Sail under Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz on this one-hour tour of San Francisco Bay. Red and White offers its Golden Gate Bay Cruise with narration in 6 languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Mandarin).
When visiting any port city, make an effort to get out on the water. The water is the reason these cities exist - be they the great ports like New York City, Hong Kong, Venice or Marseilles or the tiny ancient ports like Portofino, Villefranche-sur-Mer or Kusadasi. To fully comprehend them, you must see them from their harbors.
Several ferries depart from behind the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. Good choices are the Sausalito, Tiburon and Larkspur ferries which will take you to Marin County.
Grab the Ferry from Sausalito in Marin County and take it to San Francisco and view one of the prettiest picture water rides for under $8. From Sausalito you enter the lovely remodeled Ferry Terminal in San Fran with food and shops and lots of history. Or you can rent a bike and ride over the Golden Gate bridge and take a return ride on the ferry.
A San Francisco Bay ferryboat ride can be a little bit daunting because there are many ferry companies and no centralized schedule. But with the tiniest bit of planning it’s possible for anyone, to quite easily experience the romance and unspeakable beauty of a short cruise on the Bay. And it costs surprisingly little. The commuter ferries present an especially attractive deal.
An easy and convenient way to get on the Bay is to take one of the many Bay Cruises offered by either Blue and Gold or the Red and White Fleet (877-855-5506 or www.redandwhite.com). Bay Cruises involve a one-hour trip to nowhere, usually consisting of a loop in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge and back to Fishermen’s Wharf, from which all Bay Cruises depart and return. Audio guides are available in many languages. The cost for both companies is $18.00 for adults, $14.00 for seniors and $10.00 for children 11 and under.
I walked along Fisherman's Wharf one day, and totally on the spur of the moment, I hoped on to a small boat taking tours, it was about the corners of Jefferson St and Jones St. It was a small privately owned boat, which took a dozen or so people out.
This was the best value for money ever, I almost felt bad for the rest of the tourists who had paid to go one one of the big ferry trips that go out to the bridge and back. The crew of the boat where very helpful, as I was on my own one of the guys offered to take my photo at the bridge.
We went out under the bridge, and back around Alcatraz then over to the mainland so we could get some photos of the San Francisco Skyline and then back to Dock.
This is one of the best trips you can do in my opinion.
I think it cost about $10 for the trip, which was a bargain.
One of the highlights of any visit to San Francisco is to go on a Bay Cruise. Some cruises last just an hour or so, others can last several hours... it depends on what you're paying for.
My favorite type of Bay Cruise are the kind that go under the Golden Gate bridge. They also circle around Alcatraz so you can get a look at the island.
I always make it a point to take foreign friends out on the Bay whenever they visit.
When you come to San Francisco, you really should get out on the water somehow. Most people do this via the Alcatraz tour. But another option is the Bay Cruise tour run by the Blue & Gold Fleet, who are the same people who do the Alcatraz trip. The trip takes a little over an hour and leaves from Pier 41 (next to the dreaded Pier 39). Most people take this cruise because they didn't make reservations on the Alcatraz tour and were out of luck. Let this be a lesson.
A very hokey (but actually pretty informative) recording features "Captain Nemo" spinning yarns about the City as you pull away from the dock and head out along the waterfront towards the Golden Gate Bridge. You pass within feet of the famous Pier 39 sea lions as you leave. The waves become choppier and the winds pick up as the looming bridge gets closer... and closer... and closer! Soon you are right underneath it(!), staring up at the underbelly of this modern marvel. After a few minutes the boat then cuts over to Alcatraz and does a slow pass close to the shore. From there it's back to the dock.
There's some advantages and disadvantages to taking this ride versus the Alcatraz trip. On the plus side, you won't usually need to get tickets in advance (remember, if you want to do Alcatraz, you'll NEED to call and make reservations AT LEAST a day in advance and sometimes more). It's a short ride - you can park, get tix, do the ride, and leave in about 2 hours - good if you have things to do or get seasick easily. And the Alcatraz tour doesn't go under the bridge.
On the downside, it's a bit pricey- $21 for adults. If you're more than a few people, I would call and inquire about group rates. And if you're more than, say,10 people, I would seriously look into chartering a private boat for a few hours. B&G also offers some combo tours as well that include the bay cruise. And I'm pretty sure that some of the many combo cards (where you get admission to several museums and tours for a flat fee) include it as well. Check the website or call SF tourist info.
Tiburon is a great ferry ride. It's less tourist-y than Sausalito. Very quiet and peaceful. I would rent a bike and take the ferry across then tour the area by bike. A great restaurant that I highly recommend is Guaymas. It's on the pier as you get off the ferry. A little pricey but worth it. The food and views are amazing.
The Blue and Gold Fleet goes from San Francisco to the beautiful towns of Marin County (Sausalito and Tiburon). These picturesque towns are quaint, prosperous (houses are expensive and large) and have spectacular views of the entire San Francisco skyline. A ferry from San Francisco to the North Bay will take approximately 30 minutes, with riders being able to take in the views of San Francisco all along the way.
For whatever reason, I wasn't able to get tickets for Alcatraz last time I was in San Francisco, so I did the next best thing (or maybe even a better thing): I took a ferry tour of the Bay. It was fantastic! What I loved about it was that anyone from anywhere could enjoy the same tour - because the narrative is done in multiple languages. You just indicate in what language you'd like your tour to be, and you're given a small radio with earphones.
I love this tour-cruise because if you're dressed appropriately (and that means a good jacket and maybe even a hat, depending on how cold or rainy it might be and also what time of the day you go), it is exhilarating. I can smell the salt water and hear the splash of the waves even now in my memory....in one hour, you'll glide past Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, past Angel Island (aka the "Ellis Island of the West" and a historical destination of its own today), around Alcatraz, by Sausalito, and under the Golden Gate Bridge. The narrative points out specific landmarks and reknown areas of import all the while.
I highly recommend this tour!
Cost: around $20 for adult.
Probably, one of the things we enjoyed most was a trip on the Bay by boat.
We wanted to visit Alcatraz, but our schedule did not allowed us. We went into the tournament at 8 am until about 6 pm. and the last boat was at3 (to Alcatraz). The only choice we had was to take the 6:00 pm boat into the Bay.
But it was great. A little too windy and cold(bring windbreakers or coats), but it took us pretty far into the sea. We had earphones 8many languages available) with sound effects, history and explanation of most building we could see. We also went really close to Alcatraz, enough to feel the horror of the jail (helped by soundeffects).
This is the ONE thing you CAN NOT miss while in SF!
Be aware: You can buy tickets on the street, and they will be a bit cheaper, but they will tell you, you get a free drink; this is not true. You do save a couple of bucks, but no free drinks. Anyway, as you get into the ride, the price of the beverages get cheapper, as well as the price of hot dogs.
We took the children on a ferry tour of the Bay, without the Alcatraz stop, because Makenzie was too young for the two-to-three-hour tour. We got to see amazing views of the Bay, Alcatraz, and of the Bay Bridge.