San Francisco/Fisherman's Wharf

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Giant Crab at Pier 39

San Francisco's most popular destination among travelers, Fisherman's Wharf is the tourist center of the city. Its historic waterfront, once the hub of the city's fishing fleet, is still famous for the depth and variety of its harvest and for having some of the best seafood restaurants in the city, with scenic vistas over San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz Island. Here you will also find numerous tourist attractions such as museums, souvenir stores, historical buildings and piers, all competing for attention with the many restaurants, tour operators, peddlers and street entertainers along the docks between Pier 39 and the Municipal Pier of Aquatic Park. The Wharf is located at the northeastern tip of San Francisco, bordered by the bay to the north, Van Ness Ave to the east, and Bay St to the south.

Understand[edit]

Three generations of fishermen have worked on the Wharf since the 19th century and the days of the Gold Rush. Once boasting an impressive flotilla of nearly 500 fishing vessels, the fleet’s numbers have dwindled over time. Today, the boats moored at the Wharf are only equipped to supply San Francisco's restaurants with a small portion of their seafood appetites. Most of the remaining vessels are moored at Fish Alley, close to Pier 47.

Every year the Wharf attracts millions of visitors to its numerous and eclectic attractions including; the sea lions at Pier 39, the Maritime Museum, the chocolate factory at Ghirardelli Square, Hyde St Pier, and of course the infamous Alcatraz. There are also some great vistas overlooking the Bay, and a plethora of restaurants to enjoy them from. Additionally, many people visit the Wharf to either take a ferry or a cruise around the Bay. The Wharf is also home to many events such as the Fourth of July celebrations, Crab Season, and Fleet Week. Being a tourist haven, expect to see large crowds, an abundance of t-shirt stores, novelty museums, and street performers all vying for your attention. Many locals are put off by the crowds on the Wharf, and the seemingly "tacky" nature of many of the tourist stores and attractions. However, all things considered, there is probably enough here to keep everyone happy.

Get in[edit]

Map of Fisherman's Wharf

Getting here on foot or via public transportation are certainly the best options if you are already in or near San Francisco.

By car[edit]

Driving here is easiest (but often slow) by going north on Van Ness Ave (which is part of U.S. Highway 101) up to North Point St (a block beyond Bay), turning right, and then locating a parking space after a few blocks. There are a number of smallish lots, and two major garages near Pier 39, at Stockton and Beach. If you plan to spend much time, you may want to park on a street farther away (but watch the posted limits) and take public transportation to the Wharf.

If you are so inclined and have good brakes, you can go from Van Ness Ave onto Lombard St east, up Russian Hill and down the "crookedest street" in San Francisco. Turn north on any of the streets (except Taylor, because of the cable cars) into Fisherman's Wharf. Stockton St, 2.5 blocks past Columbus Ave, gets you to the garages. Note that pedestrians and cable cars have the right of way.

From the Bay Bridge it is best to get off soon, head north and east towards the Embarcadero, and then go west into the Fisherman's Wharf area. These exits are still being reconfigured to cope with future earthquakes. You'll see the garages across the way near Pier 39.

San Francisco is small, so consider taking a taxi, at a cost of around $10 from downtown, and double the price from outlying areas.

By cable car[edit]

  • The Powell/Mason cable car line brings you a few blocks south of the center of the district, at Taylor and Bay Sts.
  • The Powell/Hyde cable car line brings you to Fisherman's Wharf western end, at the intersection of Hyde and Beach Sts.

Both cable car lines start at Market and Powell, near the BART and Muni station there, pass Union Square, and traverse the charming hills and houses of San Francisco before reaching Fisherman's Wharf.

By streetcar[edit]

  • The historic F streetcar line comes up on Market from Castro Street, turns west at the Embarcadero in front of the Ferry Building, and traverses much of Fisherman's Wharf. You can exit at any of the Market St BART or MUNI Metro stations to catch the streetcar to Fisherman's Wharf.

By bus[edit]

  • MUNI offers several bus routes to Fisherman's Wharf. The frequent 30 Stockton trolley bus and the 47 Van Ness bus go from the Caltrain station to Fisherman's Wharf, using very different routes. The 30 bus goes through downtown, passes Chinatown and North Beach, and then west via North Point St up to Van Ness. The 47 bus takes longer; it goes first through the grubby parts of the SoMa area, then via the Civic Center up Van Ness, and finally east on North Point St. Additionally, the 10 Townsend and 19 Polk also serve the area. The 39 Coit heads up to Coit Tower in North Beach.

By ferry[edit]

Several companies offer ferries serving the piers of Fisherman's Wharf:

On foot[edit]

Due to its proximity to the Downtown area, one of the best ways to get to the Wharf is simply to walk! Eastbound through Fort Mason from the Marina (15 mins), northbound along Columbus Ave from North Beach and Chinatown (25 mins), or from either the Ferry Building or the Financial District, walk northbound along the Embarcadero promenades (25 mins).

Get around[edit]

Fisherman's Wharf is best seen on foot, but there are also pedicabs, horse-drawn carriages, and of course the F-Line streetcar, all of which will take you up and down the Wharf. There are also several companies in the district that rent bikes out to tourists by the hour or for the day, including Bay City Bike, Bike and Roll, and Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals. The California Welcome Center is located on the second level of PIER 39, and they offer visitor maps and information on Fisherman's Wharf which will help you navigate your way around.

See[edit]

The Wharf is a very compact area and attractions are centered mainly along the half-mile stretch of Jefferson St. So, ambling along Jefferson from east to west you’ll discover:

  • Pier 39the Embarcadero at Beach St (located on the eastern fringe of Fisherman's Wharf),  +1 415 705-5500, e-mail: . A 45-acre pier-complex featuring 100 specialty stores, 12 full service restaurants, theater, cruises, live entertainment, and more. Free.
  •    Aquarium of the BayPier 39 (at the foot of Pier 39, on the eastern side),  +1 415 623-5300fax: +1 415 623-5324, e-mail: . Open daily except Dec. 25. Summer hours: 9AM-8PM daily. Most other times M-Th 10AM-6PM, F-Su 10AM-7PM. A nice place and the right size for kids, with an underwater tunnel, where the fish swim above you as you gaze at them, and ponds where you can touch various live marine animals. It's a perfectly decent aquarium, but many locals would recommend you save your money for the fantastic California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. $18 adults; $10 seniors (age 65+) and children (ages 3-11); $50 family (2 adults, 2 children). Children under 3 free.
  • MarinaWest and East Marinas (on both sides of Pier 39), e-mail: . Don't get lost among all the tourist stores, and forget that Pier 39 is a pier after all — so why not check out the impressive flotilla of vessels moored at its 11 docks on either side of the pier. Free.
  •    The sea lionsPier 39's West Marina +1 415 289-7325, e-mail: . A short time after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake struck, these sea lions moved bag-and-baggage into the west marina at Pier 39. There can be as many as 900 sea lions there during the winter months. In the summertime many of them migrate but there is always a steady population at Pier 39's K-Dock all year round. The Marine Mammal Center’s Kiosk is located next to the sea lions where volunteers are happy to answer questions about the mammals. Free.
  •    Street performersthe Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water Center Stage (at the end of Pier 39). Daily Show Times: 12PM, 1:15PM, 2:30PM, 3:45PM, 5PM, 6:15PM, 7:30PM & 8:45PM. Colorful jugglers, magicians, clowns, mimes, and comedians of all descriptions entertain Pier 39 visitors throughout the day. Free.
  •    USS Pampanito SubmarinePier 45 (at Taylor St and the Embarcadero),  +1 415 775-1943, e-mail: . Opens at 9AM daily. Call for closing time. This is a National Historic Landmark — an authentic WWII submarine with many original artifacts on display. Up to 80 personnel ran this submarine and it could be at sea for up to several weeks at a time. $10 adults, $6 seniors, $4 children/active military, free for children under 6. $20 for family of 2 adults and 4 children.
  •    SS Jeremiah O'BrienPier 45 (at Taylor St and the Embarcadero),  +1 415 544-0100fax: +1 415 544-9890, e-mail: . 9AM-4PM daily. Located behind the Pampanito submarine is this WWII Liberty Ship open for tours. The SS Jeremiah O'Brien is the sole survivor of the armada of Allied ships which was involved in D-Day, and one of only two remaining WWII Liberty Ships surviving today (the other being the SS Lane Victory in San Pedro). $8 adults; $5 seniors, $4 children, free for children under 6 and active Military.
  •    Amusing America ExhibitPier 45 (at the foot of Taylor St). 10AM-8PM daily. An fun exhibit that traces the history of amusement attractions in American cities, with a focus on San Francisco. Free.
  •    Musee MecaniquePier 45, Shed A (behind Fisherman's Grotto No. 9),  +1 415 346-2000. M-F 10AM-7PM, Sa-Su and Holidays 10AM-8PM. Has quite an interesting collection of about 300 coin-operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines, that date from the turn of the century.
  •    Fishermen's and Seamen's ChapelPier 45 (Taylor St and Embarcadero). This tiny chapel is a memorial to the "Lost Fishermen"... those that have lost their lives on the seas. Every year they hold a special service to commemorate these fishermen. The annual "Blessing of the Fleet" also starts from here every October. Free.
  •    Madame Tussauds San Francisco145 Jefferson Street 1 855 753-9999, toll-free: 1 855 753 9999. The San Francisco location of the popular wax figure museum. Photograph and pose with your favourite A-listers, sports legends, and pop icons.
  •    Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museum175 Jefferson St (between Mason St and Taylor St),  +1 415 771-6188fax: +1 415 771-1246, e-mail: . Mid June - Labor Day Su-Th 9AM-11PM, F-Sa 9AM-midnight; rest of the year Su-Th 10AM-10PM, F-Sa 10AM-midnight. Set over 2 floors it has over 10,000 square feet of galleries, exhibits, illusions, and interactive displays. $19.99 (ages 13 and older), $9.99 children (ages 5-12).
  •    Fish Alley (turn right off Jefferson at Leavenworth). Don't forget to go and see the real fishing boats at what’s known as Fish Alley — after all it is "Fisherman's Wharf". If you want to see them actually hauling in their catch, you'll have to be there around 6AM to 7AM. Free.
  •    The CanneryDel Monte Square (at the foot of Columbus St),  +1 415 771-3112fax: +1 415 771-2424, e-mail: . Built in 1907 with its award-winning architecture, the Cannery overlooks San Francisco Bay and once upon a time was the largest peach cannery in the world. Today it's a bustling marketplace featuring three levels of restaurants, shops, offices, and live entertainment. In the middle it has a secluded courtyard with outdoor bars and cafes.
  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (begins at the Hyde St pier),  +1 415 447-5000fax: +1 415 556-1624. The park consists of a visitor center, Hyde St Pier and the fleet of historic ships moored there, the Maritime Museum, Aquatic Park, and the Municipal Pier.
  •    Visitor CenterThe Cannery, Del Monte Square (at Hyde and Jefferson, across the street from the bridge),  +1 415 447-5000. June 21 - August 15: 9:30AM-6PM; August 16 - June 20: 9:30AM-5PM. The Visitor Center has a visitor information desk and there are also a bunch of small craft and hands-on exhibits that depict San Francisco's rich maritime heritage. Free.
  •    Hyde St Pier (at the foot of Hyde St). June 21 - August 15: 9:30AM-6PM (last entry 5:30PM); August 16 - June 20: 9:30AM-5PM (last entry 4:30PM). Prior to the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge, this historic ferry-pier was the primary automobile ferry terminal that connected San Francisco with both Marin County and the East Bay. Free.
Balclutha on the Hyde St Pier
  • Fleet of Historic Vesselsmoored at Hyde St Pier (at the foot of Hyde St). Six major ships are on display on the Hyde St Pier. Some are available for a self-guided tour, others by docent-led tours. On payment of the $5 National Park Service fee several can be boarded, depending on tides; kids can join for free. Among the ships you can see are the Balclutha, an 1886 steel-hulled square rigged sailing ship, the Eureka, an 1890 steam ferryboat (which also has an exhibit of antique cars on board), the C.A. Thayer, an 1895 lumber schooner, and the Hercules, a 1907 steam tug. Boarding pass for historic vessels: $5 adults, supervised children under 16 free.
  •    Maritime Museum (located in Aquatic Park at the western end of Fisherman's Wharf),  +1 415 556-3002. Daily 10AM-4PM. Shaped like a ship, this historic building was originally built by the WPA as a bathhouse and served as the Maritime Museum for many years before a recent renovation. The maritime exhibits have been moved to storage and the Visitor Center, but you can enter and view the beautiful underwater-themed murals. Free.
  •    Aquatic Park and Municipal Pier (located at the western end of Fisherman's Wharf). This area was once part of Fort Mason but is now a complex for museums and artisans, and a great place to take a break from the bustle of Fisherman's Wharf. There is a small beach at the foot of the park where you'll see kayakers, kite fliers, swimmers from the nearby Polar Bear Club, and even rock sculptors at work. At the end of the park is Municipal Pier — the closest you can get to Alcatraz on foot or bike. After dark it can be a bit desolate. Free.
  •    Ghirardelli Square900 North Point St (at the corner of Beach St and Larkin St),  +1 415 775-5500fax: +1 415 775-0912, e-mail: . It was officially declared a city landmark in 1965, and today it's still possible to view the remnants of the old chocolate-making machinery there. The square is packed with boutiques, restaurants, specialty stores, and galleries. It also has great views over the Bay. Free.

Do[edit]

"Now that's gotta be heavy"... workers manually turn around a cable car at Hyde and Beach Sts
  • Pier 39 (at Beach St and the Embarcadero). Detailed information listed under the See section above.
  •    Frequent FlyersPier 39 (near the end of Pier 39),  +1 415 981-6300. Su-Th 11AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-10PM. This is an exciting bungee/trampoline combination, suitable for all ages, which allows you to experiment with the dare-devil acrobat inside of you. It's possible to reach heights of up to 20 feet in the air. $10 per session.
  •    Magowan’s Infinite Mirror MazePier 39 +1 415 835-0019. Daily 10AM-. A fun house maze where you can lose yourself in infinite hallways and dead-ends, complete with psychedelic lighting. $5, children 5 and under free.
  •    Players ArcadePier 39 M-3 (at the end of Pier 39),  +1 415 981-6300fax: +1 415 981-6308, e-mail: . Su-Th 10AM-10PM, F-Sa 10AM-11PM. Have some fun in the largest games arcade in San Francisco. Free Admission, price of games varies.
  •    San Francisco Carousel (first level at the Bay end of Pier 39). Crafted in Europe, this fun carousel is famous as the only one of its kind in the US that has artistic depictions of its native town hand-painted onto its frame. $3 per ride.
  •    Boudin Museum and Bakery Tour160 Jefferson St (between Mason St and Taylor St),  +1 415 351-5561. Daily 11:30AM-9PM. Take a tour round the bakery, enjoy some of their interactive exhibits and learn about the history of Boudin.
  • Cable CarPowell-Mason Line from Taylor & Bay or Powell-Hyde Line from Beach & Hyde (at Hyde St and Beach St),  +1 415 981-6300, e-mail: . This is fun way to enter or leave the Wharf area. For your convenience, two cable car lines terminate at Fisherman's Wharf — one at Hyde St & Beach St and one at Bay St & Taylor St. $5 each way ($1 for seniors or disabled before 7AM and after 9PM).
  •    Electric Tour Company Segway & Electric Bike ToursTours depart from the rear parking lot at 757 Beach St (near the corner of Hyde St),  +1 415 474-3130fax: +1 415 885-6070, e-mail: . Segway tours daily 9AM, 12:30PM and 4PM April–October & 10AM and 1:30PM November–March, electric bike tours daily 10AM. Take a 2 1/2-3 hour tour of Fisherman's Wharf on a segway, or ride an electric bike over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, returning by ferry. $70 per person (advanced reservations are required).
  • Walk. Walk and enjoy being a tourist. If it gets too much for you, escape to the west into the Marina and the Presidio. You can always find a bus to take you back.

Bay cruises and ferries[edit]

From Fisherman's Wharf, one has a wide variety of options to explore the city and the Bay by water.

Serenity at Angel Island
  • Angel Island. Angel Island is open from 8AM to sunset year around. Take a ferry to this historic California State Park and wildlife preserve — the "Jewel of San Francisco Bay". Spend a whole day on the largest island in San Francisco Bay, which was once known as the "Ellis Island of the West". There are lots of activities once you get there — picnicking, hiking, biking, boating, camping, and baseball, or just spend a day lounging on one of the many beaches there.
  • Bay Cruises. Bay cruises are very popular 60-90 minute boat tours that usually take you underneath the shadows of the Golden Gate Bridge, around Alcatraz, and along San Francisco's historic 150 year old waterfront. They also offer great views of the city's skyline. Some of them come with lively guides, others with headphone audio equipment. Some cruise providers have extended routes that take you past Angel Island and close to the shores of Tiburon and Sausalito. Others provide alternate routes that sail under the Bay Bridge as far as AT&T Park, along the San Francisco skyline, around Treasure Island, and along Alcatraz Island. Several operators provide specialist cruises of all descriptions including 'Sunset Cruises' and 'Dining Cruises' among others.
  • Ferries. You can also take a simple ferry across the bay to Sausalito, Tiburon, Vallejo, or Alameda/Oakland, and explore on from there.

The following companies provide cruises or ferry service from Fisherman's Wharf.

  •    Adventure Cat Sailing ChartersJ Dock next to Pier 39 (at Beach St and the Embarcadero),  +1 212 209-3370, toll-free: +1-800-498-4228. Cruise times vary — see website. Offers a 90 minute bay cruise on a 55-foot luxury Catamaran and also sunset cruises in the evening. Bay Cruise: Adult: $30, children 6-12: $15, children 5 and under: $2; Sunset Cruise: Adult: $45 (no discount for children) — Sunset Cruise includes light hors d’oeuvres and 2 complimentary drinks.
  •    Alameda/Oakland FerryPier 41 (at Jefferson St and the Embarcadero),  +1 510 749-5972. weekends/holidays only from late May through October. Offering ferry service to Alameda/Oakland and Angel Island. Adults $6.25 one-way, seniors $3.75, children $3.50 one-way.
  •    Blue & Gold FleetPier 39 (at Beach St and the Embarcadero),  +1 415 705-8200fax: +1 415 705-5429, e-mail: . Cruise times vary — see website. In addition to their bay cruise from Pier 39, Blue & Gold Fleet offers ferries from Pier 41 across the bay to Sausalito, Tiburon, Angel Island, Vallejo, and Alameda/Oakland. Blue & Gold Fleet also runs a "RocketBoat", a high-speed cruise of the bay in a sleek red boat. Bay Cruise: adults $24, seniors (62+) and teens $20, children (5-11) $16. RocketBoat: adults $26, seniors (62+) and teens $24, children (5-11) $21. Ferries (price varies by destination): adults $7.75-$12.50 one-way, children $5-$6.75 one-way.
  •    Red & White FleetPier 43½ (Taylor St and the Embarcadero),  +1 415 673-2900fax: +1 415 447-0619. Cruise times vary — see website. They offer a 1 hour "Golden Gate Bay Cruise" which goes under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz, a 2 hour "California Sunset Cruise" which goes around Angel Island, and a 90-minute "SF Explorer Cruise" which goes under the Bay Bridge toward SoMa. Bay Cruise: Adults $22, children/teens (5-17) $16. Sunset Cruise: Adult (18+) $48; and Youth (5-17) $34. SF Explorer Cruise: Adults $34, children/teens (5-17) $22.
  •    San Francisco Sailing CompanyPier 39 Dock C (behind the Aquarium of the Bay),  +1 415 378-4887. Daily 9AM-9PM. Bay tours under the Golden Gate Bridge and private charters and parties with full catering. 90-minute tour, $40/person; private sailboat charters are more.
  •    Vallejo Baylink FerryPier 41 (at Jefferson St and the Embarcadero), toll-free: +1-877-643-3779. Offering ferry service to Vallejo. Adults $13 one-way, seniors/children $6.50 one-way.

Alcatraz[edit]

Alcatraz during Fleet Week

Take note

The National Park Service has an arrangement where a single company is granted an exclusive franchise to travel to Alcatraz. If you want to go to Alcatraz, there is only one company you can travel with, and private boats are forbidden. Recently the franchise was won by the non-union Hornblower Cruises company. The previous company, Blue and Gold Fleet, was a union shop. The union is currently picketing the Alcatraz Cruise to protest the loss of their jobs — only a small number of employees were hired by Hornblower. The union also claims the new cruise is unsafe and that the crews are inexperienced, despite the fact that the NPS and Coast Guard inspects for safety and Hornblower has been a cruise company for over twenty-five years. For the foreseeable future, you can only visit Alcatraz if you are willing to cross this picket line.

   Alcatraz CruisesPier 33, Alcatraz Landing +1 415 981-7625fax: +1 415 986-1721, e-mail: . Cruises start at 9AM and continue throughout the day. Ten to 14 daily departures depending on the time of year. Evening tours offered Thursdays-Mondays. Information on the island can be found on the National Park Service's website. Adults from $26, Children from $16, Seniors from $24.50.

Alcatraz is a decommissioned island federal penitentiary nestled beautifully in the bay. Before it was a prison it served first as a lighthouse (the West Coast's first lighthouse), then a military outpost, and then a military prison. After this, it served as a federal prison for 29 years between 1934 and 1963. Its location was near perfect due to its isolation and the frigid waters and hazardous currents of the bay, which made escape attempts difficult to say the least. Known by its nickname "The Rock", this prison was once home to some of the most notorious inmates in U.S. history. Famous inmates included Al Capone, who served four and a half years here, and Robert Stroud — "The Birdman of Alcatraz," — who spent a long 17 years here. The notorious gangster and bootlegger, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, also served time at the Rock. It was claimed (by the penitentiary) that no one ever escaped from the prison alive, despite 29 separate attempts.

Take a tour and listen to an audio tape in English, Japanese, Chinese, or other languages. The most interesting aspect of the tour is that you can go into the prison and see what it was like to be imprisoned. The tour takes you all around the interior of the prison, including into some of the tiny cells, the segregated cells, the old barber shop and mess hall, and then out into the parade grounds and exercise yard. It might be more interesting if you've watched the movie Escape from Alcatraz and seen what happened in Alcatraz when it was operating as a prison. Tickets for the Ferry to Alcatraz are available at the Alcatraz Cruises website, but they sell out fast so buy in advance. Only one company is allowed exclusive access to dock at Alcatraz.

Events and festivals[edit]

Dungeness Crabs at the Wharf
  • Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Ghirardelli SquareGhirardelli Square (at Beach and Larkin St),  +1 415 775-5500, e-mail: . End of Nov: noon-5:30PM. Why not ring in the holiday season by attending the festivities at Ghirardelli Square. There's theater, live music, and then at the end they decorate the 45 foot Christmas tree with ornaments, lights, and chocolate bars... yum! Free.
  • Crab Season. The festivities and excitement of Crab Season begin in November after a priest has officially blessed the fleet, sending eager crabbers out to land their catch. Local vendors fire up their blackened pots in preparation for the arrival of the delicious, and much sought-after Dungeness Crab. Approximately 1 million pounds of Dungeness are caught every year, ensuring that the feast lasts for several months.
  • Fleet Week +1 650 599-5057, e-mail: . Usually held in the first week of October, it's a tribute to the men and women in the armed forces. A flotilla of Navy ships dock on the Wharf in parade fashion, and there are many free deck tours available from crew members. There are also several air displays by the Navy's Blue Angels, Team Oracle, and the Air Force's F-16 Demonstration Team. Free, although you can pay up to $150 to watch the Air Show from premium select locations along the Marina Green and waterfront area.
  • Fourth of July. 2PM-10PM, 9:30PM fireworks. San Francisco's main Independence Day celebrations take place on Fisherman's Wharf. There is lots of free entertainment during the day, particularly around Aquatic Park and all down Jefferson St. The festivities culminate with an impressive fireworks display from the foot of Municipal Pier, and at the other end of the Wharf from barges moored off the north of Pier 39. Free.
  • Ghirardelli Square Chocolate FestivalGhirardelli Square (at Beach and Larkin St),  +1 415 775-5500, e-mail: . First or second weekend in Sept: Sa-Su noon-5PM. Chocoholics — indulge your decadent side at this annual chocolate fest. Activities include chocolate tasting, chocolate sculpting, chocolate cooking demonstrations, and a chocolate eating competition. Free (chocolate tasting requires ticket purchase: $10-$20).
  • Holiday Festival of Lights. The Holiday Festival of Lights is the official start of the holiday season in the city. Stores hang out decorations and lights and the piers are adorned with shimmering lights. Free.
  • Opening Day on the BayFisherman's Wharf Waterfront +1 415 331-0702. An annual boat parade, held on the last Sunday in April, that signals the start of the Northern Californian sailing season. Up to 200 vessels, decked out in full regalia, participate each year and sail from the Golden Gate Bridge to Pier 39. Impartial judges are on hand to award prizes in several esteemed categories. The event is organized by the Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association. Free.

Buy[edit]

There are five principal shopping centers in Fisherman's Wharf. However, all along the Wharf and its side streets you will find an abundance of souvenir stores, T-shirt stores ("I'm with stupid" and "Alcatraz Outpatient"), electronic stores (digital cameras etc.), candy and sweet stores, jewelry stores, craft stores, and various other specialty stores of all descriptions.

Three of the major shopping centers of Fisherman's Wharf are also attractions in their own right: Pier 39, The Cannery, and Ghirardelli Square, which are all listed under the See section above. Each one has multiple shops to explore.

  •    The Anchorage Shopping CenterAnchorage Square (Leavenworth at Beach St),  +1 415 775-6000 ext 203. Covering just one square block in Fisherman's Wharf, there are over 30 specialty shops and restaurants here.
  •    North Point Shopping Center900 North Point St (between Mason St and Powell St). Less touristy, and set back a few blocks from the actual Wharf, this shopping center contains 15 shops, including a Safeway supermarket, Walgreens drug store, GNC, and Radio Shack, as well as services such as ATMs and 24 Hour Fitness center.

Eat[edit]

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget $10 or less
Mid-range $10 - 20
Splurge $20 or more

Many of the restaurants here are seafood restaurants, so if you're not into seafood at all, it's best to go to any other section of town. North Beach (Italian) and even Chinatown are within healthy walking distances. Many of the older established restaurants have Italian names like "Castagnola's" and "Alioto's" — a reflection on the fact that many of the Wharf's first fishermen were immigrant Italians. Alas, much of the fare available is overpriced, but not all, there are still plenty of places on the Wharf where you can fill up on the cheap. If you're tired of the manic crowds, get take out and bring it up to Aquatic Park where there is lots of room to sit and enjoy your food in peace.

Budget[edit]

A Wharf specialty... Clam Chowder in a bread bowl
  •    Bistro Boudin160 Jefferson St +1 415 928-1849, e-mail: . Su-Th 8AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 8AM-10PM. Home of the sourdough bread with a recipe they've nurtured since 1849, where you can get (among other things) their popular clam chowder in a bread bowl. This is the flagship location of Boudin, where you can shop for gifts here or stroll around their museum to learn about Boudin's history. $15-$30.
  •    Boudin CafePier 39 +1 415 421-0185. Su-Th 8AM-8PM, F-Sa 8AM-9PM. A cafe where you can get Boudin food on Pier 39. $5-$7.
  •    Chowder and crab sidewalk stands200 Jefferson St (at Taylor St). Get clam chowder in a bread bowl, Dungeness crab (in season November through June), fish and chips, shrimp cocktails, calamari salad, etc. from this busy outdoor marketplace. If you're getting a crab, ask for a fresh one and they'll cook it up for you on the spot. $4 and up.
  •    ChowdersPier 39, Building A, Level 1 (at Beach St and The Embarcadero),  +1 415 391-4737, e-mail: . Same hours as Pier 39. Serving fresh seafood cocktails, clam chowder in a bread bowl, fish and chips, sandwiches, and salads. They also have a small "Not so Fishy... " menu for those who don't like seafood. $5-$11.
  •    Darren's Cafe2731 Taylor St (between Beach St and Jefferson St),  +1 415 673-3345. Mo-Su 8AM-4:30PM. Reasonably priced "mom and pop" Vietnamese/breakfast place on the Wharf. They serve Vietnamese dishes, soup, and sandwiches as well as more traditional breakfast options like country potatoes and omelettes. Small but friendly! $6-$9.
  •    In-N-Out Burger333 Jefferson St (near Jones St), toll-free: +1-800-786-1000. Su-Th 10:30AM-1AM, F-Sa 10:30AM-1:30AM. Standard In-N-Out Burger, but it has the distinction of being the only one in the city. They serve "fresh burgers" and fries cut straight from the potato in front of you... it's still fast food, but it's definitely better than the usual fare. This place gets seriously packed but the line does tend to move quickly. $5-$8.

Mid-range[edit]

  •    Cafe Pescatore2455 Mason St (at North Point St),  +1 415 561-1111fax: +1 415 292-4549, e-mail: . M-Th 7AM-10:30AM, 11:30AM-10PM, F-Su 7AM-10PM. A mid-range Italian trattoria that focuses on the staples of Italian food like pasta, pizza, and risottos. It being Fisherman's Wharf, they do have a particular focus on seafood however. $14-$25.
  •    Cioppino's400 Jefferson St (on the corner of Jefferson and Leavenworth Sts, across from the Cannery Building on the bayside of Fisherman’s Wharf),  +1 415 775-9311fax: +1 415 775-7044, e-mail: . Open 365 days a year 11AM-10PM. Family dining with indoor and outdoor seating. Cioppino is a flavorful San Franciscan seafood soup. $14-$27.
  •    Eagle CafePier 39 (at Beach St and the Embarcadero),  +1 415 433-3689, e-mail: . 7:30AM-9PM daily. One of the more reasonably priced places to eat on the Wharf. Traditional fare served. Pancakes are a favorite. $7-$30.
  •    Joanie's Happy Days Diner1329 Columbus Ave (Joseph Conrad Square/Beach St.),  +1 415 928-4343. 7AM-5PM. Good and fresh breakfast and lunch service at a reasonable price. Fast service and big variation result in a full diner every morning.
  •    McCormick and Kuleto's Seafood RestaurantGhirardelli Square, 900 North Point St (at Beach St and Larkin St),  +1 415 929-1730fax: +1 415 567-2919, e-mail: . M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 10:30AM-10PM. A good seafood restaurant that also serves other fare such as pastas and steaks. The restaurant is perched atop Ghirardelli Square and has magnificent views of the bay, as well as a spacious and airy feel inside. $11 and up.
  •    Pier MarketPier 39 (at Beach St and The Embarcadero),  +1 415 989-7437, e-mail: . Winter hours: M-Th 11AM-9PM, F 11AM-10PM, Sa-Su 10:30AM-9PM. Summer hours: M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-11PM, Sa 10:30AM-11PM, Su 10:30AM-10PM. Pier Market is a real market and restaurant at Pier 39. It's definitely one of the better seafood options on the Wharf; the fish always seems to be fresh, the service is fast and friendly, and the prices are pretty low given the quality. $10-$33.
  •    Pompei's Grotto340 Jefferson St (between Jones and Leavenworth),  +1 415 776-9265. 11AM-?? daily. Much quieter, less expensive, and less touristy than the big name Fisherman's Wharf restaurants; excellent food, with an emphasis on seafood and Italian specialties, served by nice people. Still owned and managed by the Pompei family, who started the restaurant in 1946. For those not interested in seafood, they offer two steaks and four chicken dishes, as well as three meatless pasta dishes and a meatless risotto. $9-$30.
  •    Rainforest Cafe145 Jefferson St, Suite 400 (between Mason St and Taylor St),  +1 415 440-5610. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F 11AM-10PM, Sa 11AM-11PM. A jungle-themed restaurant with a wide variety of fare from chicken, seafood, pasta, pizza, and beef. Popular with young children. $5-$24.
  •    Sea Lion CafePier 39 (part of Neptune's Palace at the end of Pier 39),  +1 415 434-2260fax: +1 415 434-4208, e-mail: . 11AM-8PM daily. Good restaurant if you're with kids; it serves fish & chips, fresh seafood entrées, cafe sandwiches, salads, and pasta dishes while watching the sea lions (but expect to pay a "San Francisco Minimum Wage Surcharge" with every meal). $9-$30.

Splurge[edit]

  •    Alioto'sNo. 8 Fisherman’s Wharf (Taylor St and Jefferson St),  +1 415 673-0183. 11AM-11PM daily. Established in 1925 by the Alioto family, it plates Sicilian recipes incorporating the local, fresh seafood. $22-$48.
  •    Castagnola's286 Jefferson St (across from Ripley's and the Wax Museum, and the nearby Ghirardelli Square),  +1 415 776-5015fax: +1 415 776-0463. 11AM-9PM daily. Voted San Francisco’s No. 1 Seafood and Family Restaurant of 1998 by The National Academy of Restaurant Evaluation and The Best of San Francisco Pocket Guide. They specialize in seafood and Italian cuisine, complimented by quality Californian wines. $20 and up.
  •    Crab HousePier 39, Second Level, West Side (at Beach St and the Embarcadero),  +1 415 434-2722fax: +1 415 434-4038. Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM. Voted "Best Crab in San Francisco" and famous for it's "Killer Crab" — 2 pounds of Dungeness Crab! Comes with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. $18-$60.
  •    Forbes IslandSea Lion Harbor — H Dock (between Pier 39 and Pier 41),  +1 415 951-4900. W-Su 5PM-10PM. Fancy a bit of an adventure for your next dining experience? Well, how about dining on a floating island? Forbes Island is a floating wooden island (100 foot by 50 foot) complete with a lighthouse, waterfall, and real palm trees. It was built in 1975 and was originally intended to be a floating home... the creator was inspired by the novel "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." The dining room is partially under water and portholes give you an underwater view from your table. It's moored about 100 yards from the sea lions at Pier 39 and a pontoon ride will have to take you there and back... so don't drink too much! The cuisine is French. $30-$45.
  •    Nicks Lighthouse2815 Taylor St (at Jefferson St),  +1 415 020-1300fax: +1 415 989-1544. Su-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. Warm and aromatic Italian restaurant serving popular family fare. $12-$37.
  •    No. 9 Fisherman's Grotto2847 Taylor St (Taylor St and Jefferson St),  +1 415 673-7025, e-mail: . Su-F 10AM-10PM, Sa 10AM-11PM. On the side of the plaza, this restaurant is an old favorite. The small ground floor room has a warm Venetian inspired ambiance; the upstairs is larger and more modern. Its windows overlook the fishing boats. $14-$49.
  •    Sabella and LaTorre2809 Taylor St (Taylor St and Jefferson St),  +1 415 673-2824fax: +1 415 923-0585, e-mail: . Restaurant: 10:45AM-10:45PM; Crab Stand: 7AM-10:45PM. A family owned restaurant that's been open since 1927 providing fresh seafood, family fare, and a full bar. They're known in particular for their "cracked crab". $11-$37.50.
  •    Scoma's RestaurantPier 47 on Al Scoma Way (where Jones and Jefferson Sts intersect),  +1 415 771-4383fax: +1 415 775-2601, e-mail: . M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Su 11:30AM-10:30PM, Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. The Bar is open daily 30 minutes prior to lunch service. Overlooking the bay and Alcatraz, and nestled among the fishing boats on Pier 47, this restaurant is popular among locals and tourists alike for its fresh seafood. $20 and up.

Drink[edit]

Bars[edit]

The Wharf is not particularly well known for its nightlife scene. Most of what is there is of the "smart casual" variety, in restaurant bars and hotel bars. As the Wharf is primarily commercial, and not residential, the clientele consist mostly of either tourists, or workers from the local businesses. There are still some interesting watering holes however, including:

A simple meal... an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe
  •    Buena Vista Cafe2765 Hyde St (at Beach St),  +1 415 474-5044fax: +1 415 474-2207, e-mail: . M-F 9AM-2AM, Sa-Su 8AM-2AM. Famous for its Irish Coffee, supposedly the first to serve it in America, and great views over the bay. Entrees $9-$17.
  •    Fiddler's Green1333 Columbus Ave (between North Point St and Beach St),  +1 415 441-9758. 9AM-2AM daily. Irish bar and restaurant featuring live music and DJ's.
  • Forbes IslandSea Lion Harbor — H Dock (between Pier 39 and Pier 41),  +1 415 951-4900. W-Su 5PM-10PM. $30-$45.
  •    Jacks Cannery Bar2801 Leavenworth St (at Beach St),  +1 415 931-6400. 10AM-2AM daily. Opened in 1932. The bar has a 90 foot oak-paneled hall. 110 Beers on tap!
  •    Knuckles Sports Bar555 North Point St (between Jones St and Taylor St),  +1 415 486-4346, e-mail: . Bar 10:30AM-11PM, Restaurant 6:30AM-10PM. A lively sports bar with a huge 61" big-screen and filled with sports memorabilia.
  •    Las MargaritasDel Monte Square, 2nd Level, South Bldg (Jefferson St and Leavenworth St),  +1 415 776-6996. 10AM-11:30PM daily. A Fruit Margarita in the Cannery anyone?
  •    Lou's Fish Shack300 Jefferson St (at Al Scoma Way),  +1 415 771-LOUS (5687)fax: +1 415 771-7060, e-mail: . Open at 11AM daily. Lou's has live Blues music 7 days a week. Cover Charge: M-Th: 4PM-8PM $3, 8PM-close $5, F: 4PM-8PM $3, 8PM-close $10, Sa: 4PM-8PM $5, 8PM-close $10, Su: 4PM-8PM $3, 8PM-close $5, Sa noon-3PM show is free.
  •    Red Jack Saloon131 Bay St (at Midway St),  +1 415 989-0700. 11AM-2AM daily. Dive Bar, set back a few blocks from the Wharf, it's popular with Eastcoasters and Red Sox fans. Cheap drinks and a decent juke box.

Coffee[edit]

  •    Ghirardelli Choclaterie and CafeGhirardelli Square (at Beach St and Larkin St),  +1 415 474-3938. M-Th 8:30AM-8PM, F 8:30AM-10PM, Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 9AM-8PM. Serving premium espresso drinks, pastries, and desserts.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget under $200
Mid-range $200 - 274
Splurge $275 and over

Many of the nation-wide chains have hotels in the area but the prices can be very high, so expect to pay a premium. There are very few budget options here, so if you're traveling on a shoestring and need somewhere for under $100, you'll have to either go south a bit towards North Beach, or west towards the Marina. Either way you'll just be a 10 minute or so walk from the action. If you are insistent on staying within the Wharf area, do check for the actual location if you want to be right in Fisherman's Wharf — the names of the accommodations can be confusing.

Budget[edit]

  •    Wharf Inn2601 Mason St (at Beach St),  +1 415 673-7411fax: +1 415 776-2181, e-mail: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Small, friendly, and in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf. It has free parking. $160-$195.

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  •    Argonaut Hotel495 Jefferson St (at the end of the Powell-Hyde cable car line and right across from the historical ships, with nautical exhibits next to the lobby),  +1 415 563-0800fax: +1 415 563-2800. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A high-end luxury boutique hotel overlooking the bay and very centrally located on the Wharf. Ask for a room away from the front if you mind noise. It's a 100% smoke free environment. $250-$450.
  •    Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf555 North Point St (between Jones St and Taylor St),  +1 415 563-1234fax: +1 415 486-4444. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Modern hotel with full-service and clean and comfortable rooms. $250-$350.
  •    Marriott Fisherman's Wharf1250 Columbus Ave (between Bay St and North Point St),  +1 415 775-7555, toll-free: +1-800-551-6433fax: +1 415 474-2099. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. 285 rooms and 11 suites. $200-$300.
  •    Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf2500 Mason St (at North Point St),  +1 415 362-5500fax: +1 415 956-5275, e-mail: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. This hotel is newly renovated and centrally located. $230-$290.

Connect[edit]

The Fisherman's Wharf Deli and Taqueria, listed under the Eat section above, has internet facilities. Other options include:

Stay safe[edit]

Fisherman's Wharf sometimes attracts an unsavory element; with questionable charitable organizations, timeshare marketers, and 'Three Cup Shuffle' scam artists. It's wise to steer clear of these traps, and be mindful of how you spend your money.

Beware of pickpocketing, it is a common occurrence at Fisherman's Wharf. Follow the usual steps for avoiding being pickpocketed, such as keeping your wallet inside your front pocket or an inside jacket pocket.

While not necessarily a danger, the Wharf (being the major tourist destination it is) is home to a huge number of buskers, and some of them get pretty creative in order to coax you out of a few bucks. Particularly well-known is the infamous "Bushman," who sits behind a pair of eucalyptus branches and harmlessly scares passing pedestrians. It's always best to take such antics with a sense of humor — and hey, if you enjoy it, why not drop a few bucks and stick around to see the next unknowing person get scared/entertained?

Go next[edit]

The Marina — If you are interested in boats in general, why not take a 15 minute walk over through Fort Mason and into the Marina District. There you will find some impressive yacht clubs with both sail and power boats.

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