Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most visited spots in San Francisco. According to statistics before the pandemic, Fisherman's Wharf received 10-12 million visitors annually. Visitors are welcomed with both historic and new restaurants, shops, views, and attractions. If you have never been, you may be asking yourself what is so special about this place? In this post, we will try to cover reasons for its popularity and show you interesting places to shop, and some seafood restaurants to give a try.
Let us start with some history, the city first began promoting the wharf as a tourist attraction to visitors during the 1939 Golden Gate Internal Exposition. Since then this marina-style family friendly dining and shopping destinations somewhat increased every year. Fisherman’s wharf used to home over 500 fishing boats which were mostly owned by Italians. Today fishermen can still be seen going out to fish from this unique destination.
The iconic Fisherman’s Wharf wheel sign was installed in 1968 and restored in 2013. This sign is one of the most photographed spots in San Francisco. More than a tourist trap, Fisherman’s Wharf has a lot to offer you! For souvenir shopping, it is not the cheapest place in San Francisco, but the wharf has the most extensive variety. If you are looking for cheaper souvenir stores, you can visit Chinatown.
Some Interesting Shops
Have you ever thought about a store that offers different pepper species? Yes, Pepper Palace, the Planet's #1 Hot Shop, offer dozens of sauces with a fun and fiery environment for everyone. Upon entering the shop, you will be offered some samples. If you are brave enough, you can taste the hottest sauces from their tasting bar for free!
The Wharf Store
When it comes to souvenir items, this store is the best! Additionally, this is the only marine supply retail store on Fisherman's Wharf. The Wharf Store is unique because it occupies two store fronts side by side. You can visit and purchase some gifts for your loved ones here. This store goes beyond souvenirs and is a must visit for fishing gear. You can even find ropes, chains, hardware, paints, and oil on their shelves.
Another great souvenir shop is Wharf Outdoors where you can find different retail products such as clothing, keychains, and magnate to remind you of your trip to San Francisco. This store is known for its knowledgeable and patient workers. If you are ever nearby with bicycle issues you can also stop in to see their great bicycle service department.
As you walk on Jefferson St towards Aquatic Park, you will see other souvenirs stores. If you are a candy lover or have a kid that loves candy, you can visit IT’S SUGAR. This store has every candy you can think of for those sweet lovers.
Some Local Restaurants
Locally owned restaurants, and famed food such as mind-blowing clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl or dungeness crab. If you are a seafood lover, this is the right place for you. There are many options to choose from such as Nick’s Lighthouse, SaBella LaTorne, ALIOTO’s or The Crab Station, they pretty much offer similar menus. If you are on a budget or need fast service, you can try these restaurants.
If you are looking for sit-down, and outdoor dining we recommend Capurro’s. This restaurant is the only restaurant that can buy fish right off the boats nearby. This is why all the food that they serve is as fresh as it gets. Capurro’s offers a seasonal menu therefore if you come during different times of the year you may get to try new dishes. Our favorite dish to order is Nonna’s Clam Chowder.
Since many of the restaurants near the wharf are Italian, we cannot pass up recommending a restaurant with great pizza. Cioppino’s is our favorite pizza restaurant near Fisherman’s wharf. However, this location is also famous for its Cioppino dish which is a flavorful seafood soup that is uniquely San Franciscan. The origin of both the dish and the name came from the Italian fishermen in the early 1900's. It has been 100 years, but the Italian fishermen are still here, and so is Cioppino's.
The Boudin Bakery
The Boudin Bakery is San Francisco's oldest continuously operating business and still uses the same yeast culture to make the best sourdough bread products. For those who are looking for more restaurant experience, we highly recommend visiting Bistro Boudin for good fish tacos, crab cakes, oysters and more. However, during the pandemic, the Bistro isn’t open for dine-in, it is takeout only.
Fisherman’s Wharf is home to many well-known attractions and other places, such as the Wax Museum, Musee Mecanique, the Cannery, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Hyde Street Pier, Maritime National Park Visitors Center and more! We only shared some of our favorite spots from Fisherman’s Wharf in this post. We will also be sharing a guide to Pier 39 in the following weeks. Stay tuned for more content!
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