Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

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  • Crabs who gave their all
    Crabs who gave their all
    by califdweller
  • Fisherman's Wharf
    by machomikemd
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    boats
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  • brumsch's Profile Photo

    Fisherman's Wharf - why the locals don't bother

    by brumsch Written Aug 2, 2011

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I maintain there are two kinds of tourists: those who want a unique experience and seek to immerse themselves in the local experience, and those who don't put much thought into what makes a place interesting beyond the convenience experiences set up for them that the tourism industry thrives off of. Fisherman's Wharf is for the second group of people. The place is full of kitschy shops selling useless knick-knacks, cheap t-shirts, and the occasional postcard. The food stalls on the wharf are no better. But if you don't like to try new things, enjoy when your kids point and beg for each new chotchky they see, and live for mass-produced, deep fried fair food, maybe this is the place for you after all.

    Unique Suggestions: If you feel you must at least "see" the wharf and you happen to get hungry, the only place I can recommend going is Chowders. They serve decent tasting clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. It's not exactly authentic, but certainly better than the alternatives. And then you can give yourself a pat on the back for checking three things off your San Francisco list: the wharf, clam chowder, and sourdough bread.

    You might as well sneek a peek at the sea lions too, but be warned: they are real stinky.

    Fun Alternatives: For those who cite "food" as one of their reasons to visit San Francisco, head instead further east down and around the Embarcadero to the Ferry Market Building. Inside, you will find all manner of delicious treats. Outside, on Saturdays, you will find hundreds of stalls that make up the renowned farmer's market. Indulge in sample after tasty sample, and don't forget to buy a little of this and that for an al fresco lunch on the bay.

    Related to:
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    • Food and Dining
    • Family Travel

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    Lots of Shops to urge you to buy

    by machomikemd Updated Jul 8, 2011

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    restaurants
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    hey, I love fisherman's wharf and pier 39 and I often go here since it is one of my favorite places in the city to have my fave clam chowder in a sourdough bread and some good ole shrimp cocktail and just to savor the view but still, it is a tourist trap for tourists since the prices of the food and shop items and the souvenirs here are on the high side as compared to shopping at the downtown area so if you are shopping for souvenirs, just buy at the union square area since it is a little cheaper there. Even the lobster and the dungeness crabs here are way expensive at $ 14.99 a pound for the lobsters and $ 12.99 a pound for the dungeness crabs.

    Unique Suggestions: you cannot resist going to the fisherman's wharf and pier 39 since it is one of the major attrations of San Francisco but again, don't buy souvenirs here if you are on the budget conscious type since the prices are higher than in the union square area.

    Fun Alternatives: no alternative since you will definitely go here but again don't buy the stuff if your are budget conscious

    website: www.visitfishermanswharf.com/
    address: The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94133
    phone:(415) 956-3493

    Related to:
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    • Sailing and Boating
    • Fishing

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  • Camera shops along Fishermans Wharf - Beware

    by Generic_Penguin Updated Jun 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    On holidays from Australia and went to Fishermans Wharf and noticed 5 or so camera stores all on the same street. Thought great stuff all this competition is great for the consumer. In to first store and they gave us a great price on camera and then proceeded on an intenses don't take no for an answer had hard sell on accessories and lenses at massive markups hopping we only done research on the camera itself. We stuck to our guns and after 20 minutes said only the camera please. Then they told us they don't have any in stock and to try the people further down. Yet there are 3 on the shelf.

    Repeat the process at each shop, each one given opportunity to retry the exact same hard sell on more lenses. They are all texting each other as well so they know you are coming. The 4th shop we went to before telling them no to the $700 additional lens they tell you cost them $450 that a google search show is $300 RRP. I asked if they had the camera in stock and to double check and it was all yes yes. Then told them no to the extra lenses and only wanted the camera. Then we are told the camera cost they said was not what they said multiple time in last 20 minutes. When I told them they did they abuse me and said "Am I calling him a lier". I pull out iPhone and told them I recorded conversation as 4th place on same road that has tried something. They told me and my wife we were trouble makers and abused us as we were walking out.

    Buyers beware.

    Unique Suggestions: Research what you want and dont buy anything you have not researched prior.
    Get everything in writing on the receipt they promised you and pay on credit card if your credit card offers you fraud protection

    Fun Alternatives: Stick to brand name shops.

    Related to:
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    • Photography
    • Family Travel

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  • Do Not Spend One Dime Here!

    by littlebirdy Written Dec 14, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Fisherman's Wharf has always been touristy but it wasn't always the tourist trap it's become now. First of all, everything in that area is twice what it would be anywhere else. Aside from a few reasonable street vendors, the prices there are pure gouging. Also, the homeless in the area are allowed to run wild. They harass tourist, are very aggressive and have the run of the place, courtesy of the City.

    The fact is, Fisherman's Wharf is not San Francisco. it's purely a tourist trap.

    Unique Suggestions: There is a wonderful boat tour of the GG Bridge and Alcatraz area that leaves from the Wharf. For only $15 you get a one hour tour of the bay and go under the GG bridge and around Alcatraz Island. It was the best think I did.

    Fun Alternatives: Anywhere but Fisherman's Wharf.

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    Fisherman's Wharf

    by Dabs Written Sep 20, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Most local San Franciscans claim that they would never be caught dead at Fisherman's Wharf, an area by the waterfront that is filled with tourist oriented restaurants and shops. Yet it is the #1 tourist attraction in San Francisco. I can relate to this sentiment of the locals, I feel the same way about Navy Pier in Chicago. And yet just like with our local tourist trap, I completely understand why people visit Fisherman's Wharf, this is where the boat cruises leave from, this is where you can rent bicycles from, find souvenirs for the folks back home and find family friendly chain restaurants including Hard Rock Cafe and In-N-Out Burger. We ended up here several times during our trip, eating a bowl of chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from Boudin's twice, or to find a connection to a bus or tram. I even thought that this location would have made a better base for our visit seeing as we always seemed to end up down here, I read that there's no nightlife and it's deserted after dark but we saw plenty of people in the evening.

    Unique Suggestions: You're a tourist, accept that you are a tourist and take a walk through the area

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    Fishing for Suckers at Fisherman's Wharf

    by Rixie Updated Sep 5, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This seems to be on every tourist's To Do list, but it's an area of San Francisco that makes me wince. There are far too many people, few of them local, and a multitude of shops selling tasteless souvenirs and T-shirts, e.g. I Got Crabs at Fisherman's Wharf.

    Unique Suggestions: If you absolutely must go to the Wharf, buy a shrimp cocktail to eat as you walk. It will make the tackiness bearable.

    Fun Alternatives: Just beyond the Wharf, near Aquatic Park (marked by long lines of tourists waiting for cable cars), there are two shopping complexes that are still touristy but of passable merit.

    The Cannery - This red brick complex really was a cannery and has now been converted to shops and restaurants. There's often live entertainment in the courtyard.

    Ghirardelli Square - Former chocolate factory. It used to be all shops and restaurants, but the new Fairmont Hotel now takes up much of the Square. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop is still there -- treat yourself to an ice cream concoction and buy bars of San Francisco chocolate to take home. Unless, of course, you're from Belgium. :)

    Related to:
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    • Family Travel

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  • DODGY CAMERA SHOP

    by TONYBROWNE114 Written Oct 4, 2008

    I had a particularly unpleasant start to my US trip in May this year after I went into a camera shop in Jefferson St, Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco.
    This is further to a comment by someone else who had a similar experience a few years ago, so I thought I would add my experience/advice.
    I went in looking for a humble charger, first they tried to flog me a completely useless one for my Canon 1Ds MKII DSLR(which I stupidly forgot to pack,but got away with it in the end anyway!!).Upon seeing this piece of kit they seemed to assume I was just another stupid rich tourist and then tried to flog me some super duper image enhancing piece of glass for my Canon gear,which defied the laws of physics as far as I could see.They totally bored me for 15 minutes while knocking it down from 800 to 300 bucks in the process, hmmmm!?
    Unusually for me I kept my composure in this really irritating hard sell situation and eventually left, by which time the clowns got really rude and tried to make out they were keeping the shop open just for me, ah so considerate of them!!
    Unlike me folks, anyone going there please be prepared and have the gear and give these cowboys a miss.Fortunately the rest of my round World trip went brilliantly.
    Most of us go on holiday because we earned it(me no exception), so please don't let these clowns waste your hard earned leasure time, enough said.
    Tony Browne.

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    The Bush Man!!

    by Mambino Written Jun 17, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Personally, I think Fisherman’s Warf is a little overrated, but, if you feel compelled to venture to the people-packed congestion, which is the Warf, make sure you keep an eye out for the Bush Man. One of my favorite “street performers” I’ve ever encountered. His genius is in his simplicity. He breaks off a tree branch with plenty of leaves that can conceal him from the distracted tourist passer-bys. As people walk by him, he growls and shakes his branch at them…9 out of 10 times startling the hell out of ‘em. It is hilarious to watch the unsuspecting folks scream and jump and drop whatever they’ve got in their hands.

    I don’t know how long this guy has been in business, or if there have been several Bush Men over the years. Like a time honored tradition that has been passed down from father to son time and time again – or if the originator has franchised out the program. Regardless, keep your fingers crossed you can catch him in action.

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  • Dodgy camera shops and areas to avoid

    by travel-lite Written Feb 18, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Be very aware if you decide to shop for cameras along the Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. One particular shop I went to was a good example. It was about 160 Jefferson St opposite Boudin Cafe (the latter has great Chowder and Sourbread by the way). I wanted a specific camera lens and was told they don't have stock and to come back tomorrow (CLUE #1: as described by altizachen in 2004). They gave a fake low price to bait you (CLUE#2). After I wasted my time and effort getting back there the next day at their specified time, I found they never had the stock. They said they had it at the warehouse (CLUE#3), even though they said they would have it at the store that day. Anyway, as I was also looking for a polarizing lens filter and was leaving San Fran that day, I decided to check out the filter and just get that - yes, stupid in hindsight. When I was about to purchase it, suddenly the price was more than double (they said the lower price they quoted the night before was for another filter) - bait and switch (CLUE#4). Then at the checkout they still tried to squeeze a bit more from you, specifically, increasing the price by another dollar and then not give you the change you should get. When I queried about it, they get all fired up and abusive (totally unprofessional) and accuse you of being scummy. It's not the amount, but the principle, and they certainly had been cheating through the whole process. Lastly, the last warning sign (CLUE #5) I should have paid more attention to was them arguing and then bad mouthing another customer.

    As for districts to avoid : Tenderloin region, and Market St between 8th and 5th street at night. It was rather scary walking through there with all the dodgy characters milling around (and I'm not talking about the harmless beggers). It's may be fine during the day but a different picture at night. Surprising how scenary can change suddenly from one section of Market St to the nicer, more touristy area of 4th St and Market St for example (all within a 5-10 min walk).

    Unique Suggestions: Don't buy your camera equipment from the dodgy shops near Fisherman's Wharf (particularly the one opposite Boudin Cafe). If you do, be very wary of their techniques and their poor quality gears they try to sell you. Always ask for a receipt because they will not give one you otherwise. Even that is probably worthless. I will always buy my equipment from a big reputable camera shop in the future, even if I have to pay more.

    Avoid certain districts at night, ask your concierge if you are staying at a hotel; they should be able to map out the district for you.

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  • Fisherman's Wharf

    by SanFranciscogirl26 Written Jun 20, 2007

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    Pier 39 is exspensive. The small aquarium is short and not worth the price. Often there is a street performer or show in the square or along the streets which is fun to see. There is an arcade their to. Just down the way off pier 39 is a Rainforest Cafe, Ripley's Believe it or Not museum and The Wax Museum. Along side streets away from the main street around there are very cheap places to buy a bundle of t-shirts and loads of cheap keychains and souveniers to get for friends back home. (A lot of Alcatraz T-shirts) I often buy San Francisco gifts for people there who want something with the word San Francisco on it. It's a good stop to get gifts. Some of the locals (my friends) are typically snobby and don't like tourist places but I still enjoy the area and love getting clam chowder in a breadbowl. Its my favorite thing!

    Unique Suggestions: I would avoid buying anything off pier 39 unless you really really want it. The other shops down the way have the same stuff cheaper. I would forget about parking their to it's exspensive. Go somewhere else and take the bus or cable car. I saw they recently raised thier prices to 5 bucks for the short ride. It used to be nice to go on them and pay a little more than the bus, but its to much for that now if you're local.

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    • Budget Travel

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  • Do you really need an Alcatraz prison like shirt?!

    by frenchlondon Updated Mar 14, 2007

    This is the place where you get to buy all the things you will never need in life, things that will do nothing but makes you look like an idiot. Honestly, once you are back where you are from, will you go out and do your shopping for groceries with an Alcatraz tee shirt!? Wouldn't that be embarassing!?

    Unique Suggestions: The place is alright to have a quick look around, plus it's pretty much the place to go to catch ferries (although the ferry to Alcatraz is no longer there), it is a bit closer to Embarcadero now, not pier 41.

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  • Not the San Francisco you are looking for.

    by haathi Updated Mar 7, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Fisherman's Wharf is the ultimate tourist trap of San Francisco. Tell anyone who hasn't lived in San Francisco that you are "Visiting San Francisco" and the first thing they'll tell you is "Don't miss the Fisherman's Wharf".

    The Wharf is filthy, filled with trinket stores, t-shirts stores, cheap food joints and losers hanging out and trying to make a buck however which way they can. Don't waste your time here. This is not representative of the City of San Francisco at all !

    - theshiva

    Unique Suggestions: Paco Spray. He is a gifted spray paint artist who creates art on the fly using spray paint and then sells it.

    Of course, as with other successful artists, there are "copy cats" on the Wharf, who try to imitate what he does, but do not quite succeed.

    - theshiva

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    Fisherman's Wharf - Family entertainment.

    by Jerelis Updated Nov 21, 2006

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    The Balclutha at Fisherman's Wharf.
    1 more image

    Family entertainment is the specialty along Jefferson Street with attractions such as the Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Fun to see, because we also visited Ripley's Believe It Or Not! in Surfers Paradise, Australia. At the San Francisco Maritime National Park (hyde Street Pier) you can see and board four national landmark ships, including the famous Balclutha. On January 15, 1887, with a twenty-six-man crew, Balclutha sailed for San Francisco. The ship entered the Golden Gate after 140 days at sea and never left.

    Our conclusion after a few hours at Fisherman's Wharf; it's very toursitic indeed, but also a kind of fun. Cheap trinket shops are everywhere. The public restroom was tiny and not very clean. The freshly made crepes were great. The sea lions and occasional seal were fashinating. Interesting to see the fishing boats. Fairly good seafood at stands and little restaurants nearby. Not for discerning tastes, but more a "fun at the faire" type of morning.

    Address:
    Beach Street and the Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94109.

    Directions:
    It is loosely defined as the area Ghirardelli Square (near Pier 41) and Pier 35.

    Unique Suggestions: See the sea lions.

    Fun Alternatives: None...maybe it's also a must-see?

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    Fisherman's Wharf - Sea lions and Forbes Island.

    by Jerelis Updated Nov 21, 2006

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    Sea lions at Pier 39 and Forbes Island.
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    A variety of specialty shops and restaurants are located at the Anchorage and The Cannery, which is located at the west end. It used to be the largest peach cannery in the world. Ghirardelli Square, once home to the world-famous chocolate factory, has been renovated to an open-air shopping center filled with specialty shops, international restaurants, an ice cream parlor and displays of the origional chocolate making machines.

    But the most amazing thing about Fisherman's Wharf was the amount of sea lions we saw and the noise they produced! We learned that the first sea lions started coming to the wharf in 1989 and are continuously monitored by the Marine Mammal Center.

    Not far from the sea lions docks - and visible in the Pier 39 Sea Lions panaorama - you can see Forbes Island, the only man made floating island. Forbes Island with its 12 meters high lighthouse has been afloat between Pier 39 and Pier 41 since February 1999.

    Address:
    Beach Street and the Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94109.

    Directions:
    It is loosely defined as the area Ghirardelli Square (near Pier 41) and Pier 35.

    Unique Suggestions: See the sea lions.

    Fun Alternatives: None...maybe it's also a must-see?

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Fisherman's Wharf - Meeting point for tourists!

    by Jerelis Updated Nov 21, 2006

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    Fisherman's Wharf, the ultimate meeting point.
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    Is Fisherman's Wharf a must visit or a tourist trap to avoid? Let's explain our vision. Fisherman's Wharf was the base of a rather large fishing fleet up untill the 1940s. Now it's the place to be if you like all kinds of tourists attractions, seefood restaurants with waterfront views, et cetera. It is loosely defined as the area Ghirardelli Square (near Pier 41) and Pier 35.

    Of course we went to Fisherman's Wharf, by Cable Car and intended not to stay long. But in some we liked it as well. We rapidly learned that there were more things to see in San Francisco than this meeting point for tourists. But we also did realize that it is not just about the more established attractions and shops. There are plenty of sidewalk activities taking place. We enjoyed the street performers including: artists, musicians, craft makers, magicians, human robots, you name it! Keep an eye open for the "Bushman" who for the last 25 years has some branches to hide behind on the sidewalk to surprise and welcome passres by.

    Address:
    Beach Street and the Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94109.

    Directions:
    It is loosely defined as the area Ghirardelli Square (near Pier 41) and Pier 35.

    Unique Suggestions: See the sea lions.

    Fun Alternatives: Sorry...maybe it's also a must-see?

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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