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10 knockout North American ferry routes

By: Matt Hickman on Jan. 28, 2016, 4 p.m.
San Francisco ferry at Sausalito dock

Photo: Bob Shrader/flickr

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Travel by boat

Back before large-scale bridge and tunnel projects made it possible for people to easily get from point A to point B, traversing a body of water aboard a boat was pretty much the only feasible option for 19th and early 20th century commuters.

While their numbers have declined since the rise of bridges and tunnels, numerous ferry systems across North America continue to shuttle commuters across stretches of water, with many serving as crucial lifelines to remote coastal and island communities where the only way in or out is via boat. In addition to acting as vital transportation links, some ferry systems, such as the extensive commuter ferry networks in the Puget Sound and the San Francisco Bay Area (pictured), pull double-duty as hugely popular — and hugely picturesque — tourist draws that offer singular, seagull-laden views of towering cityscapes and breathtaking natural scenery alike. Other ferry systems cater more to seasonal, island-bound vacation hotspots — far-flung locales where getting there is just as memorable as being there.

We've rounded up 10 of North America's most stunning ferry routes, each offering an experience unparalleled by other modes of transportation.