The shops here seem nice, but we spent the bulk of our time checking out the food -- it's a great place to check out some really nice local baked goods, breads, and even the butcher's shop if you're heading home for dinner. The French bakery's macarones are outstanding and though the prices seemed a big high for the quality of the alcohol, we overall really liked the wine bar there too. (In fairness, the champagnes seemed better than the local reds, actually.) I'd definitely go back, if only for another rose macarone.
Once serving as a major transportation hub before the Golden Gate and Bay bridges were built, the Ferry Building was recently renovated to again provide transportation to Larkspur and Sausalito. Besides the Golden Gate Ferry service that operates at the building, the main floor market place is a mecca to foodies and showcases California agriculture and cuisine. And ... it's just plain fun to browse!
The Marketplace runs along the main floor, with offices on the 2nd and 3rd floor.
My fave shops were:
Frog Hollow Farms - Fresh fruit, preserves and pastries
Lu Lu Petite - Condiments galore
Recchiuti Confections - Unusual chocolates (try the lavender vanilla cremes and the fleur de sel caramels)
Far West Fungi - All things fungi plus truffles in all forms; go on, buy that bottle of black truffle oil you've been wanting
Stonehouse California Olive Oil - Make sure to try the blood orange and roasted garlic olive oils
After midnight with the bay bridge.
If possible, try to get a look at the bridge from this spot (Hyatt Regency high floor east windows) when the moon is coming up over the bay bridge.... one of the classic vistas of life:
or even better, you can / could see this anytime from the Equinox, the revolving lounge and restaurant on the top / 18th floor of the Hyatt Regency
UPDATE / Top floor revolving "Equinox" is no longer a restaurant
and is now instead a "Regency Club" floor. Probably doesn't revolve any more either. Film @ 11.
All these "high" Ferry building shots are from an east window on the 17th floor of Hyatt Regency Hotel on the Embarcadero.
On my first trip to San Francisco back in 1985 I went to the Ferry Building to catch a ferry over to Sausalito across the bay. I hadn't been back since even though I have been back to SF many times since. This time Sue and I came back to check out the shops that have been added inside.
They've done a nice job to a space that apparently had been in disarray for many years. There are a number of small eateries and other small shops inside. And yes, you still catch the ferry over to Sausalito and other islands on the bay from this site.
This is big fun. On every Saturday of the year (except major holidays) the open spaces around the Ferry Building become a fresh-air market that draws thousands of locals and visitors alike. Here you can find flowers, cheeses, herbs, breads, meats, organic produce and other products fresh from area farms. Other kiosks offer handmade jewelry, tie-died clothing, paintings, pottery, soap and other craft items, and still others turn out tamales, sandwiches, pastries, pizza and other edibles for filling empty tummies. The kids will love the color and street musicians and it's just a great pastime on a sunny day.
Market is also held on Tuesdays and Thursdays but they're smaller versions with shorter hours so jump the F-line down here on Saturday mornings to experience it in full swing. This is also a much better place for picking up a hand-crafted keepsake of your trip versus a mass-produced tchotcke from Fisherman's Wharf.
See the first website below for more information, and the second for a list of the vendors (sorry, artisans not listed)
This is one of those great historic structures that owes its rebirth to a tragedy. Built at the turn of the century, the elegant Ferry Building was a main transportation hub for visitors and commuters arriving by boat or train. It survived the massive 1906 earthquake - with its tower clocks stopped at that fateful hour of 5.15 AM for a year before being repaired.
With the age of the automobile and construction of the Bay and Golden Gate bridges in the '30's, the need for rail and ferry services declined, the building was relegated to office space and an ugly, 2-level freeway obscured its lovely facade. In 1989, shortly after our first visit, another major earthquake struck the city with enough force to kill or injure hundreds and caused enough damage to the freeway to have it removed - providing the opportunity to redevelop the waterfront and the Ferry Building along with it.
Today, its airy, glass-ceilinged corridor is home to a lively collection of shops, restaurants and markets. Here you also can board ferries to Sausalito and other locations around the bay area (but not to Alcatraz), and a fantastic Farmer's Market spills out onto the plaza three days a week (see next tip).
See the website for hours, directions, vendor list and bit more history. This is a must-do!
Extra tip: Chocolate lovers, forget over-marketed Ghirardelli and go for positively to-die-for artisan treats here at Recchiuti or Scharffen Berger.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a people's marketplace serving residents and travelers alike. Located within the historic Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street, shops large and small celebrate food in all its forms, offering everything from artisan cheeses to the freshest of local fish. Restaurants and cafés serve cuisine representing the quality and cultural diversity of San Francisco’s best chefs.
The historical Ferry Building stands there at the top of Market Street since 1898 on the site of the old wooden Ferry House that was built in 1875. We visited the building by accident as we came back from Fishermans Wharf with the F line (and the historical trolley car too).
The ferry building was the spot where passengers from East Bay or Marin county arrived to work in the city, don’t forget that for many years (till the opening of the Bay Bridge in 1936 and Golden Gate Bridge in 1937) San Francisco could be reached only by boat. There were about 50,000 people per day that were commuted by ferry in the glory days but after the 50s a big part of it (and its decoration) lost, the building was used very little and the Embarcadero building put the final nail to the tomb because it was built across the face of the building. The freeway got damaged because of the 1989 earthquake so the building came back in life. In our days you can visit the Marketplace at its central Nave. You can see, try and buy local products like wine, grocery, food, bread and flowers.
It was designed by Page Brown and although he had a 840 foot long building in mind it turned into a 660 feet long (due to economical reasons). The 245 ft tall clock tower highlights the building and it is based on the bell tower of Seville Cathedral in Spain.
It is open daily 10.00-17.00
The San Francisco Ferry Building dates back to 1898 and it is one of the few historical buildings to have survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. It is a ferry terminal, easily recognizable thanks to its 71 m high clock tower, and for a while it was one of the world's busiest ferry terminals with over 50 million people commuting across the San Francisco Bay yearly. With the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge in the 1930s, ferry traffic on the San Francisco Bay practically disappeared and the building was converted into office space and gradually left to fall into a state of disrepair. For several years, it was even partly hidden from view by the double-decker Embarcadero Freeway. When the freeway collapsed during the 1989 earthquake, the area was redesigned and the Ferry Building was finally restored to all its former glory.
Although ferry traffic is still light compared to what it used to be, more and more people wishing to avoid traffic on the bridges have now gone back to traveling to San Francisco by ferry. Some nice little restaurants and cafes can now be found at the Ferry Building to accommodate both commuters and visitors. There are also several nice specialty shops and the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, held three times a week, is very popular. It's also worth walking along the Ferry Building pier for a great view of the Bay Bridge. It's also where you'll find the statue of Mahatma Gandhi - it struck me as a bit of an odd place to put the statue of this great man, since it's essentially in the middle of a parking lot. I'm still trying to figure out what the story is behind that one...
The Ferry Building, completed in 1898, is a prominent landmark and one symbol of San Francisco. As the name suggests, it was, and still is, the ferry terminal for the city. Ferry boats between San Francisco and other places along the bay such as Larkspur and Vallejo all go here.
It has always played the ferry-boat role, but starting in the 1950s, until after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the building's grandeur and role declined. It was by the 70s and 80s rather rundown, partly neglected, and housing only some offices while ferry passengers, though the 90s just went through a barren hallway. Originally a comphrensive transport hub and a central poinjt in San Francisco life, combining ferry services and streetcar links along the Embarcadeo and right up Market St through the city's business core, it had lost all rail/streetcar conenctions and was in the shadow of the horrid Embarcadero Freeway.
The 1989 Earthquake irreparably damaged the freeway, subsequently torn down, and was at the start of a complete turnaround for the building and the area. Streecars have returned along the enitre Embarcadero, heavily beautified, and all along Market, connecting the other Muni lines. The building was refurbished and in about 2004 reopened, cleaned, spiffed up, and housing a compehrensive market area with upscale shops selling all manner of food stuffs, plants, other things, along with various restaurants and coffee houses. It's a fun place to go, see what there is, and experience the beautiful building and some San Francisco history and character.
The present structure, designed by local San Francisco architect A. Page Brown, opened in 1898, and survived both the 1906 earthquake and the 1989 earthquake with amazingly little damage. Until the completion of the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930s it was the second busiest transit terminal in the world, second only to London's Charing Cross Station.
In 2004, the building reopened as an upscale gourmet marketplace, office building, and re-dedicated ferry terminal. The restoration project spanned several years, with an emphasis on recreating the building's 1898 ambiance. San Francisco's largest farmers market is held there on Tuesdays and Saturdays year-round and Thursday evenings in the summer.
The Ferry Building is an impressive building located by the bay in the Embarcadero of the city. Opening back in 1898, it was once the focal point for many arrivals into the city by ferry, highly recognisable by its 240ft tower.
Once the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge opened in the 1930's, ferry usage dropped considerably, and by the 1950's the Ferry Building was no longer used, and the interior was stripped.
These days the building is home to a gourmet food paradise. Numerous shops can be found inside, selling foodie delights to locals and tourists. The Ferry Building is also home to a bustling Farmers Market (Tue & Sat - see separate tip).
We enjoyed a browse through the shops and couldn't resist buying a cupcake from Miette Patisserie.
A great looking building that hosts delicious specialty shops inside, and the really fun and excellent Farmers Market four days a week - Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
You can buy some of the best culinary items in the world (some of the chocolate is to die for) and then sit out back and enjoy it with a great view of the bay.
At this link is an excellent article with details on the Slanted Door and a few of the other excellent places to eat in the Ferry Building:
An icon of San Francisco's skyline, the Ferry Building was constructed in 1898 and has steadfastly withstood two major earthquakes (1906 and 1989). It was designed by A. Page Brown and replaced an older wooden structure that had stood on the site since 1875. The clock tower was modeled after the Giralda which is a part of the cathedral in Sevilla, Spain. The Ferry Building was the single gateway for commuters from Marin and the East Bay at that time. The openings of the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge and more widespread use of cars reduced ferry use considerably by the 1950s and ferry service was discontinued. Service to Marin was restarted in the 1970s with service to East Bay back in the 1990s. An extensive renovation of the Ferry Building took place in 2003 and contains a grand marketplace in the lower level and offices on the second floor.
30-40 vendor shops set up under one roof, offering everything from caviar, fresh breads, an entire shop of olive oils, seafood and of course…wine. A little touristy, and definitely packed with people, but a great experience. The ferry building will shield you from the classic San Francisco fog and rain, but on those occasional sunny days, there are a few outdoor patios you can sit, order food & wine, and soak up some rays while you watch the people go by. As you would assume by the name, the Ferry Building sits right on the water.