Fisherman’s Wharf

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Located in: North America United States California San Francisco

San Francisco’s Piers Offer Something for Everyone

fisherman's wharfAnd we mean everyone. With all there is to do here, Fisherman’s Wharf is jam-packed with shoppers, diners, tourists and those looking for a stroll by the bay. Located on the northern tip of San Francisco, the Wharf is bordered by Ghirardelli (yes, that Ghirardelli) Square, near Pier 45 on the west side, and Pier 35 on the east side. Ghirardelli’s flagship store sells their delicious chocolate, much of which can be found elsewhere. The real highlight here is the old-timey ice cream parlor and soda fountain. Fancy a Coke Float or Smore Sundae? How about adding crushed pineapple or warm peanut butter to your waffle cone? This is the ideal stop for those looking for a cool treat on a warm September day or a place to warm up in February.

Moving east along the Wharf at Pier 45 you will find a trip back in time at Musee Mecanique. Inside of this dock warehouse you will find antique arcade games, player pianos, fortune telling machines, love testers and much more. It is a trip back to your childhood, whether you are 30, 60 or 90 years old. The place is loud (almost panic-inducingly so), but that is part of the charm. No need to cash in your bills for coins beforehand-there are plenty of change machines here. The abundance of games means that if the one you want to try out is occupied, there are others you can stuff your quarters into. Highlights include Pong, Pole Position and an Indiana Jones pinball game where you squeeze the trigger of a revolver to release the steel ball.

fisherman's wharfBehind Musee Macanique are two WWII-era vessels that are now National Historic Landmarks and museums. The USS Pampantino, is submarine that saw action in the South Pacific the SS Jeremiah O’brien, a cargo ship that was active in the D-Day invasion and around the world.

Continuing on to Pier 39, you will find a large shopping center, but you can shop anywhere. The real attracting is outside of the building in the water. Sea lions come out of the water to rest on the docks to sun themselves and play around. They look (and sound) like they are having the best time ever.

On the far east side of the Wharf, you will find the Pier 33, where the ferry departs for Alcatraz. This is a San Francisco must, so book ahead as it can fill up. If you did not plan ahead, stop by anyway-often you get a ticket by showing up before the ferry departs.

Know Before You Go

Ghirardelli’s Ice Cream Shop is open from 10am to 11pm weekdays and until midnight (yes!) on weekends. Musee Mecanique is open from 10am to 7pm weekdays and until 8pm on the weekends. Alcatraz is an excursion that will take a few hours, so plan accordingly.

Bottom Line

The Wharf is worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime.

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Last updated: February 28, 2014