San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

Visit San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf

Posted by & filed under San Francisco.

As an epicenter of activity in San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf offers a plethora of sights, smells, tastes, history and fun. In addition to all of the activities you can enjoy at the wharf, there are also a lot of notable landmarks and sites located nearby. With so much to see and do, it can be difficult to experience everything without some kind of itinerary. Bearing this in mind, we’ve done our best to create a handy guide that you can use to find entertaining attractions in the area.


How to Get There

History of Fisherman’s Wharf

What to Eat


 


 
Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the busiest tourist attractions in the western United States, so you should probably expect large crowds. It is recommended to set aside at least 1-2 days to explore the region. Although some of the locations you will visit are free to enjoy, others can be somewhat expensive. Make sure to set aside some spending money for delicious food and souvenirs that you’ll find along the way.


 

History of Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco is always very practical when it comes to naming landmarks and neighborhoods. We’ve got Ocean Beach, the Great Highway, the Cliff House, the Embarcadero, and North Beach, none of which are very creative but all of which tell you just what you need to know. The Pacific Ocean hits the sand at Ocean Beach. The Great Highway is a great highway. The Cliff House stands on –
surprise, surprise – the cliffs. The Spanish translation for embarcadero is wharf, and the Embarcadero is one long wharf along the Bay. And North Beach is the beach on the north shore of town. So, when it came to naming Fisherman’s Wharf, the most practical name was once again chosen.

The area of Fisherman’s Wharf has been used and inhabited by fishermen since the Costanoan tribe first used it prior to European settlement. With the rush of settlers in the late 1840s and beyond, the native populations were pushed out and the land was claimed by Italian fishermen. The Italians inhabited Fisherman’s Wharf and the nearby North Beach neighborhood for a long period of time, but as city leaders realized the area’s tourist appeal, it became more commercialized and eventually morphed into what it is today, one of the city’s main tourist attractions.

 

Fisherman's Wharf sign. Image source: Wikimedia user Eric Spenle, February 25th 2006. 

Although this area has become more of a tourist attraction over the years, there are still several local businesses in the area. Ghirardelli Square is an excellent example of how the Fisherman’s Wharf of years past has transformed in modern times; although this shopping center now includes a variety of different businesses, you will still find Ghirardelli chocolate stores in the former location of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory and see how their confections are created.

As you walk around the wharf, you’ll notice a plethora of different architectural styles from throughout the history of San Francisco. At the Maritime Museum, you’ll find a wonderful example of art deco architecture which houses several murals depicting a modern art world surrounded by wild and untamed marine life. No matter where you look, Fisherman’s Wharf has an incredible tale to tell both visually and historically.

 


How to Get to Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is located in the heart of San Francisco at North Beach. It is easily accessible via Highway 101, but many visitors choose to use either the streetcar or cable car to reach this destination. Although you can drive there, it’s often difficult to find parking in the area. With that in mind, we recommend using one of the alternatives listed below.

 

Public Transportation/Driving:

The Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District provides in depth public transportation information on their website. In a nutshell, the F-Line streetcar is the way to go. To read their driving directions, click here. Parking can be reserved in advance through Parking Panda.

Cable Car:

Check out our Cable Car blog post for further information on how to ride San Francisco’s oldest moving national landmark.

You can easily take a San Francisco Cable Car to Fisherman’s Wharf. Both the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines will take you within walking distance of the Wharf. From the end of the Powell-Hyde line at Hyde and Beach Streets, you’ll be near Ghirardelli Square and Aquatic Park, both on the western edge of Fisherman’s Wharf. Click here for complete schedule information for the Powell-Hyde line. The Powell-Mason line ends on Taylor and Bay Streets and is closer to Fisherman’s Wharf. Just walk a few blocks to get to the water. To view the complete schedule for the Powell-Mason line, click here.

 


Hotels Near Fisherman’s Wharf

There are many hotels in the neighborhood.  TripAdvisor lists the Top 10 best rated hotels.

For those hostel-goers wanting to stay near the Wharf, Hostelling International USA’s Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel is not only the first youth hostel to have gone up in the city but is also located in Fort Mason, one of the most scenic spots in San Francisco, only a short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf.  Be sure to check out our guide on choosing the best hostel in San Francisco.

Some of the closest and most popular hotels include the following:

  • Hotel Zephyr – This 4 star hotel is only a short walk from Pier 39. Rooms are nautically themed and you will find entertainment such as dart boards and other fun games downstairs.
  • The Wharf Inn – Although this hotel only boasts a 3 ½ star rating, they do offer some of the most affordable rooms in the area. Most guests appreciate the free parking and the location, right down the street from the Boudin Bakery.
  • Pier 2620 – Located right in the middle of the Fisherman’s Wharf area, this 4 star hotel is a little bit further from the water than some of their competitors. That being said, their location makes it fairly easy to visit almost every popular site in the neighborhood.
  • The Argonaut Hotel – If you’re looking for a spot close to the water, this might be your best bet. The Argonaut is a 4 ½ star hotel right down the street from Hyde Pier and right across the street from The Buena Vista.

As you might have surmised, it will be important to select a hotel closest to the attractions that you want to visit the most.

Airbnb and Couchsurfing are two more popular options when visiting San Francisco.

Map of Fisherman’s Wharf
Reference this map for an easy guide to the Fisherman’s Wharf area, including parking lots.

 


Attractions at Fisherman’s Wharf

In addition to several historic sites, there are also quite a few fun and interesting locations in and around Fisherman’s Wharf. Depending on how you decide to reach the wharf, your starting point will most likely vary. Taking this into account, we recommend using this as more of a general guideline rather than a step-by-step self-guided tour. That being said, our list of attractions will start on the west side and move toward the east, allowing you to easily travel downhill and see several sites along the way. We’ll include directions for each spot, giving you a better idea of where they are located.

 


The Ghirardelli sign at Ghirardelli Square. Image Source: Wkimedia user Ryan U, September 6th 2014.1) Shop at Ghirardelli Square:

What was once a Ghirardelli chocolate factory has since been transformed into a bustling shopping center. You will of course find various Ghirardelli confections for sale, but you’ll also find stores devoted to jewelry, clothing and various souvenirs.

Whether you want treatment for your sweet tooth or you just want to do some shopping while walking around Fisherman’s Wharf, this is a great place to start. Alternatively, you can get a taste of the history behind this landmark and learn more about it at the Ghirardelli Square website.

You’ll find Ghirardelli Square just one block west of the cable cars on Hyde Street.


2) Visit the Maritime Museum:

Whether you’re a history buff or you want to see some beautiful artwork while at Fisherman’s Wharf, head to the intersection of Beach Street and Polk Street to find the Maritime Museum. Admission to this museum is always free, so you don’t have to worry about this activity cutting into your budget. Inspired by art deco architecture, the building itself was designed to look like a ship getting ready to embark on an epic journey. Murals throughout the museum depict a combination of wild aquatic themes and strict modern design, creating an excellent mixture of two different artistic styles.

The San Francisco Maritime Museum. Image Source: Wikimedia user Chris J. Wood on May 28th, 2003. 

The Maritime Museum is open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM. You’ll find the museum one block away from Ghirardelli Square and two blocks west from the cable cars on Hyde Street. Click here to learn more about the history of this location.


3) See The Cartoon Art Museum:

Opening its doors once again in Fall of 2017, San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum has a new home right across the street from Ghirardelli Square. This building promises to be much better suited for the purposes of this museum, allowing them room to expand. With artwork spanning from the beginning of cartoon history to modern animation, there’s plenty to experience and learn about at this location. Although tickets probably won’t be free, they were fairly affordable before the move, so chances are that they won’t be too much more expensive once they officially re-open.

This is a perfect activity for families, as children are sure to love all of the amazing animation on display. As if that weren’t interesting enough, the museum is located right next to the site of an old chocolate factory! Located on the corner of Beach Street and Larkin Street, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the new home of San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum. The building is located less than a block from the cable cars on Hyde Street.


4) Hyde Street Pier/San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park:

Although it’s entirely free to visit Hyde Street Pier, you might want to pay for tickets to check out the historic ships on display. Access to each of these boats is made possible thanks to the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. Although admission is $10 for Adults, supervised children under 15 are invited to board for free. You can also enjoy these ships for free on special holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veterans Day. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about nautical history while you’re in the area.

Hyde Street Pier is located just a few blocks from Pier 45. The Hyde Street cable cars will take you within two blocks of the pier.


Pier 45, Shed A. Image Source: Wikimedia user Michael Rivera, September 7th 2012. 5) Pier 45: Pier 45 is part of Fisherman’s Wharf and has many attractions of its own, including the Museé Mécanique, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, the USS Pampanito, and the wafting smell of fresh crab and fish. This is a perfect place for history buffs to start their journey, providing views of notable WWII era ships and a museum filled with antique coin-operated games.

This pier is located at the end of the Embarcadero, just north of the Boudin Bakery and east of the Hyde Street Pier. Although it’s easiest to reach this site with the F-Line streetcar, you can also use the cable cars to get within a few blocks of the pier.


6) Museé Mécanique: As mentioned in our post about 10 Fun Places for Kids in San Francisco, the Museé Mécanique not only allows you to take a step back into a piece of San Francisco history, but it also allows you to experience history firsthand. Most of the arcade pieces in the museum were introduced at the Cliff House in Ocean Beach, but when the restaurant was renovated, the pieces were sold and brought to Pier 45.

Bring change, as the historic games and spectacles still work for a few quarters apiece. That being said, it is entirely free to enter the museum and see these machines on display. Located right at the bottom of Pier 45, this will likely be one of the first sites you see at the end of the Embarcadero.


SS Jeremiah O'Brien at Pier 45. Image Source: Wikimedia user Sanfranman59, March 8th 2008.7) SS Jeremiah O’Brien: When you’ve finished in the arcade, make your way out the back door of the Musée Mécanique and check out the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, one of two surviving Liberty ships of the 2,710 built during World War II. You can take a tour onboard, getting an accurate idea of what life was like on the ship and how it was operated.

This ship is located on the eastern side of Pier 45, right behind the USS Pampanito. You’ll see a big sign pointing out both ships, making them fairly simple to find. Click here for the SS Jeremiah O’Brien’s full website and information.

Fun Fact: Film director James Cameron used the SS Jeremiah O’Brien’s engine room and bow in the film Titanic.


8) USS Pampanito: A World War II submarine, the USS Pampanito rests alongside the SS Jeremiah O’Brien at Pier 45. This sub has been turned into a museum/memorial, providing visitors with a plethora of information about how the ship was used. As with the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, tours are available on this ship. Although admission isn’t free, most visitors appreciate the opportunity to get a closer look at our military history. For more information, follow this link to their website.

The USS Pampanito at Pier 45. Image Source: Wikimedia user BrokenSphere, February 17th 2008.


Sea Lions at Pier 39. Image Source: Wikimedia user SPBer, October 18th 2007.9) Pier 39: Just east of Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 offers many unique attractions and experiences. From their 365 Days of Live Music at the Pier to the famous lounging sea lions*, there’s never a dull moment at this San Francisco hot spot.

This location is also home to sites such as Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, the 7D Experience and Houdini’s Magic Shop. In addition to all of the attractions, you’ll also find a lot of wonderful food to eat in this area. To get a complete guide to Pier 39, click here for their website.

Pier 39 is located right off the Embarcadero between Grant Avenue and Stockton Street. The F-Line makes a stop right in front of the pier, making the streetcar one of the easiest ways to visit this landmark.

 *Check out the sea lions on the official Sea Lion Webcam.


10) Aquarium of the Bay:

The Aquarium of the Bay. Image Source: Wikimedia user Binksternet on September 15th, 2012.If the sea lions aren’t enough marine life for you, make sure to check out the Aquarium of the Bay. Located on the right hand side of Pier 39, this aquarium is easily accessible for most audiences.

Admission isn’t free, but they do provide a lot of fun family activities for visitors. This aquarium also includes a glass tunnel which allows you to walk through an area teeming with beautiful aquatic life forms of all kinds.

The F-Line will take you right to Pier 39, and you’ll probably even see this location from this streetcar. With several signs pointing you in the direction of the Aquarium of the Bay, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find.


11) Take a boat or ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf:
While strolling around Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll notice many boats docked in the small harbor. While quite a few of these are fishing boats, this does not mean they are only for fishermen. Many of the boats operate small private Bay tours and will even take you under the Golden Gate Bridge. The swells in the Bay can be large so, if you are uncomfortable on the water, we’d recommend taking a larger commercial ferry ride such as the Blue and Gold Fleet or Red and White Fleet. In addition to the standard boat tours, you’ll also find speedboats providing fun and exciting rides.

These services can be located simply by walking around Fisherman’s Wharf and looking for signs from the operators. Alternatively, if you want to take a trip with some of the most notable companies in the area, head to Pier 41. Needless to say, you’ll find this site right next to Pier 39 off the Embarcadero and Powell Street. For more information, take a look at our comparison of San Francisco boat tours.


12) Visit Alcatraz:
A view of Alcatraz from Fisherman's Wharf. Image Source: Wikimedia user Meburian, September 1st 2012.
It is very easy to visit Alcatraz from the general area of Fisherman’s Wharf. You can easily see The Rock from the Wharf and, by strolling down the Embarcadero, you’ll be at Pier 33 in no time for a ferry ride to Alcatraz. That being said, you’ll need to book tickets for Alcatraz in advance (recommended 90 days prior to desired date of visit), especially whjen the summer season is fast approaching. To learn more about the history of Alcatraz and how to get there, check out our blog posts Things to do in San Francisco: Learn about Alcatraz.

If you can’t manage to book a ride to Alcatraz, chances are you’ll at least be lucky enough to find a cruise around the island. Although only one tour company is allowed to visit Alcatraz island, several boat tour companies offer trips which will take you even closer to the infamous site. Check out our post on Alcatraz Cruises for more information.

 


Street Performers at Fisherman's Wharf. Image Source: Wikimedia user Tobias Kleinlercher, August 30th 2016.13) Street Performers and Artists at Fisherman’s Wharf:

There are many street performers and artists at Fisherman’s Wharf. From a silver man who never moves to spray paint art, you never know who or what you will find. Street artists are typically drawn to popular tourist sites, so their presence is to be expected. Although they may not always be professionals, their brand of entertainment is entirely free to enjoy.

**Don’t read on if you like fun surprises**
One example of these street performers is an icon of Fisherman’s Wharf, The Bushman. Stationed across the street from the Rainforest Café, the Bushman makes his living scaring tourists from behind an improvised bush. Though there have been copycats, people still line up across the street to watch the original at work. His “oogga booga”s make unsuspecting visitors jump as they stroll by what they think is an innocent bush.


 Click on the names of other attractions at and around Fisherman’s Wharf to learn more:


 

What to eat at Fisherman’s Wharf

Needless to say, you can expect a lot of fresh fish for sale, but you might be surprised to find a variety of other cuisine in this area as well. Whether you’re looking for seafood or delicious treats, there is plenty to eat around this part of town. Heck, you might even find yourself visiting a bakery for some fresh sourdough bread! To be honest, there are so many different eateries that it can be difficult to pick just one. With that in mind, we’ve made a list of the most popular restaurants near the piers. Check out this post on our favorite seafood restaurants in Fisherman’s Wharf for more information on excellent seafood spots.


Dungeness Crab Legs being prepared at Fisherman's Wharf. Image Source: Wikimedia user Fred Hsu, December 25th 2006.Dungeness Crab:

Crab is king at Fisherman’s Wharf, with the winter crab season being one of the best times to eat the crustacean. Eat it whole or in a delicious Crab Louis salad. There are many sidewalk stands offering seafood delicacies, but you can also go to one of the many restaurants in the area for a sit-down meal.

One popular location is the Franciscan Crab Restaurant located near Pier 45. This diner offers both incredible views and delicious meals in a nautical themed building. As their name implies, this company specializes in cooking up delicious crabs for their patrons, and one of their specialties just so happens to be the Dungeness Crab.

Although you can find this popular dish all over Fisherman’s Wharf, the Franciscan Crab Restaurant is located at Pier 43 ½, right off the Embarcadero between Pier 43 and Pier 45. The F-Line will take you within one block of this location.


 Crab Cioppino:

Just as Fortune Cookies do not originate in China, neither does Cioppino (pronounced “cho-pee-no”) trace its origins to the Mediterranean shores of Italy. Developed in the Wharf neighborhood, the dish consists of whatever seafood Italian families had on hand, as well as a healthy dose of tomato sauce and garlic.

To try a classic cioppino, you can visit any of the following restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf:

Get away from the Wharf and try it at San Francisco’s oldest restaurant, the Tadich Grill, located on California St. If you’re in North Beach, you can taste cioppino at Sotto Mare Oysteria and Seafood Restaurant.


San Francisco Sourdough Bread:

Bakers at Boudin Bakery show off their Crab shaped sourdough bread. Image Source: Wikimedia user BrokenSphere, February 18th 2008.Dating back to 1849, Boudin’s Bakery is the oldest running bread company in the city and known for San Francisco’s most famous bread: sourdough. According to their website, “the Boudin family’s initial recipe lives on in the hands and hearts of [their] expert bakers, with a portion of the original mother dough still starting each and every sourdough loaf [they] make.”

Yes, somehow a portion of the original mother dough is still being kneaded into each and every loaf of bread, enabling you to eat a piece of San Francisco’s history and heritage. You can find Boudin’s next to the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf sign. Look through their street viewing window to watch as the dough is made and check out some of the bread animal creations they have made!

Tip: For a real San Francisco treat, try a clam chowder bread bowl either at Boudin’s or at one of the outdoor vendors along the Wharf.

*Though Boudin’s is a sourdough bread icon, San Francisco’s off the charts food scene means that many bakers have tried their hand at creating the best sourdough bread in the city. SeriousEats did a taste test of twelve San Francisco bakeries: these are the results. You’ll find Boudin Bakery near Pier 39.


 Ghirardelli Square:

For dessert, climb a small hill or stairs to get to Ghirardelli Square. As we mentioned before, this location includes a variety of shops and restaurants. The square blockage was originally bought in 1893 by Domingo Ghirardelli for his Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. For a decadent chocolate experience, check out the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop. One of the highlights of the shop is watching the chocolate as it is mixed and melted in large machines in the back – you could be in Wonkaland!

In addition to the three chocolate shops you’ll find at Ghirardelli Square, there are also several other restaurants such as Waxman’s and Le Marais Bakery. Unfortunately, most people come for the chocolate, so they miss out on some of these fantastic and well rated eateries. Even if you’re just there to satiate your sweet tooth, the fresh Ghirardelli chocolate offered here is definitely worth the walk up to this wonderful and historic site.


By summer park - This image was originally posted to Flickr as Irish Coffee., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22819043 The Buena Vista:

Located near the Hyde-Powell cable car turntable, The Buena Vista is the birthplace of San Francisco’s famous Irish Coffee. The recipe, said to have originated in the Shannon Airport in Ireland, came to San Francisco through the original owners of The Buena Vista. A mixture of Irish whiskey, coffee, and cream, this treat is a San Francisco staple.

Fun Fact: In the 1968 film Yours, Mine and Ours, Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball sip Irish Coffees in the Buena Vista. The film, based on the true story of the North and Beardsley families, shows some of San Francisco’s most beautiful sights, including Fisherman’s Wharf. Check out a scene from the film on TCM’s website here. 


In addition to the wonderful local restaurants, you’ll also find popular eateries from around the country. Here is a list of the most notable names around Fisherman’s Wharf:

  • Hard Rock Cafe – Located on Pier 39 across from the Aquarium of the Bay.
  • The Rainforest Cafe – Located on the corner of Jefferson St. and Mason St., one block from Pier 43 ½.
  • In-N-Out Burgers – Located on Jefferson Street approximately one block from Pier 47.

 

Reviews of Fisherman’s Wharf

Ratings for this historic landmark are generally favorable, but numbers don’t exactly tell the whole story. With so many activities to enjoy, it’s hard to know exactly what a 4 star rating actually means. With that in mind, we’re breaking down reviews for some of the most popular attractions at Fisherman’s Wharf to give you a better sense of why visitors may or may not be drawn to this beautiful neighborhood.

Sea Lions:

Needless to say, the Sea Lions at Pier 39 are a pretty popular attraction. Sadly, although a lot of people love coming to see these interesting creatures, many reviewers complain that this area is often too crowded with tourists. When travelers do get a chance to see them, they report that these animals are funny and easy to watch for hours on end. Despite the large crowds, a majority of visitors are very happy with this experience.

Boudin Bakery:

It shouldn’t be too surprising that one of the most historic bakeries in the country is also a pretty popular site for tourists. Regardless of their thoughts about the crowds, most reviewers indicate that visiting Boudin Bakery is an absolute must. Many guests enjoy the fact that they make bread on the spot, while others simply enjoy the animal shapes they create for the crowds. Several patrons suggest that their sourdough bread is a delicious treat that is easy to eat on the go.

Seafood:

As with most locations by the ocean, fresh seafood is fairly easy to find at Fisherman’s Wharf. Several reviewers are very impressed with the quality of seafood available in this area. Most visitors are happy with all of the different options, indicating that it’s easy to get a great meal despite the large crowds. Other guests appreciate that most of the restaurants here are family owned, allowing them to support local businesses.

Street Performers:

Although some people don’t like street performers, others appreciate all of the effort they put into their act. As a matter of fact, a majority of visitors at Fisherman’s Wharf report that the performers in this area are very entertaining and add to the atmosphere. Several reviewers value the fact that these performances are essentially pay-what-you-want, which means you don’t have to spend much (if anything) to enjoy them.

Ghirardelli Square:

Who would have figured that a former chocolate factory could be so popular? Okay, so that was probably a foregone conclusion. Regardless, it’s worth noting that a lot of people come to Fisherman’s Wharf to see this wonderful shopping center. Most guests rightly recommend this spot if you need a chocolate fix. Some visitors indicate that the crowds aren’t as big at Ghirardelli Square, making it much less difficult to visit this location and have a good time.

Alcatraz Island:

Whether you visit for the views or you intend to actually take a ferry to Alcatraz (click here for more information), Fisherman’s Wharf is the place to be. Several visitors were impressed with all of the wonderful photo opportunities for Alcatraz. Other guests had a lot of fun visiting the island from Pier 33, indicating that they also spent a lot of time at the wharf and had fun while waiting for the trip. Although a lot of people dislike the size of crowds drawn to this area, most locals and tourists alike agree that the views of Alcatraz are spectacular.

The Golden Gate Bridge:

This incredible landmark is incredibly close to Fisherman’s Wharf, which makes this spot an excellent location for views of the bridge. Alternatively, several reviewers suggest that boat rides underneath the bridge can also be a lot of fun, giving you the chance to see the site up close and take wonderful photos. Although these cruises are very popular among some visitors, others are happy just to see the Golden Gate from the wharf.

Tourism:

If there is one thing that most people don’t like about Fisherman’s Wharf, it is all of the tourism. Several reviewers refer to this location as a tourist trap, indicating that the crowds can make it difficult to experience some of the most enjoyable activities. That being said, some guests actually appreciate this aspect of the wharf, pointing out that this actually draws a lot of wonderful businesses to the area. The wharf can get crowded, but most visitors still feel that it’s worth the trip.

Cable Cars:

Visitors from all over note that the cable cars are probably one of the best ways to access Fisherman’s Wharf. Although they won’t take you throughout the entire area, they are far more convenient and less expensive than parking nearby. A majority of reviewers recommend the cable cars and streetcar simply because it is easy and affordable to use, but they also note that these vehicles can get pretty busy. Keep that in mind and prepare for a short wait when hopping on and off.

Overview:

Even though a lot of visitors complain about the crowds of tourists at Fisherman’s Wharf, most people still enjoy their trip to this historic neighborhood. Whether you come for the wonderful views or the fantastic food, chances are you’re going to have a good time. Even those who referred to this location as a tourist trap were typically still impressed with the with the various sights and sounds on display. It’s fair to say that this San Francisco hot spot is most popular among families and couples.

And with that, we wish you a most enjoyable time discovering San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf!

Be sure to check our website for upcoming tours of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Baseball game

Getting Tickets to a Baseball Game in San Francisco

Posted by & filed under San Francisco.

Go Giants! Hey baseball fans, spring training is over and Giants games are back in San Francisco! If you’re in town for a few days, or if you live here, taking in a Giants game is a great way to spend a day or evening. Dress in orange and black those are the team’s colors. With a world class ballpark, delicious food, and one of the most exciting teams in baseball, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go!

History of the San Francisco Giants

The Giants didn’t always make their home in San Francisco. The team, which was founded in 1883 in New York under the name of the New York Gothams, remained in New York as the Giants until 1957. It then moved cross-country to San Francisco, setting up shop at Seal Stadium until it moved to Candlestick Park (former home of the San Francisco 49ers) for the 1960 season. In 2000, the Giants moved to their current location at AT&T Park.

Since moving to San Francisco, the Giants have won five National League pennants and two World Series Championships, those coming in 2010 and 2012. In 1989, the Giants played the Oakland A’s in the World Series, known as the “Bay Bridge Series.” On October 17, 1989, just before Game 3, the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck the Bay Area, causing a delay in the Series and subsequent sweep by Oakland.

The Giants have had many notable moments in its history: from the New York days, there were the 1951 Shot Heard ‘Round the World and The Catch by Willie Mays in 1954, while in San Francisco, it’s seen triumph and controversy with Barry Bonds’ homeruns and steroid allegations, JT Snow’s famous save, World Series’ victories, and much more! Today their biggest rival are the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Things to know for your day at the Giants Game

Giants Tickets
Purchase your tickets on the Giants website or visit Stubhub for additional ticket options. There are several other ticket sites to purchase off of but these are the two most reliable. If games are not sold out, tickets can be purchased at windows along the north side of the ballpark. If you have a Groupon account, the company has connected with the Giants to offer deals in the AT&T Park area. Click here to view.

Slumber Party in the Park
On July 30 this year, following the Giants/Pirates game, AT&T will host its annual Slumber Party in the Park. To purchase tickets and learn more about the event, follow this link.

For those of you who don’t regularly follow the Giants, we’ve compiled a few key notes for you to jot down before game time:

Ballpark
AT&T Park – If you hear fans call it PacBell or SBC, don’t be confused. Those were its names prior to the AT&T buyout, leading some fans to call it “The Phonebooth.” The ballpark faces the San Francisco Bay and is remembered not only for its pleasant brick exterior but also for the giant Coca Cola bottle and baseball mitt which shoot out from beyond the left field bleachers. To the south side of the ballpark is McCovey Cove – in the days of the Barry Bonds homerun chase, the cove was constantly full of eager kayakers looking to catch a splash hit.

 Names to drop this season: 

  • #28 Buster Posey – Everyone’s favorite catcher, Buster typically bats fourth for the Giants and is arguably the nicest and most humble guy on the field. He’s also the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year, 2012 National League MVP and batting title holder, and clutch in games that count. Check out his 2012 World Series homerun against the Detroit Tigers.
  • #9 Brandon Belt – At first base, “The Baby Giraffe,” as he is affectionately known, played a key role in the Giants’ 2012 World Series victory.
  • #48 Pablo Sandoval – One of the Giants’ most well-known players, aka “Kung Fu Panda,” was the 2012 World Series MVP, clinching his title with three homeruns in Game 1 against Detroit. This year, the buzz in spring training surrounded the Panda’s weight loss.
  • #40 Madison Bumgarner – The Giants left-handed pitcher has earned his status both on the mound and at the plate. On April 13th of this year, Bumgarner became the first pitcher of the year to hit a Grand Slam.
  • #55 Tim “The Freak” Lincecum – Every Giant earns his nickname and Timmy’s no exception. The formerly shaggy-haired pitcher has wowed Giants fans, winning the 2008 and 2009 National League Cy Young Awards, the 2010 Babe Ruth Award, and led the National League in strikeouts for three consecutive seasons, from 2008 through 2010.
  • Bruce Bochy – Since Bruce Bochy began managing the Giants in 2007, San Francisco’s team has won two World Series titles.
  • Lou Seal – The Giants’ mascot.

Say what?

 

Willie Mays, legendary Giant and namesake of Willie Mays Plaza at the entrance of AT&T Park, was one of a long line of Giants to receive a nickname that stuck. In 1979, “The Say Hey Kid” was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the crowning achievement on a brilliant Giants career.

Fun Fact: Willie Mays is the godfather of another Giants legend, Barry Bonds.

Try the Gilroy Garlic Fries!
You can expect to find traditional hot dogs, pretzels, and peanuts and Cracker jacks at AT&T, but one treat that drives Giants fans crazy enough to stand in long lines are the garlic fries. Though there are many decadent food and beverage options at AT&T, from famous Buena Vista-style Irish coffees to Crazy Crab Wharf grilled crab sandwiches, Gilroy garlic fries reign supreme at Giants games.  For a run through of what else is cooking at AT&T Park, check out this Eater SF article.

Fun for Kids at the Giants Game
Sitting through nine innings can sometimes be a tedious task. Calls to the bullpen, time between innings, and generally boring opponents can result in antsy children itching for something to do. Never fear! Beyond the outfield bleachers are several fun activities:

  • The giant Coca Cola bottle doubles as a slide. Make that two slides: the “Guzzler” and the “Twist-Off.”
  • Speed Pitch is a great opportunity to clock your fastball.
  • Little Giants Park gives kids the opportunity to hit a few balls and run around a downsized baseball field as the game continues behind them.

 

How to get to AT&T Park

AT&T Park is located at the southern end of the Embarcadero in what is known as the China Basin neighborhood on the corner of Third and King streets. Getting there by public transport is fairly easy, though on game days the Muni streetcars can be jam packed with fans.

Driving – Getting to the ballpark via automobile is quite simple and there are several parking lots in the neighborhood. For complete driving directions, click here.

 Public Transport – Within San Francisco, you can take the Muni Metro Streetcar to AT&T Park. You’ll want to take either the N Judah or the T Third to the Second/King stop. Muni buses 10 Townsend, 30 Stockton, 45 Union/Stockton, and 47 Van Ness also take you to the ballpark.

Bike – Biking to the baseball game is a very San Francisco thing to do and AT&T is prepared. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition provides secure bike parking on the south side of the ballpark along the Port Walk. The facility opens two hours prior to each game and closes half an hour following.

Free Tours by Foot wishes you a great game! Check out our walking tours as well!

San Francisco deYoungMuseum

Visit the de Young Museum

Posted by & filed under San Francisco.

Come and spend a day at the de Young Museum! Internationally acclaimed, the de Young Museum is the third most visited art museum in the United States* and one that every art, architecture, and culture lover should make a point of exploring. Reopened in a newly designed building in 2005, the de Young dates back to 1895 and, in its own words, “has been an integral part of the cultural fabric of the city and a cherished destination for millions of residents and visitors to the region for over 100 years.”

*Only the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York rank higher than the de Young in numbers of visitors. Because the museums of the Smithsonian Institution do not charge admission, their numbers may be higher but are not counted in the rankings.

Visiting the de Young Museum

  • The museum is located in Golden Gate Park at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco. To view a map, click here.
  • HoursOpen Tuesdays through Sundays – 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m
  • Extended Friday hours (March 28 – November 29, 2014) – 9:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.
  • General AdmissionAdult $10; Senior 65+ $7; Youth 13-17 $6; College student with valid ID $6; Children 12 and under FREE
  • *First Tuesday of the month is FREE General Admission to the de Young*
  • DISCOUNT: Public transport (Muni) riders will receive a $2 discount when purchasing tickets at the museum. Proof of transport is required.
  •  Special ExhibitsAdult $25;  Senior 65+ $22; College student with valid ID $21; Youth (ages 6-17) $15 
  • Click here to purchase tickets online.

The de Young Exterior
The exterior of the de Young was designed with the surrounding landscape in mind; warm copper hues, stone, wood, and glass reflect and balance the nature of Golden Gate Park around it. The perforated copper walls are meant to make one feel as though they were looking through a tree canopy — a work of art in itself!

The de Young Tower
Be sure to visit the de Young’s 144-foot tower for a panorama view of the surrounding Sunset and Richmond Districts, with the sunny day possibility of seeing even more of San Francisco.

The de Young Sculpture Garden
Before or after you visit the museum, take a stroll around the outside of the museum. Not only will this give you an opportunity to admire the building’s unique design and get an up close view of the copper, but it will also provide you with an added art experience. Through the various small gardens surrounding the museum, you’ll see sculptures both old and new, including some of the museum’s original sphinxes.

Permanent Collection at the de Young Museum
The de Young hosts one of the finest collections of American art, showcasing over 1,000 paintings dating from 1670 to today. Along with paintings, the museum has over 800 sculptures, 3,000 decorative art objects, 13,000 textiles and costumes, and much much more.

To get an idea of some of the works you will see, click here.

Special Exhibits at the de Young:
The special exhibits at the de Young Museum are ever-changing and always exquisite. With past exhibits including Bulgari jewelry, Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Danny Lyon photography, Jean Paul Gaultier’s haute couture fashion, Picasso, Van Gogh, Cézanne, and others, the de Young has proven itself a world class museum worthy of hosting the best.

Current and upcoming special exhibits include:

Georgia O’Keeffe
From February 15, 2014 through May 11, 2014, the de Young Museum will be hosting Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George, an exhibit which encompasses works from the artist’s summertime retreats to upstate New York’s Lake George.

National Gallery of Art
On loan from Washington, D.C., come to the de Young from June 7, 2014 through October 12, 2014 to see Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection. This collection features nearly 50 works by Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and others, giving viewers the opportunity to see some of the most important art from the post-World War II era. The centerpiece of the exhibit, Barnett Newman’s The Stations of the Cross, will be complimented by such works as Lichtenstein’s Painting with Statue of Liberty and Jasper Johns’ Perilous Night.

 

Getting to the de Young Museum

Taking Public Transportation to the de Young Museum

If you are downtown, you can easily climb aboard a Muni streetcar to get to the de Young. By taking the westward bound N Judah and hopping off at 9th and Irving, all you have to do is walk down 9th, cross Lincoln Way and head into Golden Gate Park; before you know it, you’ll be there. If you do take Muni, be sure to save your ticket – that will save you $2 on your General Admission ticket.

Parking at the de Young Museum
There is an underground parking garage located near the museum. There is also street parking within Golden Gate Park surrounding the museum.

 

Places of Interest and Food near the de Young Museum

Places of Interest near the de Young Museum

  • Music Concourse: Located directly between the de Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences, the Music Concourse and Spreckels Temple of Music were completed in 1900, is an important and historic site in San Francisco. Walk around it to view statues and monuments to important American figures, including Francis Scott Key, writer of the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Two non-American figures to look for (whose monument created a lot of controversy during the rising patriotism of World War I) are Goethe and Schiller, their monument being an exact copy of the original in Weimar, Germany.
  • California Academy of Sciences: While you’re in the neighborhood, you should check out the fun and interesting exhibits at the Academy. Located directly across from the de Young Museum, we’ve recommended it in our 10 Fun Places for Kids blog post, though you don’t need to be a kid to enjoy it!
  • Japanese Tea Garden: A nice place to relax after a few hours at the museum, the Japanese Tea Garden is an excellent place to reclaim tranquility and enjoy a cup of tea. Located next to the de Young, the Tea Garden is a must on your San Francisco visit.
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden: Enjoy a morning at the museum, lunch on Irving St., and then stroll back down 9th and cross Lincoln to view over 8,000 plants from around the world covering 55 acres of Golden Gate Park. Or, bring a picnic lunch and relax in the beautiful gardens for the afternoon. You won’t have to travel far from the de Young to get here.

 

Eating around the de Young Museum

The de Young Museum does house a small café which offers soups, salads and sandwiches. Though these can be tasty, a wide assortment of restaurants can be found less than a ten minute drive (or, in some cases, walk) from the museum.

Visiting the de Young Museum means that you are near some of San Francisco’s lesser known neighborhoods. Walking or driving ten minutes will take you to Haight St., Cole Valley or Lincoln Way/Irving St., all of which boast small restaurants and shops.

A few of the restaurants that we recommend are:

Lincoln Way/Irving St. – the closest neighborhood to the museum, within walking distance:

Cole Valley

Haight

Some other great food stops in Cole Valley and the Haight are listed in this 7×7 SF article.

Free Tours by Foot  wishes you a great day at the museum!  Check out our walking tours to complement your stay in San Francisco!

10 Fun Places for Kids in San Francisco

Posted by & filed under San Francisco.

If you have visited San Francisco as an adult, you know how much this city has to offer for people. From delicious restaurants to world class museums to exciting bars, this city has a plethora of activities. But visiting any big city can be a challenge when you’re bringing kids into the picture! But fear not, because we at SF by Foot have your back, and we’ve put together a great Top ten list of fun places for kids in San Francisco…and parents, too!

Also, an important note! You can get great discounts on many of these locations by picking up a City Pass!

So, let’s get on to the list!

Read more »

Bike Across the Golden Gate Bridge and Ferry Back

Posted by & filed under San Francisco.

Riding your bike over the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the best ways to experience this world famous bridge and world class view! In addition to the amazing views, you can get a great overview of the Bay Area. If you don’t have your own bike, don’t fret! And for all the budget-conscious folks out there looking for other great things to do, check out our post on the GoSF Card 3-day itinerary. Or take a free Golden Gate Bridge walking tour!


Video and Map

Bike Tours

Golden Gate Bridge Guide


 

Read more »

Chinese New Year’s Parade San Francisco 2014

Posted by & filed under San Francisco.

dragon in chinese new year parade san francisco 2014

Happy New Year! Again!

Yes, it may seem like we’re a month late but, in San Francisco, the New Year comes twice. With January 1 long gone, it’s time to celebrate the Chinese New Year 2014!

A two week celebration, the Chinese Lunar Year celebrations in San Francisco are the largest in the country. The first week begins with family parties and gift exchanges among friends and relatives, while the second week has more public festivities, including the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant and the world famous Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade.

Read on to learn more about Chinese New Year in San Francisco!

Read more »