Taking the San Francisco Bay Ferry With Kids - 510 Families
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Taking the San Francisco Bay Ferry With Kids

My family recently rode the ferry from Jack London Square to San Francisco, just for the thrill of it. Riding the ferry to Oakland from San Francisco or across the Bay in either direction is a very fun activity to do with kids — even if your destination is just a roundtrip!

Ride the ferry from Jack London Square to San Francisco

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 were 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, that this seems like an ideal activity to do with visiting grandparents.

fountain justin herman plaz

We purchased some peaches and abandoned the crowds. We spent our time running laps around the massive fountain located across The Embarcadero Plaza.

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Things to know about taking the ferry to San Francisco

Park at Jack London Square for free. There’s a 7-story garage at 101 Washington Street that offers up to 12 hours of free parking. A ticket validation machine is located next the 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.

Ferry Fest
Photo: San Francisco Bay Ferry

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.

Use your Clipper Card or buy a ticket onboard. As of September 1, 2022, Adults traveling from Oakland, Alameda, or Richmond to San Francisco cost $5.75 (or $4.50 with a clipper card) each way.  Children 5-18 are $2.25. 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.

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  • Direct service to Oracle Park is available for some Giants games with a shuttle available for some events at the Chase Center. (Advance reservations are required.)
  • Disembarking at Pier 41 will give you easy access to Pier 39 and the Aquarium of the Bay and Alcatraz.
  • Angel Island park admission is included in the price of a ferry 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.

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