The traditional waterfront life on this historic wharf founded in the mid-1800s has long since faded, with only a few fishing boats now serving a handful of local restaurants. For generations, Chinese and then Italian immigrants mined the rich ocean. The Italian fishermen were as colorful as the tiny wooden boats they sailed into the bay, singing arias while hunting for oysters, shrimp and Dungeness crabs and then selling their catch in stands along the wharf. While these craftsmen are no longer there, the festive environment of the wharf has been preserved.
Fisherman’s Wharf is now a thriving shopping and entertainment hub with souvenir stores, clam chowder stands, upscale seafood restaurants, museums and street performers. It’s a bustling day-and-night carnival that extends from Ghirardelli Square at the wharf’s west end to Pier 39 and its amusing sea lion population at the east end. The sea lions, who live on floating wooden platforms beside the pier for most of the year, are among San Francisco’s most famous and verbal residents.
For some old-fashioned fun, spend some time at the Musee Mecanique, an interactive collection of mechanical machines and penny arcades. Mingle with wax figures of your favorite movies stars at Madame Tussauds or experience what life was like aboard a World War II submarine with a visit to the USS Pampanito. If you have a few hours free, head to Pier 33 and catch a ferry to Alcatraz Island.
There are plenty of dining options here, from sidewalk stands to cafés and restaurants, with seafood front-and-center on many menus. However, you can also find Italian, Chinese and other sumptuous ethnic offerings. Many restaurants offer a quiet respite in which to refuel as well as great views of the ocean, Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge.
The best way to visit this neighborhood is by public transport and on foot. Parking is available in the vicinity of the wharf but it’s not cheap. To really get you in the feel for old-time San Francisco, jump on the Powell/Mason cable car line and you'll land only a couple of blocks south of Fisherman's Wharf. The rattle and clang of the typically San Francisco transport adds to the spirit of the journey.
Hotel Zoe San Francisco is 2 blocks from Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and the Alcatraz Island ferry.
This family-friendly San Francisco hotel is located on the waterfront, within a 5-minute walk of Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. Aquarium of the Bay and Ghirardelli Square are also within 15 minutes.
Located in North Beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Fishermans Wharf Cable Car Turnaround, Hyde Street Pier, and Ghirardelli Square. Lombard Street and Pier 39 are also within 15 minutes.
This smoke-free San Francisco Sheraton is within 2 blocks of the cable car turnaround and Pier 39, 5 blocks from Ghirardelli Square, and within 1 mile of Lombard Street and Chinatown.
This 27-story San Francisco Hilton hotel towers over the city's financial district, North Beach's Italian shops and cafés, Chinatown, and the Embarcadero Center.
Across the street from San Francisco Bay, this boutique hotel occupies a creatively converted 1909 brick warehouse; fun-filled Fisherman's Wharf is right outside; the Alcatraz ferry is 6 blocks away.
Located just 1 mile from Union Square, this Holiday Inn is within 2 blocks of Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square.
Located in North Beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. Ghirardelli Square and Lombard Street are also within 1 mi (2 km).