleet 😉
And there you have it! Leave a comment below if you found this guide to transportation ideas for City Hall weddings helpful! Looking for more day-of tips to maximize your SF City Hall wedding experience? Check out my guides linked below.
And when you’ve booked your wedding date, give me a shout for pictures. You can find the full lowdown on my San Francisco City Hall wedding photography services here!