Fisherman's Wharf, for lovers of the sea

A former fishermen's quarter, Fisherman's Wharf is one of the most popular tourist spots in San Francisco. Little frequented by locals, it attracts tourists who come to sample the magnificent seafood platters. Known for its events, attractions and shops, this district is full of life all year round.

Entrance to Fisherman's Wharf during the day, crowds present, San Francisco

- © Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock

A historic district

Fisherman's Wharf is now one of San Francisco's most popular tourist areas, but it was originally a fishing district. Its history dates back to the 19th century, when Italian fishermen immigrated to the United States in search of prosperity. They cast their nets into San Francisco Bay at a time when the city was booming with gold mining. The Italian population settled and prospered for decades, and their descendants still fish here today. Don't hesitate to talk to them, they'll be delighted to welcome you!

Fisherman's Wharf marina with moored fishing boats, San Francisco

- © Gabriele Maltinti / Shutterstock

Pier 39 is undoubtedly one of Fisherman's Wharf's most popular spots, ideal for a family outing. Here you'll find everything from restaurants and shops to street performers, a shopping centre and seafood vendors. You can spend a whole afternoon here, or just a few hours. Numerous events are organised throughout the year, such as the Roller Disco Party. In summer, the open-air cinemas are a delight for film buffs, and the area was the setting for a James Bond film. Finally, you can't leave Pier 39 without seeing the sea lions that have taken up residence on the pontoons. They bask in the sun and are not afraid of humans, but be careful not to disturb them, as they are still wild animals.

Sea lions lying on one of the pontoons at Pier 39, San Francisco

- © Blanscape / Shutterstock

Family lunch

There are plenty of good restaurants in the area, especially around Pier 45. Here you can enjoy a good meal based on the marine world. Fish, crab, seafood and all the catch of the day are served in the restaurants. A particularity of the district is that most of them are take-away, so once you've bought your meal you can carry on wandering the streets or sit down facing the port. It's worth noting that part of the pier was damaged in a fire in May 2020 and that renovation work is currently underway. Another possible activity is the aquarium in the bay, which will make all the children happy - a great family outing.

Pleasure boats moored in Pier 45 marina

- © Matthew Ashmore / Shutterstock

The museums

Fisherman's Wharf is home to several of these, starting with Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. Located close to Pier 39, it houses an extraordinary collection of objects in over 17 galleries on 2 floors. It is open daily from 10am to 10pm and until 11pm at weekends, with admission costing $23 per person.

The museum not to be missed is the one that replaced the city's wax museum. Renovated in 2014, Madame Tussaud's is now one of San Francisco's star attractions, with its wax dolls, which are better made and of better quality than their predecessors. Admission costs $25 per person, and it's open every day from 10am.

Wax statue of Bruce Lee at Madame Tussaud's Museum, San Francisco

- © Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

Practical info

There are a few things you need to know to make visiting the district easier. San Francisco is often plagued by fog, which usually dissipates around midday in summer, but it is still advisable to go early to avoid the crowds, especially at weekends. The fog returns around 4pm, so plan to take a stroll along the quays beforehand to admire the Golden Gate Bridge. Pickpockets roam the streets and spot tourists by their attire, so avoid shorts and be careful with your belongings. It can be chilly, so be sure to check the weather forecast before you go, and a jacket may come in handy.

San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge lost in the fog, California

- © Francesco Carucci / Shutterstock

Where to stay nearby?

Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco

Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

4* hotel in Fisherman's Wharf offering air-conditioned accommodation and an outdoor swimming pool
8.2 Very good
£210 / night
by Editorial Team
Need a hand? take a look at our guide
San Francisco
San Francisco
Latest news
Delving into Montpellier's cultural life
Our 5 favourite spots on the Côte Bleue: paradise between Marseille and Martigues
The 10 most legendary hotels in Marseille
Visit the Ecusson: Montpellier's historic centre
Discovering the villages of the Amalfi coast, an Italian poem
Read more articles
Best cities