You know, I really don’t understand why out-of-towners say that. The worst traffic in the Bay Area is on US 101 South down the peninsula in San Mateo county and on I-80 through the Richmond area of Contra Costa County through Berkeley across the Bay Bridge (which includes much of the area you would have to traverse crossing the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to the East Bay) and south on 80/101 through the City. And the stretch of 101 North through San Rafael and on up to Novato, including the western approach to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, is no piece of cake either. I hate driving those stretches. But 101 from Mill Valley south to the Golden Gate and San Francisco, if you avoid rush hour, is no problem and I think driving in the City is a piece of cake in comparison. Now I am NOT talking about the heart of the Financial District, Union Square or Chinatown. But in the rest of the City it’s no problem; less frustrating to me than driving around Tucson. The traffic keeps moving by and large (no "parking lot" phenomenon as on the stretches of freeway I mentioned) and you rarely have to wait more than one light change to get through an intersection (in Tucson, 2 or 3 is common). What IS difficult in San Francisco is PARKING. That’s why I recommend that people wanting to sightsee in the City simply park somewhere (coming from Marin, perhaps somewhere in the Marina District or else maybe just make a right off Lombard onto Gough and drive a couple miles–up and over Pacific Heights–to the Performing Arts Garage on Grove St. in Civic Center and park there) then do their sightseeing (or dining) by cab and/or public transportation.
BT, now c’mon. You don’t OWN a car in SF, and I wasn’t always an out of towner. While I might agree that the GGB is the least screwed up of the 5 bridges, that’s faint praise indeed. I still like the ferry idea, because it’s a wonderful ride into the city from Sausalito or Larkspur.
besides, they might enjoy Marin, which has it’s own ambiance.