Ferry Building in San Francisco

San Francisco’s most famous landmark, the Ferry Building, operates as a community gathering place to celebrate local culture and cuisine.

The Ferry Building Marketplace is a vibrant gathering place for local farmers, artisan producers, and owned and operated food businesses. The Marketplace showcases small local producers that practice traditional farming and production techniques.

Located at the foot of Market Street on the western edge of the continent, the Ferry Building also provides a central location for promoting northern California's world-class food and wine-producing regions. The Ferry Building's mission is to foster the community's values and serve as an incubator for artisan producers.

Wide shot of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market full of people shopping on a sunny day in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: CUESA & The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market via Facebook

Pro Tip: There are numerous nearby attractions to check out before or after the Ferry Building that includes Pier 39, Aquarium of the Bay, the Exploratorium, Alcatraz, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum™, and Fisherman's Wharf.

Related Post: Top 5 Scenic Drives to Take Around the San Francisco Bay Area

At the center of the city's financial, banking and transportation district, the Ferry Building also collaborates with local transit authorities to build ties between the Marketplace and the community.

Plan Your Visit to the Ferry Building Marketplace

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a California-certified market operated by the nonprofit Center for Urban Education and Sustainability. The Market, which draws thousands of visitors daily, offers fresh local produce, jams, bread, honey, cheeses and other non-food items like soaps and lotions. CUESA offers classes and demonstrations next to the vendors' stalls. The Market attracts more than 40,000 shoppers each week. The Ferry Building Marketplace is committed to the artisan food community and promoting ethnic diversity.

Pro Tip: Leave your furry friends at home. The California Health and Safety Codes restrict pets inside the Ferry Building Marketplace, Farmers Market or outside the Ferry Building Plaza, with the exception of service dogs for the handicapped.

Ferry Building Walking Tours

Explore the famous Nave, shops and restaurants of the Marketplace as you learn the Ferry Building's history and take in its architectural beauty. San Francisco City Gates offers walking tours of the Ferry Building on Saturdays and Tuesdays. Tours are free and coincide with the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market days. City Guides is a local nonprofit organization that provides local tours around the San Francisco area.

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Restaurants & Cafes

Lined with food vendors, bakeries, cafés and numerous restaurants, the Ferry Plaza Marketplace, Farmers Market, and Ferry Building are all famous tourist attractions in their own right. Here are just a few of the fine dining options at Ferry Plaza:

  • American Eatery at Prather Ranch: This fine dining establishment showcases classic American cuisine with the finest meats.
  • Boulette's Larder: Boulette's is a country-inspired diner that offers brunch and lunch specials, served at communal tables.
  • Gott's Roadside: Gott's provides delicious milkshakes, burgers, tacos, fries, wine and beer, using locally sourced ingredients.
  • Hogs Island Oyster Company: For incredibly fresh seafood and amazing Bay views, try Hogs Island. The Oysters are not half bad either.
  • Close up of a plate of oysters with a side of bread and four different cocktails on a wooden table with the ocean behind them at Hogs Island Oyster Company in San Francisco, California, USA

    photo credit: Hogs Island Oyster Company via Facebook

    The Slanted Door: Try this award-winning eatery for an eclectic dining experience and delicious Vietnamese cuisine. The James Beard Foundation bestowed the Slanted Door, the nation's Outstanding Restaurant award twice!

Pro Tip: On Saturdays, local restaurants showcase items from their menus at the Market

Ferry Building Merchants

Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant

This 3,000 square foot shop carries wines from around the world. Featured wine selections change weekly. Wine Merchants also offers patio seating for wine tastings and classes.

Far West Fungi

This twenty-year-old shop is a mushroom lovers' dream with mushrooms for your every need and want, from medicinal mushroom supplements to a wide variety of culinary mushrooms (both fresh and dried).

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Epicurean Trader

Known as San Francisco's premier gourmet market, Epicurean focuses on local artisan wines, craft spirits, beer, farmstead cheeses, gourmet chocolates, oils and bottles of vinegar. Epicurean also provides a full espresso bar, daily pastries, and European-style baguette sandwiches.

Fort Point Beer Company

This New American Brewery crafts beers that tell a story. Fort Point's tasting bar allows customers to enjoy brewery-fresh beer onsite or packaged to take home alongside locally-sourced hot dogs and gourmet pretzels.

Golden Gate Meat Company

This family-owned business features an onsite butcher shop and charcuterie that carries only natural and organic meats – smoked beef, veal, pork, lamb, poultry, and wild game. Golden Gate offers daily lunch and dinner specials and carries its own line of specialty bacon, jerky, and prosciutto.

History of the Ferry Building

The Ferry Building has been an iconic focal point of the San Francisco waterfront for more than 100. On top of the building is a striking 245-foot-tall clock tower with four clock dials, each 22 feet in diameter. In 1898, the Ferry Building became the transportation focal point for train travelers. From the Gold Rush until the 1930s, ferryboat traveling was the main thoroughfare to reach San Francisco, one of the nation's prime portal metropolises.

Over 50,000 people commuted by ferry to the city and back every day during its peak. Passengers off the boats came directly to the elegant two-story Ferry Building, where the public meeting area consisted of interior arches and overhead skylights. Ferryboat travel halted with the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge opening. As the Ferry Building lost its purpose in the 1950s, most of the building was converted to office space.

Related Post: San Francisco Bucket List: 13 Things to Do in the City by the Bay

In 2003 the landmark building reopened to the public as the Ferry Building Marketplace, after a four-year renovation. The Ferry Building Marketplace is now considered a world-class public food market. Today ferry terminals still operate at Larkspur, Sausalito, Vallejo, and Alameda.

Ferry Building Operating Hours

  • Monday to Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Hours for individual restaurants and businesses may vary. Check the Ferry Building's merchant's page for specific hours.

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Parking & Transportation

Located on the Embarcadero, the Ferry Building is accessible to guests via public transport, ferry BART, and the F-Line historic streetcar.

Parking is available in Pier 3 along northbound Embarcadero, the Ace Parking Lot at Embarcadero and Washington Street, or the Golden Gate Garage on Clay Street. (Make sure to get validated).

The Ferry Building also has valet parking available Monday through Friday.


close up of Erin smiling on a sunny day

Written By Erin

Erin Poche` is a Utah-based writer and editor for Tripster and contributing writer for BeyondType1. She also writes and edits for an indie publisher of fanta ...

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