San Francisco Bay

Windy urban beaches draw sailors, windsurfers, and scenery lovers to this multi-bay destination.

San Francisco Bay: Our most recommended tours and activities

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

1. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Cruise around the Golden Gate Bay on a boat tour. Enjoy informative commentary, see sights like Alcatraz Island, and purchase food and drink from the onboard bar. Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from Fisherman's Wharf, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golden Gate Bridge. Steam back into the Bay, traveling past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands, and the legendary town of Sausalito, once home to the 1960s’ flower generation. With Angel Island State Park to your left, cruise around the infamous Alcatraz. After a full hour of exciting sights, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 welcome you back to Pier 43 1/2. A full bar with drinks, snacks, and merchandise, including logo wear, is available at reasonable prices on board the iconic red and blue sea vessels.

San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

2. San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

Enjoy a 1-hour journey along San Francisco's historic waterfront and experience the thrilling history of the San Francisco Bay, with all the sound and glory it deserves. The 1-hour non-stop Bay Cruise takes you past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Francisco’s historic waterfront, revealing the city’s fascinating skyline. Relax in comfort, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and enjoy a full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by. See sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the iconic San Francisco skyline as you go. Whether it’s your first time to San Francisco, or your 10th visit, the Bay Cruise is something you should experience at least once in your life. You will get a complimentary souvenir map, which is available in nine languages, and if you get hungry, there’s a full-service snack bar on board with food and drink available to purchase.

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

3. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

San Francisco: California Sunset Boat Cruise

4. San Francisco: California Sunset Boat Cruise

Enjoy sunset views as you sail on beautiful San Francisco Bay. See important landmarks, including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. In the winter months, take in the serene twilight views instead. Along the way, view numerous National Historic landmarks and San Francisco sights, including Coit Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid, St. Peter, Paul's Church, and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. As the sun begins to set over the Marin Headlands, cruise past Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the shorelines of Tiburon, Belvedere, and Sausalito. Watch the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, as you sail west towards the Golden Gate. On your way back to Fisherman’s Wharf, see many more famous sights, including the Presidio, the Marina District, and Fort Mason.

San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

5. San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

See both the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on a single boat tour with personal headphone audio included. Explore San Francisco's famous landmarks, history, natural history, architecture, and Native American culture on board this unique bay cruise. During the 90-minute round trip cruise you'll depart from Fisherman's Wharf, one of the city's busiest tourist attractions. From there, sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate is one of the world's most famous and beautiful bridges, and was at one point the largest suspension bridge in the world. Cruise past Alcatraz Island, once home of one of the world's most infamous prisons, and take the chance to enjoy the stunning San Francisco waterfront. The boat will pass along the harbor before heading under the colossal San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Then it's time to head back to the charming city of San Francisco by the sea.

San Francisco: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

6. San Francisco: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

Hop aboard a sightseeing bus for a tour of the City by the Bay and delve into the fascinating history of San Francisco and its legendary landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf. The hop-on-hop-off route stops at the main points of interest all around San Francisco.  Experience the diverse culture, beautiful parks, stunning architecture, and picturesque views from the top of an open-air sightseeing bus. Hop off anytime and create your customized itinerary at your leisure. Explore 3 routes depending on your ticket purchase and enjoy photo stops at the Golden Gate Bridge on each route. With the Classic (24-hour) ticket, enjoy the Hop-on Hop-off service at your leisure for a full day and try the bike rental offer and ride along San Francisco's stunning waterfront. The Premium (24-Hour) and Deluxe (48-hour) tickets allow you to venture out to see the daytime and evening views of San Francisco with the panoramic Night Tour. Additionally, the Deluxe (48-hour) ticket includes the option to choose from either a bike rental, or admission to the USS Pampanito. Take a deep dive into the history of a World War WWII submarine or cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. San Francisco City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Sit back and enjoy the ride as you cruise through the city on an open-top bus. Learn about the unique history of San Fransisco while passing through Chinatown, Union Square, Civic Center, and the Alamo Square.  Panoramic Night Tour Board the night bus to explore the dazzling city of San Francisco at nighttime. Climb the historic Nob Hill for a stunning close-up view of the magnificent Grace Cathedral. The Night Tour is included in the Premium (24-Hour) and Deluxe (48-Hour) Tickets. Then, make your way across the grand Bay Bridge for picturesque views of the city skyline from Treasure Island, the World Fair site in 1939. After heading back to the city, continue along the Embarcadero to view the glittering lights of the Port of San Francisco.

SF: Alcatraz Ticket w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Night Tour

7. SF: Alcatraz Ticket w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Night Tour

See the best of San Francisco with this combined hop-on-hop-off ticket and Alcatraz Island visit. Explore the island of Alcatraz and enjoy 2 days of sightseeing with insightful commentary from a live guide. Tour the famous prison that has played a role in jailhouse folklore and the historic evolution of the West Coast. Learn more about the 14 unsuccessful escape attempts by over 30 prisoners and their fates. Your Premium Big Bus hop-on-hop-off pass is a great way to see the sights of San Francisco. Listen to commentary by live English-speaking guides, or enjoy pre-recorded audio commentary in 10 languages. Your 2-day ticket includes a full day of unlimited hop-on-hop-off and a 1-hour panoramic night tour. Explore one of San Francisco's most fascinating neighborhoods on a fun and informative walking tour of Chinatown. The tours are offered daily, and you can ask an agent for locations and time schedules. Also included are a bonus 1-hour bike rental (with the purchase of a 1-hour rental) and Players Arcade Drink and Game Tokens. Hop-on, hop-off tour stops include: Stop 1: Corner of Jefferson & Mason StreetStop 2: Holiday Inn Northpoint b/w Jones & ColumbusStop 3: Washington Square - Columbus & Union StreetsStop 4: Embarcadero Center - Corner Clay & Battery StreetsStop 5: Ferry Building - Market St b/w Stuart & Spear StreetsStop 6: Union Square South - Geary St across from Macy’sStop 7: Hilton Hotel - Corner Mason & Ellis StreetsStop 8: Civic Center - Fulton St b/w Larkin & Hyde StreetsStop 9: Alamo Square - Corner Fell & Pierce StreetsStop 10: Haight Ashbury - Haight & Shrader StreetsStop 11: Golden Gate Park - Music Concourse Drive Golden Gate ParkStop 12: Golden Gate Bridge- North Vista PointStop 13: Palace of Fine Arts - Richardson & Francisco StreetStop 14: Marina Neighborhood - Lombard & Fillmore StreetsStop 15: Lombard Street Corridor - Lombard & Gough StreetsStop 16: Union Square North - Post & Powell StreetsStop 17: Chinatown Gate - Grant and Bush StreetsStop 18: Portsmouth Square - Kearny & Clay StreetsStop 19: Pier 35 Cruise Terminal - The EmbarcaderoStop 20: Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf (then return to Stop 1)

San Francisco: Luxury Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Bay

8. San Francisco: Luxury Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Bay

Choose between a buffet brunch or plated dinner during this luxury cruise on San Francisco Bay. Enjoy on-board entertainment as you pass by the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and other sights. Choose from the following two options: Champagne Brunch CruiseFeast on a decadent brunch with this good-morning getaway featuring free-flowing mimosas and sparkling wine. Sit back and munch on a buffet stocked with classic breakfast dishes, lunch entrees, and desserts. Experience live music and views of San Francisco Bay’s renowned sights as you unwind after a hectic week or celebrate a special event. Luxury Dinner CruiseEmbark on a date night with a delicious, dynamic twist. Marvel at the sun setting as the city lights twinkle from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate. Then, feast on a 3-course sit-down meal, including appetizers, salad, a choice of entrée, and dessert, with live music playing in the background. Sample Brunch Menu:Early Risers• Breakfast pastries - assorted muffins and Danishes• Scrambled eggs - American cheddar cheese• Breakfast meats - applewood smoked bacon, pork sausage links• Breakfast potatoes - caramelized onions, red and green bell peppers• French toast - whipped cream, maple syrup Late Risers• Kale quinoa salad - quinoa, roasted red pepper, spinach, lemon oregano vinaigrette• Green goddess pasta salad - sweet peas, white beans, scallions• Caesar salad - romaine lettuce, aged Reggiano parmesan cheese, herb croutons, traditional Caesar dressing• Oven-roasted flounder - spicy tomato and white bean ragu• Kid's station - chicken tenders and French fries• Hand-carved strip loin - signature spice rub, horseradish crème, au jus (broth)• Hand-carved oven-roasted turkey - cranberry sauce• Pasta al forno - alfredo sauce, panko parmesan crust• Scottish smoked salmon display - cream cheese, shaved red onions, Roma tomatoes, capers Dessert• Signature dessert station - cakes, brownies, seasonal fruit Sample Dinner Menu:Starter (choice of one)• Watermelon and baby arugula salad - feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette• Signature seafood chowder - clams, flounder, potatoes, cream Main Course (choice of one)• Root vegetable fricassee - butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, grape tomatoes, gremolata, cauliflower coconut cream sauce• Broiled salmon filet with roasted tomato vinaigrette - lemon orzo, farm-fresh seasonal vegetables• Oven-roasted chicken breast with rosemary and thyme - roasted new red potato salad with scallions, haricot verts, creamy mushroom sauce• Braised beef short ribs with Fresno pepper demi-glace - garlic mashed potatoes, baby carrots, broccoli Dessert• Signature chocolate cake - creme Anglaise, raspberry coulis, candied pecans• Mixed fruit with strawberries - Madagascar vanilla and orange cream• New York style cheesecake - lemon mascarpone cream, blueberry compote

From Sausalito: San Francisco and Alcatraz Helicopter Tour

9. From Sausalito: San Francisco and Alcatraz Helicopter Tour

See the California coast along San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge on a helicopter tour with a live guide and pilot. Take off and land in Sausalito to see famous landmarks from another angle, including the Alcatraz prison. Enjoy a 20-minute flight over the splendor of the land and waters along the North Pacific. Take off from the bayside village of Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Next, fly along the shoreline of the quaint bayside village of Sausalito, then right over the legendary Golden Gate Bridge. Continue to soar over Crissy Field, downtown San Francisco, and Oracle Park – home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. Fly over the infamous island prison of Alcatraz. Finally, your flight will be completed with a pass by the historic Angel Island, and back for a smooth landing at the heliport next to Sausalito’s Richardson Bay.

San Francisco: Go City All-Inclusive Pass 25+ Attractions

10. San Francisco: Go City All-Inclusive Pass 25+ Attractions

The San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass is an all-access sightseeing pass that offers the ultimate in convenience, cost savings, and flexibility for visitors to the Bay Area. Customers choose 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7-day passes at a low, pre-paid price. Use the pass to gain access to any and all of the 25+ included attractions, saving up to 55% off compared to full retail admissions. The California Academy of Sciences, Aquarium of the Bay, Exploratorium, bay cruises, theme parks and rides, bike rental, and much more are all included! See below for the complete list. The free digital guide helps you decide what to do, where to go, and how to get there. With the San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass, you’ll spend your time in the Bay Area collecting memories instead of credit card receipts. Attractions and activities included with the San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass: Tours and Cruises • Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off San Francisco: 1-day Classic Tour • Escape from the Rock - Cruise around Alcatraz • San Francisco Bay Cruise • Scenic Golden Gate Bridge Bike Tour • Go Car San Francisco 30-min Rental • One All-Day Comfort Bike Rental by Blazing Saddles • Golden Gate Bridge Bike Tour • Fisherman's Wharf Walking Tour • Tiled Steps Urban Hiking Tour • Golden Gate Park Bike Rental by Unlimited Biking Museums and Places of Interest • Aquarium of the Bay • Exploratorium • Madame Tussauds • California Academy of Sciences • The Walt Disney Family Museum • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom • The Flyer - San Francisco's Flying Theater • California's Great America • San Francisco Zoo & Gardens • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) • Legoland Discovery Center • de Young Museum and Legion of Honor • USS Pampanito • Asian Art Museum • USS Hornet Museum • The Contemporary Jewish Museum • The Beat Museum • California Historical Society Attractions and tours are subject to change. Check your included digital guide for an up-to-date attraction line-up including opening times and instructions on how to access each attraction with your pass before you go.

Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco Bay

Want to discover all there is to do in San Francisco Bay? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about San Francisco Bay

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 8,378 reviews

Dylan, guide and driver of our tour was exellent, explained a lot about history, wider circustances and also about today´s San Francisco...

Had a wonderful time with my fiancé. It was worth it. I made reservations for his birthday. Took a lot of pictures. Will do it again.

We went with our two children age 11 and 8. Was a great trip. Fantastic views.

Great experience, recommend everyone to at least one time.

Great experience. Wear warm clothing if weather is cool.