A natural harbor spanned by the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the picturesque San Francisco Bay is the defining feature of California’s Bay Area. Get out on the chilly, choppy water—or just savor the views from the shoreline as the fog rolls in.
The area abounds with ways to enjoy the bay. Options range from sunset sails and brunch cruises to helicopter excursions—some tours provide overnight accommodation. Take a ferry to Angel Island State Park, Alcatraz Island, or the pretty town of Tiburon. Or, zip around San Francisco on a Segway, bike, or e-bike, stopping for bay photo ops. If you have time to spare, consider a regional tour to the redwoods, wine country, or Yosemite National Park.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Many top San Francisco attractions offer views of the bay, including Fisherman’s Wharf, the Exploratorium, and Pier 39.
- Don’t forget to take a jacket—and leave those shorts in your hotel room, even in summer—as it’s often chilly and windy on and near the water.
How to Get There
For the most immersive San Francisco Bay experience, get there by boat (private charter, or public ferry from various locations). The major airports serving the area are San Francisco International and Oakland International. Public transit is generally plentiful, as are taxis and rideshares. If you plan to drive in San Francisco, make sure you’re comfortable navigating steep hills, and be aware that parking can be difficult to find.
When to Get There
Weather on the bay and in San Francisco is temperate year-round, but the warmest, sunniest months are usually September and October. Spring is a good time to beat the summer tourist rush. Expect more tour availability on weekdays.
Visiting Fisherman’s Wharf
For family fun with fabulous bay views, hop on a historic streetcar to Fisherman’s Wharf. Dine on fresh seafood, check out the Aquarium of the Bay, or explore the USS Pampanito, a submarine and museum. Numerous bay cruises also depart from Fisherman’s Wharf.