Bay-Front San Francisco Neighborhood
The Embarcadero waterfront in San Francisco has a wide pleasant sidewalk along the City’s eastern bay-side shoreline providing a great place to bike, skate, or walk. Many locals exercise there. It has a wide variety of renovated piers, restaurants, parks, and attractions to enjoy as you travel. See some of the best, listed from north to south, below. Also see The Embarcadero map.
At the north end of The Embarcadero is Pier 39, the 3rd most visited tourist attraction in America, plus the rest of the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood. From Pier 39 you can take a historic streetcar on SF Muni’s F-Line which follows The Embarcadero south before eventually turning west on Market St and heading to The Castro.
Levi Strauss area
Levi’s Plaza Park, 1270 Battery St, is a pretty little corporate park that is a nice place to relax. Levi Strauss Plaza, across the street, fronts Levi Strauss & Co’s corporate headquarters at 1155 Battery St. In the main lobby is a small visitor center featuring the history of Levi’s original blue jeans, patented 1873, along with a display of current products. On weekends this area is very quiet & even more pleasant since the offices are closed. Sometimes you can even find free parking.
Two nearby restaurants we sometimes visit are Il Fornaio, 1265 Battery St, and the Fog City Diner, 1300 Battery St. Both have pleasant outside seating and the latter is a landmark with the look & feel of a 1930’s railroad club diner car.
This area is also a good place to start a climb up Telegraph Hill’s steep side via either of two famous stairways to the top. The Filbert Steps begin at the west end of Filbert St and the Greenwich steps begin at the west end of Greenwich St. This is an interesting way to get back & forth to the North Beach neighborhood if you are a good walker.
The New Exploratorium
The new Exploratorium opened April 17, 2013, at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero. This is one long block north of Broadway Ave at Green St. It about five times bigger than the beloved old Exploratorium and has over 150 new exhibits (over 600 exhibits total). Founded by noted physicist Frank Oppenheimer, the Exploratorium is famous for pioneering the development of using hands-on exhibits to teach science. It has been the prototype for more than 1000 hands-on participatory institutions that exist around the world today.
Open 10 am-5 pm or longer, except on Mondays. Tickets are $25 for adults 18-64 years old and $19 for children 6-17 years old. If you live in one of the 9 Bay Area counties locals get a discount($20 for adults 18-64 years old, $15 for children 6-17 years old). If you want to skip the crowds and kids check out the Adult (18+ only, $15 ea) Happy Hour on Thursdays from 6-10 pm.
One tip for adults is, if you go on a weekend, get there early and walk directly through to the Central Gallery. This has some neat hands-on exhibits about seeing and listening and will be fairly empty early on. Later on weekend days the entire Exploratorium will fill up with kids and then you will have to wait behind them to play with the exhibits yourself.
There is also a nice FREE Bay View walk which circles Pier 15, the Exploratorium. Walking across the bridge near the museum entrance is fun because, every half hour on the half hour, it serves as a free exhibit of what it feels like to walk through a very thick fog. Other free things to do are to visit the Exploratorium store & Bay Area History Wall in lobby up front … and to enter the somewhat expensive sitdown Seaglass restaurant on the Bay end.
Parking is expensive but $10 flat rates are available on weekends at some garages (e.g. Embarcadero Center). It sometimes gets busy so the Exploratorium recommends purchasing your tickets in advance. For more details check the Exploratorium web site.
You can easily get to North Beach from Embarcadero/Broadway by walking four blocks west to Broadway/Columbus. North of Broadway just off Embarcadero, are some good places to park on weekends. However, now, most street parking has meters (they start at 12 noon on weekends).
When walking south on Embarcadero, from Broadway Ave to the Ferry Building at Market St, we usually leave the sidewalk to continue our walk in an out of the various piers along the public promenade. This is a quiet and pleasant walk with several piers, restaurants and nice places to sit.
Embarcadero Center is a massive office-shopping-residential complex designed by famous architect John C. Portman Jr. It covers eight city blocks and more than 14,000 people work there daily. The complex includes five tall office towers, two hotels, and retail space on three interconnected levels with more than 120 shops and restaurants. These shops are busy week days, when office workers are there, but most are closed or very quiet on weekends. Two large outdoor plazas with some shopping, Embarcadero Plaza and Justin Herman Plaza, also serve as parks along The Embarcadero Street.
The 4 star Hyatt-Regency Hotel within Embarcadero Center has a beautiful 17 story atrium well worth visiting. This is a good place to start your tour of Embarcadero Center.
Before the two San Francisco bridges were completed (1930s) the historic Ferry Building, at Embarcadero/Market St, was the 2nd busiest transit terminal in the world. It still has some ferry service but mainly houses a variety of upscale food shopping booths, restaurants, and offices. You can get a cup of excellent coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee, find gourmet snacks, or eat a full sit-down meal at places such as the Slanted Door or Hog Island Oyster Co.
The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in the Ferry Building is one of the best, biggest, and most expensive farmers markets in the world. It runs Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and often attracts thousands of visitors.
Under Market St nearby, between Spear St & Beale St, is Embarcadero Station. This is the biggest BART and muni metro line transit terminal in San Francisco. From here you can easily access most of the SF Bay area via public transportation.
Just south of the Hyatt at 77 Steuart St is a small non-profit San Francisco Railway Museum & Gift Shop. It features the history of transit vehicles such as streetcars (also know as trams or trolleys), cable cars, & trolley coaches. Right outside the front door you can board a historic streetcar for a ride down Market St to Castro St or north up The Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf.
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
As you continue south on The Embarcadero under the Bay Bridge you will enjoy some nice San Francisco Bay views looking towards Oakland and Alameda. Along the way are various parks, piers, and restaurants to enjoy.
For example, at the corner of Embarcadero/Brannan St is the Delancey Street Restaurant. It has a nice outdoor patio with view and a large inside dining room. Behind it is Crossroads Cafe, 699 Delancey St, a coffee shop with well priced home-made food and a pleasant outdoor patio. These restaurants are both part of a training school for the nation’s biggest, best, self-supporting, self-help organization for assisting ex-convicts, drug abusers and others in serious trouble with no place else to go. Here they can obtain the attitudes and training necessary to start a decent life. Delancy Street is an impressive effort and well worth supporting … at the least by enjoying their services.
City Kayak, Pier 40, Embarcadero/Townsend, rents kayaks from a van. Though service can be sporadic it’s a nice beginner/intermediate kayak trip to McCovey Cove behind the AT&T Ball Park.
SF Giants AT&T Ball Park
Walking around baseball park at the southern end of The Embarcadero is fun. See McCovey Cove where Barry Bonds hit 35 home runs that “splashed” into the Bay.
If there is a game you can watch it for free through the fence from behind right field. Better yet go inside and enjoy baseball at one of the most sensational ball parks in the world; we like the food and the upper deck Bay view.
Two blocks southeast is the SF Caltrain Station, 4th St/King St. From here you can take a train south to the SF Peninsula, catch the N Judah Metro line back up to Embarcadero/Market, or hop on one many bus lines going all over the city.
Mission Creek Park
For a nice extension to a walk or bike ride south down The Embarcadero, follow Mission Creek from McCovey Cove inland to Mission Creek Park. You will find Philz Coffee shopnearby as well, at 4th St. & Berry St.
The Embarcadero neighborhood in San Francisco is something many tourists never see or even hear about. However, local residents know that it as an fabulous place to get some nice walking/biking/skating in while experiencing a marvelous Bay setting.
- Map of The Embarcadero – Best things to do there
- South of Market & map – Other things to do south of Market Street (i.e., SOMA).
- Mission Creek Park – a nice park at the south end of The Embarcadero
- SF Giants Childrens Play Area – Free play area inside AT&T stadium
- Back from The Embarcadero Neighborhood to SF Neighborhood Guide
- Top of page or Home page