Merriment at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Posted by: Donna Smith, Contributor on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

I promised to continue my article from last week to concentrate on the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco. So, let’s jump right in and explore the enjoyable side of the wharf!


As I stated in my earlier article, this is my favorite area of the city, and my preference for lodging. There are the typical chain hotels ranging from the Marriott, Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton and Radisson. Local boutique hotels are also a good choice. Parking is a real problem at the wharf, therefore, staying at a nearby hotel gives the option to walk to restaurants, shops and local entertainment.

Pier 39 is a favorite hangout that houses the San Francisco Carousel. Handcrafted in Italy, the carousel is intricately hand-painted with famous pictures that depict San Francisco landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, Coit Tower and the endearing California sea lions. The carousel is highlighted with 1,800 twinkling lights and more than 30 animals to ride while listening to traditional organ music.

Also, on Pier 39 is the Aquarium of the Bay that is located at the water’s edge. A visit will take you through three main exhibit areas that display the amazing riches that lie beneath the surface of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding waters. Walk through crystal clear tunnels and watch San Francisco Bay’s most amazing animals swim overhead. Connect to San Francisco Bay through daily naturalist-led animal feedings and interactions, hands-on science experiments and sustainable seafood discussions. Take in the views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from the outdoor decks.

The sea lions that camp out in Pier 39’s West Marina have been lovingly named the Pier’s “Sea Lebrities.” They began arriving soon after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At first there were only about 10 to 50 sea lions, but due to an abundant herring supply and the marina’s protected environment, the population grew to more than 300 soon after. 

The population can increase up to 900 sea lions each winter. During the summer months, the sea lions migrate south to the Channel Islands for breeding season, but in recent years a small group stays year-round at Pier 39’s K-Dock. I truly enjoy spending time watching these interesting creatures in their habitat on every visit.

Ghirardelli Square is all about chocolate and I do love chocolate! The old factory now houses shopping and dining venues. You must visit the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop to see the chocolate manufacturing equipment, indulge in a hot fudge sundae and sample some of their famous chocolates. So very tasty!

Hyde Street Pier is home to the fleet of historic landmark vessels that are in the collection of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. For a modest admission price, visitors can board this fleet of turn-of-century historic ships. 

Last, but not least is the Cannery. This is the dining and shopping hub in Fisherman’s Wharf. Built in 1907, the remodeled building houses some great restaurants, shops, and other activities.

That’s the exclusive on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco’s Historical Waterfront District. I find it to be a convenient area for all that is offered nearby and a good base for other outings in the city.


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