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San Francisco Fishermans Wharf

San Francisco Fishermans Wharf
Major Tourist Attraction vs City Neighborhood

San Francisco Fishermans Wharf is one of our favorite attractions, and we're not alone! It's one of San Francisco's most popular destinations.

But we're here today to explore the tourist attraction (for more about the neighborhood, Fishermans Wharf, the Neighborhood).

People who live in San Francisco may have become a little jaded toward Fishermans Wharf - thinking it's too touristy.

People come from all over the world to taste the clam chowder and Dungeness crab, browse the shops, see how San Francisco's famous sourdough bread is made, see Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39, visit historic sailing ships, and watch the sea lions.

But an Insider Secret is that this is also one of San Francisco's most ancestral neighborhoods!

Families of seafarers and fishermen have lived and worked in the area for generations - providing fresh seafood to San Franciscans and even cooking it up for them in the crab pots and the area's restaurants.

The entire area is referred to as The Wharf, but Fishermans Wharf itself - meaning the waterfront - stretches from Aquatic Park and Ghirardelli Square at the West end to Pier 39 at the East end.

Popular Attractions at
San Francisco Fishermans Wharf

But there are so many interesting and fun things to see and do - I say they might be pleasantly surprised if they gave it another shot!

  • Stroll along The Wharf and enjoy the shenanigans of the street performers - mimes, artists, musicians and human statues - working hard to entice you to give them a dollar or two.

    My favorite San Francisco Fishermans Wharf street performer
    , because he's such an icon, is The Bushman. He's been around since the 1980s, he squats behind some hand-held branches (the bush), and he jumps out at the appropriate moment to scare the bejesus out of some unsuspecting pedestrian. (That's him behind the bush near the railing in the photo below.)
The Bushman of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf by Suzi RosenbergThe Bushman of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf
by Suzi Rosenberg

The best part is when the previously-scared person joins the chuckling crowd to eagerly anticipate and watch it happen all over again to the next guy!

In case you were worried, The Bushman very thoughtfully keeps a lookout for older folks and lets them pass by unmolested.

It's one thing to startle people for a laugh, but we don't want to go around giving folks real heart attacks!

  • Be sure to also explore the main wharf area to experience the street vendors with their steaming, malodorous crab pots selling walk-away seafood snacks and lunches of every description imaginable. Clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls, Dungeness crab, shrimp, and even squid cocktails, crab cakes, fried calamari, seafood sandwiches... makes my mouth water just to write this paragraph!
SF Fisherman's Wharf's Famous Restaurants by Suzi RosenbergSF Fisherman's Wharf's Famous Restaurants
by Suzi Rosenberg
  • There are many renowned Fishermans Wharf restaurants from which to choose in the area if you want a sit-down lunch or dinner.
    And many of
    them are still run by the Italian families who originally opened them in the early 1900s, like Alioto's, Sabella and LaTorre, and No. 9 Fishermen's Grotto.
  • Visit the Musée Mechanique, home to Laughing Sal from Playland at the Beach, a fully operational mechanical Carnival, and The Unbelievable Mechanical Farm along with hundreds of other antique, coin-operated, automatic mechanical forms of entertainment.
  • Imagine yourself sailing the high seas as you explore the historic vessels at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park that's filled with schooners and square riggers.
  • Tour the USS Pampanito, a World War II Submarine built in 1943, and one of the most advanced ships of her time. The whole ship of course is a military museum in general, but of special interest are the audios of Pampanito crewmen telling their stories, and the Amateur and Military Radio Exhibit.
  • Take a Bay Cruise aboard the historic Red and White Fleet - it's been in operation since 1892. Sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz Island while seeing The City from a new perspective!
  • Step inside the weird world of Ripley's Believe It or Not! - enter if you dare! It includes more than 400 exhibits (70 of which are interactive), a Mirror Maze, and - of all things - a Candy Shop!
  • And don't forget to visit the Boudin Sourdough Bakery and Museum for an authentic taste of History in the Baking! Watch the bakers in action, find out how the Boudin family fed the California Gold Rush, and shop for gourmet delicacies and gifts.
  • Speaking of shopping. Need a San Francisco ticky-tacky, touristy souvenir? The main area of Fishermans Wharf is the place! Between the Alcatraz shot glasses, models of cable cars, and themed ornamental picture frames, you're sure to find something for everyone on your souvenir list!

But There's Real Shopping as Well at San Francisco Fishermans Wharf

Ghirardelli Square in SF by Suzi RosenbergGhirardelli Square in SF by Suzi Rosenberg
  • Ghirardelli Square
    The Wharf's oldest shopping center, has dozens of eclectic shops and is home to outdoor events like the wine festival called Uncorked, and the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
  • The Cannery
    This waterfront marketplace is housed in a converted 1907 Del Monte peach cannery and offers shops and restaurants, along with live entertainment in its central square under the shade of its venerable, 130 year old olive trees
  • Pier 39
    Located at the Eastern edge of Fishermans Wharf, Pier 39 offers another 110 shops, bay-view restaurants, an aquarium, a merry-go-round, and its infamous sea lions

You could easily spend an entire day at San Francisco Fishermans Wharf as a first-time tourist, but to get to know the genuine San Francisco Fishermans Wharf, take a look at Fishermans Wharf, The Neighborhood!

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you discovered last weekend,
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