A great and enjoyable way to travel between San Francisco and some of its environs around the bay is b ferry boat. These leave from, and arrive at, the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero at the foot of Market St. and go to places like Larkspur, Sausalito, and Tiburon in Marin County, and Vallejo in Solano County.
One can relax and get great views of the bay, including the City itself, Alcatraz, and San Quentin. The latter, despite being one of California's major state prisons, is picturesque and attractive to see from the water, as it is an old fotress-like building right on the bay.
The "normal" boats used during non-peak rush hour are getting a bit old and run down but they re still comfortable.
One with a ferry ticket used to be able to get a free Muni transfer, too, but that ended by 2011 and has not yet started again to my knowledge.
Sooner or later you'll be on the water in San Francisco; it is, after all, the reason for the city in the first place. Why you'd want to live in a designated earthquake zone is beyond me but I took a risk just visiting.
There are different colours of ferry for different destinations. Sausalito, Tiburon, Alcatraz and Angel Island are just some of the places you can go to.
Tiburon is a former railroad town that has been transformed into a New England Seacoast village. It can be a nice day trip.
Price: One way ticket for adults costs $9 ($5 for kids). For round trip just purchase two one-way tickets. You can do so at PIER 39 Ticket Booth. You can also buy a return ticket on a board of a ferry. Tickets are valid for six (6) months from date of purchase.
Duration: 20 minutes.
Departure: From the Pier 41.
Ferries are the way to escape the city for a walk around Sausalito, hiking or biking Angel Island State Park or just getting out on the bay for nice views of the skyline and the Golden Gate. And of course you can take one to Alcatraz. We hopped one to Sausalito one sunny day for a trek out to see the famous floating homes. There are too many different lines to cover in one tip, they leave from various locations on the waterfront, and prices vary by distance/attraction so it's best to take a look at different offerings for the one which best suits your needs. Here are a couple of good resources:
One of the main ways to get to Angel Island is via ferry boat from Pier 41. The round trip takes about 3 hours and costs $8.45 per person. The trip itself is fun and interesting with nice views of Angel Island and the San Francisco skyline. You also pass by Alcatraz Island. Well worth the time and money. Tickets can be purchased online or at the kiosk by Pier 39. Buy two one way tickets, they are valid for any departure for 6 months.
A great way to get into the city from the North bay, avoiding the Golden Gate Bridge toll, the city driving hassles and parking expenses. The Larkspur - San Francisco Ferry, $7.45/each way, arrives at the Port of San Francisco on the Embarcadero. Departures every hour or so, running from about 6AM til 9PM. Parking at the Golden Gate Ferry Terminal in Larkspur runs $4/day and is limited to 24 hours max. Longer term parking is available across the street in the Marin Airporter parking lot, also at $4/day.
Bus, trolley and cable car transport is available at the front of the Port of San Francisco Building, where the ferry lands in the city. Actually, the cable car is across the street and a short block away.
Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 35,(cruise ships port), is an easy, flat, one mile walk or a $6 cab ride.
Check Sausalito ferry schedule to plan your trip there.
PRICES: Fare is $7.10 one way, $14.20 return ticket. For youth (6-18), seniors (65+)/disabled with Medicare or approved ID is $3.55. Children under 6 are FREE.
BOARDING/TICKETS: Ferry Building at Embarcadero/Market (behind the ferry tower where the docks are).
DURATION: 20 minutes.
1) Choose Tuesday or Saturday, if you want to grab some tasty food on your way to Sausalito - Ferry Farmers` Market is opened on these days untill 2pm.
2) For nice photos choose clear sunny day and stand at the back of the boat (upper deck) - you will have good view of SF and bridges; 3) While in Sausalito, you can visit Bay Model- exact model of the SF Bay's currents.
GET BACK: You can either use your return ticket or buy one on the boat (lower deck where bikes are stored). This option is CASH only. Keep the ticket, cause you will have to present it in SF after exiting the boat.
There is another option to get to Sausalito - riding a bike across Golden Gate Bridge and then going back to SF via ferry.
ALSO, there are boats called Blue & Gold Fleet leaving from the Pier 41. The cost of a ticket is $9 ($19 for a return ticket). For the schedule click here.
The ferries here in the bay area are one of my favorite ways to get around. They will take you to some of the islands and to a couple of different places in Marin County as well.
As a cheap way to get a tour of the bay I come out here and just relax.
I believe they also have some that go to and from Oakland and Emeryville. But have not used those yet.
Baylink (see www.baylinkferry.com) provides ferry service to Vallejo from the San Francisco Ferry Terminal, an hour long trip that by itself is easily worth $25- round trip as a scenic attraction on the bay. This ferry makes the longest run of any in San Francisco Bay ferry system and so passes by, without stopping at, a larger number of things to be seen: Golden Gate, Richmond, and Carquinez bridges, Alcatraz and Angel Islands, and various other great views only appreciated on this boat ride. But, this commuter run can also be a tourist run to the Napa Valley wine country and to the Six Flags/Marineworld Theme Park. For a full transit style adventure after arrival at the Vallejo Ferry terminal building, take the Vallejo Transit #85 bus (www.vallejotransit.com) to Six Flags/Marineworld. For the Napa Valley Wine Country, take Route 10 bus on Napa County's fixed route VINE transit (www.nctpa.net/vine.cfm). At the Vallejo Ferry terminal is a tourist office that can help with finding the right bus, but they can also assist in finding a wine tour bus or limo service. Although many argue that getting a rental car for the wine country is risky, many of the best wineries are simply not on the tour bus or limo itinerary. However, all the major and many minor rental car agencies are in Vallejo (mostly along Tennessee street in Vallejo) but are a bit far for a walk from the ferry terminal. Even so, the lower cost of renting a car in Vallejo, versus one in San Francisco, will easily justify the taxi fare. Plus, by riding the ferry, one avoids the horrible and often time wasting Bay Area freeway traffic. On the return to SF, the last ferry departs Vallejo at 5:35pm; however, there are 4 "clean-up" buses, one as late as 9:30pm, to take passengers who may have missed the last ferry. See link below for more details. Some ferries also stop at Fisherman's Wharf.
The Blue & Gold Ferry Company operates ferries to Alcatraz Island from the waterfron, not far from Fishermans Wharf. There ticket office is on Pier 41. To travel to/from Alcatraz on a Blue & Gold ferry cost me US$16.50 in July 2006 and I think that included the audio self-guided tour in the old prison. Make sure you book well in advance, as you will most likely be very disappointed if you turn up on a summer's day wanting to get a ticket for a same day (or even same week) sailing!
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