By Tasha Bartholomew, @tashbart
With the holiday season in full effect, taking public transit to do some Christmas shopping might be the best option for getting around.
The Bay Area’s roadways are always congested, and with families flocking to various shopping malls and centers over these two weekends leading up to Christmas, the region’s traffic conditions are only going to get worse.
That’s why holiday shoppers should turn to SamTrans and Caltrain for stress-free alternatives to the various nuisances of driving around the Bay. Whether by bus or by rail, customers can get to their favorite shopping spots without having to navigate parking and traffic hazards.
Here’s a look at some of the local commercial centers that can be reached by SamTrans or Caltrain:
San Francisco: The San Francisco Caltrain Station isn’t located directly next to the major shopping plazas of the city, but gift-seekers can easily transfer to other public transit providers that service those sites. From the Caltrain station located on 4th Street and King Street, shoppers can hop on Muni’s N-Judah light-rail line for a trip to the Powell Street Station, which connects with the Westfield San Francisco Centre. In addition, passengers debarking at the San Francisco Caltrain Station can hop on Muni’s 30-Stockton and 45-Union bus lines, which will drop riders off at Union Square, home to Macy’s, Williams-Sonoma and other prime Christmas shopping destinations.
The Shops at Tanforan: This San Bruno shopping mall is a great place to check names off the Christmas list and it’s also conveniently located to a spate of public transportation options. Along with its proximity to the San Bruno BART Station, the Shops at Tanforan are also accessible by a fleet of SamTrans bus lines, including the Route ECR, and Routes 133, 140 and 398, among others. The bus routes serving Tanforan travel in both the east-west and north-south directions, meaning residents from all over the Peninsula can rely on the bus to get them to San Bruno.
Hillsdale Shopping Center: Although the Hillsdale Shopping Center is undergoing extensive construction, the site is still open for business and still very accessible by public transportation. For shoppers traveling longer distances, Caltrain is a great option to get to the mall, as the Hillsdale Caltrain Station is located directly across the street from the site. Whether traveling during the week or the weekend, Caltrain passengers will find plenty of options for getting to the San Mateo site. For gift-buyers coming from shorter distances, SamTrans Route ECR and Routes 250, 292 and 295 are all great choices.
Stanford Shopping Center: Further south down the Peninsula is the Stanford Shopping Center, located in downtown Palo Alto. The mall is located just across El Camino Real from the Palo Alto Caltrain Station, one of the stops served by Caltrain’s Baby Bullet lines, meaning passengers can breeze to the shopping galleria in expedient fashion. In addition to the train, SamTrans Route ECR provides service to the shopping mall, along with Route 280 and Route 281.
Downtown Mountain View: One of the gems located along the Caltrain corridor is Mountain View, with its cozy downtown area just blocks from the Mountain View station. The charming South Bay city is home to dozens of boutique shops, fashionable clothing stores and endearing mom-and-pop operations that are perfect for finding that unique Christmas gift. The small streets often get flooded with traffic, making Caltrain an ideal travel option for getting to Mountain View.
San Jose Market Center: With a collection of big box stores, the San Jose Market Center is the pragmatic Christmas shopping choice—great for getting the electronic products, home improvement gadgets and the necessary kitchen appliances that are on the wish lists of friends and family members. The center is easy to get to on transit, too, as it’s a quick jaunt from the College Park Caltrain Station.