When I initially arrived in San Francisco, I knew the first place I’d go (apart from my hotel) was Fisherman’s Wharf. Yes, it is touristy, but I loved it! It was not anything close to Times Square and there were so many things there that I wanted to see and do.
Fisherman’s Wharf did not disappoint — I would return in an instant. It may be because I love the water. I didn’t go in because it was too cold, but the sun was shining down with a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and that was enough for me.
My day was spent there before attending the Women’s Travel Fest Pre-Party — here’s what I recommend seeing and doing if you just have a few hours:
1. Get a view of the Golden Gate Bridge
When you arrive here, you cannot pass seeing a view of the Golden Gate Bridge which is very wide to say the least! I enjoyed it from east of Aquatic Park down Hyde Street Pier. You can rent a bicycle and get a closer look also. It was really windy the day I was there so I decided to skip out on that since my hair was all over the place.
2. Go to the beach
Aquatic Park, right at the west end of Fisherman’s Wharf has a cove beach where you can go swim, have a picnic, or grab a seat in the park just to be.
At the terminus of the Hyde Street Cable Car line on the San Francisco Waterfront, Aquatic Park Cove includes a tiny sandy beach and a grass park. The cove is located between Fisherman’s Wharf at the north end of Hyde Street and Van Ness Avenue. Boats are permitted to anchor in the cove’s sheltered harbour. It is protected by a long, curving municipal pier, which should not be overlooked if you have time to go out on it.
3. Take the ride to Alcatraz, or get pictures at least!
Alcatraz, the famous prison where many fled and were never found, is located just yards north of Fisherman’s Wharf! Take a boat over, but you need to book at least 90 days in advance since tickets sell out. Use online services to book, such as AlcatrazCruises.com or Viator.com.
4. Sleep in the Bunk Beds of USS Pampanito
During WWII, this retired submarine played an important role, sinking six Japanese ships and damaging many more. It presently stands (or floats) as a Natural Historic Landmark, with a broom serving as a flag to symbolise its “clean sweep” when on patrol.The interiors are museums that invite visitors of all ages.
You’ll get to tour the various areas of the submarine and discover how everything works—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up! There are numerous things to see and try when exploring the submarine, from the torpedo chamber to the periscope. You may even participate in an educational program that allows you to spend the night in one of the numerous bunk beds!
5) Visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum
The Museum is a two-story facility with 11 galleries and over 300 bizarre and fantastic exhibits. All collections feature various people and creatures from many civilizations, including tribal items acquired from throughout the world, strange and zany art, and so on. A terrific way to spend an hour since you can read intriguing tales, view odd items, and try out some exciting things like the neon wheel and the enormous kaleidoscope… and snap tonnes of photographs!
If you have an hour or two and want to do something inside, this is a wonderful museum of curiosities. You’ll get a full burst of fun here, from shrunken heads to two-headed shards and everything in between, and kids under 5 are free. While there, be sure to see the Niagara Theatre exhibit, which features people who have faced the falls. Take a trip around the museum’s cemetery as well to see the amusing gravestone carvings.
6. Grab some In-N-Out Burger
Unless you’re a vegetarian, how can you pass this up? I went in just for 1 cheeseburger to satisfy my craving, and then had to move on to some seafood. Get a whole meal, or just a taste cuz it’s that good.
7. Grab some seafood or other food down the waterfront
Wherever you end up wanting to eat, there are so many restaurants to choose from lined up and down the waterfront. Many piers have restaurants towards the end where you can get another view for the sunset or boats.
I decided on the open crab face sandwich at Eagle Cafe down Pier 39. They had happy hour too for $4 Samuel Adams, $5 Margaritas and I think shots too… It was not too crowded and they had some interesting twists on seafood there. $1.50 oysters were available too!
8. Take a seat and see east of San Fran
Walk down to the east end of Fisherman’s Wharf, past Pier 39, and grab a view of the Bay Bridge as well as mainland California where you can see Oakland and Berkeley. People watch, read a book, take in some relaxation time for yourself.
What is Fisherman’s Wharf known for?
Fisherman’s Wharf derives its name and neighbourhood characteristics from the early days of San Francisco, when Italian immigrant fisherman came in the mid to late 1800s. The fisherman took advantage of the increased population movement to the city as a result of the gold rush.
Pier 39, renowned waterfront restaurants, Ghirardelli Square, the San Francisco Maritime Museum, Musée Mécanique, the Cannery Shopping Center, a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, and the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf are all located at Fisherman’s Wharf.
But San Francisco’s birth story goes under the superficial allure of spectacular seascapes, five-star restaurants, and crowded attractions. Even locals are unaware of the great history that began here, along the shoreline about 100 years before the Gold Rush.
What You Should Wear on Fisherman’s Wharf?
While San Francisco encourages a varied blend of styles and fashion, the quickest way for a tourist to stand out is to dress inappropriately for the cold, windy, and foggy maritime weather. I recommend dressing in layers and bringing a jacket or sweater. PIER 39 is built of wooden slats that narrow heels can get trapped between, making it especially slippery on a rainy day. Wear either flat shoes with tread or thicker heeled shoes with tread.
When picking what to dress, I strongly advise considering comfort. For example, pants and a shirt, or a casual dress, whatever fits nicely and stays in place without requiring constant pulling. A relaxed you will be a confident and happy you, allowing you to concentrate on your date. Also, be cautious when selecting high heels. If they give you confidence, that’s terrific, but if they make it so you can’t walk comfortably or your heels get trapped in the pier’s wood slats, that’s also a problem.
Can you walk on Fisherman’s Wharf?
A trip down Fisherman’s Wharf may seem rather unique, whether it’s a bright, sunny day or one filled with San Francisco’s famous fog. The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society created the Barbary Coast Trail. It begins near Union Square and is marked on the sidewalk with metal markings.
It finishes at Ghirardelli, although you may change it. There’s an audio tour you can download for a few dollars, as well as a map and book you may buy or borrow from a library. The map is free to download, but I thought the information in the book was worthwhile.
Fisherman’s Wharf is totally worth visiting – what else would you recommend?