What so great about the San Francisco to Alameda ferry? I have family in Alameda, California so visits to the East Bay are a regular occurrence when I'm in San Francisco. Traffic on the Bay Bridge can be a nightmare and BART is always a bit edgy so I jumped at the chance to try a new mode of transportation on this trip: the San Francisco Bay Ferry! The sun was shining and I was actually staying in the city so the ferry to Alameda was an ideal option for a day trip to the East Bay. Here's why I think taking the ferry across the San Francisco Bay makes for a great day trip to discover awesome things to do in Alameda.
An Excuse to Visit The San Francisco Ferry Building
The San Francisco Bay Ferry departs from the Ferry Building in San Francisco, one of my favorite places in the city that hosts a farmers market twice a week. Even on non-market days, the Ferry Building is bustling with great shops and gourmet food outlets. Wander in and buy your ticket (just $6.60 USD for a one way fare) at the Bay Crossings Store. Note that you can also buy tickets onboard the boat but this involves queuing inside the cabin and potentially missing the great views on the short ride across the Bay.
A Perfect View of the San Francisco Skyline
I boarded the ferry and found a seat at the back on the upper deck. As we pulled away from the Ferry Building, I was treated to picture-perfect views of the San Francisco skyline including classic icons like Coit Tower and the Transamerica Building.
See the Golden Gate Bridge and SF Bay Bridge in Perfect Alignment
From my vantage point on the upper deck on the way to Alameda, I stood up in awe as the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge lined up perfectly in our wake. There is no easy way to get this shot on land and was worth the 15 minute crossing by itself.
Catch a Glimpse of the Scale of Oakland's Port
As we approached Oakland Port, we got a close-up look at container ships being loaded and unloaded. From land in San Francisco, it's hard to appreciate just how massive these ships and the containers they carry are.
Spot Sea Vessels That Look Like They Are From Another Place or Time
I was also delighted to see a 3-masted sailboat on our approach to Alameda.
On my return trip, I saw a pirate ship (the only thing missing was a Jolly Roger) in the waters around Oakland. It was very cool to see these sea vessels that look like they are from another place and time.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other off the beaten path places to visit in the Bay Area? Check out Seven Hidden Bay Area Surprises.
An Excuse to Visit the Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda
The ferry crossing itself is worth doing even if you turn around and go right back to San Francisco. However, there are a few things to do in Alameda near the ferry terminal to make a day trip in the East Bay worthwhile. We visited Rock Wall Wine Company for lunch at Scolari's and a glass of their very own wine. For more on Rock Wall Winery see: Alameda Rock Wall Winery - An Oasis on the Island.
Visit the USS Hornet Air-craft Carrier in Alameda
My sister-in-law and her family (including my young niece and nephew) picked me up at the ferry terminal and we made our way to the USS Hornet air-craft carrier after lunch. The entry fee is a bit steep at $20 USD per person but it's fascinating to explore the ship and see the planes parked on top.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: If you have time for a little detour before returning to San Francisco or if you plan to return by BART instead of on the ferry, make sure to check out the amazing freshly prepared churros at Fruitvale Public Market or take a food tour in Oakland with See.Eat.Love.
Laze About with the Sea Lions on Pier 39 Upon Returning to San Francisco
The San Francisco Bay Ferry stops in two places in San Francisco: the Ferry Building where we departed and Pier 41. On my return, I decided to disembark at Pier 41 which is right next to San Francisco's tourist mecca: Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. I couldn't resist fighting through the crowds at Pier 39 to catch a glimpse of sea lions sunning themselves. Classic!
Take the Classic F-Market Line To Come Full Circle in San Francisco
My trip to the East Bay focused heavily on modes of transportation including the ferry and the aircraft carrier. From both the Ferry Building and Pier 41, you can easily catch a historic F Market street car to come full circle.
As you can see, I found the ferry boat ride from San Francisco to Alameda and back again to be a fun and relaxing day trip. I don't think I'll ever drive or take BART to Alameda again!