5 Reasons to Love San Francisco’s Ferry Building

The best travel advice comes from locals, doesn’t it? I recently hung out with two people from San Francisco, and when I mentioned how much I love the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, they said, “Oh, it’s just like the Ferry Building in San Francisco, but smaller.” A larger version of super-chic Oxbow? I’ve been visiting San Francisco for years; why haven’t I been going there already? I’m not sure, but on a recent quick stop in San Francisco, I made sure not to miss it.

San Francisco architecture

The Ferry Building is San Francisco at its best. It houses unique food purveyors that showcase what California food is all about: fresh, local, varied, and delicious. It sits on the water. It’s beautiful but retains an urban feel with plenty of locals making their way in and out as they commute. Here are some of the reasons you will love the Ferry Building:

1) The location: Right next to the Bay Bridge with a view of the San Francisco Bay

San Francisco ferry building

Not a bad view for lunch! There are plenty of tables and benches outside, so if you are lucky enough to have nice weather like we did, find a place and enjoy the atmosphere.

San Francisco bay view

2) The interior

The Ferry Building was built in 1898. It reminded me of the old train stations in Europe.

San Francisco marketplace

San Francisco ferry building

3) The food

Experience some of the best produce anywhere at the Ferry Building’s Farmers Market.

San Francisco farmers market

Choose from a huge array of innovative food options, from self-serve oysters and artisan cheeses to local olive oils and specialty meats.

San Francisco fish restaurant

pork products

San Francisco restaurant

4) The shopping

The Ferry Building is a wonderful place to find unique gifts and treats, including local food products, garden items, gourmet chocolates, and delicious baked goods.

Obama bag

San Francisco fruit market

5) What’s nearby

The Ferry Building is called that for obvious reasons…you can take a ferry to Sausalito or for a round-trip boat ride around the bay.

And the Ferry Building is on the Embarcadero, so stroll down for piers, bay views, sea lions, and more. Go up the hill and you’re close to Coit Tower, Chinatown, and the Financial District. Hop on the public transportation or, if you’re driving, it’s very convenient. Park across the street and then get on I-80 in just a couple of minutes.

Ferry building

San Francisco pier

This fountain/sculpture/public art piece is amazing. It’s right across the street from the Ferry Building and adjacent to a park and Embarcadero Center shopping.

San Francisco fountain


Have you been to San Francisco? Do you have a favorite indoor marketplace like this one?

This post is part of this week’s photo series at Budget Travelers Sandbox and Delicious Baby.

(All the photos are mine except the second image, which is from Wikipedia Commons.)

Pin It


  • It looks very inviting with the palm trees in front and the backdrop ocean.Thanks for sharing.

  • Ayngelina says:

    I laughed when I read the title thinking it would be silly to love a building but now the title makes perfect sense!
    Ayngelina recently posted..Food Friday: Maui Onion FestivalMy Profile

  • monique says:

    I love the ferry building also – it’s great fun to take the ferry from tiburon or sausalito and approach from the water as well. I lived in SF for almost 10 years before they developed that area….I still remember the smallish farmers market in the levis plaza area which I assume is no longer. Great pix, makes me want to go back. one of my other favorite blogs, ciao domenica, posted about the ferry building also with a great tip on eating there, you might want to check it out. http://ciaodomenica.blogspot.com/2011/12/raclette-and-other-holiday-indulgences.html

  • The Ferry Building is great and you’ve highlighted some of my favorite things about it. I also took a walking tour there once and the guide explained a lot about the history of the building and area — interesting place.

    • Jenna says:

      Interesting. I will look into a walking tour for a future visit. The city has such an interesting history.

  • Heading to San Francisco in a couple weeks…this is now on my list!
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Ospreys of Innisbrook – Picture of the WeekMy Profile

  • Boccalone is my go to place in the Ferry Building! I’d rather have my husband come home with a bag from there that a bouquet of flowers any day 😉

    I’ve been to the farmers market on Thursdays, but have been told that the one of Saturday is the best.

    (Side note: my mom just gave me one of those first lady of fabulous bags…was wondering where she found it, haha)
    Ashley at No Onions Extra Pickles recently posted..Sound Traveling on BARTMy Profile

  • i absolutely love the embarcadero. it is such a beautiful place to visit.

    my best memory is seeing my favorite band, old 97’s, play an afterwork set at justin hermann plaza as part of the texas tourism tour.

    we came early and hit the ferry building for good eats.
    Tami — Teacher Goes Back to School recently posted..Summer of Intentionality — Part Two: To DoMy Profile

  • Sonja says:

    We go there every time we’re in SF! I’ve had some fabulous seafood at the eateries at the Ferry Building. Love it.
    Sonja recently posted..Photo Friday: Madrid, Here We Come!My Profile

  • Allison says:

    I’ve been to San Francisco but I haven’t visited the Ferry Building. I love Farmers Markets, so it looks like my kind of place. I’d love to make a return visit, so I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks!
    Allison recently posted..Romance in bloom at Thanksgiving Point GardensMy Profile

  • Dominique says:

    What a great old building! I love buildings from this era, and the inside of this one reminds me a little of the old market building in Cleveland.
    Dominique recently posted..Photo Friday: Wolf Lake, IndianaMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I haven’t been to the one in Cleveland, but as I mentioned in another comment, it has a new and old feeling at the same time.

  • John says:

    This is a great use of a historical building. Also, I love all the food selections at the ferry building.
    John recently posted..Cowtown, USAMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I agree, it is a great use of a historical building. And it looks so new yet old at the same time.

  • I’ve been to San Francisco a number of times but have not visited the Ferry Building. I have always wanted to eat here for lunch but we always end up in Chinatown. The eateries in here are always featured in the Travel Channel or Food Network. I may pass on the “Tasty salted pig parts: store though. I would love to explore the shops too.
    Mary @ The World Is A Book recently posted..Exploring Bermuda’s Crystal CavesMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I didn’t know that the food has been featured on the Travel Channel or Food Network (multiple times, I guess). I am sure you and your kids will enjoy it.

  • I love the Ferry Building almost as much as I heart Oxbow! My husband bought me a “grow your own mushrooms” farm there and though it was a fun project, I’d rather just go there and eat mushrooms at one of the restaurants 🙂
    Annette | Bucket List Journey recently posted..A Segway Glide Through BarcelonaMy Profile

  • Warren says:

    Hi Jenna!

    the Ferry Building in San Francisco also has a gelato bar called Ciao Bella. so you could enjoy an Italian interlude with the following itinerary:
    1. Savour an espresso – in a ceramic cup – at Il Cane Rosso. (1 Market Street)
    2. Walk through the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and select produce from a nearby farm
    3. While at the Ferry Building, select your favorite flavor of gelato at Ciao Bella
    4. Eat your gelato with family or friends while sitting on a park bench at Sue Bierman Park
    5. Enjoy Italian cuisine made with local and seasonal ingredients at Perbacco (230 California Street)

    All five places are within easy walking distance. It would be the perfect Italian day trip!

    • Jenna says:

      Wonderful ideas! I love Italian food and will have a great time doing this Italian-themed day in San Francisco. I had the gelato at Ciao Bella and it’s great. I love the flavor choices.

  • Winnie Xiong says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience of the Ferry Building. It’s such a grant building on Embarcadero by water. People can see the bell tower far away on the Market Street. I am working in a little store to sell raw snacks in the building. Many visitors are coming in the summer season to take a ferry to Sausalito and taste some fresh and delicious foods in city. Oyster is one of my favorite seafood and I always buy several dozen from a booth in the farmers’ market on Saturday. Every Saturday, the Ferry Building is especially busy and crowed. Not only some famous shops, like Cowgirl cheese store, Wine Bar, Blue Bottle Coffee, are full of fans, but also the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market serves visitors with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers. In addition, several groups of artists would like to play music or dance while visitors enjoy their performances under the sunshine. What a nice place to go with family and friends.
    As you stated in the blog, the atmosphere is enjoyable where you could see the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and Angel Island clearly. Sometimes I would like to sit near to the water and enjoy a glass of margarita and chips after work. I feel so relaxed at that moment. And the Ferry building gave me so much great memory.

  • Gorgeous views and pics! Having visited SF a few years ago The Ferry Building was one of the few things we didn’t get to see 🙁 Having seen it on some Food Network shows, I have been dying to go back to visit.

    Boccalone is calling my name! 🙂
    Cheryl @ Kids On A Plane recently posted..My Walt Disney World GoalMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I always leave a place with a list of things to do there next time 🙂 There is so much to do in SF and the surrounding area with kids that I’m sure you’ll be back. Take the boat ride from the Ferry Building next time, too.

  • Sonja says:

    I’ve strolled the Ferry Building many times and eaten there too. Always seem to find some yummy soup or sandwich there. Love the views, too, and have never had bad weather.
    Sonja recently posted..Photo Friday: The Color PurpleMy Profile

  • The place is great! I always make it a point to stop there when in SF and I also like taking the ferry.
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: A motorcyclist in MontmartreMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I need to take my kids on the ferry ride next time because we didn’t do it when we were at the Ferry Building. I saw your post from there and loved it!

  • Kushal says:

    Very nice place to enjoy vacations with your family. Missing my last year trip days very badly !!…. Hope will see the site again.
    Kushal recently posted..Kiku Sharda Family, Education, Career, Upcoming Shows, Awards, Controversies, and Personal Details.My Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *