Once the stomping ground of Italian fishermen, Fisherman’s Wharf is now one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist destinations. The bustling waterfront strip is filled with souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, and a wealth of family-friendly attractions—most notably a colony of sea lions that sunbathes and poses for photos on Pier 39.
Carnivalesque Fisherman’s Wharf teems with sights, sounds, tastes, and activities to entertain the whole family. Here you can enjoy panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island; walk through underwater tunnels at the Aquarium of the Bay; and board historic ships and a World War II submarine at the Hyde Street Pier. The wax collection at Madame Tussauds and the theatrical San Francisco Dungeon are also popular, while the antique penny arcade Musée Mécanique is a must-see for gamers.
As one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf is featured on most full-day and half-day city tours. Explore the wharf and surrounding neighborhoods on a Segway, bike, or coach tour; enjoy craft brews on a walking tour of North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf bars; or visit on a full-day excursion to such famous Bay Area sights as Alcatraz, Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, and Muir Woods.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-see for first-time visitors to San Francisco.
- Choose a half-day city tour or a full-day excursion that includes top Bay Area sights to get an introduction to the area.
- Public parking is available nearby and public transit is easily accessible.
- The wharf is wheelchair accessible, although the sidewalks are often crowded.
How to Get There
Fisherman’s Wharf lies on the city’s northern shore, next to Ghirardelli Square, Fort Mason, and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The area is easy to access via public transportation. Both the Powell–Hyde and Powell–Mason cable car lines end near the wharf (opt for the more scenic Powell–Hyde line). Alternatively, take MUNI’s historic F-line streetcar to Taylor Street or the 30-Stockton bus to North Point and Hyde streets.
When to Get There
The wharf is a year-round destination. Summer is the most popular time to visit, when street performers are out in force and attractions are at capacity. To avoid crowds, visit on a weekday and arrive early, but remember that most shops and attractions don’t open until about 10am. Sunny days are best for a visit, but the wharf has enough indoor attractions for dreary days.
Exploring Nearby Attractions
Fisherman’s Wharf is an ideal jumping-off point for visiting other San Francisco attractions. To pick up the city’s most famous treat, head west to Ghirardelli Square, a former chocolate factory that now houses boutiques, sweet shops, and wine tasting rooms. Continue west on Bay Street to visit Marina boutiques and enjoy the natural wonders of the Presidio, or head south down the Embarcadero for the Ferry Building gourmet marketplace and the hands-on Exploratorium science museum.