My family recently rode the ferry from Jack London Square to San Francisco, just for the thrill of it. Riding the ferry across the Bay is a very fun activity to do with kids — even if your destination is just a roundtrip!
My kids did not have much interest in our destination, San Francisco's epicurean Ferry Building and adjacent farmer's market, because it was terribly crowded. They couldn't see anything, and they're not inclined toward gourmet food. On a less gorgeous day, however, the Ferry Building may be easier to stroll around, and the walk is so short, this seems like an ideal activity to do with visiting grandparents.
We purchased some peaches and abandoned the crowds. We spent our time running laps around the massive fountain located across The Embarcadero at Justin Herman Plaza.
Things to know about taking the ferry
Park at Jack London Square for free. There's a 7-story garage at 101 Washington Street. A ticket validation machine is located next to doors you'll pass through before boarding the ferry.
Wear sunscreen. You'll line up with your fellow passengers and only a portion of the queue will be in the shade. While you're waiting, there's plenty of Port of Oakland action to take in.
Eating and drinking are encouraged. Really. A concession stand on the ferry sells beer and wine among other refreshments. There are many rows of theater-style chairs and some tables for two or four where you can eat a snack or a meal.
Tickets are sold onboard. While you can buy tickets in advance online, there is a service charge. Purchasing them on the boat presents no inconvenience. As of July 1, 2018 Adults traveling from Oakland or Alameda to San Francisco cost $7 each way. Children 5-12 are $3.50. Children under 5 are free.
Oh, the places you'll go. The Ferry Building is just one option for those who want to ride a boat across the Bay.
- Direct service to AT&T park is available for weekday evening games and weekend and holiday games. (You might want to splurge on the online ticketing to ensure a seat for these events.)
- Disembarking at Pier 41 will give you easy access to Pier 39 and the Aquarium of the Bay and Alcatraz. (Oaklanders may obtain free passes at the library.)
- Angel Island park admission is included in the price of a ticket from Oakland or Alameda to that hiking and picnicking destination.
The return trip is sweet. Walking back from the terminal to the parking structure takes you past a Ben and Jerry's storefront.