San Francisco Bay – What You Need To Know BEFORE You Visit

(Last Updated On: May 10, 2023)

The San Francisco Bay is a massive tidal estuary located in California and serves as the centerpiece of the San Francisco Bay Area, with the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland situated around it.

This estuary is responsible for draining water from around 40% of California and receives its water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, as well as the Sierra Nevada mountains through Suisun Bay.

Suisun Bay then journeys through the Carquinez Strait and meets the Napa River at the entrance to San Pablo Bay.

From there, San Pablo Bay connects to San Francisco Bay at its southern end before flowing out into the Pacific Ocean via the Golden Gate strait.

History of San Francisco Bay

The Ohlone people were the original inhabitants of San Francisco Bay, long before European exploration of the region. The first recorded European sighting of the Bay is credited to N. de Morena in 1579. However, it was Gaspar de Portolá who is credited as the first known European to discover the Bay in 1769. Juan de Ayala became the first European to enter the Bay in 1775, and the region was later acquired by the United States from Mexico during the Mexican-American War in 1846.

The Bay became the hub of American settlement and commerce in the Far West in the 19th century, with California joining the United States as its 31st state. In 1910, the Dumbarton Rail Bridge became the first bridge to cross the Bay, and the Save the Bay movement was founded in 1960 to stop further filling of wetlands and the Bay in general. Despite this, San Francisco Bay continues to support some of the densest industrial production and urban settlement in the United States, with an estimated 7 million residents in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Reber Plan of 1959, which proposed to fill in parts of the Bay to increase industrial activity, was a controversial subject in the Bay’s history. Nevertheless, San Francisco Bay remains a major center of economic activity and a defining feature of the Bay Area. The Bay’s rich history and ecological significance make it a unique and important part of California and the United States as a whole.


  • Tamara M

    Hey there! My name is Tamara, welcome to my little world! I’m a 20-something-year-old from Toronto, Canada (though I’m rarely there) and I’m super passionate about exploring the world, photography, and cooking delicious plant-based recipes. I created this blog to share my favorite places, adventures, restaurants, accommodations, and travel tips with all of you and keep a bit of a travel diary for myself.

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