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Take the New Ferry to San Francisco’s Treasure Island

Take the New Ferry to San Francisco’s Treasure Island

Discover city views and an up-and-coming dining scene just a 10-minute boat ride from The Embarcadero

Posted 2 years agoby Tovin Lapan

On March 1, daily service launched from the San Francisco Ferry Building to a new terminal on Treasure Island, the man-made land mass that connects the two sections of the Bay Bridge. The ride on the 48-passenger boat is just 10 minutes, but the panoramic vistas stretching from the Oakland shipyards to the Marin Headlands alone are worth the $10 round-trip fare. Tickets can be purchased online. There is an enclosed lower deck where the bulk of the 48 seats are located. On sunny days, bring your camera and grab one of the handful of seats on the open upper deck for spectacular photo opportunities of the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the San Francisco skyline with freighters and sailboats passing by.   

Treasure Island, named for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, was created in 1936, just prior to hosting the World’s Fair from 1939 to 1940. Soon after, in response to World War II, the island was converted to a U.S. Navy base. The Navy moved out in 1997, and today there’s a small residential community and many of the old hangars have been repurposed for commercial use, like beer brewing and winemaking.

At just under one square mile, the island has a distinct small-town feel with a lot more activity and action on the way. The new ferry is a sign of what’s to come: The service is an early step in a $6 billion redevelopment plan to add 8,000 homes and three hotels to the island in addition to restaurants, parks, and retail areas.

Things to Do on Treasure Island

Get a crash course on the island’s creation and development at the Treasure Island Museum. Located directly across from the ferry terminal in an old Navy administrative building now part of the National Register of Historic Places, the free museum offers self-guided island tours and special programs on Saturdays. Outside are four statues preserved from the World’s Fair—figures representing major regions of the Pacific.

The island is flat and walkable, but to pack more activities in less time, stop by A Tran's Bay Bike Shop, located on the administrative building’s ground floor. Owner Tammy Powers rents bikes for $25 for up to three hours; call ahead for reservations. Alternatively, walk less than a half-mile to the Treasure Island Sailing Center, where kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals are offered in addition to sailing programs for all ages.


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Dining and Drinking

Enjoy hearty fish chowders and double-stacked burgers along with creative cocktails at Mersea, a lively spot boasting unobstructed views of the city and nearby islands. Located just a half-mile from the ferry terminal, the restaurant is fashioned from 13 shipping containers that encircle an outdoor seating area with picnic tables, a bocce ball court, and a putting green. (Listen to Mersea owner MeeSun Boice’s Treasure Island recommendations on the “How to Hack San Francisco” episode of the California Now Podcast.)

After shuttering its original Treasure Island location during the pandemic, Woods Beer and Wine Co. recently reopened Woods Island Club, a bar with indoor and outdoor seating within the administrative building lobby. Open Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.

Aracely Cafe boasts a patio with an outdoor fireplace and serves brunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Feast on house-made pastries and bread, or entrees such as croissant French toast—topped with dulce de leche cream cheese, cranberries, and caramelized peanuts—or pan-seared tri-tip served with truffle Parmesan fries and chimichurri.

Located in the former Naval firehouse, Treecraft Distillery whips up a variety of spirits, including vodka, a trio of different gin flavors, and rum in a 500-gallon custom copper still. They also make a chocolate bourbon using cold-macerated cocoa nibs from San Francisco’s celebrated Dandelion Chocolate. Guided six-flight tastings are offered on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. for $15 per person. No reservation is needed for parties of six or fewer.

For an ultra-efficient wine tasting experience head to Treasure Island Wines, a collective of a half dozen brands housed in a former Navy commissary. Try everything from Chardonnays to Syrahs, many made from certified sustainable or organic Sonoma and Napa Valley grapes.