Party Earth Review One of the biggest reasons vacationers come to San Francisco is to see Fisherman’s Wharf, whose twelve million annual visitors put it squarely on top of the heap when it comes to the city’s destinations. Encompassing a... ... read full review
The north waterfront running roughly
from Pier 35 on the east to
Van Ness Avenue on the west
San Francisco, CA 94109
MUNI F Line: Jefferson Street & Taylor Street
Area never actually closes, but hours for most shops and restaurants fall within this time
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco –
One of the biggest reasons vacationers come to San Francisco is to see Fisherman’s Wharf, whose twelve million annual visitors put it squarely on top of the heap when it comes to the city’s destinations. Encompassing a waterfront stretch barely a mile long, the area overflows with seafood joints, souvenir shops, sightseers, and snoozy sea lions.
First-timers often start on Van Ness Avenue near the giant Ghirardelli sign – an iconic part of the city skyline – and though the chocolate factory is long gone, cocoa cravers down untold pounds of candy at an official Ghirardelli store in the warehouse-turned-shopping square below.
Steps away, Aquatic Park draws both camera-toters on the hunt for sweeping bay vistas and hardcore swimmers ready to brave the bone-chilling water, while the adjacent Hyde Street Pier and Pier 45 thrill young and old with historic seafaring vessels, including a WWII submarine.
The Anchorage Shopping Center ensures that anyone in need of salt water taffy and I’m With Stupid t-shirts won’t have to walk far, while the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and Wax Museums usually swarm with families enthralled by two-faced cats and effigies of Lady Gaga.
Pier 39, of course, is perhaps the most famous pier in the world, where weekends mean lines outside the over one hundred shops, the carousel and arcade, and the restaurants dishing out chowder-filled sourdough bowls. Amid this bustling maze of kitsch, street performers shuck for a buck, wide-eyed kids ogle jellyfish and sharks at the Aquarium of the Bay, and ticket vendors tout specials for the ferries departing to Angel Island State Park and to Alcatraz, the infamous island prison.
Meanwhile hundreds, sometimes thousands, of sea lions congregate on retired docks just off the Pier, lounging in the sun and probably wondering what everybody’s staring at.
Although most of Fisherman’s Wharf clears out not long after night falls, there’s so much to see, do, and eat that visitors, like the sea lions, keep coming back for more.
Head over to 165 Jefferson Street and pick up a Wharf Pass, or get one here. The pass includes a city tour, a bay cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, and your choice of four additional attractions. You also get discounts at nearly fifty shopping, dining, sport fishing, and tour destinations in the Wharf area.
Tourists of every ilk, families, children, musicians, street performers, swimmers, kayakers, boaters, and photographers. All ages.
Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39, two fully functional WWII-era Liberty Ships and the U.S. Pampanito submarine on Pier 45, Red and White Fleet San Francisco Cruises departing from Pier 43½.
Alcatraz Cruises departing from Pier 33, an arcade, street performers, the Aquatic Park swimming area and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (Beach Street at Van Ness Avenue), a carousel, and crowds of sea lions at Pier 39 (Beach Street at The Embarcadero). The Blue Angels usually fly over the Wharf in October.
The Wax Museum (145 Jefferson Street) and Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum (175 Jefferson Street).
Over one hundred shops.
More than a dozen restaurants with sweeping bay views on Pier 39, including Chowder’s, Hard Rock Café, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
Restaurants outside of the Pier include Castagnola's Seafood & Chophouse (286 Jefferson Street), Nick's Lighthouse (2815 Taylor Street), Pompei's Grotto (340 Jefferson Street), Scoma's Restaurant (Pier 47 on Al Scoma Way at Jefferson Street), and In-N-Out Burger (333 Jefferson Street).
Tourist prices put most restaurants and bars in the mid to upper range. Plentiful hot dog and snack stands offer cheaper fare, though even those prices are higher than average.
Anything goes: Hawaiian shirts, shorts, sandals, comfortable walking shoes, jeans, sweatshirts for when the fog rolls in.
Any sunny day to frolic with throngs of tourists, or toward sunset when the crowds begin to thin out.
The Golden Gate Bridge is just a few minutes’ drive west on Highway 101, and is a must for any visitor looking to tick off the top tourist spots in town.