Road Trips and Travel Tips 2013-14
Getting to the Airport (updated 9/2013)
It's a toss-up whether you want to take a door-to-door van to the airport, or drive yourself and park in a long-term parking lot. In the long-term lot you wait for the parking shuttle. The van takes you right to the boarding area, but first there's that wait in the pre-dawn darkness while you wonder if the van driver will find your address; and on return, the wait in the van while he circles the airport looking for more passengers and the extra ride while he drops off other riders in strange neighborhoods before getting to your place.
Cost-wise, a van ride for two people is about as much as 4 days' parking.
Of the vans, SuperShuttle is very professional. You can reserve online, and they provide an automated call to your cell-phone when the van is approaching your house. We've ridden South and East Bay a number of times without problems as well. If you're feeling flush, 101 Limousine will take you in solitary grandeur (not a shared ride) in a Lincoln town-car for about twice what a door-to-door van charges. (Look for cut-price coupons in local shopping papers.)
Airport Parking (updated 9/2013)
ParkingReservations.com has a nice search that lets you find and book the best off-airport parking at (apparently) any US airport. They find a number of options under $10/day at SJC, and under $20/day at SFO.
For SFO you can park in the airport-run long-term lot for $18/day, now payable with credit card or with FasTrak.
Skypark costs $17/day for outdoor or $19/day for covered parking. ParkSFO has a building where you can have covered parking for $19/day (and you can print a one- or two-days-free coupon from their website).
There are several other SFO options: local Anza Parking which offers an online coupon rate of $13/day, or multi-city Park and Fly (Select Oakland, San Francisco or San Jose in the dropdown menu), with comparable rates.
At SJC, the airport-run long-term Daily Lots 4 and 5 cost $22/day, a major increase from last year.
Use these sites to find flights and hotels.
|hipmunk.com||Our favorite flight-search site. Enter your departure and destination airports and dates; you get a clear, compact table showing when all flights depart and arrive. Click a flight for details or to book it. (Doesn't cover Southwest.)|
|southwest.com/||Southwest schedules and ticket sales must be accessed at the company site; they are not available from Expedia, Travelocity, or other aggregator sites.|
|Two great starting points: you enter your air travel information once; each returns links to a number of sites that offer the best fares. Kayak does hotels and cars as well.|
|seatguru.com/||When booking a flight, before you get to the seat-selection part, open this site in another window. Click on the airline and enter your flight number. Seat Guru shows you the seat map as that airline configures that type of plane, showing which seats to prefer and which to avoid.|
|us.lastminute.com/||For the bold and/or feckless traveller, buy bargain seats at the last minute.|
|booking.com/||The most comprehensive hotel search site, finds hotels in the most obscure towns worldwide and lets you book them directly.|
|Priceline.com||Bay Area Consumer's Checkbook found that Priceline produced hotel rates "lower than those available on other booking sites."|
|tripadvisor.com/||Hotel price comparisons based on four other sites including Expedia and Travelocity; and user reviews of hotels.|
The FBC has no "travel committee" as such. If you want to help organize fan activities on one of these trips, write to The FBC and volunteer!
Below is some information about the logistics and local attractions for some away trips.
Stanford plays at Boston College at 1pm EST on Saturday, November 9. Due to the hour, it is unlikely you could fly on that day and make the game. Best scheduling would be to take a red-eye out of SFO on the Friday night (Jet Blue and Virgin offer late nonstops), arriving BOS Saturday morning.
Stanford plays at UConn's campus arena, Gampel Pavilion, at 7pm on Monday the 11th (Veteran's Day, watch out for holiday scheduling). Weather cooperating it should be an easy 2-hour drive from Boston to Hartford on Sunday or even Monday morning.
With the game not ending until 9pm, it would not be feasible to return that night. After a hotel stay in Storrs or Hartford, drive to Newark airport for a wide selection of flights to SFO from United and Virgin America.
It will be critical to buy seats at Gampel Pavilion ahead of time. It would be a good idea to order your Boston College tix as well. School websites are linked from our Schedule page.
A one-game trip to Austin: the game is at 12:30pm on a Saturday. As with Boston, not really feasible to fly in that same day. But there are no red-eyes either (and no nonstops to-from SJC, only SFO). You'll have to travel in the daytime Friday and spend the night. On the bright side, Virgin America has a 5pm nonstop departure for SFO.
Pre-ordering tickets is a good idea, Texas draws big crowds. The number for the Texas ticket office is (512) 471-3333.
Sections 48 & 49 are behind the visitor bench. As of 10/30, the lowest row number available in Sec. 49 was Row 13; in Sec. 48, Row 7. Cost will be around $17.50.
The Cardinal plays in a charity tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico over Thanksgiving week. The full tournament schedule is at this link. Stanford plays, as also shown on our Schedule page, the 26th, 27th, and 28th.
The organizers offer an inclusive package of a luxury resort hotel, game tickets, ground transportation, and unlimited food and drink: details here. If you prefer to book your own hotel, Puerto Vallarta has a large selection (click here for a list from booking.com). If you book your own hotel, you must buy your own tournament passes for $300 each. We would imagine these can be bought on-site.
Alaska Air has one nonstop from SFO. All other SFO and SJC flights change planes at least once, usually in LAX.
A Saturday run to Fresno the weekend after Christmas. There will not be a booster bus, there was not enough demand.
Tickets should be available at the door. However, you can order through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Sections 121 & 122 are behind the visitor bench. No seats are being sold in Section 121, possibly because they are general admission (section 122 is closer to the center). Cost for a reserved seat, including Ticketmaster fees: $19.90.
The first road trip of the PAC-12 season begins with a 6pm Friday game at UU in Salt Lake City, followed by a 3pm Sunday afternoon game at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Getting to SLC for a 6pm game is doable. Delta has a 10:30 nonstop out of SFO, which is preferable because of the available return flights from DEN. There are many flights SLC to DEN, from whence Boulder is an hour by car.
Getting from DEN to SJC on a Sunday night is surprisingly difficult. There's a United nonstop at 6:50pm, just barely makeable with no traffic. United and Frontier have suitable nonstops DEN-SFO, however.
The Buffaloes average less than 3,000, and the Utes less than 1,000, attendance, each in a large arena, so plan on buying at the door.
After a year's schedule hiatus we return to the desert for a game against Arizona in Tucson at 7pm Friday the 17th. Then, after a looooong weekend comes a game at ASU in Tempe at 5pm Monday the 20th.
The typical itinerary is to fly in and out of Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix (PHX), then drive two-plus hours down to Tucson. That's because there are no nonstops to TUS from SJC, and only one, by United Express, from SFO. Whereas you can get to PHX from SJC or SFO on any of several nonstops in plenty of time to drive to Tucson.
The return from PHX after a 5pm game is just doable. There's a 9:15pm US Air flight to SJC, and one at 9:10 for SFO.
Phoenix Airport to Tempe
New from 2013 is a convenient, inexpensive light-rail link from Sky Harbor Terminal 4 direct to Wells Fargo Arena on the ASU campus. Sky Harbor has three terminals, numbered 2, 3 and 4. A small train, the Skytrain, connects Terminal 4 to the Phoenix Metro light-rail system. Here is an airport map showing the layout of terminals and airlines and the route of the Skytrain. If you arrive at Terminal 2 or 3, make your way to Terminal 4 using a bus shuttle. From Terminal 4 follow signs to the Skytrain. At the 44th Street terminus, an escalator takes you to the light-rail platform. Buy an inexpensive day-pass from a machine and board the next eastbound train. Four stops, about 12 minutes, brings you to the Veterans' Way/College Ave. station, from which you can see the arena just two blocks ahead.
For the Arizona game it is always safe to buy at the door, although if you want to order ahead, hit the UA website linked from the Schedule page.
For the ASU game in Tempe, it is important to order ahead, as the Wells Fargo Arena is always packed for this game. Go to the Sun Devils site linked from the Schedule page or call (480) 727-0000. As of 12/28/2013, there are reserved seats available at $15.
Things to do around Tucson
Here is a nice article from the New York Times titled "36 Hours in Tucson." It covers several interesting things other than the old standards like:
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has more than 300 live animal species and two miles of paths. Located 14 miles west of Tucson in Tucson Mountain Park.
- Catalina State Park—bird-watching and hiking.
- Arizona State Museum (on University of Arizona campus) interprets the history of Southwestern cultures.
- Mission San Xavier Del Bac, an impressive example of Spanish mission architecture, built in 1783-97.
- Sabino Canyon in Santa Catalina Mountains offers hiking as well as narrated excursions aboard shuttle buses.
- Sosa-Carillo-Fremont House in downtown Tuscon, one of Tucson's oldest adobe buildings with period furnishings and changing exhibits. Walking tours may be arranged by calling 520 622-0956 (Saturdays only).
Things to do around Phoenix
- The Desert Botanical Garden is always worth a visit.
- The winter home and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West gives a good tour.
- Shopping in Scottsdale.
- The Heard Museum has ten galleries of native cultures and art, including ethnological, historical and contemporary objects of Southwestern Native Americans, daily artist demonstrations, more.
- The Pueblo Grande Museum contains a prehistoric Hohokam village ruin that includes a platform mound, ball court and irrigation canals.
Stanford plays Cal at Haas Pavilion on Sunday at 1pm (after a Thursday game at Maples).
There will not be a booster bus, demand was insufficient. That is probably because parking is easier on a Sunday afternoon, and also people schedule other east-bay activities around the game.
The Cardinal plays in Pullman at 6pm on a Friday night, then in Seattle on Sunday at 12:30.
Some will pass up the chance to visit Spokane and Pullman and only attend the UW game. Those who want the full experience will fly to Spokane (GEG) early Friday. There used to be a United Express nonstop from SFO but it seems not to exist any more. There are a variety of Alaska flights that change planes in either Seattle or Portland. We prefer the PDX route, the Portland airport is less stressful than SeaTac.
Then you can spend all or part of Saturday in Spokane before moving on to Seattle on one of the frequent and scenic flights to SEA.
Sunday afternoon there are nonstops to SFO by United, Alaska, and Virgin Air. There is only a single nonstop to SJC, by Alaska Air at 8:30pm.
Tickets should be available at the door for both games.
Things to Do
See the PAC-12 Tournament topic below for things to do in Seattle.
Spokane is not the home of the Washington State Cougars, but it is where the team and visiting fans usually stay. Downtown Spokane has supposedly become more interesting in the recent years with much renovation and the completion of the River Park Square mall. The historic Fox Theater is a renovated performance venue (click for schedule), which now houses the Spokane Symphony.
The Riverfront Park (which features "one of the best outdoor skating rinks in the nation"), the Riverside State Park and the Spokane River Centennial Trail are all either in or very close to Spokane and offer plenty of possibilities for hiking or biking—weather permitting.
It is about a 2 hour drive from Spokane to Pullman, where the Cougars lurk (keep that in mind when booking your flight). Check the official WSU Campus Map.
This year the Cardinal play USC on Friday at 6pm, then at UCLA on Sunday afternoon at 4pm. This TV-dictated scheduling means taking an early flight on Friday and a late-evening return flight.
It's a tossup whether to fly or drive for the L.A. trip. Given good weather, the door-to-door travel time is almost the same. On the plus side, if you drive, you needn't rent a car to get around LA. On the minus side, that drive home up I5 on Sunday night gets pretty long, even if you break it with a late supper at Harris Ranch. This year, with that ridiculous 4pm Sunday game time, drivers will probably barely make Bakersfield before having to stop for the night.
USC doesn't draw a big crowd to their nice arena, and all seats are general admission for women's games, so plan to buy tickets at the door.
UCLA games can sell out; order tickets as soon as they are available after 1 October.
Things to Do
The following are some things that FBC members have enjoyed on previous trips to LA.
- The Getty has lots of fine art in a stunning setting. On a clear spring day, great views of downtown. Room to wander and sit, and a nice cafeteria.
- The Huntington has even more, and more varied exhibitions than the Getty, and a vast garden. Nice cafe and tea room.
- Hancock Park, including the La Brea tar pits, the Page Museum in which the Tar Pit discoveries are displayed and explained, and right next door, the massive L.A. County Museum of Art. Just north of Hancock Park at 419 N. Fairfax is Canter's Deli, hit it for a pastrami, blini or an egg cream.
- The Norton Simon in Pasadena is another world-class art museum. On the way back, for something completely different, stop at the Soda Pop Stop, with 450 kinds of sodas and sarsaparillas and 500 kinds of bottled beer.
- The Skirball Center is a Jewish cultural center and a world-class museum.
- Gamble House is a magnificent turn-of-the-century villa, designed and stuffed full of furniture by Greene and Greene.
- Los Angeles: there is a "there" there, and you can find it on a walking tour led by the Los Angeles Conservancy. The docent-led tours are mostly on Saturday, or get one of their self-guided tours for use on another day.
- Disneyland! 'nuff said!
- Descanso Gardens, not as vast a garden as the Huntington but just as big a variety of plants and lots of places to sit and meditate.
- Is the Universal Studios Tour corny and kitschy? You betcha, and we loved it!
- For birders, Bolsa Chica ecological preserve in Huntington Beach has a great variety of shore birds visible from an easy walking trail.
For the second year the tournament is at Key Arena in Seattle. Seattle is easy to get to, with many flights by many carriers and a wide range of hotels. Key arena is in the Seattle Center with plenty of parking and the monorail for access from downtown.
Schedule and ticket purchase info TBS!
Things to do
To properly lounge at a coffee house you need a book, and the Elliot Bay Book Company at 101 South Main rivals Powell's Books in Portland, a great browsing bookstore (with a just-OK coffee shop in the basement).
If you have the time, it might also be worth visiting the famous Pike Place Market, which is consistently rated as one of the best places to shop for food in the US. A brisk mile walk brings you to the Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor wing of the Seattle Art Museum.
Been there, did that last year? And you've been to the Chihuli Glass in Seattle Center? Here's one you've haven't been to (because it opened after the tournament): the Official Bad Art Museum of Art on the walls of trendy Café Racer in the University district.
Like airplanes? Take your rental car to the south end of town and spend hours among vintage planes in the three hangar-sized galleries of Boeing's Museum of Flight. Then step outside and walk inside of President Johnson's Air Force One, and the last Concorde SST to fly. If you are interested in aviation, budget at least four hours for this stop.
Continue 30 miles south to Tacoma and visit the Museum of Glass, where you watch major works being blown in the working "hot shop" every day.
Barely half-mile away in the confusing streets of waterfront Tacoma is the LeMay Car Museum, a huge collection of vintage cars presented in a vast but beautiful gallery. If you are a car buff, expect to spend at least three hours.
For the Cardinal, the first and second rounds are in Ames, Iowa. See the Story of the Season for a map link, game times, links to purchase tickets, and opponent info.
Getting there is not easy; there were no obviously convenient flights to Ames. Omaha (OMA) is served by Southwest and others. It is 275 freeway miles (Google thinks 2:40 drive time) from the Hilton arena in Ames. This mandates a Friday departure and a Tuesday return, for a five-day, four-hotel-night trip.
The schedule provides all of Sunday and most of Monday to fill with amusements in Ames, Des Moines, and vicinity. Here are some links.
- What's on in Des Moines can't find any events on the 23rd or 24th.
- Trip Advisor does better, listing a stately home and an art museum and some other Des Moines attractions.
- The Des Moines Register has a very detailed list of events, none immediately attractive.
- This listing of Ames Events for 3/23 is empty, it lists only things for Monday 3/24.
- Trip Advisor comes through again with a list of restaurants in Ames, with reviews.
The Final Four is in Nashville, TN.
Things to do