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San Francisco’s Most Epic Foodie Bike Ride

man riding a bike through the street of San Francisco

San Francisco is basically an endless hit list of awesome touristy things to do. Like any city, the list is based on food, drink, and culture. But one thing that makes us stand out from most cities is our weather.

I know you’ve heard that Mark Twain said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco but #1 - that wasn’t even Mark Twain, and #2 - whoever did say that was a liar. Our weather is amazing. It's like 70 degrees and sunny year-round (with some fog sometimes, yes) but the point is that we have the best biking weather. And this is the best bike route in San Francisco. If you’re a tourist, the stops on this ride are most likely on your list - but they’re fun for locals too!

Here is the itinerary for the epic-yet-leisurely 10-mile, 10-stop bike ride that I go on whenever someone visits me from out of town and I want to show them our POIs. It’s arguably the most scenic bike ride in San Francisco (and one of the safest) - mostly an Embarcadero tour, starting at Oracle Park and ending in Sausalito. And yes, we bike across the Golden Gate Bride.

So let’s get some sun and some exercise while on our tour of perpetual indulgence!

Table of Contents

1. Start at Oracle Park

If you have your own bike, start the ride at Oracle Park - home of San Francisco’s Major League Baseball team, the Giants. Check out the yachts in the South Beach Harbor, the Seals Statue, and look across McCovey Cove at San Francisco’s newest neighborhood, Mission Rock. It’s the sunniest neighborhood in the City and is developing fast so look out for any new coffee spots in the area (Arsicault will be moving in soon!), but save your appetite because this is a foodie bike ride - we’re going to eat and drink all day.

(If you need to rent a bike skip to the next step)

2. Frankie's Java House and The Bike Hut

Let’s not wander too far before we get something in our stomachs. Frankie's Java House has a deal where you can get a hot dog and a beer for $7! That, paired with rustic maritime ambiance is the breakfast of champions. If it’s too early for hot dogs they also serve burgers, sandwiches, and seafood dishes. This spot has great food but it also has a storied history in San Francisco, as one of the oldest surviving establishments in the area, dating back to the 1940s.

If you need to rent a bike do it at The Bike Hut, next door to Frankie’s. Note that they don’t open until 11:30, and that the owner is very relaxed and sometimes takes ½ hour or more to rent a bike so you should put in your bike order before hitting up Frankie’s.

3. Waterbar

Okay, we’re not getting too far yet, but this route has a lot of great places to stop at; we’re not in a rush! Within a mile’s reach, Waterbar is another well-known, maritime restaurant with the “best views in The Bay,” so we’re here for it.

One of Waterbar's standout features is its oyster bar, where you can try a variety of oysters from both the east and west coasts. The restaurant takes pride in its extensive oyster selection and knowledgeable staff who can answer all your oyster-related questions. You can’t go wrong with either the oyster bar or the outdoor seating, where weddings are sometimes held.

Waterbar is famous for its amazing $1 oyster happy hour daily, from 2:30-5:00 PM, which is too late for this part of the trip but it’s even more beautiful in the evening so keep that in your back pocket for on the way back.

4. The Ferry Building

The Ferry Building was built in 1898 and served as the main transportation hub for ferry commuters traveling between the City and the north and east bays since before the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges existed!

Today, the Ferry Building is home to a bougie-yet-nostalgic marketplace; a bustling food hall and shopping destination with artisanal eats, restaurants, cafes, and shops that showcase the best of Northern California's offerings. You can find everything from fresh produce, gourmet cheeses, and local seafood to specialty chocolates, wines, and baked goods and, on Saturdays, the farmers market takes over the entire exterior of the building.

The famous Hog Island Oyster Co. has a location in the Ferry Building and, while getting seated could cut in detrimentally to our epic bike day schedule, you can order oyster and champagne service outside and partake while admiring the maritime vibe - a better option given that we’re in biking clothes with helmets and such.

5. Pier 39

While this is our most touristy stop, you can’t pass by Pier 39 and not go for a quick stroll through the pier and by the seal lions. Take in the lively and vibrant atmosphere, views of the Bay, Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the city skyline.

Grab some saltwater taffy or hop over to Fisherman's Wharf for a world-famous clam chowder in a San Francisco sourdough bowl, but whatever you do, do not miss the sea lions. These water puppies are famous here after they began appearing at the pier in the late 1980s and remain a beloved fixture of this city. You can watch these playful and noisy creatures basking in the sun on floating docks at the K-Dock at the end of the pier.

6. Buena Vista Cafe

You are now approaching the Buena Vista Cafe - an iconic establishment founded in 1916 and renowned for its contribution to the popularization of the Irish Coffee in the United States.

If you’re not familiar, an Irish Coffee is hot coffee with Irish whiskey, sugar, and a very generous dab of cream on top. Whether or not the Irish Coffee was actually invented here, as claimed, Buena Vista is a beloved San Francisco tradition.

You’re right next door to Ghirardelli, if you’re craving a Sundae, but the best advice is to stay light so that you can make it up the hill to our next stop.

7. Great Meadow Park at Fort Mason

Congratulations! You made it up the hill to the Great Meadow Park at Fort Mason. Now it’s time for the mid-trip R&R. Bust out the sarongs, Four Point beers, and speaker that you brought with you and get ready to be attacked with love by 1,000 Fort Mason-regular dogs. Sit back, chill out, and watch the college kids play drinking games on the giant lawn with views of the Golden Gate Bridge behind you.

Pro Tip: Check for events happening at Fort Mason - they have an amazing artisan fair called West Coast Craft, and the elusive El Sur Empanada truck has reportedly been sighted there lately.

8. Golden Gate Bridge

You are now in the GGB era of your life. She’s in your view for the next few miles, as you approach the lookout point, and then continue on over the bridge. Enjoy it! Obviously stop at the lookout point for pics but it’s also a great proposal spot so keep an eye out for those, as well.

Once you get out of the barracks and onto the bridge be wary of the wind - it has been known to knock water bottles out of hands and blow bikers’ hair into their faces, making for unsightly pictures.

If you happen to embark on this trip on a foggy day, don’t be discouraged. The sun is nice but meeting celebrities is nicer and you, my friend are meeting San Francisco’s most famous weather celebrity, Karl the Fog. No, really, he even has his own Insta with 275k followers.

9. Bar Bocce, Sausalito

Follow the signs (and the crowds) to find your way from the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco’s wealthier and more upscale neighbor, Sausalito. Take your time on the way in - you’ll have a vantage point of the City that you can’t get from anywhere else.

After you park your bike in the designated bike parking lot next to the ferry station - the only place you’re allowed to park your bike in Sausalito (I told you they’re bougie) and get your ferry ticket, head to Bar Bocce, an al fresco restaurant that serves pizzas, sharable Italian-inspired plates, seafood, and - Bocce Ball courts! They don’t take reservations and they do get packed on weekends so go put your name in before you go shop around this adorable little town.

If the wait is just too long, never fear - Joinery is a close second option and is right next door. They do counter service and have a patio right in the middle of the harbor, so you really can’t go wrong.

10. Floating Homes

Now to my favorite part of the trip - the floating homes of Sausalito. Not houseboats. Floating homes. The locals will be sure to correct you if you get it wrong. The floating homes are a unique and charming part of the city's waterfront community and their history dates back to the mid-20th century.

During and after World War II, surplus military houseboats and other vessels were repurposed into floating homes in the city's waterfront areas. Over time, these homes evolved into unique and eclectic communities, attracting artists, bohemians, and individuals seeking an unconventional, waterfront lifestyle.

The floating homes range in size and stylistic taste, from small houseboats to multi-story floating residences. Many of them have been creatively customized and renovated by their owners, resulting in a fascinating mix of designs and aesthetics.

Visitors enter the docs from time to time but access varies depending on factors such as local regulations and the preferences of the dock's residents. It is a sight to behold so check our link below and either set up a tour or make sure you’re visiting a public doc that’s cool with having visitors.

As with all housing in the Bay Area, these floating homes are in high demand and have price tags to match.

11. A Slight Detour

If you have energy to spare check out the Fort Point military barracks. Clubhouse-style lodge, Travis Marina bar is hidden on the edge of the harbor in Horseshoe Cove. Outfitted in aging wood and military and yacht mementos, this secret haunt has a full service bar with draft and bottled beer, liquor, and wines, as well as some basic pub fare.

On the other side of the parking lot is the Presidio Yacht Club - a more lofi version of it's former self from 1959. The club and is active in Bay Area yacht racing, power and sail cruising, and boating community, and the bar is cute and inviting.

12. The Ferry - a Bittersweet Goodbye

The ferry schedule has been a little dicey since the pandemic so best practice is to make sure you get your ticket as soon as you get into Sausalito. At the very least, check out the schedule in person and plan your trip back. The kiosk is right next to the park parking lot so you’ll be there anyway.

It’s common on the San Francisco Epic Bike Trip to take the last ferry, which is around 5:00 or 6:00, depending on the season. The ride is about 40 minutes and is beautiful. You get up-close and personal with Alcatraz and see more City views (you can never have too many City views). You’ll disembark at Pier 39 and either return your bikes or continue on with the night on 2 wheels.



A few FAQs about this bike ride:

1. Can you ride electric bikes?

You can start this journey on an electric bike but it will stop working once you get to Fort Mason. We did this once and we ended up cutting the trip short so I don't recommend it. However, if you have someone in your group that needs to take an e-bike they do have the option to call an Uber at Fort Mason and meet you in Sausalito.

2. Are city bikes good for long rides?

They’re perfectly fine to ride but can get expensive. Make sure you get a day pass so you know how much you’re going to spend.

3. How long does it take to bike across the golden gate bridge?

The actual ride across the bridge can be as fast as 10 minutes but you should stop and take pictures and take in the scenery. Don’t rush, ya know?

4. Why are San Francisco roads so bad?

San Francisco’s entire workforce is mandated to work on the Golden Gate Bridge around the clock so we neglect our roads.

5. Can you ride a bike on the sidewalk in San Francisco?

You’re not supposed to but sometimes it just makes sense.

Pro Tips for Biking in San Francisco :

  1. Pack layers for the famous San Francisco microclimates

  2. Pack a blanket to lay on, a speaker, and some beer or wine (snacks too) for when you stop and hang out in Fort Mason

  3. Download this San Francisco bike tour map before you go

  4. Wear a helmet. It doesn't look cool but it looks cooler than you’ll look with a traumatic brain injury.

If you have any questions let me know in the comments!

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