Once the home of a traditional fishing industry, today only a few working boats remain. These few boats still bring in a regular supply of fresh fish to the area, which serves the local restaurants. In the past, generations of migrants fished the rich oceans surrounding this coastal site daily, and although most have now disappeared, the character of that era is still very much in evidence.
Today, Fisherman’s Wharf is a busy shopping and entertainment complex, comprising upmarket seafood restaurants, fascinating museums, and stands that sell delights such as piping hot clam chowder. In common with much of San Francisco, there is a decidedly bohemian feel about the area, with street performers lining the streets almost continuously. Day or night, the carnival atmosphere of this place is always present. The area stretches from Ghirardelli Square at the west end of the wharf, all the way to the iconic Pier 39, with its vocal sea lion population. The sea lions live on floating wooden platforms alongside the pier for large parts of the year and are a great source of entertainment for visitors.
There are plenty of places to eat, with seafood a particular speciality. However, if you’re not fan, there are also excellent Italian, Indian and Chinese restaurants. Many of the local eateries offer al fresco dining and have fantastic views over the bay area and landmarks like Alcatraz Island and the Bay Bridge.
Take a trip down memory lane with a visit to the Musée Mecanique with its delightful collection of penny arcades and antiquated mechanical machines. Or experience what life was like aboard a Second World War submarine at the USS Pampanito. Alcatraz Island with its notorious prison is also only a short boat ride away.
Access Fisherman’s Wharf via public transport or foot. Parking is available but it’s expensive or you could take a cable car for an authentic San Francisco experience.