Get your open-water fix, fast and cheap, from an all-day ferry trip amid breaching orcas to a 10-minute ride on California's last family-owned operation
Onboard: You’d think the highlight of crossing the bay would be the big finale, pulling up in San Francisco with the downtown skyline as backdrop. But the part that makes my kids fight for railing space is the slow chug past the enormous trans-Pacific cargo ships at the Oakland docks. From the ferry’s outside deck we watch the cranes stack shipping containers one by one into what looks like an oversize, patchwork-colored Lego fortress. Past the docks, the ferry picks up speed in the open water, then passes under the belly of the Bay Bridge.
On land: Walk off the boat and into one of the world’s great food courts, San Francisco’s Ferry Building. Noodles from the Slanted Door, the slow-cooked pork sandwich from Il Cane Rosso—no one gets back on that boat hungry. $6.25;