San Francisco – Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is without doubt the most touristy place in San Francisco. When we say Fisherman’s Wharf, it is actually the North San Francisco seafront stretch, covering most of Jefferson Street and The Embarcadero.

The hotel that I was staying in is located on Beach Street, a street adjacent to Jefferson Street, so getting to Fisherman’s Wharf is no trouble at all. I’ll walk you through one of my typical walks from the hotel to Pier 39 and hopefully you’ll enjoy this.


To get to Jefferson Street from the hotel, I can take two routes.

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Hyde Street

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Leavenworth Street

I love the streets here. Unlike in Malaysia, here, it is people first. You stand beside a street, doesn’t matter whether it is a junction or not, and you look like you want to cross the street, cars will stop and insist you cross first. Of course this only applies to city streets and not highways. When I first arrived, I was not used to this courtesy. When I gestured for the car to go first, the driver would gesture for me to cross first, and he would refuse to budge until I do so. How cool is that?

Something else caught my eyes by the way..

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Newspaper stand

Well, a newspaper stand is pretty normal, but this one is unusual to the Malaysian me. If you look closely, there are eight compartments here. Only two has something that resembles a proper payment system with latch on. The other six? Well, you just open the door, grab a copy, and put the exact change inside the same compartment. There is no lock, no change return system here. According to the hotel bellboy when I asked later, “Everyone is expected to take care of himself.

Now I guess some of you would be as perplexed now as I was back then. If this is in Malaysia, the papers AND the money will be gone in no time. But it works here, everyone (mostly) practices honesty by default.

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Lovely flowers on side railings

And I love how they plant lovely flowers on the side railings of the streets. And… and I think I am much too distracted here. Come on, let’s move on to the Fisherman’s Wharf proper now.

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World Famous S.F. Trams

Okay, maybe one more distraction. If you walk from Hyde Street, you will be able to see the starting point of the world famous S.F. Trams. Yes, it starts here and goes all the way to Union Square, And yes, it is fully operational so it is a touristy alternative way to travel between both places.

Once you hit Jefferson Street, you basically start walking. You will walk past some shops..

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You will also walk past some boats.

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In fact, you will walk past quite a lot of boats!

And then you will arrive at your first landmark, something that shouts out that you have been here before.

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Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco

When they put it this way, Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco, I can’t help but wonder if there are many other Fisherman Wharves all over the United States..

So what will you see at the Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco? There’s quite a bit to see actually.

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U.S.S. Pampanito

Now this thing might look like a battleship, but it is actually more than that. U.S.S. Pampanito is a bad-ass submarine of the US Navy. It is one of the submarines that has seen real action in Pearl Harbor during World War II, and subsequently in Japan when the Americans launched their counter-offensive.

Today, it is a war museum. One that you need to pay to get inside. I don’t remember how much, but I remember it was quite costly and I didn’t feel like paying up, so this was as far as I could go.

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Alcatraz

From where I was standing beside the Pampanito, you can see the Alcatraz island. Do not be deceived by this photo though, I took it using maximum zoom. The real Alcatraz island is NOT as big as this when seen through the naked eye. In fact it was quite small when seen from afar.

The Alcatraz island is a prison island. No, wait a minute, let me rephrase. The Alcatraz island was a prison island. It used to be a federal penitentiary, which is the term for a high security prison that houses the terrible criminals that would cause endless trouble if kept in a normal prison. So you can imagine all sorts of crazy things that used to happen here.

No, actually, I don’t think you can. I know I can’t imagine it

Today, it is a prison museum. Like the Pampanito, you can pay and take an island tour. The drawback though, is that it is expensive, and it is a full day tour. So if you have only a day or two in the city, my advice is that it is best that you skip this. I did.

We move on from this spot and go a bit further, and we will see Boudin. Boudin is probably the most famous sourdough bread maker in San Francisco. They went as far as self-proclaiming to be the Original San Francisco Sourdough French Bread.

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Alligator bread

They do bake some seriously serious stuff here, so maybe they are really worthy of their self-proclaimed reputation..

As we walk further along the street, we will be able to see lots of street performers (a.k.a buskers) strutting their stuff. It is every bit as lively as Santa Monica in Los Angeles.

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Busker at work

And then we arrive at Pier 39, the most famous pier and one of the most famous tourist attractions of San Francisco.

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Pier 39

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Lots of visitors

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Even more visitors

So why is this Pier 39 so famous?

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No, it is not because of Bubba Gump Shrimp

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No, it is not because of the boats either

Boats we already see plenty even before we reach here anyway…

What Pier 39 is most famous for, are these.

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Sea Lions!

According to the information provided, the sea lions have not always been here. They used to hangout at the Seal Rocks, just off the Sutro Baths. Then an earthquake happened in 1989 and after that, somehow the sea lions began to move to the docks and settle down at this Pier 39. At least that’s the official story.

Today, these sea lions have become (yeah) a major tourist attraction. There’s even a Sea Lion Cafe here if you so wish to dine here. Great food, great sea view, great sea lion view, and much greater prices.

If you are a miser like me, then you can always opt to just take a photo at the cafe’s entrance,

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and be photobombed by random Americans.

Typically, Pier 39 is where you would end your Fisherman’s Wharf walk, or at least that was where I ended my walks. To make things interesting, I shall end this post with a few spy cam shots that I took here.

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Spy cam #1

Spy cam #1 – I saw this girl standing here when I walked past this place. Then when I came back out, almost 30 minutes later, she was still here, in the exact same pose. She seems to be in some sort of a deep melancholy here, and I couldn’t help but preserve this moment in my camera. I know, I should have gone and talk to her instead, but I didn’t. Or maybe I did but do not want to tell you. 😉

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Spy cam #2

Spy cam #2 – I know, you must be focusing on or think that I was focusing on that woman squatting beside the stage. Non, non, non. I was actually looking at that two kids on the strollers. When I spotted them, I was like: “Seriously? They look grown up enough to be running around actively. Why still the strollers?“. I don’t know, you women with kids, how long would you let your child sit on strollers?

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Spy cam #3

Spy cam #3 – Oh dear… I hope this isn’t what I imagined it to be…

And on that bombshell, it is time to end this post. See you again tomorrow!

20 Comments

  1. Oh ya, when I was in Boston I was also so jakun when cars stopped for me. I actually hesitated hah..hah…then got used to it. Here in Malaysia boleh, don’t even think about using the zebra crossing because cars will just zoom past 🙁

    • Here, even at traffic light, when green man is on, you still need to be careful when crossing! 😐

  2. Wow…you certainly saw a lot more than me when I was in San Francisco umpteen years ago..kekeke! And that Fisherman’s Wharf logo…yeah, I took a photo there too. That war museum…and bad-ass submarine may come back to life…like in the Battleship movie…wakakaka!! 😀

  3. I really enjoy reading your post. Feels like I have just walked to Fisherman’s Wharf myself. You have an extra pair of arms in your Sea Lion Cafe photo. What statue is standing behind you?

    I read somewhere that there are tour packages where you can pay to spend your time behind bars in Alcatraz. I definitely will not want to do that.

    No, I don’t think you went up to talk to her for Spy Cam 1. I think the children are just using the strollers as a seat when they are tired from running around for Spy Cam 2. Those two are just hugging right? for Spy Cam 3. I think it is quite common to see couples hugging, kissing and necking in the open (PDA) in western countries. what do you think they were doing?

    Please write more of this kind of walking tour post. I really enjoy reading it. Actually how many times have you been to USA?

    • That’s not a statue, that’s a random American photobombing me! 😀

      I know there is a comprehensive tour to the Alcatraz that lasts a day, not sure if it includes spending time behind bars. Can’t imagine anyone want to pay to live like a prisoner! 😐

      The Spy cam #3, the key point is not the hugging couple. You see the guy beside that couple? Why does he cover his face with his hand? I was thinking maybe the girl said to him: “I don’t love you anymore, I’m going with Max (imaginary name)”, and then Max said: “Come on baby, let’s go. Leave him alone.”

      I’ve been to the States, 4 times now. Not sure if there will be another trip (or 10) in the future..

  4. I thought it’s gonna be a fish & chips post.. Eh I heard of Fisherman’s Wharf before leh.. Somewhere in Taman Desa, but closed down jor..OMG look at that alligator bread !!!

  5. One thing I gotta say I love about America is the ‘people first’ thing. It’s so true that drivers won’t move unless the people has crossed. So civilized. You can seriously have a stand-off, like “you go” “no you go”.
    And I love that stroller commentary, haha!

    • Well it’s good that I am not that polite. If people tell me to go, I will go and wave thank you instead, so there won’t be any risk of stand-off with me. 😀

      I wonder if I will offend some moms with that stroller comment though. 😐

  6. oh, nice.. i would love to go there.. and i wonder if you were in somebody else’s spycam and then being featured in their FB or blog?? hehehe~~ :p

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