We got a taste of Fisherman’s Wharf along the Barbary Coast Trail. On Day 6, it’s full immersion. San Francisco locals scorn Fisherman’s Wharf as being a tourist trap to be shunned at any and all times. But San Franciscans have never done Fisherman’s Wharf Billy-style. My friend Francisco accompanied me, so he can vouch for the experience.
I couldn’t believe that it took me 30 years from the 1st time I arrived in San Francisco to finally make it to Alcatraz. And it was completely worth the wait. Alcatraz is of course one of San Francisco’s top tourist attractions. But it is no tourist trap. It’s an educational experience. And there is a superb audio tour. You even get a nice boat ride out of the deal. By all means, take a trip to the Rock!
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Maritime Museum and Visitor Center
I did a quick pass through San Francisco Maritime on Day 1 along the Barbary Coast Trail. Now it was time for an in-depth exploration. When it comes to nautical history, I’m biased towards the East Coast and especially my hometown of Boston. But I was quite impressed with the offerings at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. And its location on San Francisco Bay can’t be beat!
Hyde Street Pier
What? I thought this whole post was about Fisherman’s Wharf?
Well, this whole post is about “Greater” Fisherman’s Wharf–San Francisco’s historic waterfront, really. The real Fisherman’s Wharf is the area around Pier 45, between Hyde Street Pier and Pier 39. Italian immigrant fishermen created the San Francisco fishing industry in the 19th century. The Italians started opening Italian seafood restaurants on the waterfront to serve their daily catch. A tourist attraction was born.
Pier 39. Come for the sea lions. Then get the hell out of there. Pier 39 is tourist hell, filled with chain restaurants and trinket shops. Fortunately, you don’t have to pass through the main passageway of Pier 39 to enjoy the absolutely delightful sea lions of San Francisco.
Back to Fisherman’s Wharf
I headed back to Fisherman’s Wharf to take a tour of the SS Pampanito, a World War II era submarine now permanently stationed at Pier 45.
I stopped by Ghiradelli Square on Day 1, and paid another visit on Day 6. Ghiradelli is a little crazy and a very touristy. Of course, you can get legendary San Francisco chocolate there. Mmm, chocolate. And they have pretty good ice cream there too.
The Good View
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time at Ghiradelli Square. Besides, it was dinner time! I dined at the bar at the Buena Vista, the establishment that famously first served Irish coffee in the US in 1952.
Fisherman’s Wharf–do it right, and you’ll love it!
[Factual information is primarily gathered from Wikipedia, so you know it must be true.]