6 Things to do on San Francisco Bay this Summer

Summer in the City by the Bay

Summer is here! In San Francisco, that means Karl the Fog is back and with it, steady winds and sailing. Thousands of tourists from all over the world vacation in the “City by the Bay” to enjoy breathtaking sights, incredible food, and learn about our rich history.  San Francisco Bay is a world-renowned sailing destination and you should definitely find time to get out on the water during your stay. Like any metropolis, there are tons of exciting attractions and landmarks to visit but the best views of the city are from a boat. To make your sightseeing decisions easy, here is a list of crew-approved, water-based activities that will delight everyone in the family.

Sail an America’s Cup yacht

1. Go Sailing in San Francisco

Hop aboard USA 76! Of course, we are a bit bias here but don’t miss sailing on USA 76. ACsailingSF offers one of the most unique sailing experiences in the world aboard a retired America’s Cup racing yacht. Step aboard this carbon fiber yacht and take on the same tasks that the professional sailors did when the yacht raced in New Zealand during the 2003 America’s Cup. After hoisting the behemoth sails, you’ll have the chance to take the helm and steer the yacht along the city front and under the Golden Gate Bridge. We offer many public trips to suit busy sightseeing schedules including morning, afternoon, and sunset sails. Take a look at our ticketed trips page to reserve your spot.

2. Visit Alcatraz Island

Visit Alcatraz Island. Otherwise known as “The Rock”, this former prison is one of the most popular landmarks in the Bay Area. The island was discovered by Spanish Explorers in 1775, by 1850 the US military used it to house cannons and in 1934, it was turned into a maximum-security prison. Amongst its many infamous prisoners were Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Public Enemy No 1. Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz. Sure, the only way on and off the island is by ferry-boat, but a tour of the island prison is well worth the trek to get there. Get your Alcatraz Tickets here.  

USA 76 carbon fiber yacht in San Francisco in from of Alcatraz
Visit Alcatraz Island

3. Visit Sausalito, Tiburon, and Oakland by Sailboat

Explore the Bay by luxury sailboat. There are plenty of small and medium-sized sailboats available for charter for intimate groups from 2-20 people. Ask your captain to visit a local dock and dine restaurants like Sam’s Cafe in Tiburon or The Trident in Sausalito. Docking or mooring at Angel Island is also a popular day trip. One of our favorite private charter boats is Fine Day for Sailing. Captain Heather Richard is a former crew member on USA 76 and knows the Bay very well.

4. Take a Scenic Ferry Ride

Take a Ferry Ride. If you plan to visit Sausalito, Tiburon or Angel Island, a ferry ride to or from your destination is the way to go. The SF to Sausalito ferry was voted number 5 in Budget Travel’s Most Scenic Ferry Rides in 2009. With the Golden Gate Bridge stretching out on one side of the boat and the city front sprawling out on the other, you’ll agree. Visit Golden Gate Transit to check the schedule and plan your trip.

Take a ferry to Sausalito and Tiburon.

5. Visit the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39

Visit the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39. Did you know that the SF Bay approximately 50% saltwater and 50% freshwater? Did you know that sharks live in its murky waters? While more of an “in the water” attraction, the Aquarium of the Bay is a great activity for all ages. Amongst jellyfish and sea otter exhibits, this aquarium features all the creatures that live in the waters of the Bay Area. Tickets and hours are here.

6. Go Whale Watching in the Pacific Ocean

Go whale watching. During their annual migrations, grey whales, humpbacks and blue whales make a pit stop near the Gulf of the Farallones and the Golden Gate Straits. It’s not uncommon to see humpback whales breaching under the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco Whale Tours is our neighbor at the docks and provides daily trips offshore in search of cetacea activity. While offshore you’ll see other sea creatures like jellyfish, mola mola, harbor porpoises, sea lions, and a plethora of sea birds. Book your whale watching trip here and prepare for an oceanic adventure with Whale Girl, a local naturalist (she’s also crew on USA76).

Whale Watching in the Pacific Ocean. Photo by Whale Girl.