Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Most all of Fisherman's Wharf is a tourist trap. It has that Times Square feeling of a place you really just want to run away from.
Unique Suggestions: You get the ferries here for Alcatraz and a few other places. And like nearly all tourist traps, you should see it once so you know what everyone is talking about.
Well, there actually are fishermen there first thing in the morning, so if you wake up very early it might be nice to walk along the water. If you wake up late be prepared for hoards of tourists and window shopping for "escape from alcatraz" t-shirts.
During crab season (winter), us locals do pick up crab down at fisherman's wharf, and I highly recommend that!
Unique Suggestions: Two very amazing things are at Fisherman's Wharf:
1. The Maritime Museum/Hyde St. Pier. They occaisionally have night time sea chantie sing-a-longs that are amazing.
2. The Musee Mechanique. My favorite museum ever! They feature antique arcade games including forturne tellers and photobooths. It is very romantic.
Yeah its a tourist trap but whats a city without the tourist trap. We all have them back home. Fisherman's Wharf is very nice to see. The stores selling the crab dinners on the side was very cool. Walking in the rain was kind of difficult but made for a fun experience.
Unique Suggestions: Try one of the local vendors selling the crab. Eat it with a corona, thats what I do!
Fisherman's Wharf, Ghiradelli Sq, Pier 39 etc.
I guess have to be experienced once, and please enjoy them if you do.
Unique Suggestions: don't waste a lot of money on the food
Fun Alternatives: Scoma's is ok for seafood on the wharf (view is good)..
Or get one of those sourdough bread "bowl-loaves" with chowder in it for lunch at Boudin Bakery
Hey, lots of people do fisherman's wharf the first time they goto sf and I hope they have a good time, but 4 me once was enough.
Fisherman's wharf used to be a vital hub for sf fisherman, but is now a tourist trap of grand proportions, nothing but cheap tchotchkes, sweatshirts, street performers and hustlers and hordes of tourists. The cable cars end up here, so you'll likely end up here if you ride them, but you don't have to stay. There are so many better things to do with your time and money. Whatever you do, do not under any circumstances go to Bubba Gump's. Get dungeoness crab from a sidewalk vendor instead.
Unique Suggestions: If you must see it, there are some good things. This is what I do when I can't get out of taking visitors.
The sea lions-yes there will be a huge crowd, but it's a wild herd(?) of sea lions that squatted on the floating docks and decided to stay. They're wonderful.
The hyde street pier-there are a couple cool old ships you can go on and pretend you've been shanghai'd
In-n-Out- the ultimate california fast food burger. Double Double animal style.
There also used to be a medieval torture chamber wax museum that was kitschy and fun. Not sure if it's still around.
Fun Alternatives: Get off the cable car at lombard street and walk down it. Continue into North beach and have a coffee and snack. Then explore some chinatown alleys.
This area tends to be the most expensive and the least interesting place in San Francisco. It is designed to take your money. You can find much more interesting things to do than spend your time here.
Unique Suggestions: Go to Pier 39 and look at the Sea Lions. It's free!! Take a walk down the street and watch everybody spend their money. There are street performers that do their acts, but again, they expect money especially if you stayed and watched their show. You must board the ferry to Alcatraz from this area.
Fun Alternatives: Just about every other location in San Francisco is better than this area! If you want to see the flavor of this city, you won't find it here. Look at my things to do tips for other alternatives.
This has to be one of the gaudiest tourist traps around. They rarely get more obnoxious than this. Fisherman's Wharf is a horrible example of what San Francisco is and what it has to offer. It's no wonder that people who live here HATE it there. There are just so many reasons to despise this place. If you want places to eat...there are SO many that are SO much better. If you want shopping, there are loads of boutiques that are better to spend your money on. Why waste your time and money.
Unique Suggestions: Visit the only three redeeming qualities of the area.
1 - The Maritime Museum
2 - Hyde Street Pier
3 - the cable cars (take a ride and see Lombard Street)
Fun Alternatives: For restaurants, there are numerous places that are worth checking out. Too many to mention. For shopping, Haight street still has a very wide variety of boutiques and shops, even though it still has a thick tourist edge.
There are plenty of places to park near Fisherman's Warf and Pier 39 that won't cost you an arm and a leg... and then there are some that will..
Rule of thumb in this town: If it costs $2 to park for an hour, drive around the corner, you're bound to find something better.
Unique Suggestions: If you decide to go to the Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39 or take the ferry to Alcatraz, you'll be tempted to park in the oh-so-obvious parking garage right in front. Be warned, gentle reader, you'll be practically sacrificing an unborn child to leave your car for 2 hours. The rate? $6/hour. With some vague promise of getting an hour free if you leave before 6 pm and 2 hours free if you leave after 6 pm. It's a trap. You end up paying the full hours, no matter what, and just up the street (at the Warf itself) is FREE two hour parking! For the free 2 hour parking, you eat at the Warf and have your ticket validated. It's worth paying $12 for one of the most fresh, delicious crab you will ever experience, not for a mere 2 hours of parking.
Fun Alternatives: If you plan to spend the day at the Warf, take a ferry and/or walk the 5 miles to the Golden Gate bridge to do the senic thing... don't even bother parking around the Warf. If you feel insecure about parking outside of a garage, there are plenty downtown that charge $15 for all day parking. If being in the mix if downtown traffic and one-way street confusion is daunting, then stick to public. The MUNI will drop you off very close to the Warf... or for the full-on tourist experience... pick up the old SF cablecars (Union Square is a good place to grab these from - right in front of the Weston Saint Francis) and ride down to the Warf.
For quick trips - an hour or two, without the looming albatross of validation, then park a couple blocks up from the Embarcadero (this is the street the warf extends from). Parking meters only last an hour in this area and cost $1.50 for that hour. The best of all possible outcomes would be to find a nice residential area and park. Be mindful of street signs when you do this. You'll note in some areas where people didn't read the signs and now have a lovely yellow boot, making their car an undrivable paperweight on the side of the road.
San Francisco has one of the easiest and best public transportation systems in the world. Experience it before you try to drive somewhere. You'll save a lot of money: 3 hours on MUNI will cost you $1.50 - you get a little ticket that you can renew for $1.50 when it expires, there are day/week/monthly passes available at places around the city. See other tips for help with MUNI stuff.
Now don't run off sobbing in your tea about how it sounds like parking is a travesty here in SF... trust me, there is always a spot around the block somewhere, just go get it before that old Ford Fairlane moves into it.
Does it look like I am having fun, huh??????
I am sure some people have a blast going down here, but boy I sure couldn't wait to get the hell out of there.
Unique Suggestions: Option 1:
Hail a cab and get away from that place as fast as you can.
Find Jones Street and hike up it, way way up untill you end up at the top (Russian Hill). You will see some beautiful views of the Bay Bridge.
Go to pier 41 and see when is the next available day you can get to Alcatraz. You need to buy tickets in advance.
Give the finger to the Bone Man and the Bush Man cuz they are so frikkin' annoying.
Have dinner at Scoma's.
Fun Alternatives: See above mentioned Option 2 and 3.
This is your typical tourist trap. There are big crowds and many touristy shops, but nothing to get excited about. The fish and chips I ate there was a big disappointement. You'd figure a place like Fisherman's Wharf could at least have above average fish and chips
Unique Suggestions: Visit the near by USS Pampanito, which is a WWII US submarine. You go on a self guided tour through the sub. If you're lucky there will be a veteran aboard acting as docent. If there is, talk with him and he may regale you with tales of the "silent service".
Sorry....but I never can understand how these people can not get themselves having a proper job like we all do instead of pleading for money!
Unique Suggestions: Occasionally you meet street baskers like these asking tourist for a "Donation"
There is a misconception that the Fisherman's Wharf area of the city is a tourist trap. That simply is not true. There are many unique shops and things to do and see that do not cost an arm and a leg. Of course you'll see many shops with the usual cable car and Golden Gate souvenirs but then again you see that all over the city.
Visit and enjoy and remember you're on vacation.
I think that many people will include this one in their must see activities. Well, for me it is a must see but I have decided that you have to be careful there because this definitely is a tourist trap.
If you are a family with kids, beware! restaurants are quite expensive and although you can taste the local delicacies as the dungeness crab and the SF chowder in sourdough bread they will rip you off.
You can give this a try outside the pier at some little shops and stalls that you will find on your right as you leave the complex.
I had lunch at one of the restaurants and although the food was good and the views quite nice I regretted it aferwards as I think I paid like five times the reasonable price for a chowder and a salad.
Up to you. You are warned now.
Worst places in my humble opinion: the Ripley's Believe it or not museum and the little shops selling all sorts of tacky but not cheap souvenirs of SF.
Unique Suggestions: One place that might be worth visiting though is the Boudin Bakery, where you can buy the delicious bread typical of S.
The pier 39 is a nice sight too. Maybe I am just a stupid little one who likes seals but I found the colony a very refreshing sight. And the seals were quite an entertaining sight. A must see if you have got kids, I think
Fun Alternatives: I don't think there is really an alternative for this. You have to visit it, I think, but just be aware that everything is more expensive there and that your kids will drive you crazy to buy them all sorts of expensive but useless crap. So go, visit, enjoy it and don't buy !!
I don't know who all of this would appeal to, but it's just one tacky store after another. It may bring good money in to the city, but for anyone who wants to actually see the place they came to visit and not ugly plastic models of landmarks, don't go here.
Unique Suggestions: Head out west towards the ocean, away from the Wharf. You'll come to the Marina eventually, which is very pretty and offers wonderful views of the Golden Gate Bridge. There are several buses that run the route is the 1Km walk is not to your liking.
Fun Alternatives: If you want somewhere that's still very open to accepting tourists, yet has more flavor and interest to it, go to the Powell Street and Union Square area. Lots more to see.
I will not say 'do not go there,' because you WILL So, lets just accept that, and move on.
FILM: Buy it before you go there, It is at least $5 more per roll.
MONEY: Men, wallets in the front pocket. Women: Purse cross strapped, palm across it at all times.
FOOD: Have a ball. Try the cioppino in a sourdough bread-bowl. Crab, lobster, shrimp. It's all here. Avoid the crab-cakes at Alioto's. Don't even THINK about hamburgers, unless it is at In'n'Out Burgers. Good milkshakes there, too
SHOPPING: Good deals can be found at the Electronics stores. I suspect it's because the stuff is bought in from Dubai. Most of the shopkeepers are of Mid-Eastern origin. Bargaining is advised. Case in point: A Canon camera. $399 downtown SF. $179, $ 159, and even $600, albeit with a different lens. If a salesman is too pushy, which is normal to their ilk, say thank you and walk away.
Good deals on Fleece Jackets too.
Ripley's Museum is a must see. Madame Tussaud's you can leave out if you have plans on, or have already been to London.
Enjoy a hot dog near the ferry piers, (and I know you WILL take a ferry. Take some stale bread and have fun as the seagulls crowd around the back of the boat,) It is the most worth for your money at 'Suckers Wharf,'