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San Francisco Ferry Building: Shopping, Dining and History

February 27, 2013 - 4:14pm
San Francisco Ferry Building: Shopping, Dining and History

A senior travel tour that passes through San Francisco is not complete without a trip to the Ferry Building Marketplace. This iconic transportation hub is the ideal place for travelers who love to include shopping and local culture in their affordable travel packages. In addition to the many shops, restaurants and cafes located here, there is also a historical element that awaits visitors at the Ferry Building, as it has been a landmark of the city for well over 100 years.

History of the Ferry Building
This landmark was built in 1898 as an addition to the Ferry House, which had been welcoming travelers from all around the country since 1875. The building was designed by architect A. Page Brown, who added a hard-to-miss clock tower that he styled after Spain's 12th century Seville Cathedral. Inside the original two-story structure, visitors may notice the many arches and skylights that make the whole place feel almost like an open-air market.

This was the busiest hub in San Francisco for some time, as it was the only way for travelers and Peninsula residents to reach the city until the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges were built in the 1930s. At its peak, the Ferry Building saw as many as 50,000 travelers per day. Today, it is often crowded with those arriving by ferry, train, bus and foot to explore the many shops and eateries. According to Time magazine, the structure was renovated in 2003 to preserve the original building and also create more space on the second and new third floors.

Cafes, Restaurants and More
Those who plan to visit the Ferry Building Marketplace should make sure to come hungry, as there are many dining options that range from a classic American burger-and-shake joint, Gotts Roadside, to small cafes like Blue Bottle Coffee, Boulette's Larder and Cowgirl Sidekick. Time indicates that Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant, is a can't-miss but almost always has a wait, even if travelers make reservations, so visitors may want to put their names on the list and then check out some of the nearby shops while they wait for a table. Travelers can find almost anything under the sun at the Ferry Building, whether they're looking to pick up some fresh produce or they want to bring a bottle of wine or a unique set of tableware home from their trip.

Right on the coast of the San Francisco Bay, this destination makes the perfect addition to retirement cruises. The unique shopping experience is fun and exciting, as travelers can sample local cuisine from the home-grown businesses while they watch ferries docking and leaving port. Should they have the time, guests can also embark on a ferry trip across San Francisco Bay to get a truly spectacular view of the Ferry Building and the San Francisco skyline.