Things to do in Fishermans Wharf include cruises around the bay, walking tours, and Segway rides. You will also enjoy Pier 39, the tours to Alcatraz, and the Hop on Hop Off Bus Tours.
In addition, this lively district in San Francisco is also home to several annual events. The largest include the Waterfront Celebration on Fourth of July, Fleet Week and Wharf Fest.
One of the most popular things to do in Fishermans Wharf is to head out on the water for a cruise. There are so many options to choose from every day.
The most popular is the standard 60-minute Bay Cruise. This one takes you around the SF Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and back in just one hour. It's the fastest and easiest cruise on the list.
If you are looking for something more in-depth, you will have plenty of options from those that last 90-minutes to up to 4-hours. The list below includes the most popular options plus some of my favorites.
Most of these cruises offer snacks or beverages on board. Some are included with your ticket and others have a cash bar. All offer bathrooms and plenty of seating.
60-Minute Bay Cruise Adventure
As I mentioned above, this is the most popular tour overall. It runs several times each day and offered by both the Blue & Gold and Red & White Ferry companies. It's an hour tour that takes you from Fisherman's Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge. You then cruise under the bridge a second time, past Alcatraz, and back to Fisherman's Wharf. Click here for a recap of my most recent trip.
90-Minute Sailing Tour
The 90-Minute Sailing Tour leaves from Pier 39 three times a day. The tour is on a smaller boat called the Privateer that accommodates up to 30 passengers. This tour offers a close up look at the waterfront attractions and includes two drinks with each ticket.
Bridge to Bridge Cruise
The Bridge to Bridge Cruise is also a 90-minute cruise on a large boat. You will see top attractions and learn all about SF's history. It's operated by the Red & White Fleet Company. Click here to read about my experience on this cruise.
California Sunset Cruise
The California Sunset Cruise is one of my favorites. It's operated everyday by the Red & White Fleet. This 2-hour cruise includes wonderful views, narration along the way, and a hearty appetizer buffet. You can buy alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on board.
Champagne & Mimosa Weekend Cruise
The Champagne & Mimosa Weekend Cruise is another tour on the 30-passenger Privateer. It's a 2-hour cruise that runs every Saturday and Sunday morning. Each ticket includes two drinks of Champagne, Mimosas, white wine, beer, water, or soda. It leaves from Pier 39.
Escape from Alcatraz
The Escape from Alcatraz Cruise is a 90-minute cruise that follows the path of the standard bay cruise. However, this one includes additional time and information about Alcatraz. Note, this cruise does not stop at Alcatraz, but rather provides additional narration about this top attraction as you cruise around it. Click here for a recap of my experience on this cruise.
The Rocketboat is a seasonal high-speed adventure on the water. This 30-minute ride spins from side to side and all around as you listen to rock and roll music. It's more of an escapade on the water vs. a relaxing bay cruise. It runs several times each day between May and October from Pier 39.
Sunset Sail on the Privateer
The third and final cruise offered on the Privateer is their Sunset Sail cruise. This 30-passenger boat leaves Pier 39 daily for this sailing trip. In addition to plenty of seating, your ticket also includes two beverages (Champagne, white wine, beer, soda, or water).
If you have never been whale watching, then this is one of the best things to do in Fishermans Wharf. Our whale watching cruises leave several times a day. You will then spend a couple of hours watching and waiting to see whales, dolphins, and other sea animals. Click here for more details on these tours.
Wine Tasting Cruise
Head out on the boat called "Wine Therapy" for a 90-minute sightseeing and wine tasting cruise around the bay. During your ride, you will enjoy a red or white wine flight (4 tastings). The boat holds up to 24 guests and offers you spectacular views of the SF Bay and surrounding areas. The cruise runs most Saturdays during the busy season.
If you are looking to save a little money on your visit, then check out the great ticket deals through Goldstar. They offer tickets at up to 50% off the full retail price. Here are just a few of their top deals currently running.
*A small service fee will apply.
You can also catch a ferry to places beyond San Francisco. All of the following ferries leaves from Fishermans Wharf's Pier 41.
The Angel Island ferry will take you over to the island for a day of outdoor fun. The cruise takes only about 30 minutes. I recommend buying a round trip ticket, so you are set for departure also. On the island, you can learn more about the history of it as an immigration station. You can also hike, bike, and take beautiful photos of the gorgeous Bay Area. Click here for more details on this ferry ride and click here for information on visiting the island.
The most popular ferry from Fisherman's Wharf is to Sausalito. This quick ferry ride is another one of my favorites as you get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. It arrives just to the north of downtown Sausalito so you can easily walk to most activities and attractions there. Click here for more details on this ferry ride. You can also find a list of the best things to do in Sausalito here.
The third ferry from Fisherman's Wharf is over to Tiburon. This small seaside town is a short ride away too. It's smaller than Sausalito, but offers some shopping and waterfront dining. Click here for details on this ferry ride.
You will also find plenty of activities in Fisherman's Wharf. They range from family-friendly options to spending time sampling the local wines.
Located on Pier 39
The 7D Experience offers two activities in one location. The first is the dark ride which is part video game, part movie where all of the audience works together to destroy the bad guys. The second is the LaZer Challenge where you race around a dark room trying to avoid the lasers. Click here to learn more.
Cable Car to Union Square
Hyde & Beach and Taylor & Bay
During your stay with us, you MUST take a cable car ride. You can do this once you wrap up your time in this district or you can take it over from Union Square. There are two lines that come in and out of this district. The first is near the waterfront at Hyde & Beach. The second is back a few blocks from the water on Taylor and Bay. Both will take you to and from Union Square. Click here for pictures and more details.
Located on Pier 39
Frequent Flyers is a bungee trampoline that will safely take you up to 20 feet in the air. All jumpers must be between 30 and 230 pounds. You will find this fun activity in on Pier 39.
Musee Mechanique offers you the chance to play old-fashioned games. This arcade features coin operated games from the late 1800s, as well as popular video games from the 1980s and 90s. It's free to enter, but you must pay to play the games.
Act like a kid again on the musical stairs on Pier 39. These stairs feature both music and lights, so you can create new music each time you step on them. This free activity is open during regular Pier 39 hours.
Players Sports Grill & Arcade
If you love sports and modern video games, then you must spend some time at Players Sports Grill & Arcade. They have over 30 screens with live sports, 80+ games in their arcade, and plenty of food and drink to keep you busy all day long. It's near the waterfront (with views!) on Pier 39.
San Francisco Carousel
One of the highlights on Pier 39 is their historic carousel. It's a working carousel so both your kids and you can hop aboard for a ride. It's also fun to watch it colorfully spinning away during the day or at night. You will find it on the main plaza on Pier 39.
Shopping at Ghirardelli Square
Beach at Larkin
One of the best things to do in Fishermans Wharf is to spend some time shopping at Ghirardelli Square. Here you will find about a dozen boutique shops and also several places to buy their tasty chocolates. Click here for more information.
Shopping on Pier 39
On the Embarcadero at Grant Avenue
Another top place to go shopping is on Pier 39. On the pier, you will find several shops selling local goods. You will find souvenirs, gifts, and other fun items that will remind you of your time here in San Francisco. Click here for more details about Pier 39.
Think Out of the Box Play Area
This store and activity area features wooden games that will challenge your mind. It's a fun place to spend some time with your kids or those that love mind bending games. You will find it on the upper level of building P on Pier 39.
I have two places in Fishermans Wharf where I like to go wine tasting. Both offer a good selection of local wines with the option to try several types in a flight or to just grab a glass so you can sit back and relax. The first place is called Winery Collective. It's on the western side near the Argonaut Hotel at 485 Jefferson Street. The second is Wines of California on Pier 39. Click here for more wine tasting recommendations throughout SF.
In addition to all the other things to do in Fishermans Wharf, you will also find a variety of fun attractions. They range from the family-friendly Aquarium of the Bay to the spooky Dungeon.
Aquarium of the Bay
One of the best kid friendly things to do in Fishermans Wharf is the Aquarium of the Bay. This aquarium focuses on the plants and animals that live in the SF Bay. This well done museum allows you to take a close up look at jelly fish and to see the animals from all angles in its walk through aquarium. Click here for pictures and more information about visiting.
145 Jefferson Street
The Dungeon is a live look at SF's past. For 60-minutes, you will walk from live show to live show as you learn all about the dark history of this area. There are 9 shows in all and the actors goal is to not only inform you, but to spook you a little too! They run several shows a day.
Hyde Street Pier
Jefferson and Hyde Streets
The Hyde Street Pier is home to 5 historical vessels. On a visit here, you will get the chance to see one of the first ferries to bring cars between Marin and San Francisco, which ran before the Golden Gate Bridge was built. For a small fee, you can also step aboard three of the five boats for a closer look. You are also welcome to stroll up and down the pier at no cost. Click here for pictures and to learn more.
Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum
145 Jefferson Street
If you've never been to a wax museum, then you must spend some time in the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Fisherman's Wharf. This recently opened wax museum offers a close up look at their handmade creations. You will see statues of local favorites such as Joe Montana, Al Capone, and Tony Bennett. You will also get to take your picture with top celebrities such as the British Royal Family, the President of the United States, and, my favorite, Betty White. Click here for more details.
Magowane's Infinite Mirror Maze
Get lost in Magowane's Infinite Mirror Maze on Pier 39. This family-friendly attraction will test your patience as you hit dead ends, infinite hallways, and endless circles. How long will it take you to complete the maze?
499 Jefferson Street
One of the best things to do in Fishermans Wharf is to learn more about this popular district's history. The Maritime Museum takes you all the way back to the early days of this area and shows you how it became the famous district it is today. It's interactive exhibits and videos will keep you engaged as you learn. This museum is free and open daily. Click here for details on visiting.
Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum
175 Jefferson Street
You have always heard about Ripley's travels and discoveries and now is the time to see some of them for yourself. This Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum offers you the chance to see what this early adventurer found during his travels. You will see pictures, statues, and other exhibits that will get you wondering if they are real or not. The museum is open every day except certain holidays.
Sea Lions at Pier 39
One of the most lively Fishermans Wharf attractions is the sea lions on Pier 39. Watch from the pier as these playful creatures jockey for position on the docks and swim around the area. They are loud and funny, but offer a unique experience during your visit.
SS Jeremiah O'Brien
The SS Jeremiah O'Brien is a Liberty Ship that was build for WWII. It is one of only two that still remain. The ship is open to visitors and it gives you the chance to walk through most of this historic vessel. Click here for pictures and more visiting details.
Another historic vessel on Pier 45 is the USS Pampanito. It's a WWII Balao Class Fleet Submarine. During your visit, you will get the chance to step inside the majority of the vessel's rooms to see how it was operated and what the living conditions were like on board. Click here for pictures and to learn more about what it's like to visit.
You will also enjoy the variety of tours in Fishermans Wharf. These are some of the most popular options.
If this is your first visit to San Francisco or you haven't had a chance to head to Alcatraz, then this is a must do! This former federal prison was home to famous criminals such as Al Capone and Robert "The Birdman" Stroud. During the tour, you will learn all about these prisoners and other top events that occurred on the island. Click here for more details.
Bike Tour Across the Golden Gate Bridge
Another one of the popular things to do in Fishermans Wharf is to rent a bike and ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. After you leave the district, you ride along the SF waterfront, up and over the bridge, and then you will make your way to Sausalito. From there, you can either ride back or return to SF on the ferry. Click here for more details on this tour and others offered in SF.
Electric Bike Tour
If you aren't quite ready for a full ride over the bridge and onto Sausalito, then check out the electric bikes. These give you an extra push, so you don't have to peddle the entire way. You do need to be 16 to use the bikes and you are not allowed to use the electric motor on the Golden Gate Bridge. However, it's a great way to go on this tour without overdoing it along the way.
Fire Engine Tour
Starts at The Cannery
The Fire Engine Tour is a fun, family-friendly option. This 90-minute tour leaves from the Cannery and takes you through the Presidio. You will then ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and back. You then return to your starting location. The open-air vehicle is a Big Shiny Red Mac Fire Engine.
Fisherman's Wharf Free History Walking Tour
Starts in Ghirardelli Square
One of the best ways to really get to know the district is to head out on this weekly free walking tour. It starts in Ghirardelli Square where you learn all about this famous chocolate factory and the man that started it. You will then walk along the waterfront stopping at certain locations as you learn the significance of each stop. Click here for details on this and other free walking tours in SF.
Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
The Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours are another one of the popular things to do in Fishermans Wharf. These bus tours allow you to hop on or off at any stop along the route. It's an easy way to get to the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, and our famous Painted Ladies of Alamo Square. Find several options on Viator and book your tickets today.
Night Segway Tour
Leaves from Beach Street
Have you ever wanted to cruise the streets on a Segway? Well, now is your chance! This tour starts with a 45-minute training session so you are very comfortable with your Segway before you leave. You will then cruise through North Beach and Chinatown in the evening when they are really hopping. You end your tour in the same place that you started. It lasts around 2.5 to 3 hours. Click here for additional Segway tours in San Francisco.
Waterfront Segway Tour
Leaves from Beach Street
Another Segway Tour in Fishermans Wharf is the daytime Waterfront tour. This one also starts with a training session. You will then set off on your adventure through Fishermans Wharf, North Beach, and back along the waterfront. It's also around 2.5 to 3 hours. Click here to book your tour today!
You will also find a variety of events in Fishermans Wharf. Some of them are daily performances and others are large, annual events that draw in hundreds of thousands of people.
Daily Shows on the Carousel Stage
Head over to Pier 39 for the daily shows on their Carousel Stage. Every day, they offer free performances from jugglers to comedians. The shows are free and there are several each day.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival
One of the biggest draws each September to Ghirardelli Square is their annual Chocolate Festival. For two days in September, you can sample Ghirardelli's famous chocolate, learn how to use it to make wonderful desserts, and enjoy live entertainment. Click here for more details on this year's event.
All Around Fisherman's Wharf
One of the largest events each year is the Fleet Week celebration in October. Over the course of the weekend, there are two air shows that typically feature the Blue Angels. You are also able to step aboard and check out several Naval Ships. Click here for details on this year's event.
Live Music at the Entrance to Pier 39
Pier 39 Entrance
Every day, you will also find live music at the entrance of Pier 39. Throughout the day, you can stop by to enjoy local musicians for free. There is no need to register in advance. The performance schedule changes daily.
Pier 39 Tree Lighting Ceremony
Pier 39 Entrance
Another one of the fun things to do in Fishermans Wharf is the annual tree lighting at Pier 39. This fun celebration is always the weekend right after Thanksgiving. After the ceremony, the tree will stay lit until after the New Year. Click here for details on this tree lighting ceremony and others in SF.
Sea Lions Arrival Celebration
Every January, Pier 39 invites you to join them to celebrate the arrival of the sea lions. These playful creatures started arriving shortly after the 1989 earthquake and continue to come back each year. The event is free.
Pier 39 is also the location for Tulipmania. For two weeks, the area around the pier is beautifully colored with thousands of tulips. They also offer daily free walks that leave the entrance at 10am. All activities are free.
Uncorked Wine Festival
If you are interested in trying out local wines, then head over to Ghirardelli Square for their annual Uncorked Wine Festival. The one day event is usually the first or second Saturday in May. During the event, you can sample local wines and enjoy Ghirardelli's famous chocolates. Click here for more details on this year's event.
Waterfront Fourth of July Celebration
All of Fishermans Wharf
The biggest celebration each year in Fishermans Wharf is the Waterfront Fourth of July Celebration. Each year around 200,000 people descend on the waterfront for a day full of fun activities, live music, and food. The days ends with a large fireworks display that starts at 9:30pm. Click here for details.
The Wharf Fest is an annual event on Jefferson Street in Fisherman's Wharf. The event includes a chowder competition, a chance for you to try a Segway, and so much more. The one day event is always toward the end of October. Click here for more details.
These are just a handful of some of my other favorite things to do in Fishermans Wharf.
Enjoy Fresh Seafood at a Local Restaurant
You will find a variety of places to sample fresh seafood in the district. Some of my favorites include Scoma's (1965 Al Scoma Way) and the Fog Harbor Fish House (on Pier 39). You will also find some great options along the outdoor market on Fish Alley.
Savor Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl
One of the most popular dishes in this district is Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl. My favorite place for this is Boudin Bakery (you can't miss it on Jefferson Street). I also love checking out the selection along Fish Alley. Most of it is white, creamy New England chowder. Click here for more of my favorite places to enjoy clam chowder in SF.
Sample Ghirardelli Chocolates
If you are near Ghirardelli, make sure to stop by one of their shops to sample their amazing chocolates. Usually during the day, someone will greet you with a sample square. You can then either buy more and continue to stroll around the square.
Sip Irish Coffee at Buena Vista Cafe
The Buena Vista Cafe is the first location in the US to serve up Irish Coffee. In the decades since they started serving it, they have now become famous for this tasty treat. If you plan to only have one of their famous Irish Coffees, then step up to the bar to order. You can also grab a seat at one of the family style tables (share with others) to order a meal. Click here for more details on the Buena Vista Cafe.
Take in the Views Along the Waterfront
Another one of the fun things to do in Fishermans Wharf is just to sit back, relax, and enjoy the views. From this district, you get some great views of Alcatraz Island and Angel Island. You can also see the Golden Gate Bridge and many other waterfront attractions. I recommend making the journey down the Aquatic Park Pier, where you can get even better views of these attractions as well as a look back at the district itself.
Are you not sure how to pull this all together into a one day visit? If so, then check out my "Perfect Day in Fishermans Wharf" itinerary. It takes you though all the hot spots and allows you to fit in as much as you can in just one day.