American Canyon might be the start of Napa Valley’s wine country, however a quick car ride to Vallejo’s ferry terminal can lead to a day filled with excitement just across the Bay. there are bountiful fun activities to be had as you head south towards our favorite, foggy city — beautiful San Francisco. The best part? You can experience it all while staying in American Canyon!
How to Get There
The Bay Area’s public transportation is inexpensive and incredibly easy to use. On weekdays, ferries travel to and from the city almost every hour — on weekends there are slightly fewer boats. We recommend traveling after the morning rush and/or before the evening return to guarantee a seat and less crowded ferries. Bring cash, grab a cup of coffee and a snack, and take a seat, because the hour-long journey is truly an adventure.
The San Francisco Ferry Building is where you’ll find your footing, and it’s not a bad place to start cityside. It offers front row seats to the Bay Bridge and is filled with a selection of local vendors from decadent chocolate to world-renowned ceramics. If you’re heading there on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, you’ll also get a chance to explore their weekly Farmers Market. Think local flowers, seasonal bites, and a chance to “live like a local.”
Where to Go Next?
From here, you can take San Francisco’s public transportation, SFMTA, to different neighborhoods all over the city. You can pick up a day (or multi-day) pass to ride it all from the Ferry Building.
Because each neighborhood is unique, we’ve rounded up a few of the most popular, what makes them special, and where to go when you get there.
Considered San Francisco’s Little Italy, North Beach offers up an endless selection of go-to Italian joints. We recommend grabbing a pie and taking in the locals at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, whose kitchen has been awarded some big picture prizes globally for their Margherita Pizza.
North Beach is also the location of the famed Coit Tower. The 20-foot tower is good for all ages, although quite a journey to get to the top of Telegraph Hill. It’s worth the journey.
A short walk from the SF Ferry Building or North Beach will lead you to the narrow streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown district. The best way to see it all would be to take a guided tour, where you can learn about the diverse history and people who reside here.
Another creative (and delicious) way to experience local Chinatown culture? A food tour. No reason to grab a guide, because you can just wander the streets to find specialities like Dim Sum, scrumptious mooncakes, and even a famous fortune cookie factory.
The #1 destination for San Francisco tourists, Pier 39 is a combination of unlikely fun and local color. Here you’ll find many souvenir options to take home to friends and family, and delicious food from fresh seafood straight from the boat to local specialties.
Make plans to visit the famous sea lions, the Aquarium of the Bay, and definitely trek up the (small) hill to Ghirardelli Square. Like a beacon in the distance, the chocolatier is serving up gorgeous views of the Bay and Alcatraz Island (a great destination, but be sure to get tickets before you travel, as they’re often sold out), and also fresh-made sundaes with their famed, melty goodness. Even on cloudy, chilly S.F. days, it’s a treat!
The most bustling section of San Francisco during the weekday, downtown S.F. has a ton to share with tourists and locals alike. Museums — SFMOMA, Museum of Ice Cream, and Museum of African Diaspora, to name a few — are a great way to spend a day, but if you’re partial to shopping, a visit to Union Square is a must.
We also recommend grabbing a famous cable car ride, as this is a not-to-be-missed experience that’s truly San Francisco. Tickets can purchased on board or at locations around the city.
Golden Gate Park
From central San Francisco out to the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find the lush, green Golden Gate Park. Filled with museums, activities, and more natural beauty than you can imagine, the park is a massive oasis in the middle of a world-class city.
Here are some must-visit locations in the famed park:
- Botanical Garden
- De Young Museum
- California Academy of Science
- Japanese Tea Garden
- Conservatory of Flowers
- Koret Children’s Quarter
- Stow Lake
There’s far more than just this list, so be sure to explore it all digitally on the Park’s website before you plan a trip.
Ferry Back to Vallejo
End your day back where it started, at the San Francisco Ferry Building, to head back north. On weekdays, the ferry’s last journey is 8:15 P.M, and on weekends, it’s 9:00 P.M., so be sure to plan accordingly.