Explore San Francisco

Ferry to Alameda for Near-Perfect Weather, a Small-Town Feel and the Best Views

Take a day trip to this charming island sandwiched between San Francisco and Oakland.

Sandwiched between San Francisco and Oakland, Alameda has near-perfect weather, a quaint small-town feel and the best views of the city, hands down. Not only is it just a short ferry ride away, but it’s also the kind of place where you can choose your own adventure—whether that’s getting in on Alameda’s distinguished and trendsetting beverages scene or simply discovering fun bay-side things to do for the whole family. If you haven’t considered a day trip to the in-between island, you should.

Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda, California
(Courtesy Crown Memorial State Beach)


The best way to start your day on Alameda is to bring your bike to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, where you can catch a 20-minute ferry over to the Alameda Main Street Terminal. From there, you’ll be steps away from the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, a large outdoor market held the first Sunday of every month.

After you’ve had your fill of tchotchkes and vintage decor, make your way to Rock Wall Wine Company to enjoy a wine tasting with stunning views and tasty bites from Scolari’s At The Point on the patio overlooking the bay. Or, if you are more into suds, head over to family-friendly Faction Brewing to taste some unique brews and nibble on something from their daily rotating food truck. Don’t fill up too much, though. Your tour of Spirits Alley is just getting started.

Alameda Point Antiques Faire, California
(Courtesy Alameda Point Antiques Faire)


For a tasting experience that’s unique, pop in at St. George Spirits. Here, you can taste any six of their available spirits—a list that includes three different gins, a green chili-infused vodka, the signature pear brandy and even the distillery’s historical absinthe. Then, take a tour to see the Willy Wonkaesque machinery and aging barrels.

Next door to St. George is Hangar 1, another established spirits distillery. It produces some of the most unique and eco-friendly vodkas on the market, which you can find in San Francisco stores like Bevmo and restaurants like Foreign Cinema. From vodka made with fog to the new rosé vodka, Hangar 1 is tapping into local ingredients to create outstanding spirits. The best craft beers in the Bay Area use malts made at the new Admiral Maltings barley malting facility. Grab lunch and a brew at the onsite pub, the Rake.

For a more kid-friendly afternoon, ride the bike lane down to Crown Memorial State Beach, where you can take a long ride or walk along the beautiful coastline. A stop at Crab Cove on the northwest corner of the beach is a must. Here, you'll find so many things to do. You can see bay wildlife burrowed in the mud flats at low tide and spend some time at the Crab Cove Visitor’s Center to have some fun with hands-on marine life exhibits.

Crab Cove at Crown Memorial State Beach, California
Crab Cove (Courtesy Crown Memorial State Beach)


As the afternoon turns into evening, continue your ride along tranquil, bike-friendly Shoreline Drive. If biking has made you hungry, the best stop for an early dinner along your route is Trabocco, where they’re serving up creative Italian dishes in style.

After a bite, cut up north at Park Street to make your way toward downtown Alameda. Lock up the bike and stroll around the picturesque streets, taking in the historical, small-town charm of the island. Then, continue to take it easy with the blockbuster of your choice at Cinema Grill, where you can order in-theater dining and outstanding craft cocktails right to your seat.

Finish the night strong and test out your pinball skills at the Pacific Pinball Museum, a fun, not-to-miss stop in Alameda that’s open late on Fridays and Saturdays.

Pacific Pinball Museum, California
(Courtesy Pacific Pinball Museum)