Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39 Insider’s Guide

Are you visiting San Francisco?

Our city’s Fisherman’s Wharf is an absolute must-see! Keep on reading, and we’ll tell you all you need to know about this fun neighborhood – including tips, events, and more!

Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the busiest tourist areas in San Francisco. This historic waterfront district, located on the northern waterfront,  is the vital center of our city’s fishing industry and is filled with souvenir shops and world-class restaurants. The Wharf is genuinely a place to be in San Francisco!

The Wharf began back in the Gold Rush days, where Chinese immigrants fished just offshore, followed by the Italian fishermen. Stands were set up along the beach selling crab, oysters, shrimp, and much more.

It is the fishing fleet, past down for generations, which makes Fisherman’s Wharf a place of activity and fun! You can still see the fisherman at work in the neighborhood’s “Fish Alley.” There are endless opportunities for entertainment from the famous sea lions on Pier 39 till the World War II submarine. Fisherman’s Wharf has it all. 

How to explore Fisherman’s Wharf 

If you are going to Fisherman’s Wharf with your family, pier 39 is the place to go. This pier is filled with attractions and so much more. It is also the center of Fisherman’s Wharf. From here you can walk to Ghirardelli Square, Aquatic Park, and all of the attractions, shops, and museums. 

If you are not exploring Fisherman’s Wharf with your family, we would suggest going further west from pier 39. This part of the area is filled with history, very interesting!

The most important thing when exploring Fisherman’s Wharf is… FOOD! When going west from pier 39 you’ll find some world-class fish restaurant and food stands that are famous for their crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. A dish you should also definitely try if you’re a fish lover is: Cioppino, Dungeness Crab Cakes!

If you want to know more about the history and get all the best local insights and recommendations about Fisherman’s Wharf, we’d suggest you hop on a guided tour! Dylan’s offers guided San Francisco tours via minibus and bike that start in Fisherman’s Wharf, as well as private San Francisco tours. After exploring some other cool neighborhoods in the city, Dylan’s will take you across the Golden Gate Bridge to a cute waterfront town called Sausalito and, depending on the tour you choose, Muir Woods National Monument. You can also choose to do an Alcatraz add on if you want the full San Francisco experience!

What to expect when visiting Fisherman’s Wharf 

Fisherman’s Wharf is a place where tourists love to spend the day so, depending on which part you are visiting, you can expect some crowds. Pier 39 is by far the busiest part of Fisherman’s Wharf. The attractions and famous sea lion dock make for this pier to be the main attraction. But when you leave this area, you can enjoy the calm and peace that Fisherman’s Wharf also has to offer.

If you want time to explore Fisherman’s Wharf to your heart’s content, try Dylan’s Famous Tour! Our most popular tour begins and ends in Fisherman’s Wharf, giving you plenty of time to see the neighborhoods most notable landmarks.

What to visit while exploring Fisherman’s Wharf

Pier 39

  • Cost: free
  • Hours: Attractions 10am – 8pm
  • Restaurants 11am – 9pm
  • Shops 10am – 8pm

Pier 39 is a waterfront park, famous for its spectacular views of San Francisco Bay. The pier has many restaurants, eateries, shops, and attractions for you to enjoy! From here you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and Alcatraz. Pier 39 is also a world-famous attraction for sea lions!

Aquarium of the Bay

  • Cost: Adult $31.75
  • Kids (4-12) $21.75
  • Seniors (65+) $26.75 
  • Hours: 11am-6pm

The Aquarium of the Bay is home to more than 20,000 marine animals, such as sharks, rays, octopuses, jellyfish, otters, and many more! You can discover the beauty and diversity of the Northern California aquatic life at Pier 39. 

Pier 45 / Hyde Street Pier

  • Cost: free
  • Hours: open daily, 10am- 5pm

Two remaining fully functional ships that were launched during World War II are docked at Pier 45 at the Hyde Street Pier. Admiring the fleet of historic landmark vessels is free, but if you want to board this fleet, a modest admission fee is asked. The park also offers craft programs and a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Madame Tussauds

  • Cost: Online price $29.99
  • Hours: Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, 12- 6pm
  • Fridays and Saturdays, 12- 7pm

Party with Bay Area legends, A-list icons, and rock royalty at Madame Tussauds located at Pier 39. Another plus, they have an Alcatraz-themed escape room! (the escape room ticket is not included in the price)

Maritime Museum

  • Cost: free – $15
  • Hours: Wednesday- Sunday, 10am- 4pm

After troops occupied the building in WWII, the building became home to the San Francisco Maritime Museum. It is also the country’s first-ever Senior Center. Stop by to enjoy the vibrant, colorful murals and the dreamy underwater world! The entree fee depends on the displayed exhibition. 

Musée de Mécanique

  • Cost: free
  • Hours: 10am- 8pm

This family-owned museum’s collection consists of more than 300 items, consisting of 20th-century penny arcade games, Orchestrions, coin-operated pianos, and animations, down to small bird boxes.  

Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze

  • Cost: (Ages 6 and up) $5
  • Hours: 10am- 8pm

Get lost in the magic of Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze. Black lights set this labyrinth of mirrors a glow, making you completely disoriented. This cool maze is a perfect attraction on a rainy day! 

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

  • Cost: Adult $29.99
  • Kids (5-12) $29.99
  • Hours: Mondays- Thursdays, 11am- 6pm
  • Fridays and Saturdays, 10am- 9pm
  • Sundays, 11am- 7pm

At Ripley’s Believe It or Not! you will discover the strange, the beautiful, and the shocking. Not only do they have incredible eye-popping exhibits, they even have ancient artifacts. This family fun attraction has a collection from shrunken heads to Egyptian mummified foot and artwork. They also have a laser room and a maze; all included in the ticket price!

How to get to Fisherman’s Wharf

Before you can explore Fisherman’s Wharf, you first have to get there. Luckily, Fisherman’s Wharf is very conveniently located for public transport. Here are a couple of options for you to get you to Fisherman’s Wharf:

  • Muni transport – It is very easy to take the muni bus to Fisherman’s Wharf. If you are departing from Union Square you can simply take bus 30 to Van Ness + North Point or Jefferson Loop. Muni’s F-line streetcar, departing from the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero, will also take you directly to the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Cable Car – This tourist attraction is a very fun way to get to Fisherman’s Wharf. There are two lines that run from Union Square (Market Street) to Fisherman’s Wharf – the Powell-Hyde line and the Powell-Mason line. They both have a different route so be sure to check which route you want to take before choosing a line!
  • Dylan’s Electric Bike Rentals – Renting a bike to explore Fisherman’s Wharf is an excellent option if you want to explore at your own pace. You can rent a 7-speed bike or an electric bike at Dylan’s bike shop, which is only a short 5-minute bike ride from North Beach to Fisherman’s Wharf. The roads to Fisherman’s Wharf are mostly bike lanes, but if you are nervous about biking the streets yourself, you could choose to book a private guided bike tour instead. This bike tour will help you explore all the best neighborhoods in San Francisco!

If you would rather go by car, be aware of the high prices for parking! Even if you are lucky enough to find a parking spot, parking in this area is pretty expensive. 

Want to see the city and have free time to explore Fisherman’s Wharf? Dylan’s Famous Tour starts and ends in Fisherman’s Wharf, giving you plenty of time to explore before or after your tour of the area’s most notable landmarks and Muir Woods!

Events in Fisherman’s Wharf

Independence Day, 4th of July

Celebrating Independence Day on the 4th of July is an American tradition. This Holiday is celebrated with live music and a spectacular firework show viewed from Aquatic Park, Ghirardelli Square, and Pier 39 every year! 

Fleet Week

SF Fleet Week is an annual event that draws thousands of people to the city. It is an exciting event that features the Blue Angels, an airshow over the Bay and Fisherman’s Wharf, and ship tours, all weekend long!

Annual Crab Feed

The annual Crab Feed Event in January is an extravaganza where you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat crab feast combined with bands, dancing, and other family-fun activities. These feeds diverse benefit causes, such as the needy, pets, vets, and much more. Make sure to make reservations! The feeds tend to sell out quickly. 

For all more information about Fisherman’s Wharf’s events, be sure to visit their website!

Want to explore Fisherman’s Wharf and more?

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