Visiting Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf is easily San Francisco's most popular attraction. While it is fairly touristy, with all the obligatory t-shirt shops, it is still worth a visit. One thing this area has is energy. The bustle of the crowds, the music of the street performers, the colors and aromas all combine to help you feel the spirit of San Francisco.

Situated on the shore of San Francisco Bay, its historic waterfront is filled with restaurants, art galleries, entertainment, countless shops and is the embarkation point for Alcatraz island. This is a great place to grab a sour dough bowl of clam chowder or a steamed dungeness crab.

At the wharf's western end is Ghirardelli Square, renowned for its chocolate. Our tip to you, try the hot fudge sundae. The square features three levels of unique shops. Across the street are the National Maritime Museum, Hyde Street Pier, Hyde Street Cable Car Turn-around, and the Aquatic Park.

Amongst the myriad of entertainment, shopping and dining take a stroll through the renovated wax museum now one of the world's largest. The museum is replete with theChamber of Horrors, Hall of Religion, the historic Library of U.S. Presidents, the spectacular Recreation of King Tut's Tomb and the unique Palace of Living Art, where the world's most famous masters, and their masterpieces come to life through the magic of wax artistry.

At the eastern end you will find the Blue and Gold fleet, transportation to Alcatraz, and Pier 39. Pier 39 features even more shopping, over 100 shops and nearly a dozen restaurants. Travel to the end of the pier and ride the double decker carousel.

Hours of Operation

Open Daily: Most businesses open around 9am and remain open until at least 10pm.


It is wheelchair and stroller accessible, although the sidewalks are crowded, signs and displays may impede flow. Many corners have curb cuts. Restrooms are available to customers in most restaurants, and public restrooms can be found in Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39 and near the iconic Fisherman's Wharf sign. Most, but not all businesses above the ground floor are accessible by elevator.

SF Travel Guide Recommends

  • Visit Ghirardelli Ice Cream shop and try the hot fudge sundae. Their fudge is the best and we strongly recommend ordering an extra serving of fudge on the side.
  • Finding a table at peak hours is like finding a parking space at the mall before Christmas.
  • While fun during the day, check out Fisherman's Wharf at night, when all the lights are lit and the energy changes to a little more carnival-like.
  • Some businesses validate parking, mostly restaurants, so be sure to get your parking validated when you order.

Getting There

Take Columbus Avenue or Embarcadero northwest toward Fisherman's Wharf. Parking is challenging and the the structures are somewhat expensive. Sometimes it is worth parking farther out and walking in. It saves time because of slow traffic in the main wharf area and parking there often fills up.

Two different cable car lines serve Fisherman's Wharf. The Powell-Hyde line delivers you near Ghirardelli Square and the Powell-Mason drops you near the other end of the wharf at Bay Street.

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