10 Insider Tips for Taking the Ferry to Sausalito
Two different Sausalito ferry services connect our town to San Francisco, with different boats, schedules and prices. They share the same pier in Sausalito, but their San Francisco terminals are almost 2 miles apart. We have maps, links, videos and lots of reference information below.
The ferry schedules can be confusing. Our easy-to-print Sausalito Ferry Schedule is the only major online chart covering both services. Make sure you choose the right “Weekday” or “Weekend-and-Holiday” schedule, and for the route to the Ferry Building or the route to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Insiders Tip: If you’re hungry when you arrive in Sausalito, there are about 70 different restaurants, cafes, diners and deli’s in our little town. We’ve sorted them into different lists for every taste.
We have 9 Insider Tips below to make your Sausalito ferry trip as fun and convenient as possible:
Tip 1. There are separate lines in Sausalito for bike riders and walking passengers, so don’t get stuck at the end of the bike line if you’re walking. (Click here for more about how the signs and lines work in Sausalito, and you can click here for more information about bringing bikes on the ferries.)
Insiders Tip for Riders with Rented Bikes: From late spring and throughout the summer you don’t have to hassle returning your bike to the shop where you rented it in San Francisco, because there is a Sausalito bike return service next to the ferry pier.
Tip 2. Don’t confuse the line for the ticket machines with the lines for people waiting to board. The Golden Gate Ferry ticket machines are located at the spot where the ferry dock meets the parking lot. They now have some white posts with white chains to show people where to line up for the machines.
But many ferry riders don’t need to use the ticket machines and lose time — or even miss a ferry — waiting in that ticket line. If you are taking a Blue & Gold Fleet ferry to Pier 39 / Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Wharf, or if you’re using a Clipper Card, or if you already have a ticket you can skip that line and just line up to board the ferry.
Tip 3. If you’re in the bike line, don’t despair! Late on summer or weekend afternoons the bike line may seem impossibly long as it snakes back and forth like the lines at Disneyland, but it moves pretty rapidly once they start boarding bikes. But… see Tip 4 below.
Tip 4. Late afternoon voyages from Sausalito in summer and on holiday weekends are packed with bike riders fresh from a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge. If you have a bike, get to the pier early during late afternoons. This is less of an issue for passengers without bikes.
Tip 5. Even during the warmest months in Sausalito, if you want to ride on the outside decks of the Ferry to San Francisco, bring a warm jacket. Inside it’s nice and comfortable, but the breezes on the deck can chill ye to the bones, matey!
Tip 6. There is very little night-time service on the ferries, especially in winter. Miss the last ferry of the evening? We have late bus info below.
Tip 7. Some maps label the Sausalito Ferry pier as a “Sausalito Ferry Terminal” or “Sausalito Ferry Landing.” It certainly is where you land when you step off the ferry, but there are no terminal buildings here, just a dock next to a parking lot in downtown Sausalito.
Tip 8. The two terminals in San Francisco are not that far apart unless you’re in a hurry. Golden Gate Ferry serves the Ferry Building, while Blue & Gold Fleet serves Pier 39 & 41 at Fisherman’s Wharf. If you don’t want to use Uber or Lyft, it’s a beautiful half hour walk (1.4 miles / 2.25 km) between them along the Embarcadero (or a short bike ride) and antique Muni trains connect the two piers with frequent trips. This allows you to mix the two ferry services, since the perfect time for your northbound trip may be on one ferry while your return trip may better align with another. See the Ferry Piers in San Francisco section below. And I will point out that both San Francisco ferry terminals are really terminals and not just piers!
Note: If you’d like to see a timetable where sailings are sorted by time rather than by ferry company you can find that by clicking here.
Tip 9. I was born in San Francisco and raised in Marin County, and I’ve lived in three different Sausalito neighborhoods. No two rides on the Sausalito Ferry are ever the same, so consider traveling at different times of day etc. to see even more beautiful views.
Tip 10. Look for the Sally Stanford Memorial Fountain for people and dogs, where the pier meets the parking lot in Sausalito. It honors Sausalito’s famous (and infamous) former Mayor.
You can learn more about each route by clicking the links below:
Click here for online ticket links and more about the Golden Gate Ferry service from Sausalito to The Ferry Building in San Francisco
Click here for online ticket links and more about the Blue and Gold Fleet Ferry service from Sausalito to Pier 39 / Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco
Ferry Piers in San Francisco & the Muni F Line
The map below shows the Fisherman’s Wharf pier and the Ferry Building and the route between them. It’s a lovely 1.4 mile (2.25 km) walk down the Embarcadero along the shore of the Bay between the two destinations, and the Muni “F” Line trolleys offer an easy and direct connection between the two piers. The walk takes about a half hour.
If you’re exploring the City instead of rushing to a meeting this gives you the chance to experience both ferry services and their very different vessels, and to ride on the antique trolley cars as well. During most of the day the wait between F trains is between 5 and 12 minutes. The train stop at the Ferry Building is in the median island between the lanes of the Embarcadero (Spanish for “embarking point”), the main thoroughfare that runs along the shore of the Bay.
You can also catch the trains at other stops between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf if you want to walk part of the way and then ride, or vice versa. There is a stop at Pier 39, adjacent to Pier 41. Some “F” trolley cars are from Milan, Italy, and others are American classics from San Francisco and Philadelphia. They range in age from about 65 to 85 years old. I’ve been known to change plans about walking along the Embarcadero if an especially cool looking trolley comes along and I’m close to a stop so I’m able to grab it.
Amaze Your Friends with History Department: The Pier 41 site for the Blue and Gold Ferry is very close to the location of the original Sausalito-San Francisco Ferry pier, a private service that began operating in May of 1868. The cable car to carry people over the steep hill to downtown San Francisco wasn’t opened until 1888, 20 years later. On the Sausalito side the old ferry docked one long city block from today’s Sausalito pier, near what today is Yee Tock Chee Park. The original ferry was named the Princess, and was built by a company selling land for homes in Sausalito. Their home locations, logically enough, were near Princess St., which was named after the ferry that docked at the spot where Princess St. reached the Bay.
The Sausalito Ferry Terminal and Pier
Insiders Tip: As shown in the photo below, passengers who are bringing bikes line up in one line, and those who do not have bikes line up in the other, as shown in the photo below. If you don’t have a bike be sure you don’t stand in the bike line, as this will slow you down. Click here for our page about bringing your bike on the ferries.
Links to Transit in Sausalito and SF
As you exit the Ferry Building onto the Embarcadero cross the street in the broad crosswalks and walk straight up Market St. (the broad boulevard leading straight from the Ferry Building into the city) and you’ll see the underground station entrances. Many San Francisco Muni bus routes also stop at the Ferry Building or at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Pier 39 – Pier 41 area. For connecting to bus service in Sausalito, our complete guide to Sausalito bus stops and bus routes is here. A map showing the bus stops near the Ferry pier is here.
Late Night Service on the Sausalito Ferry
Miss the last ferry of the evening? Golden Gate Transit buses serve the transit center at Mission and 1st St. in San Francisco, about five blocks from the Ferry Building. Route 30 runs later routes from Bridgeway (opposite the Ferry Pier at El Portal St.). Buses also run from SF to Sausalito from multiple locations until after midnight. Be sure to check whether the bus you plan to use stops in downtown Sausalito or on Spencer Ave. at the top of the hill, since the District periodically changes routes.
Bicycles on the Sausalito Ferry
Dogs and Other Pets on the Sausalito Ferry
Dog owners with larger breeds must use the Blue and Gold Fleet ferries.
Golden Gate Ferry: Small animals are permitted if they are kept in hand-carried pet carriers. For larger dogs, only assistance animals, service animals and service animals in training are allowed on the Golden Gate Ferries.
Blue and Gold Fleet Sausalito Ferries: Animals are allowed but must be enclosed in a carrier or kept on a leash, and animal owners assume all responsibility (read “legal liability”) for the animal’s actions.
Sausalito to Tiburon Ferry, Sausalito to Angel Island Ferry
There are a small number of sailings of the Blue and Gold ferries each day that connect Sausalito with Tiburon and Angel Island, often just sailing from San Francisco or just sailing from Sausalito, not both ways.
Insiders Tip: Be sure to tell the person who sells you your Blue & Gold ticket what routes you plan to take, to make sure you get to the right place, and to make sure you’re not stranded there if the route does not run again that day.
Alcatraz Ferry, Vallejo Ferry and Oakland-Alameda Ferry
There is no direct ferry service between Sausalito and these locations. Our complete guide to all San Francisco Bay ferries will give you the information you need to take these routes. The Park Service is discussing a one-way link from Alcatraz to Sausalito, but it’s unclear if this will happen.
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