Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco: Know Before You Go Insider’s Guide

From iconic seafood spots to must-see attractions, navigate the Wharf like a local and uncover its hidden gems.

So, you’re heading to San Francisco and keep hearing about this “Fisherman’s Wharf” that boasts dozens of attractions and experiences. It’s easy to feel lost in the sea of online recommendations, with everyone telling you it’s a “must-visit” without explaining why. But guess what? We’ve got you covered!

Once you finish reading our insider’s guide, you’ll navigate the Wharf like a local, armed with all the juicy details and cool spots that’ll make your trip unforgettable. No more FOMO – let’s explore together!

About Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco started as a bustling hub for the city’s early fishermen, morphing over the years into the popular tourist magnet it is today. While remnants of its fishing history linger, the area nowadays has a lively atmosphere where visitors and locals alike come to soak in the bay views and happy vibes.

Additionally, while Fisherman’s Wharf is primarily known as a visitor’s haven, a small number of residents still call this thriving place home. Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco is both a residential and tourist spot, which many will agree adds to its appeal.

What to Know Before You Go

Getting Around

Most folks find that strolling around Fisherman’s Wharf on foot is the best way to soak in the ambiance. The attractions are close to each other since Fishermna’s Wharf is not that big, which makes walking both practical and enjoyable.

Related Post: Free Things to Do in San Francisco – 18 Must-Try Activities

If you’re looking to venture further or simply want a classic San Francisco experience, hop on a cable car! It’s a fun ride and a great way to get a lay of the land. And if you need to get to Pier 39 to catch a Golden Gate Bay Cruise or tour, it’s easy to walk or cycle along the scenic waterfront paths.

No bike? No worries! Visitors typically rent a bike to get around San Francisco, including Fisherman’s Wharf. If you have a ticket to the San Francisco Skyline Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Tour, use it to stop by Fisherman’s Wharf and explore nearby historic landmarks at your own pace.


Navigating parking at Fisherman’s Wharf can be a bit of a challenge. Metered street parking is available, but the spots fill up quickly given that thousands of people visit every day. If you can, consider leaving the car behind and using public transportation instead.

You can always book a Private San Francisco City Tour in an Open-Air Jeep. From Fisherman’s Wharf to Lombard Street, your personal guide will tailor the places you will visit to your interests.

Pier 39 Attractions in San FranciscoBest Time to Visit

While Fisherman’s Wharf is a year-round attraction, some times are sweeter than others. Mornings tend to be less crowded, and if you can wake up early you’ll be awarded with a beautiful sunset by the Wharf! Additionally, attractions at Fisherman’s Wharf don’t really close up during fall and winter. If you don’t mind a bit of chilly weather, it’s the perfect time to go with fewer crowds and the festive lights already set up.

Local Etiquette and Customs

Just a gentle reminder that although Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist hub, it’s still occupied by local fishermen so respect them and their trade! Additionally, please don’t feed the lions at Pier 39. They’re one of the reasons why visitors flock to the Pier, but for their safety and yours, it’s best to admire them from afar.

Fisherman’s Wharf Tours and Attractions

Go San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass

Looking for a family friendly way to explore Fisherman’s Wharf and beyond? The Go San Francisco® Pass is your golden ticket! With this pass, you can experience over 25 San Francisco attractions at up to 55 percent off retail prices.

When at Fisherman’s Wharf, use this pass to visit attractions like Madame Tussauds, Aquarium of the Bay, and The Flyer at PIER 39 & 7D Ride Experience.

Wide shot looking down on the Musical Stairs at Pier 39 in San Francisco, California, USA
photo credit: Hollywood Piano Company via Facebook

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds in Fisherman’s Wharf is another popular attraction. Step inside, and you’re instantly mingling with lifelike replicas of Hollywood stars, sporting legends, and influential figures from history. Strike a pose beside your favorite celebrity, or relive iconic moments in sports. It’s a fun and photogenic stop in the heart of the Wharf.

Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay at Fisherman’s Wharf is a family favorite. This underwater world allows visitors to get up close with colorful sea creatures, from playful otters to graceful rays. Kids also love the touch pools, where they can touch and interact with various marine animals, including sea stars and sea cucumbers!

There are mesmerizing tunnels throughout the Aquarium that give visitors a clear view of sharks, rays, and colorful fish gliding peacefully overhead.

Escape from the Rock Cruise

Alcatraz cruises typically depart from the piers at the Fisherman’s Wharf. Escape from the Rock Cruise departs from Pier 39, and then takes visitors around Alcatraz Island. As you sail, you’ll hear about legendary Alcatraz escape tales and interesting facts about the most feared prison in the United States. This 90-minute journey also offers glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge and various San Francisco landmarks, so ready your cameras!

view of alcatraz island during daytime in San Francisco, California, USAFisherman’s Wharf Restaurants

Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco is renowned for its fresh seafood restaurants! Here’s the chance to feast on the catch of the day at some of the most popular and celebrated seafood dining establishments:

Scoma’s Restaurant – This iconic restaurant has been family-owned for three generations and is famous for serving the freshest seafood from pier to plate. Each morning, local fishermen deliver their catch directly to Scoma’s pier, allowing the chef to handpick the finest seafood for a daily changing menu.

Related Post: What to Do When You Visit Alcatraz Island for the First Time

The Crab House at Pier 39 – Visitors flock here for the World-Famous Dungeness Killer Crab®, a mouthwatering treat roasted in a secret garlic sauce. As one of the best crab destinations on Fisherman’s Wharf, this spot promises crab lovers an experience dripping in delectable goodness.

Old Fisherman’s Grotto – Aside from the breathtaking harbor views while dining, visitors also look forward to their award-winning wine list, expertly paired with the freshest seafood selections. Whether you’re marking a special occasion or simply indulging, this establishment promises a celebratory treat for your senses.

Fisherman’s Wharf Hotels and Lodging

Staying at a hotel in San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf offers guests a prime waterfront experience. With breathtaking bay views as a backdrop, these hotels take travelers steps away from iconic attractions and mouthwatering seafood restaurants.

You’ll wake up to the sight of Alcatraz or the Golden Gate Bridge, then leisurely stroll to nearby piers for a fresh crab lunch.

Here are three of the best hotels at Fisherman’s Wharf for all types of travelers:

Guest Room at Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel - San Francisco, California, USA
photo credit: Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel via Facebook

Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco Vacation Packages

Planning a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco CA? Consider grabbing a vacation package from Tripster. Not only does it help you stick to a budget, but it also lets you bundle up on tickets to top attractions like Madame Tussauds and the Aquarium of the Bay. Plus, you get to pair these with your choice of lodging. Essentially, you get to explore Fisherman’s Wharf the smart way and save with these all-in-one deals.

Fisherman’s Wharf has long been the heart and soul of San Francisco’s vibrant waterfront culture. There’s so much to see and do, so be sure to spend some time dining at the fresh seafood eateries, choosing the best hotels with Bay views, and really immersing yourself in experiencing what makes this place truly special.

Have You Been to Fisherman’s Wharf?

Did we miss any tips or information in our guide? Leave us a comment below!

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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...

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