San Francisco Bay Cruises – We Pick The 15 Best Experiences

It's a city built on the power of water, framed by the majestic Bay Bridge and the stunning Golden Gate Bridge as well as the waters of the San Francisco Bay. It's no wonder that there are so many cruises to choose from. Take a cruise as the sun sets, or a late brunch to sip champagne while you sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Or chose a cruise that includes a helicopter tour.

We definitely recommend a bay cruise to first-time visitors and to those who simply want to view San Francisco in a different way. On the cruises we review and recommend you can dine in California style, travel solo, or bring the family. Cruise by day, cruise by night or combine your cruise with other activities like whale watching or a trip to Alcatraz.

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Classic Cruises of San Francisco Bay

Classic Cruises of San Francisco Bay

Most of the classic daytime cruises we prefer sail under both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. We recommend four classic cruises as great ways to get a sense of the city and the bay.

Take to the water to explore San Francisco's history, landmarks, architecture, natural history, and American Indian culture on these informative and picturesque outings. Cruise along the city's waterfront, from the Golden Gate Bridge to beyond Treasure Island. Here is our guide to four of the best classic tours of the bay, as well as three tours you can get for free!

San Francisco Bay Adventures

San Francisco Bay Adventures

Say "ahoy" to your captain and set out for a whale watching adventure from the deck of a eco-friendly catamaran.

The Pacific Coast off San Francisco is teeming with diverse marine life including dolphins, porpoises, sea birds, sea lions and whales. Along with spotting this abundant sea life, you also have a chance to admire the city skyline on your search for pods of migrating whales.

Or, if you feel the need for speed, sign up for a fast ride on a RIB boat ride that takes you closer than you can imagine to the seal lions of Pier 39. Those are only two of the adventures we explore in our guide. Bring your camera, your sense of adventure and, most importantly, a set of warm clothes and waterproof shoes.

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Evening Cruises – With Brunch, Dinner & Champagne

Evening and Cruises

Take in the exquisite views of the city from the bay on a leisurely dinner, champagne or brunch cruise. Your boat sails past the city skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Angel Island. All of these preferred cruises include our favorite beverage — champagne — and include brunch or dinner, maybe dancing and live music, offering up the best of Northern California cuisine.

Did we mention the helicopter?

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