Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references


  • History
  • To see
  • Museums
  • Warships
  • Maritime National Historical Park
  • Animal world
  • Shopping and entertainment
  • Events
  • Where to eat
  • How to reach us

Fisherman's Wharf is one of the most distinctive, and most visited, neighborhoods in San Francisco.

It is located in the north of the city; it borders the sea to the north and east, North Beach to the southeast, Russian Hill to the southwest, and Fort Mason to the west.

During your visit to San Francisco we recommend that you include Fisherman's Wharf among the stops of your trip, to have the opportunity to immerse yourself in its unique and inimitable atmosphere, with fishing boats, fish stalls, souvenir shops, restaurants serving fish specialties and French bakeries.


The history of Fisherman's Wharf begins in the nineteenth century, well before the area assumed its current name and conformation, when a portion of this territory was still called Meigg’s Wharf.

Meigg's Wharf was the main port of San Francisco: a place always in activity, where all sorts of goods arrived, from timber to food, where ships loaded with migrants landed and the railway went close to the sea, to transport the materials necessary for the construction of new buildings in the expanding city.

Here the fishermen, mainly of Chinese and Spanish nationality, often accompanied by their families, lived off the fruits of hard work at sea, which consisted of fishing for crabs and fish, carried out by small fishing boats that never went too far from the dock.

Like the whole San Francisco area, Fisherman's Wharf also suffered the consequences of the terrible earthquake of 1906, which left a trail of destruction and, as in this case, literally laid the foundations for the birth of new neighborhoods: on rubble and debris. that filled the port area, backfill was thrown, which served as a backfill to enlarge the area.

The current appearance of Fisherman's Wharf is the result of the work of the last decades, and is a mix of ancient and modern, with the testimonies of the sacrifices of those ancient fishermen that blend perfectly with more modern streets and buildings.

To see

Fisherman's Wharf is the ideal place to go, alone or with the family, to spend a few relaxing hours, go shopping, discover interesting stories and have fun.


Among the most interesting museums found in Fisherman's Wharf, there are two that are absolutely unmissable:

Madame Tussaud's San Francisco

Located in Jefferson Street, the celebrated wax Museum from London proposes to visitors life-size wax statues of important personalities from the world of cinema, music, sports, politics ...

Mechanical Museum

The Musée Mecanique, at Pier 45, houses a private collection of over 200 pieces, which trace the history of mechanical musical instruments (and not only) and includes objects from the 800s and 900s ranging from crank music boxes to modern arcade video games.


Walking through Fisherman's Wharf you can come across some warships dating back to the Second World War. Two are located at Pier 45: the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, one of the two Liberty ships (out of more than 2000 that were built) of the Second World War still in perfect working order, and the USS Pampanito submarine, which houses a museum inside.

Maritime National Historical Park

The Maritime National Historical Park is an American National Park that covers a large portion of the territory (and the surrounding bay) of Fisherman's Wharf, and precisely the part between Hyde Piers and Fort Mason.

Within this territory, and in the buildings of the Park, there are numerous testimonies of the maritime history of San Francisco and Fisherman's Wharf. Of particular interest we point out:

Maritime Museum. Located in the area called Aquatic Park, the Maritime Museum is housed in the building that housed the old Bathouse; built in 1938, it is shaped like a ship, and is a classic example of Late Art Deco architecture.

The museum houses a rich collection of artifacts related to the maritime history of the city and the neighborhood, as well as preserving numerous valuable frescoes, and is home to various exhibitions, both permanent and temporary.

Park Visitor Centre. The Park Visitor Center at the Maritime National Historical Park, housed in a brick warehouse dating back to 1908, is located at the intersection of Jefferson and Hyde Street. In addition to hosting various artifacts related to the world of the sea and navigation, it also includes a special path, called "A Walk Along the Waterfront“, Which allows you to take a trip to the historic waterfront of San Francisco, from the era of the Native American tribes to the XNUMXth century.

Fleet of historic ships at Hyde Street Pier. At Hyde Street Pier it is possible to admire and explore a small fleet of perfectly restored vintage ships.

Animal world

At Fisherman's Wharf there is something to see for everyone, even for nature lovers:

Aquarium of the Bay.
Located in the Pier 39 area, close to the sea shore, there is an aquarium that houses approximately 20.000 marine creatures.

In addition to admiring the numerous animal species, it is possible to feed some specimens, attend naturalistic presentations, and participate in “behind the scenes” tours.

Sea Lion Centre.
Managed by the Aquarium of the Bay, the Sea Lion Center, at Pier 39, is a center dedicated to the world of sea lions. Here you can visit interactive exhibits, watch educational videos and presentations presented by aquarium naturalists.

Shopping and entertainment

Fisherman's Wharf also has space for shopping and entertainment lovers.

Pier 39

Pier 39 is home to many attractions, such as the Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water Stage, where artists and jugglers entertain visitors; Frequent Flyers, with trampolines for all ages; Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze; the Pier 39's Musical Stair, a real musical scale, and the San Francisco Carousel, a classic merry-go-round with Spanish-made horses.

Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square, where the historic chocolate factory was born, is a real one shopping center. Located in the Maritime National Historical Park area, two blocks from Van Ness Avenue, Ghirardelli Square is home to a number of exclusive boutiques, ranging from books to jewelry.


Numerous events are held at Fisherman's Wharf throughout the year. Among the most interesting we point out:

San Francisco Fleet Week

Every year, in October, the magic of San Francisco Fleet Week is repeated, with stunt pilots from the United States Navy offering visitors breathtaking shows and lots of activities for families.

4 July

For Independence Day, Fisherman's Wharf dresses up, with many special events, concerts and a wonderful fireworks show over the Bay.

Where to eat

There are many clubs and restaurants in Fisherman's Wharf that serve delicious, high-quality food.
For fish lovers we recommend Alioto's, run by a family of Sicilian origins, which for three generations has been offering their own traditional recipes, prepared with the freshest fish caught in the area; while for those who want to taste traditional American cuisine the right place is Applebee's.

How to reach us

Fisherman's Wharf is accessible both by car and by major public transportation. The district is served by the F line of the service Street cars (tram), and from the Powell - Mason and Powell - Hyde lines of the Cable Cars.

Fisherman's Wharf can also be reached via ferry, both from Marin County (Tiburton and Sausalito) and from East Bay.

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