It’s known that the Maker Faire is a massive coming together of innovation, fun, nerdiness, inspiration, and a bunch of fair food, but this is what you need to know before heading to the San Mateo Fairgrounds this year:
There is no parking!
Public transportation, biking, walking, and Uber are key this weekend. Parking was always hard, which always made the shuttles our preferred method for easy Maker Faire transport, but if you plan on going to the special preview on Friday, there will not be shuttles. It’s all Caltrain, baby. (Friday requires a special ticket and has limited hours of 1 – 5 p.m.)
Our best tips for making the most of the Maker Faire:
- Take a shuttle. Honestly, getting close up with Uber even sounds like a challenge. We normally park at the College of San Mateo and take one of the Maker Faire buses from there. Some people prefer parking at Oracle. The shuttle lots are listed here. All of the buses pick up and drop off from the same location outside of the faire and have color coding to specify which offsite lot they serve. It’s very easy and free. If not, the Hillsdale stop for Caltrain is nearby, with about a 10 minute walk to the gates.
- Buy your tickets NOW! The line to get tickets will be long and you will thank yourself for planning ahead and skipping the purchase line.
- Go early or late to avoid the middle of the day. We’ve done both: arriving before the gates open at 10 a.m. and leaving in the early afternoon or showing up around 2:30 p.m. and staying until the end. Both have benefits, and both benefit from missing most of the middle of the day crowds. There will be some major crowd overlap, but there will be sometime with much fewer people, too, if you show up at the start or end. The Maker Faire opens both days at 10 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
- Get the mobile app! The schedule is incredibly helpful and having a map in your hand makes things less confusing. The layout is easy in general, but when you are looking for a particular stage, the map is essential.
- Eat early. If you are there for lunch or dinner or both, eat outside of main meal times. Not only will the lines be shorter, but you will be able to find a place to sit. Even the grassy areas fill up.
- Set a meet up place with your kids in case you get separated. The crowds are thick, some rooms are dark, and it is easy to get separated. Maybe Sharpie your cell phone number on your kid’s arm, too.
Have fun, learn, embrace the unabashed nerdiness. This is a great weekend!