A Few of My Favorite Things: Richmond Ferry rides to San Francisco

A Few of My Favorite Things: Richmond Ferry rides to San Francisco
All photos are by Kathy Chouteau and were taken over the course of several trips with her family on the Richmond to SF ferry.

By Kathy Chouteau

Prime “visitor season” is upon us as we head into spring and summer, and one of my favorite things to do with out-of-towners is to take a ferry from Richmond across the bay to San Francisco.

There’s nothing grander than spanning our gorgeous bay, passing the Richmond waterfront, various islands including Alcatraz, and more—all with a prime view of the Golden Gate Bridge. On a clear day, the 35 minute ride across the bay to the San Francisco Ferry Building shines. ‘Yep, I live here,’ you might think to yourself proudly as your out-of-towners’ ogle.

My usual move with my visiting family is to ferry over to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday, which is open that day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The market is expansive, and in my experience, always bustling, with choices reigning supreme in terms of fresh produce, baked goods, flowers, eating/imbibing, products galore and so much more.

After hitting the market, we often take a stroll inside the Ferry Building, which also has plenty to offer. Some of my favorite shops include Book Passage—don’t forget to take a selfie with the life-size Obama cutout—Far West Fungi, Fog City Flea Trading Post, The Gardner and Heath Ceramics…the list goes on. There’s literally something for everyone here; check out the list.

Which brings us to Gott’s Roadside, found on the Ferry Building’s Embarcadero side with outdoor seating and next-level people-watching opportunities. The eatery is our go-to place for lunch and serves up high quality “American roadside” faves, with delicious cheeseburgers, hot dogs, Ahi Poke tacos, hand-spun shakes and more. Everyone can order their own eats at Gott’s counter and sit together on the large patio.

Walk off lunch by wandering up the Embarcadero to the Exploratorium, a public learning lab where mind-expanding exhibits will delight people of all ages.

Chinatown is also a long-ish walk or short Uber ride away from the Ferry Building, and is a slam-dunk crowd-pleaser for visitors and locals alike.

When returning to Richmond via ferry, don’t forget to mark the day’s expedition with a waterside family selfie starring the Bay Bridge in the background.  We may love a ferry ride to San Francisco, but we’re ultimately “East Bay all the way!”

The cost for a one-way ticket on the Richmond Ferry via Clipper card, paper or mobile ticket is $4.60 and children under five ride free. Learn more about the ticket prices, ferry schedule and free coffee during weekday commutes here.