Embarcadero street sign in San Francisco, California


The Embarcadero

The Embarcadero is a section of San Francisco that wasn’t always as beautiful as it is today. The palm-lined streets, where travelers can view the Oakland Bay Bridge and public art sculptures as they stroll down the sidewalks, used to be a section of the city ignored by most locals and tourists.

The Embarcadero beauty is a key San Francisco attraction today that almost didn’t happen. From 1950 to 1990, the Embarcadero (which is the neighborhood, but it also stands for the main thoroughfare stretching from AT&T Park to Fisherman’s Wharf), was a giant freeway.

Instead of a welcoming place for San Francisco locals and travelers, the freeway was home to traffic, noise, and pollution.

In bittersweet fashion, though, the 1989 Loma Prieto earthquake destroyed the freeway beyond repair. Only then did the City of San Francisco lower the roadway to provide wonderful views of the bay. Officials also ordered the installation of traffic lights and a road-level streetcar system called the F-line, a popular transit system used in San Francisco today.

In true ugly-duckling fashion, the Embarcadero came soaring back as a delightful promenade for San Francisco residents and tourists alike.

The original meaning in Spanish, “the place to embark,” holds true, but it’s also now a place to jog, walk and enjoy San Francisco attractions such as Pier 39, the Ferry Building, and the Alcatraz Ferry departure point. Most importantly, you now have the fresh San Francisco air to keep you company during your walk. Enjoy!

Embarcadero walkers

How Do I Find The Embarcadero?

  • The Embarcadero is located on the eastern side of the S.F. peninsula along the San Francisco Bay. Most of the city’s historic piers, including the tourist attractions of Pier 39 and Pier 33, are along the busy walkway.
  • Use public transportation routes 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 20, 21, 31, 41, 71, the F-Line, the underground K, L, M, N, T and J, the California cable car line and BART to reach the Embarcadero. The F-line is the most scenic route, though.
  • To reach The Embarcadero from Union Square you can ride the F-Line. During rush hour times, the streetcars can be crowded (with people heading to Fisherman’s Wharf), but other times of day the ride is uncrowded and awesome.

Cupid Span on Embarcadero

Orange Sky Co. says:

Orange Sky SF Logo

The Embarcadero is an open-air promenade along the San Francisco Bay. It’s good for walking, jogging or photos of the Bay and scenery. Wear comfortable shoes and keep your eyes peeled for quirky sights (the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill)

Location of The Embarcadero