Acting as both the waterfront and major road along the eastern edge of San Francisco, the Embarcadero stretches from Fisherman’s Wharf to South Beach, passing through some of the city’s most popular destinations. It attracts visitors and locals with its restaurants, bars, hotels, tourist attractions, event spaces, bay cruises and ferries, and a wide pathway for walkers and joggers.
You’ll likely find yourself on the Embarcadero at some point during your stay in San Francisco, whether you’re watching the sea lions at Pier 39, hopping on an Alcatraz ferry at Pier 33, visiting the Exploratorium at Pier 15, catching a ferry to Sausalito at the Ferry Building, or taking in a Giants baseball game at AT&T Park. See it from above on a helicopter flight, or explore on two wheels with a bike or Segway tour.
The Central Embarcadero Piers Historic District, which consists of piers 1, 1 1/2, 3, and 5, is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Embarcadero is 3 miles (4.6 kilometers) long, so wear comfortable shoes if you’re planning to walk it.
It’s a busy road, with both vehicle traffic and streetcars, so only cross at designated crosswalks.
Starting at the Ferry Building, odd-numbered piers run north to Fisherman’s Wharf and even-numbered piers run south to South Beach.
How to Get There
The MUNI light rail system runs along Market Street to the Embarcadero, as well as along the southern portion of the Embarcadero itself. If you’re taking the BART, get off at the Embarcadero station. Paid parking lots and metered street parking are available all along the Embarcadero.
When to Get There
Enthusiastic photographers will want to go at sunrise for shots of the sun rising over the bay, while those who want to eat and shop should wait until late morning. Waterfront bars and restaurants near downtown get lively during happy hour—a fun time to mingle with locals. Fourth of July fireworks take place near Fisherman’s Wharf, and an ice skating rink operates at the Embarcadero Center during the holidays.
In the center of the Embarcadero, across from where Market Street ends at the Embarcadero Plaza, the Ferry Building Marketplace is a haven of gourmet goodies and views of San Francisco Bay. Taste your way through the historical building, from cheese and bread to oysters, wine, coffee, and ice cream, or try your luck at getting a table at the Slanted Door, a popular Vietnamese restaurant.