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San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf
San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf

One of the most popular tourist destinations in San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf alone has enough to see and do to consume the entire vacation.

The area is one of the stopping points of the famous cable car rides and houses a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39, the USS Pampanito Submarine Museum and gobs of other attractions.

Fisherman’s Wharf is just one edge of the northern waterfront that blossoms out to include Ghiradelli Square near Van Ness Street to Pier 35 and Kearney Street.

Across the street from the purely tourist attractions can still be found the vendors whose forefathers gave the area its name. Here you can get a delicious helping of shrimp and tangy cocktail sauce or stop into one of the many small restaurants for clams.

Nearby is the disembarkation point for the Alcatraz tours. Be sure to get tickets in advance of your visit. It’s always sold out at least days, and often weeks, ahead. You can also take trips around the bay to Angel Island or Sausalito.

Just down the block is The Green Room, a comedy club that packs them in. Here, anyone you see is likely to be on TV in a few months. If they haven’t been already!

The Wax Museum, too, continues to attract crowds. Take a walk by Keanu Reeves looking more lifelike than he does in films. Or enjoy a photo-op with Presidents past and present.

Spend some time at the excellent Aquarium of the Bay. Here you can see everything from nearly invisible miniature jelly fish to all too visible sharks. Outside, not far away, you can see some of the local sea lions come to visit their cousins.

One of the more unusual sights, not generally duplicated in other large cities, is the Musee Mechanique. The Mechanical Museum of San Francisco. Presumably, they thought it sounded better in French.

The museum displays a large and fascinating collection of antique music boxes and arcade artifacts. Anyone interested in seeing what amusement was like before video games should definitely take a look. Located at Pier 45.

Come see a different side of the turn of the century and visit the indoor Maritime Museum and the historic sailing ships outdoors. See for yourself what life was like when all that stood between a sailor and starvation was his net and his two strong hands. Marvel at the beauty of the large sails and the tiny cabins.

Tours include ships that made trips around Cape Horn and schooners that hauled lumber in 1895. While you’re there check out the WWII-era USS Pampanito and the Liberty Ship Jeremiah O’Brian.

Pay a visit to The Cannery shopping mall and pick up some of the history of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake along with gifts. You’ll learn, among other things, that post-quake fire did more damage than the shaking.

And be sure not to miss the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum. Full of odd artifacts and purveying dozens of unusual sights and stories, the museum is a large collection gathered by one of San Francisco’s oddest characters. And, in San Francisco, that’s saying something.

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