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Fodor's Northern California 2014
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Hyde Street Pier
Hyde Street Pier Review
Cotton candy and souvenirs are all well and good, but if you want to get to the heart of the Wharf—boats—there's no better place to do it than at this pier, one of the Wharf area's best bargains. Depending on the time of day, you might see boatbuilders at work or children pretending to man an early-1900s ship.
Don't pass up the centerpiece collection of historic vessels, part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, almost all of which can be boarded. The Balclutha, an 1886 full-rigged three-masted sailing vessel that's more than 250 feet long, sailed around Cape Horn 17 times. Kids especially love the Eureka, a side-wheel passenger and car ferry, for her onboard collection of vintage cars. The Hercules is a steam-powered tugboat. The C.A. Thayer, a three-masted schooner, recently underwent a painstaking restoration.
Across the street from the pier and almost a museum in itself is the maritime park's Visitor Center (499 Jefferson St. 415/447–5000 Open June–Aug., daily 9:30–5:30; Sept.–May, daily 9:30–5), whose fun, large-scale exhibits, such as a huge First Order Fresnel lighthouse lens and a shipwrecked boat, make it an engaging quick stop.
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