Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 Come Alive
Gotta go to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 when you go to San Francisco. After the mass of humanity we experienced while there – you might question why. But the seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the delicious standards the city by the bay is known for and so, especially if it’s your first visit, you gotta go.
My suggestion: try not to go on the weekend, if possible. I’ll be honest with you – I didn’t take the pictures you see accompanying this post. I found them online. I’m not a big picture taker, I’d been taking pictures all day. But there were so many people – far more than you see here – I forgot to take my camera out of my purse.
I feel these pictures accurately depict what we experienced. However, they came from online.
We got to Fisherman’s Wharf at about 4:30 pm Saturday afternoon and it was mobbed with people. The Wharf is home to the fishing industry on the harbor and some famous seafood restaurants. Every time I’ve been to the Wharf and Pier 39 in the past I’ve loved it. This time I didn’t – because of the crowds. But if you can slip in on a weekday it’s a not-to-be-missed adventure.
Pier 39 is a festival marketplace. In 1979, a guy saw a vision of totally refurbishing this pier that was piled with junked cars and make it part of the Fisherman’s Wharf experience. It worked.
You know what it’s like when you’re tired, you’ve been going all day, and, you’re walking zombie-like through the mall or some other place? That’s how I felt. Time to go home. It’s probably not realistic to write a real review under these conditions. I’m just reporting on what it was like for me.
So, we went into “Pier Market” pictured right and were lucky to get a table right away. It has that fish house on the pier look, nice, but not particularly fancy or special. We were grateful to have a place to sit and relax after making our way through the crowds outside.
When you eat at a place like this you’re paying for location, location, location. It’s all about actually being on the famous pier enjoying seafood. Cherie got a Gin and Tonic. I got a five ounce glass of white wine. We ordered a Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail and a
Crab Cakes appetizer. Our total tab with tax and tip came to: $52. I’m not an expert, but that seems high to me. Everything tasted fine – but there was nothing spectacular or special or intriguing about it. This is food for American palates – not too spicy – simple and uncomplicated. It’s not pretentious or high-falutin’.
One of the classic dishes in San Francisco and especially at Fisherman’s Wharf is Clam Chowder, especially served in a Sourdough bread bowl. Since Cherie and I were avoiding white carbs, we didn’t order it. But I’ve enjoyed it in the past. It’s darn good eating for about ten bucks anywhere on the Wharf. It’s probably your best bang for the buck in filling up inexpensively on an authentic San Francisco treat.
It’s amazing how despite the crowds and the high prices there’s such a uniquely American spirit of fun at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. It’s a family kind of place and really has a festival feel. We did enjoy ourselves there. We enjoyed looking out the big windows to the boats in the marina. Despite the madness of the crowds on the pier – looking out on the boats in the harbor is relaxing.
Once you’ve visited Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf, pretty much everything else you see in San Francisco is based upon your interests – it’s all up for grabs and it’s all out there to enjoy. You can do the whole thing in a couple hours, or, if you’d like you can spend the entire day there. It’s all up to you.
Even the street performers like the Silver Man (left) you can watch for 30 seconds or watch his routine for 30 minutes. These guys painted in silver with robotic-like moves and sounds are a fixture on the wharf. I’ve never visited without seeing at least one of them doing their thing. Most of them are hilarious and I’m happy to throw a dollar in the kitty in exchange for being amused by their antics for a few minutes.
The whole idea at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 is to visit with a spirit of participation, curiousity and a sense that it’s an enjoyable way to see, smell, hear and taste new things. And isn’t that what an excellent adventure in travel is all about?