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Difference between revisions of "San Francisco/Fisherman's Wharf"

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(Eat)
(Get in: Route 101 in California is a federal highway, not a state highway.)
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==Get in==
 
==Get in==
Driving there is easiest (but often slow) by going North on van Ness Avenue (which is part of State Highway 101) up to NorthPoint (a block beyond Bay), turning East, and then locating a parking space after a few blocks.  There are a number of smallish lots, and two major garages near Pier 39, at Stockton and Beach. If you plan to spend much time, you may want to park on a street farther away (but watch the posted limits) and take public transportation to the wharf.
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Driving there is easiest (but often slow) by going North on van Ness Avenue (which is part of U.S. Highway 101) up to NorthPoint (a block beyond Bay), turning East, and then locating a parking space after a few blocks.  There are a number of smallish lots, and two major garages near Pier 39, at Stockton and Beach. If you plan to spend much time, you may want to park on a street farther away (but watch the posted limits) and take public transportation to the wharf.
  
 
If you are so inclined and have good brakes, you can go from van Ness Avenue onto Lombard street East, up Russian Hill and down the `crookedest street'.  Then turn north on any of the streets (except Taylor, because of the cable cars) into Fisherman's wharf. Stockton street, 2.5 blocks past Columbus, gets you to the garages. Note that pedestrians and cable cars have the right of way.
 
If you are so inclined and have good brakes, you can go from van Ness Avenue onto Lombard street East, up Russian Hill and down the `crookedest street'.  Then turn north on any of the streets (except Taylor, because of the cable cars) into Fisherman's wharf. Stockton street, 2.5 blocks past Columbus, gets you to the garages. Note that pedestrians and cable cars have the right of way.

Revision as of 22:00, 2 January 2008

Fisherman's Wharf is the most well-known tourist attraction in San Francisco. As such it has the excess of T-shirt shops etc., that congregate in such areas.

But unless you are a purist, there are many enjoyable things to do.

Contents

Understand

Fisherman's Wharf is the North border of San Francisco along the San Francisco Bay. To the West you'll see the Golden Gate Bridge, and to the East the San Francisco-Oakland bridge. It started as a fishing port but is now the site of many museums, attractions, and some of the best seafood restaurants in the world.

The area is bounded to the south by North Point (a street). Parallel streets are Beach to the North and Bay to the South, reminders that the borders of San Francisco Bay kept moving. The main area starts at Pier 39, and terminates with the Aquatic Park in the West.

Walking further West along the Bay gets you to Fort Mason (10 minutes), along the Marina (another 15 minutes), to the restored wetlands in the Presidio (another 25 minutes), and up to the Golden Gate Bridge (another 35 mi nutes). There are buslines nearby in case you get tired.

To the East of Pier 39 one can walk along the Embracadero up the Ferry Building at the foot of Market (about 40 minutes), and beyond to the Ballpark (another 25 minutes).

Get in

Driving there is easiest (but often slow) by going North on van Ness Avenue (which is part of U.S. Highway 101) up to NorthPoint (a block beyond Bay), turning East, and then locating a parking space after a few blocks. There are a number of smallish lots, and two major garages near Pier 39, at Stockton and Beach. If you plan to spend much time, you may want to park on a street farther away (but watch the posted limits) and take public transportation to the wharf.

If you are so inclined and have good brakes, you can go from van Ness Avenue onto Lombard street East, up Russian Hill and down the `crookedest street'. Then turn north on any of the streets (except Taylor, because of the cable cars) into Fisherman's wharf. Stockton street, 2.5 blocks past Columbus, gets you to the garages. Note that pedestrians and cable cars have the right of way.

From the Bay Bridge it is best to get off soon, head North and East towards the Embarcadero, and then go West into the Fisherman's wharf area. Those exits are still being reconfigured to cope with future earthquakes. You'll see the garages across the way near Pier 39.

Public transportation is certainly the best if you are already in or near San Francisco:

  • The Powell/Mason cable car [1] line brings you a few blocks south of the center.
  • The Powell/Hyde cable car [2] line brings you to its western end.

(Both cable cars start at Market and Powell, near the BART and Muni station there, pass Union Square, and traverse charming hills and houses of San Francisco. The fare is $5.-, $1.- for seniors after 5:00pm, or use a Muni all-day Passport).

  • The historic F-line street cars (regular $1.50 Muni fare, $0.50 for seniors) come up on Market from Castro Street, turn West at the Embarcadero, and traverse much of Fisherman's Wharf. You can exit at any of the Market Street BART stations to catch the F-line street cars to Fisherman's wharf.
  • There a long-term plan to add an E-line with the same equipment, to go from the CalTrain station to Fisherman's wharf, and eventually past aquatic park, through the tunnel under Fort Mason, along the marina, all the way to Lucas film stuio in the Presidio.
  • The frequent #30 trolley bus and the #47 bus go from the Caltrain station to Fisherman's Wharf, using very different routes. The #30 bus goes past the Moscone Center (see SoMa entry), through downtown, passes Chinatown and North Beach and then West via Northpoint up to Van Ness. The #47 bus takes longer; it goes first through the grubby parts of the South-of-Market (SoMa) area and then via the Civic Center up van Ness, and finally East on Northpoint.

San Francisco is small, so from downtown points a taxi would not be much more than $10.- and maybe twice that from outlying areas.

See

From East to West, and roughly from very to less touristy:

  • The aquarium just east of Pier 39. A great place and the right size for kids, with an underwater tunnel, where the fish look at you instead of vice versa, and ponds where you touch various live marine animals ($14,- for adults, various discounts, family pass $34.- [3])
  • Ride the carousel ($3.- per ride) way inside Pier 39.
  • The sea lions at the end, on the west side of Pier 39.
  • The other tourists coming off the tourboats to Alcatraz at Piers 41 and 43. It's called Vista Pier, but that's not a valid descrption when it's crowded.
  • The street musicians and seagulls at the often crowded triangular plaza there.
  • The World War II submarine and Liberty-ship moored at Pier 45, with a much better view at its end.
  • The changing exhibits often shown inside Pier 45.
  • The actual fishing and party boats in the little harbor west of Pier 45.
  • Pier 47, where the fishing boats off-load, past the alley at Jones street -- the end of the F-line historic streetcar line. Tourists rarely venture past Scoma's restaurant.
  • The historic vessels [4] at the Hyde street pier, yet further west. Six major ships are on display. On payment of the $5.- National Park Service fee several can be boarded, depending on tides; kids can join for free. There are also a bunch of small craft and hands-on exhibits.
  • The cable car turn-around at the end of the Powell-Hyde line. It's all manual.
  • The old chocolate-making machinery at Ghiradelli's on Beach and Larkin.
  • The Maritime museum at Aquatic park, with many neat ship models. It's free, but due for a renovation.
  • The long municipal harbor pier at the end of van Ness, the closest you can get to Alcatraz on foot or bike. After dark it's a bit desolate.
  • The Fog coming in through the Golden Gate.

Do

Walk and enjoy being a tourist. If it gets too much for you, escape to the west into the Marina and the Presidio. You can always find a bus to take you back.

File:MP3map.jpg
Tour map from Geogad Mobile Tour

Your walk will be much more fun if you download the Geogad Mobile Tour of Fisherman's Wharf to your MP3 player. This free downloadable tour explains that there is much more to Fisherman's Wharf than souvenir shops as you explore its history on your own schedule. Starting at Pier 39 with its wild sea lions and winding its way among the outdoor crab stands, the fishing fleet, the historic ships and cable cars, the tour ends at the Municipal Pier as you gaze out over the San Francisco Bay toward the Golden Gate Bridge. This free MP3 walking tour can be downloaded directly from the Geogad website. Uploaded the tour to any MP3 device, but you will get the most from the tour if your MP3 player can display the included photos and maps.

Eat

Alas, much of the fare available is overpriced, but not all.

  • With kids: light seafood pasta dishes in the Sea Lion Cafe (part of Neptune's Palace at the end of pier 39), while watching the sea lions (but expect to pay a "San Fransisco Minimum Wage Surcharge" with every meal).
  • Dungeness Crab in season from the outdoor stands, or in one of the many restaurants.
  • Freshly caught fish, as Petrale Sole. In any restaurant though, insist on fresh fish.
  • Clam Chowder.
  • Sour dough bread. Boudin has a large outlet in Fisherman's Wharf, where you can get (among other things) their popular clam chowder in a bread bowl.

The #9 Fisherman's Grotto, at side of the plaza, is an old favorite. The small ground floor room is a homey Venetian place; the upstairs is larger and more modern. Its windows overlook the fishing boats. I can only guess why it is conspicuously absent from the tourist maps.

If you're not into seafood at all, it's best go to any other section of town. North Beach (Italian) and even Chinatown are in healthy walking distance.

Drink

  • A Fruit Margarita in the Cannery at Jefferson an Leavenworth
  • An Irish coffee at the Buena Vista cafe, at Beach and Hyde
  • A hot chocolate at Ghiradelli's remaining cocoa grinders shop, at Larkin and Beach.

Sleep

Many of the nation-wide chains have hotels in the area. Do check for the actual location if you want to be right in Fisherman's wharf - the names of the accommodations can be confusing.

A high-end accommodation is the Argonaut hotel [5], on Jefferson and Hyde, the end of the Powell-Hyde cable car and right across from the historical ships, with nautical exhibits next to its lobby. Rooms prices are about $250, but like most hotels, can vary greatly. Ask for a room away from the front if you mind noise.

At the other end of the spectrum and near the other cable car line is the San Remo Hotel [6], on Mason near Lombard and Columbus, three blocks south of the main tourist area. All rooms except a rooftop suite are under $100. It was built right after the 1906 earthquake, became apartments later, and has been nicely reconverted to a hotel. It appears to be a favorite place for European tourists. It is quiet, all non-smoking, has no room phones nor TVs, and shared baths. A nice and large Italian restaurant, Fior d`Italia, `The oldest Italian restaurant in the world', has moved into its street floor.

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