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Fisherman’s Wharf

  • San Francisco, California, United States of America (USA)

Last updated: 28 April, 2024

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.

Don't miss

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.

While you're there

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.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

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.

When to do it

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.

Who to go with: organised tours

3

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • San Francisco

Pedal around San Francisco on an independent bike tour — a fun, flexible, active way to sightsee. With this 24-hour bike rental from Fisherman’s Wharf or Union Square, visit San Francisco attractions of your choice including Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, Alamo Square and Haight-Ashbury, using your handy city map and suggested bike routes. Friendly staff will show you route directions and give you maps before departure, and en-route assistance is just a phone call away if you need help during your trip!

Price $40

Min age 0

Rating 4.27 / 5 [378 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • San Francisco

Visit some of the top attractions along San Francisco's famous waterfront: Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 with this special tour plus Alcatraz ticket. Save time and see more. During this 75 minute walking tour you'll learn about the rich history of the area with one of our highly rated guides, all while taking in amazing views. You'll visit iconic landmarks and hear incredible stories about the gold rush, the cable car system, earthquakes and much more.

Price $99

Min age 5

Rating 4.59 / 5 [103 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Website >
  • San Francisco

Visit some of the top attractions along San Francisco's famous waterfront: Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 with this special tour and Alcatraz ticket upgrade option. Save time and see more. During this 75 minute walking tour you'll learn about the rich history of the area with one of our highly rated guides, all while taking in amazing views. You'll visit iconic landmarks and hear incredible stories about the gold rush, the cable car system, earthquakes and much more.

Price $35

Min age 0

Rating 4.6 / 5 [25 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >