Good afternoon everyone, happy Friday! Several years ago, I wrote The Fastest Way from San Francisco to the SFO Centurion Lounge and Get to the Oakland International Airport (OAK) Escape Lounge Like a Pro. In those posts, I showed how you could take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from various parts of the San Francisco Bay to get to SFO and OAK, and then the fastest way to get to the Centurion Lounge (SFO) and Escape Lounge (OAK). I’ve taken a few flights from the Sonoma County / Santa Rosa Airport (STS) over the years, so I thought I would write a post on how to get to the airport from Marin & Sonoma County (north side of the Golden Gate Bridge). STS is in the heart of Santa Rosa, which is part of Sonoma County and a short drive to Napa County – paradise for wine lovers. As a geography refresher, STS is 60+ miles north of SFO and OAK (thank you Great Circle Mapper!)
STS is a small airport, with 2 terminals that is served by 3 airlines with routes up and down the West Coast and a longer flight to DFW (Wikipedia). I have taken several flights to Seattle, Orange County and San Diego for weekend trips on Alaska Airlines. Most destinations only have 1-2 flights per day, so there are not many flights available. Sadly, there is no lounge at STS, but there are lots of Peanuts cartoons and figures (the Charles M. Schulz Museum is very close by).
The cheapest way (and maybe the best way) to get to STS is with SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) which I call the SMART Train. As of 2023, the SMART Train goes from Larkspur to Sonoma County Airport (STS) with a few more planned stops coming in the future. At the Larkspur station, you are a 10 minute pedestrian bridge walk to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal which will take you to the San Francisco Ferry Building or to Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.
The SMART Train route network is currently made up of 5 zones, with Sonoma County Airport (STS) being the farthest north and Larkspur being the farthest south. You pay $1.50 per zone, so if you go through all 5 zones, you will pay 5 x $1.50 = $7.50, or half price if you are a senior / youth / disabled.
The SMART Train has several schedules, including weekday vs weekend, morning vs afternoon, and holiday schedules. Weekend service is more limited than weekday service.
If you are connecting to the Larkspur <-> San Francisco ferry, here is the schedule. There are several SMART Trains that are timed to depart with the ferry. There is even a Sail and Rail Fare that includes both transportation methods for $12.
Once you take the SMART Train to the Sonoma County Airport station, you are still 1.2 miles from the Sonoma County Airport (STS). I’ve walked the 1.2 miles with my rolling suitcase a few times, but thankfully there is the new SMART Connect micro transit shuttle available. The shuttle is like an on demand airport / hotel shuttle. You can request a ride through the Ride Pingo App, enter your pick up and drop off location, enter your pick up time and pay through the app. The price is $1.50 per person or 75 cents for youth, seniors, and persons with disabilities. During the week, the shuttle services just the green area (airport and SMART Train station). On the weekend, the shuttle services the larger orange area, but rides are still only $1.50 per person. I recommend scheduling a pick up 30-60 minutes in advance, since there are not many shuttles running.
If taking multiple forms of transportation does not sound fun to you, you can also take Groome Transportation (previously called Sonoma County Airport Express) to STS. There are 4 stops along the 101 in San Rafael, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, and Santa Rosa. The cost is $20 per person; $18 for seniors over 62, military, and students; and children 12 and under are free. Groome Transportation has buses that run 15 times throughout the day, ranging from 7am to 9pm, running 7 days a week.
If you have any questions about getting to or from the Sonoma County Airport (STS), please leave a comment below. Have a great weekend everyone!
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