travel

San Francisco's Top 10 : Fisherman’s Wharf

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A certain aura of authenticity still clings to San Francisco’s old wharf area, but you’ll have to look closely to find the historic details – mostly, it has been overwhelmed by tourism. Nevertheless, it’s fun to get a walk away crab cocktail and a chunk of sourdough bread, and to sidestep the crowds to check out the few remaining fishing boats that still haul in their daily bounty. And after all, what’s so bad about taking home a few San Francisco souvenirs?

Anchorage Shopping Center

USS Pampanito

  • Pier 45 Jefferson St

  • 415 775 1943

  • www.maritime.org

  • Open summer: 9am–8pm daily, 9am–6pm Sun; winter: 9am–6pm Mon–Thu, 9am–8pm Fri–Sat

  • Adm $9

Ripley's Believe It Or Not!

  • 175 Jefferson St

  • 415 771 6188

  • www.ripleysf.com

  • Open mid-Jun–Labor Day: 9am–11pm Sun–Thu, 9am–midnight Fri–Sat; rest of year: 10am–10pm Sun–Thu, 10am–midnight Fri–Sat

Wax Museum

  • 145 Jefferson St

  • 1 800 439 4305

  • 415 202 0402

  • Open 10am–9pm daily

Aquarium of the Bay

  • Embarcadero

  • 1 888 SEA DIVE

  • Open summer: 9am–8pm daily; winter: 10am–6pm Mon–Fri, 10am–7pm Sat–Sun

  • Adm


The Port of San Francisco

In 1853 the first wharf was built here, and it quickly became a center for maritime-related enterprise, including shipbuilding, and fresh seafood joints. Italians soon monopolized almost every aspect of the fishing industry – even today, most of the eateries along the Wharf bear Italian names. With technology, however, the Bay was fished-out by the 1950s, and any big-time fishing industry went out of business or moved elsewhere.


Plan of Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf sign

Try one of the Wharf’s oldest institutions, Scoma’s (

Pier 47 & Alcona Way
; 415 771 4383), for seafood.

Don’t miss the pod of wild sea lions that lounge around the docks just to the west of Pier 39.


Top 10 Sights
  1. Ghirardelli Square

    The Ghirardelli family ran a chocolate factory here from 1859 to 1962. The site is now home to upscale shops and eateries .

  2. Anchorage Shopping Center

    In the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf, with plenty of stores, restaurants, and entertainment.

  3. The Cannery

    Built as a warehouse in 1907, a makeover was completed in 1967, and it’s now the site of some appealing boutiques, as well as tourist shops.

  4. Pier 39

    Built over a disused pier, this 1978 commercial venture became an instant success for promoting tourism in the wharf area. Two floors of shops and eateries, with a large central promenade complete with an antique Venetian carousel, keep drawing in the crowds.

  5. USS Pampanito

    This vintage submarine sank six enemy ships and damaged four others in World War II. You can tour its interior and get an idea of what life was like for the crew.

  6. Fisherman’s and Seaman’s Memorial Chapel

    This little wooden chapel was built in 1980 as an interfaith memorial to all those who make and have made their living at sea.

  7. Fish Alley

    This alley is possibly the last vestige of the authentic, workaday wharf. Here you can see fishing boats come in and watch as the catch of the day is landed and prepared for market.

  8. Aquarium of the Bay

    The aquarium’s transparent tunnel visually immerses you in the San Francisco Bay marine habitat, where thousands of members of diverse ocean fauna disport themselves before your eyes. Video presentations and marine specialists help you understand what you’re seeing.

  9. Boudin Bakery

    This is the home of the famous chain of San Francisco sourdough bread makers. Stop by to try the distinctive crusty round loaf, best enjoyed warm from the oven with plenty of butter.

  10. Ripley's Believe It Or Not! and Wax Museum

    These two fun-zone denizens – found as “attractions” around the world – are a give-away that these blocks of Jefferson Street are pure tourist trap.

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