San Francisco’s Ferry Building

I’ve lived in San Francisco for exactly one year and 10 months now and until yesterday, I’d never stepped foot inside the Ferry Building.

This makes me a terrible tourist and a worse travel blogger considering the Ferry Building is such a San Francisco icon and perfect meeting spot. I’m guessing that before mobile phones became a big thing, everyone was meeting under the Ferry Building clock.


If you’ve never seen it, the San Francisco Ferry Building is big, light blue and stands at the end of Market Street. Historically, it’s importance stemmed from being at the centre of transportation from its opening in 1898.

Anyone travelling to San Francisco until 1930, had to come through the Ferry Building and as many as 50,000 people would commute by ferry each day.

When the Bay and Golden Gate bridges opened later in the 1900’s, less people used the ferries for their daily commute and the building fell into disrepair.

After restoration, the Ferry Building was reopened in March 2003 as a food market. That’s where I come in – food is important and so I visited.


Walk along Embarcadero on a Saturday and you’ll eventually stumble upon the Ferry Building, but while you’ll no doubt see it first, the best part about the Farmer’s Market is the smell.

 It might not be to the taste of vegans or vegetarians, but the food vendors outside are the real deal. The smell of grilling meat wafts over the whole area, which is nice because the closer you get to the bay, the less pleasant the smell.
There are so many farmers and vendors at the Saturday markets that they don’t all fit in the building, so you’ll see heaps of tents surrounding the building.
But it’s what’s inside that’s really impressive. So much beautiful food. Cheese, pastries, bread, dumplings, fruit, vegetables, flowers and plenty of restaurants.
I *may* have fallen in love with these vases as well. The speckled blue ones to be precise. And if I didn’t have to get back to my car to feed the meter, I would have spent hours in the Ferry Building yesterday. It’s a great place to while away a few hours and well worth the visit.
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The Ferry Plaza farmer’s market runs from 10am-2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 8am-2pm on Saturdays.

26 thoughts on “San Francisco’s Ferry Building

  1. Oh wow!! We went to San Fran in 2005 for a few days. We didn’t go inside this building but I think I stood outside it to buy the tickets to go over to Alcatraz?? Does that sound right? I loved San Fran and would love to go back there. You’re lucky to live there.

    1. Hmm, I think that’s a bit further up Embarcadero. But you’re on the right street! And you might have gone past it to get to the Alcatraz ticket office. I’m so lucky to live here, there’s so much to do and see!

  2. Oh this brought back memories but none that are accurate. I stayed in a hotel that had an exit to the wharf up the end where the sea lions are. I caught my ferry to Alcatraz up that way too. I also recall going for a walk one evening and finding a place selling crab sandwiches. Dad always said I had to try them. That seems close-ish to where I recall. Would the cable cars be starting from there too? I certainly remember the name Market St.

    1. You’re spot on Denyse! The ‘historic’ cable cars stop right outside the Ferry Building. I haven’t found the crab sandwiches but I can’t say that I’ve looked properly. And further up is where you’d have seen the Sea Lions and caught the ferry to Alcatraz!

  3. We’ve been to the Ferry Building both times we’ve visited San Fran and we loved it. Last time we got some amazing coffee from Blue Bottle and my one big regret is that we were there too early to get some Humphrey Slocombe ice cream! Next time!

    1. The line for Blue Bottle was insane on Saturday. I couldn’t believe that they would line up so long for coffee. I must be missing out on something there. And I can’t believe I didn’t get ice cream either! I was just staring and drooling at those vases and homewares the whole time.

  4. I really like this place. I know it sounds touristy but it can be visited when the crowds are thin. We had great food there (we stopped by three times in one trip). I hope to go back soon. #citytripping

    1. Some touristy places are worth it though, and I think that having a few people around adds to the market atmosphere. I don’t like quiet markets, I feel like everyone’s vying for my dollar. This way I can just slip through and enjoy browsing.

  5. I’m the same with sights in London and I’ve lived here all my life! The farmer’s market looks like a great place to hang out – and glad you finally got to go to the Ferry Building! San Fran is somewhere I would very much like to visit! Thanks for linking up with #CityTripping

    1. That’s a bit annoying! You probably weren’t there on a weekend, which is a shame. But the shops are open inside the Ferry Building every day and they have some great produce (you know, for next time you visit).

    1. Thank you! Apparently you have to try the coffee in there. I didn’t, because I’m a tea person, but the line was ginormous, so it’s obviously good.

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