Ever since majestic clipper ships transported hordes of gold-seeking “49ers” to her shores, San Francisco has been a legendary port-of-call. From rousing sea chanteys to historical walking tours, the tale of San Francisco’s coming-of-age is most eloquently told in the history of its waterfront. Today, visitors have more opportunities than ever before to explore and enjoy its colorful, maritime past.
Activities on the water
Visitors don’t have to wait until the America’s Cup to enjoy views of the Bay reserved for sailors. San Francisco is beautiful at any angle, and the following tours will give anyone sea-worthy legs. Many more ideas are available at .
Adventure Cat Sailing Charters
Sail the bay aboard the 55′ Adventure Cat sailing catamaran. A one-and-a-half hour adventure around Alcatraz Island, under the Golden Gate Bridge and down the city front. Bay cruise $30 adults; $15 children 12 and under; Sunset cruise $45.
Pier 39, Dock J
Media : Sharon Schrum, 415-777-1630,
Mission Creek Sail Tours, LLC
Private yacht charters for up to six guests. Bay tours, romantic sunset sails and wine tasting cruises. Complimentary beverages and food provided with all charters.
Pier 40, Embarcadero
Media : Gregory Sherwood, 408-910-0095,
Sailing tours originating from harbors outside San Francisco:
Golden Gate Sailing Tours
Captain Bob Cole offers his private yacht for tours around the San Francisco Bay.
1120 Brickyard Cove Road, Point Richmond, 94801
Media : Bob Cole, 510-499-0134,
Imagine Sailing Tours
Offering romantic getaways on San Francisco bay, kayak expeditions, scuba diving trips from Mendocino to Channel Islands. Food, drink and skipper included.
1120 Brickyard Cove Rd., Point Richmond, 94801
Media : Captain Dennis Garrison, 916-813-8285,
Explore San Francisco Bay on a kayak. Trips to Bay Bridge, downtown skyline, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge are scheduled. $40-$80. Minors need a guardian.
South Beach Harbor
The Embarcadero at Townsend
Media : Ted Choi, 415-357-1010,
On a Bay Cruise
Blue & Gold Fleet
Charter with Blue & Gold Fleet and enjoy a custom tour of San Francisco Bay. Full bar service and catering from some of the city’s best restaurants.
Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf
Media : Katie Petrucci, 415-705-5595,
Hornblower Cruises & Events
Experience an only-in-San Francisco experience complete with views of the area’s most celebrated sites. Champagne brunch cruise Sat.-Sun., 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Alcatraz discovery lunch cruise, daily 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; supper club cruise Fri.-Sat., 7:30-10:30 p.m.; dinner dance cruise Fri.-Sat., 7:30-10:30 p.m., Sun.-Thurs., 7-9:30 p.m. Prices vary, discount for seniors, military and children.
Pier 3, On the Embarcadero
Media : Tegan Firth, 415-983-8208,
Red and White Fleet
Founded in 1892, the family-owned Red and White Fleet is legendary for its San Francisco cruises. Cruise under the Golden Gate and past Alcatraz, enjoy sunset sailings and discover San Francisco’s sights and history through onboard headphone audio in 12 languages.
Pier 43 1/2, Fisherman’s Wharf
Media : Molly Blaisdell, 925-300-7252,
A thrilling 30-minute high-speed adventure unlike anything on San Francisco Bay. Operates May-October.
PIER 39, Beach and Embarcadero streets
Media : Sue Muzzin, PIER 39: 415-705-5500/415-699-8186,
Whale watching is a great way to explore the bay and learn about San Francisco Bay aquatic life. Several companies offer tours:
San Francisco Whale Tours
This tour offers year-round whale watching trips to observe spectacular marine life around the Farallon Islands. Guests may see whales, dolphins, and aquatic birds. Daily trips.
PIER 39, Beach and Embarcadero streets
Media : Joe Nazar, 415-706-7364,
S.F. Bay Whale Watching
Take an unforgettable odyssey under the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands, a unique marine sanctuary to endangered whales, white sharks and orcas. Individuals, groups or private charters.
300 Napa St., Slip 26, Sausalito
Media : Verne L Bryant, 415-331-6267,
For general information on hotel packages and reservations; events; activities and transportation in San Francisco, visit . For lodging reservations, call 800-637-5196 within North America or 415-391-2000 or 415-392-0328 (TTY/TTD) elsewhere.
The San Francisco Visitors Planning Guide is available at the Visitor Information Center, 900 Market St., at the corner of Powell and Market streets, lower level, Hallidie Plaza. A virtual edition of the guide is also available online: . A visitor’s kit may also be ordered online at , by phone at 415-391-2000 or 415-392-0328 (TTY/TTD), by written request to the San Francisco Visitor Information Center, 900 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94102, or via email to. Domestic and international shipping charges apply.
Thanks to our friends at the San Francisco Travel Association for ideas, content and photos.