San Francisco's Ferry Building is just a quick BART ride from the East Bay and an exciting option for a weekday adventure. Get off at the first stop after the tube – Embarcadero Station, walk Northeast on Market Street, and you won't be able to miss the iconic clock tower.
The Ferry Building Marketplace hosts a few East Bay favorites and some other really great gems. We usually limit ourselves to one meal and one treat, although it's SO hard not to splurge. The empanadas from El Porteno are great finger foods, the Japanese salads at DELICA are fresh, cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and a loaf of Acme bread make for a light lunch, and you can't go wrong with a burger from Gott's Roadside. Walk the length twice before you make any decisions, and be sure to take advantage of all the free samples as you stroll. As for dessert? Take your pick from macarons at Miette, ice cream from Humphry Slocombe (try the Secret Breakfast), a gluten-free cinnamon roll at Mariposa Baking Co, an affogato at Blue Bottle, or a Mexican hot chocolate at Dandelion Chocolate. (I could keep going and going – you'll have to see/taste the rest for yourself!)
After you've finished lunch, sit at one of the benches out back to watch as the ferries come and go, and listen for the chime of the clock tower. Then run along Pier 14 to watch as the miniature cars and buses cross the Bay Bridge, and take in the beautiful view of the city. Then head to Sue Bierman Park (just across the street from the Ferry Building) and play some more. It's new, clean, can entertain toddlers to bigger kids, and it's FENCED. So sip your Blue Bottle latte in peace while your tots set sail on the pirate ship.
If you still have energy, walk over to the Exploratorium, but if you're playing on a weekday, I suggest to get back on BART before the evening rush. (Especially if you have a stroller!) They Ferry Building can also be a fun weekend adventure – it just gets crazy crowded and maybe a tad overwhelming for some.
Three times a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – the Ferry Building is home to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. The weekday markets are smaller, the Saturday market is BIG. Find fruits, vegetables, and even more food choices. Gah!
The Ferry Building is open Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm; Saturday 9am – 6pm; Sunday 11am – 5pm. Bring a hat, a jacket, a camera, your friends, and your out of town guests. Enjoy!
[Photo Credits: Anna Azimi]