Where Food Meets Fun Beside the Bay
Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco's #1 destination aims to provide visitors with good food, good fun and good views. Sometimes, all three are found in the same place. First of all, visitors need to find Fisherman’s Wharf, and that’s means even more fun getting here on the historic F Market Streetcar or on the Powell-Hyde or the Powell-Mason Cable Cars. Welcome to one California’s busiest places, where it’s more than just a wharf jutting out into San Francisco’s sparkling bay. it’s a whole neighborhood full of fun things to do.
Let’s Get Cracking
In order to understand why Fisherman’s Wharf is here, look no further than the famous Dungeness crab for the answer. It’s hard to miss the big Fisherman’s Wharf welcome sign featuring a crab emblazoned on a ship’s steering wheel. Visitors who come any time between November and June will find that it’s crab season in Northern California’s coastal waters. Of course, back around 1850 when gold nuggets and San Francisco came face-to-face, prospecting miners changed everything in the City by the Bay. But, Italian fisherman knew they’d bring big appetites and they knew what good fishing was all about. They came here to find another kind of gold.
Several generations later, famous Fisherman’s Wharf seafood restaurants are still serving up the best tried-and-tested recipes. Some, like Castagnola’s, have been named after the family’s fresh fish market stalls of a century ago. Cioppino’s restaurant has named itself for the popular, tasty traditional seafood stew that was conceived by fishermen on these docks 100 years ago. In addition to the Dungeness crab now served in dozens of ways, a well-known longtime specialty is clam chowder presented in an edible sourdough bread bowl.
And, did we mention the great views?
Attractions and Amusements Galore
Fun ranks high along with food and drink, and there’s no shortage at Fisherman’s Wharf. Grownups and children alike love the authentic, antique game arcade at the Musée Mecanique as much as they love the totally unreal figures at Madame Tussauds, the unbelievable at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the just plain old scary stuff at The San Francisco Dungeon.
There’s tons to do at Fisherman’s Wharf, so wake up early to see the sea lions frolicking at the end of Pier 39, ride the antique carousel and visit 20,000 marine amazing animals at the Aquarium of the Bay. Shop at Anchorage Square and grab a bite...absolutely everywhere.
Have a look around on wheels with a Segway for a fully guided electric tour, get a guided GPS Go Car. Rent a bike from Blazing Saddles or Bay City Bike to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge with a return from Sausalito on one of the world’s best ferry rides. Go tandem, go electric, go hybrid, go off-road, go with a guide or go it alone.
It’s great to get on the water. Catch a leisurely Blue & Gold Bay Cruise or a high-speed adventure on the Rocket Boat. Make a date for a Hornblower dinner cruise. Take a Red and White Fleet sightseeing adventure under two bridges and around Alcatraz Island, or go right onto The Rock for a look inside the prison walls with an Alcatraz Package ferry ride and cell block audio tour.
It might be a good idea to pack some chocolate bars for all those tours. We just happen to know of one called Ghirardelli.
Did You Know?
- Ghirardelli Chocolate was the world’s largest chocolate factory in 1893. Illuminated letters added in 1923 that spell out the name are 15 feet tall so that sailors could see them when returning from the sea.
- Visitors can explore eight historic sailing vessels at Hyde Street Pier and put their toes in the water at a real, sandy beach at the Maritime National Historical Park.
- According to San Francisco Travel, more than 75 percent of the city’s 17 million annual visitors to come to Fisherman’s Wharf during their stays.
- The distance from Fisherman’s Wharf to Alcatraz Island is 1.5 miles.
- Members of the Dolphin Club, established 1877, are called polar bears because they regularly swim in the challenging San Francisco Bay waters, all through the winter.