HOW-TO: Visit Bay Area Maker Faire

We are off to the Bay Area Maker Faire, and we’d like to share some of the tips we picked up on our previous visit there. Below are our tips for both visitors, and participants. If you are in the area be sure to drop by.

Airport transit: BART subway. We stay in downtown San Francisco for a few days to eat tacos in the Mission District and hang out at Instructables and Noise Bridge. Easily accessible by BART.
Car: Required. Supposedly you can take public transit to Maker Faire: end of BART to CalTrain, but it would still be a whole lot of unpleasant walking along roads. We stay downtown for a few days then take BART back to the airport to pick up the car. Rental cars are pretty cheap in California.
Hotel: Renoir Hotel downtown, Hilton Garden Inn San Mateo secondary conference hotel for the Faire. About a 15 minute drive to Maker Faire.
Event size: Huge and unwieldy. If you’re presenting expect to talk constantly 12hours+ per day.
Food: Taco crawl from 16th and Mission (16th street BART stop, near Noise Bridge hacker space) to 24th and Mission, then down 24th street for even more. If you like hoppy California ales and fancy bratwurst, check out the restaurant on the corner of 24th and Mission before getting back on the BART.
Prepaid data plan: AT&T Go Phone. $2/day unlimited calling, $25 for 500MB data.

Here is a list of our Maker Faire tips for participants:

  • Bring a table cloth, tape, etc. You don’t want to be the only one with an ugly table do you?
  • Bring extra connectors and cords. If you bring extra you might get an invitation to London by loaning one out.
  • Bring business cards. We go through around 2000 in SF and NY, 1000 in Tokyo.
  • Check out Hackerspaces close to the faire event. Having a local geek-guide brings you to really awesome places and creates many local contacts.
  • Don’t expect internet. Internet is always an issue.

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3 Comments

  1. Train is still a very good option…Hillsdale Caltrain station is less than 3/4 mile, 15 minute walk to Maker Faire. Hayward Park Caltrain is slightly closer, but it doesn’t stop there as often. I’d totally use the train to Maker Faire if I didn’t live 4 miles from the fairgrounds :)

  2. I don’t think you can do the $25 data on a $2 Go Phone plan anymore, just the monthly plans. Take a look at T-Mobile as an alternative – $2 / day gets you unlimited 2G data, $3 / day gets you 200 MB / day of “4G” data, unlimited 2G data after that.

    1. You’re absolutely right, I noticed that while prepping for the trip :) I’m on my way to get a T-Mobile SIM this morning.

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