What is a Wharf, anyway?

If you are planning to visit San Francisco, you may or may not visit the attractions previously discussed on this blog, but you will definitely visit Fisherman’s Wharf. So I went there today to get the inside scoop for you. I’m gonna tell you all the secrets to get the most out of your visit.

1. Do not ride the trolley.
I know that you’re gonna feel that you need the “authentic san francisco experience”, but trust me. It’s not worth it. The trolley is $5 per person each way, and it’ll take forever to get there. If you want the experience without the price, jump on the trolley, take a picture, and then jump off. Then jump on the cheaper, more efficient bus. How do you find a bus? Ask a local. How do you find a local? They’re probably walking a dog (they all have dogs), and they’re the ones not shouting “Hey look! A trolley!”

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

2. Start at Pier 39
Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist area along The Bay. Ten blocks on Jefferson St between Grant and Polk St. Pier 39 is on the easternmost block and it contains all the shops, and restaurants (and people) that most of you associate with The FW. I will admit that this is a lot of fun. But I want to make sure you don’t spend all your time here, because there’s more to see. While at Pier 39, be sure to go out on the pier and look at the sea lions.  But do not eat here.

3. Crab
If you leave the crowded part of Pier 39 and walk west (toward the music), you’ll come across Boudin Sourdough. Stop for a second and watch [smell] them making bread. You can eat here if you want, but I’d prefer you keep walking. A little further west of Boudin’s, you’ll find Crab Heaven (that’s my own nickname. it’s not on the map). You’ll know you’re there because it smells like fish, and it looks like a Hitchcock movie. There are around 10 restaurants all in a row and they all sell one thing: crab. You can sit down and eat a fresh boiled crab, or you can get a crab salad sandwich (one of many delicious-looking items. $5.50) to go. I told you not to eat at Pier 39 because I wanted you to experience the crabby awesomeness!

4. Hyde Street Pier
After your lunch, walk west on Jefferson St until you reach Hyde St Pier. It’s a boat museum! It’s a long dock with old-timey ships tied up that you’re allowed to board and play on. I recommend this pier for many reasons: (a) it’s free, (b) it’s quiet (c) kids love it, and (d) there are bathrooms. Also they have a cell phone tour that I tried for you and found it very informative.

5. Ghirardelli Square
Some will debate that this isn’t actually part of FW. Well I don’t care. It’s within walking distance so I’m including it. You should keep going west on Jefferson until you get to the Ghirardelli sign (it’s a big sign. you can’t miss it). It’s the original chocolate shop for the company and a “must see!” if you’re a chocolate lover (there are FREE SAMPLES! Hello?) Also, there is an ice cream shop that I did not sample, but the line out the door kinda spoke for itself. Another reason I made you walk down here is for the view. There’s this cute little park with a beach and you get a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge from here. But I do need to mention one thing….

6. Don’t get your hopes up
I was planning to end my day with beautiful sunset pictures at the bridge, but it was so foggy that I couldn’t even see it. So, if you are coming to SF, don’t get your hopes up about seeing the bridge. But, the view at Ghirardelli Square is still cool…even sans bridge.

7. Two things you could do without
The first thing you can do without is Alcatraz. Don’t get upset. Let me explain. Alcatraz is cool. It is the only time I’ve ever seen the inside of a prison and this one is frightening. And the stories about Al Capone and the guys who “escaped” are thrilling. If you are into that sort of thing, then go see it. You won’t be disappointed. What I’m saying is that if I was a tourist, and I had 3 hours with nothing to do, I would  go see the Redwood Forest instead (but that’s for another day). FYI, Alcatraz is $26/person.
The other thing to skip is the Antique Coin-Operated Arcade Museum (free). But again, if you’re an arcade-type person, then ignore me and go see it!

I will close with this [terrible] joke. It really is terrible. My brother told it to me.
A guy is walking down the street and sees another man with a dog and a sign that reads “Talking Dog”. He’s intrigued so he stops. “A talking dog, you say? Show me.”
The man with the sign replies, “ask him anything you like and he’ll answer.”
“OK, dog. What do you find on top of a house?”
The dog answers, “roof!”
“And what do you find on trees?”
and the dog responds, “bark!”
“And where do fishermen go?”
“what kind of wharf?”
and the dog replies, “a fisherman’s wharf!”

Helpful Links:
Fisherman’s Wharf Map [pdf]



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: SF in a Day « Save Me, San Francisco
  2. Trackback: Update: Fisherman’s Wharf « Save Me, San Francisco
  3. Trackback: I Found The Bridge! « Save Me, San Francisco
  4. Daniel
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 19:23:19

    The redwoods are the best! I also think you should go with Chad to the Musee Mechanique (the antique arcade you said to skip) because there’s a great film photo booth there for $3!!! Also, the arcade games are super cool. Great memories! Hope u guys are lovin it.


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