Fisherman's Wharf Walking Tour
Rating 4.57 / 5 [14 ratings]
Tour supplied by:
Bucket list experience:
San Francisco, California, United States of America (USA)
Credit Shutterstock.com/Jeff Whyte
Once, this historic hub was where Chinese and Italian fisherman made their living catching fish, crab, and oysters along the waterfront. Although still known for seafood, today the Wharf is predominantly the city’s prime tourist hub.
As well as the usual tourist fare of attractions like Madame Tussauds and the city’s Aquarium, it’s also home to the SS Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship Memorial and Aquatic Park Cove, where Dolphin Club swimmers brave the bay’s frigid waters daily. A large colony of noisy sea lions famously beds down on Pier 39.
Many tours, including the one to Alcatraz, depart from here too. Even if you’re trying to avoid the crowds, you’ll likely end up here at some point.
Editor: Please note, it’s a horrible tourist trap. We’re only including it as ‘bucket list’ as everyone feels they should go there as part of a visit.
The wharf’s Hyde Street Pier offers a glimpse of what the waterfront may have looked like at the turn-into-the-20th-century, replete with historic fishing vessels like the Balclutha, a three-masted, 1886 square-rigger once used to transport cargo world-wide.
It’s a good place to try clam chowder, a San Fran speciality. Boudin’s flagship bakery is here, serving bowlfuls in hollowed bread.
Chocolatier Ghirardelli has been churning out bars since the mid-19th century. It’s the third-oldest chocolate maker in the U.S, and its chocolate is sold across the country. There’s a popular outlet store here – but note, it’s no longer a factory.
Stop into the Comic Art Museum. This gallery of ever-changing exhibits like Edward Gorey’s Eerie Art, and a tribute to Bill Watterson, author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, is a gem.
Muni’s F-Line streetcar runs between SF’s Castro neighbourhood and the Wharf, following Market Street before heading north along the Embarcadero. Both the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason cable cars from Powell and Market streets to the Wharf. The 30 Muni Bus also runs to/from the Wharf from Union Square.
Most visitors start their explorations at Pier 39, and then continue west for a stroll along the waterfront. Aquatic Park’s amphitheatre seating is the perfect place to sit and savor views of San Francisco Bay.
If you don’t go for clam chowder at Boudin’s, book into Scoma’s, a traditional San Francisco seafood at its best, with some superb bayside views. The restaurant even has its own fish-receiving station.
It’s open all year round, seven days a week, and a lot busier on weekends. To avoid crowds, if you can come during a weekday and/or in the off-season, which is typically January-March.
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