For anyone lucky enough to be visiting San Francisco, the Bay is undoubtedly one of the main attractions. From the distant view of Alcatraz, to the fabulous Golden Gate Bridge, a tour of San Francisco Bay has enough to keep everyone entertained, whatever the weather. Because there is so much to see around San Francisco Bay, both on land and on the water, it is a good idea to take a tour that combines both bus and boat. These tours tend to be better value than taking two separate tours and you can make sure you fit in absolutely everything there is to see during your visit.
For the part of your trip that is on dry land there are a number of sights that you should make sure you include in the itinerary. Fisherman’s’ Wharf is home to San Francisco’s fleet of superb fisherman and the best place in the city to get some fresh seafood. Hop off your bus tour here for a trip on one of the legendary cable cars, a ride on a tandem bike or a romantic lunch overlooking San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge (http://www.fishermanswharf.org).
The Ferry Building at the end of Market Street is a huge market and has been dubbed ‘a famous city’ most famous landmark.’ Until the 1930s the ferry was almost the only way visitors could get to San Francisco, so the building was a focal point for the town. Now it is a fantastic market with a huge range of produce on offer from artisan cheeses, to ceramics and fresh bread – a great place to pick up some souvenirs or just to get lunch!
If you want to learn about San Francisco’s ‘other’ bridge – the Bay Bridge (http://baybridgeinfo.org) then this is the area to do it in. The bridge began construction in the 1930s and was one of the most ambitious projects of its time. It was damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 and has undergone some serious work since that is due to be completed in 2013. It is a big part of San Francisco Bay’s heritage and has also become quite famous through film and TV hits like Basic Instinct and The Graduate – definitely worth a visit for those interested in San Fran history.
Once you’ve had your fill of San Francisco Bay by land then hop on the boat for the next leg of the tour and hope for a clear day. San Francisco is legendary for its fog – a very specific type of fog that has given San Fran the nickname of ‘the naturally air conditioned city.’ However, assuming you have a clear day then make sure you sign up for a boat tour that takes in the Golden Gate Bridge (http://www.goldengatebridge.org) (most do!), the most legendary piece of architecture in San Francisco and one of the iconic images of the city. Most boat tours will take you right up close to the bridge – underneath usually – giving you a unique view of the towering gables and distinctive red hue of the construction. Of course the other major sight across the water from San Francisco is Alcatraz (http://www.nps.gov/alca). You can take a tour of this infamous penitentiary but it is a good idea to book in advance as it remains hugely popular, whatever the time of year. The island has a range of tours and exhibits for visitors, including the cellhouse tour, where you can walk around and look at the conditions in which the prisoners lived, accompanied by an audio information track. If Alcatraz has given you a shiver then the best way to finish the boat tour is with something warm and fuzzy like the Pier 39 sea lions. The sea lions seem to have lived here since 1989 when they starting shifting from Seal Rock and as many as 1,700 may occupy this area. They are a cheerful sight as they bask in the sunshine and if you’ve got a spare sardine you might even be able to feed them.
A tour of San Francisco Bay by boat and by bus means you can take in absolutely everything this fantastic area has to offer. Whether you’re interested in the grim reality of Alcatraz or the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge the Bay tour is the way to go.
Amy is a blogger from Alamo. Amy recommends Alamo for car hire San Francisco Airport.
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