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A Tourist View Of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf

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A Tourist View Of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf

Old Jan 21st, 2006, 10:39 AM
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A Tourist View Of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf

San Francisco has always been my favorite city in this country to vist. But it seems that a lot of the locals down Fisherman's Wharf, though I am not completely sure of the reason why. I have been to San Francisco over a half of a dozen times and each time i have stayed in a different area. The best of the lot, as far as convenience have been the Embarcadero and North Beach (my favorite of the SF neighborhoods). A lot of locals suggest the Union Square area, which I find as a basic downtown shopping area. It is nice, but I personally can't say that I find it as anything special as downtons go. The wharf area is what makes San Francisco special to me. Sure it is very commercialized, but what city can you find the physical beauty that you see at the Wharf? And as far as being a tourist, it just seems very convenient to doing a lot of the things, that I as a tourist would like to do.From there I can take a boat cruise (including one to Alcatraz), take a ferry to Sausalito, shop around the wharf area (hey, I am a tourist), walk through North Beach and Chinatown, walk up through Russian Hill, take a cablecar up to Union Square or one of the "F" buses up to the Embarcadero or even all the way to the Castro. In all honesty, though, I have never stayed at the Wharf, but I thought I would when I visit this March. I thought that the Argonaut looked like it might be kind of neat and thought I would give it a try. But what can I say, I feel that is the bay that makes San Francisco what it is, perhaps the most beautiful city in the US, a lot more than a downtown shopping area. I think that it's a shme that more locals can't find more pride in it.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 10:58 AM
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When I travel I go as a tourist and do not try to hide it. You can tell I am a tourist from a mile away. I have no problem with tourist trap locations. For the most part I find them exciting.

Also, I pay attention to tips by posters such as Stu Dudley. I gather much good information about city highlights not found in the tourist trap areas. And I visit the places recommended by the local experts.

I combine tourist areas with the locals areas. It works for me every time. And I enjoy each minute of my vacations.

Signed....a big fan of fisherman's wharf.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 11:05 AM
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I would call myself a semi-tourist to San Francisco as I live in San Jose, 45 miles to the south. I have stayed in the city, up to 9 days at a time (long story). I like going to Fisherman's Wharf during less busy times (weekdays in fall and winter). And actually prefer the edge of Fisherman's Wharf area near the Marina district and Fort Mason.
 
Old Jan 21st, 2006, 11:09 AM
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I must say that it's refreshing to hear from someone else who can look beyond the predictable tourist trash to see the interesting and worthwhile parts of this SF area. I've stayed at the Argonaut twice and found it just fine--the maritime museum right off the lobby is worthwhile, as well. Remember, folks, San Francisco became an important city because of its waterfront, among other reasons! The views at the wharf are beautiful, and it's fun to get a sandwich from one of the stands and wander down to the beach at Aquatic Park and eat it. You can tour the SS Jeremiah O'Brien (National Liberty Ship Memorial) and the submarine Pampanito at Pier 45, as well as visiting other attractions at that pier (the Musee Mecanique, etc.), and it's a half-hour fairly brisk walk to the Ferry Building (Pier 1). (I find it amazing that I can get from 1 to 45 that fast; it has something to do with how the piers are numbered.) The Hyde Street Pier has very interesting historic ships that contributed much to San Francisco's history. At the wharf, you're also close to Chinatown and North Beach, Coit Tower, etc. I love just wandering around (when I have the time) and seeing San Francisco from a variety of viewpoints that don't require a car (although I really like to walk, and people who don't like hills or have walking impediments might want to stick to sea-level areas along the Embarcadero and at the wharf itself). I even enjoy Pier 39 more than I used to--I think they spiffed it up recently. So I too encourage people to explore this area--don't be put off by the objection that it's "too touristy"--just lighten up, skip the junk shops, and focus on the more interesting, beautiful, and historical stuff!
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 11:27 AM
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For those that want to walk..from the Ferry Building at the end of Market St., the piers going to the left (north) are numbered in the uneven numbers and the piers going to the right (south) are numbered in the even numbers. It is beautiful walking along the SF Bay.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 11:47 AM
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Excellent posts! I've been getting tired of seeing this area constantly trashed.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 01:00 PM
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I to enjoyed my stay at the Wharf. I didn't even mind the t-shirt shops as I bought a sweatshirt and it was fun being a tourist and searching for one. I liked all the activity in that area and everything was so walkable. Thanks for the positive posts!
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 01:04 PM
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When my dear wife and I arrive at Fishermans Wharf on the F street car the first thing we do is hit the junk shop area to buy lotto tickets and trinkets. I always am looking for the most cheesy refrigerator magnet they sell. My wife will buy some silly t shirts and I am always in need of a new Alcatraz book and other crap.I will always buy a cool SF baseball cap too. Bless these junk shops and the hard working people that work there.

Thankfully there are many anti wharf people so that leaves plenty of to-die-for cioppino at the Mermaid restaurant in the Argonaut Hotel. Like wize for the yummy clam chowder bowls and crab sandwiches sold at the street stands.

don512, it was about time somebody stood up for this wonderful wharf. I tip my hat to you.

A few months back an anti wharf person recommended the Wok Wiz walking tour. I thank this person for that as Wok Wiz is a wonderful experience. Also an anti wharf person recommended a breakfast place in a crummy neighborhood that may have been the best breakfast I have ever had. Thanks again.

So, those that shun the wharf please continue to do so. Then there will always be plenty of fresh bread from that bakery on the wharf that we stuff into our carry-on and schlep to the airport on the day we leave SF.

Long live the wharf!
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 01:42 PM
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Very good IanBooth - except you missed the Hooters, Ripleys Believe-or-Not, and the Wax Museum. Many years ago, trinket shops sold ash trays with a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge - in bright orange. But since almost every corner of San Francisco is now non-smoking, I suspect they outlawed ash trays also. Too bad - they were great to give to relatives from out of town.

It's a rainy/misty day in SF today, so we're not heading to the Wharf for dinner tonight. We're staying a little closer to home & having dinner at Incanto in the Noe Valley. Dined at Firefly in the Noe Valley last week.

Tomorrow my wife is the guide on the SF City Guide's free "Victorian San Francisco" walking tour. Perhaps not as interesting or unique as browsing through the shops on the Wharf, however.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 01:57 PM
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The point, Stu, is that San Francisco is about diversity. There's room for the Wharf and Victorians and the Castro and the Barbary Coast and North Beach and the Mission and Marina Green and Chinatown and even Union Square. Something for everyone.

If you want to stick with a restaurant closer to home, have you tried Astaria (on 3rd Ave.)? Excellent food.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 02:14 PM
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Stu, I only wish they still sold the ashtrays. I would start a collection.

By the way, I did one of your wife's tours, the library tours, correct? Very excellent.

You need to not be offended that many folks will not make the same choices as you want them to make. It's their money, right?

Also, I would assume that the wharf brings in mucho $$$$ to your charming city.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 05:27 PM
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I am glad to see several replies to my post. But I must say that the main reason I said anything is that so many of the locals that don't like the wharf area will go all out to talk people out of staying there. And I can't figure out why. I think thew problem is that they look at it like a resident instead of a tourist. I mean there is a reason that it is a touristy area (apparently a lot of tourist like it). It just amazes me that it happens in San Francisco with the Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge being two of the city's best physical features (and in my opinion it is it's physical features that make the city so special). And why always pick on Fisherman's Wharf? Chinatown is full of junk stores and I don't hear all of the criticism of it. Seemms there, that people just consider it part of it's character. And by the way Stu, I have never done one of the Victorian homes tours (where do you find them?), but I would like to. But I will still probably enjoy myself at the wharf too.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 06:43 PM
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To the San Francisco residents with such demeaning views of Fisherman's Wharf,
like it or not, tourism is a major contributing factor to your admirable property values. News Flash...The Wharf is a tourist attraction- as is North Beach, Union Square, Nob Hill, SBC Park, The Bridge, The Rock, Chinatown, etc. Sorry about the embarrassment over your red headed step child but, embrace it or not, The Wharf is one of the reasons we come to SF. If you'd like us to avoid it, we can't. It allows us another spice with which to add flavor to the experience. If we're willing to accept it and enjoy it, then you should, at the very least, tolerate and not criticize it. We'll be there. We'll be most everywhere. There are so many reasons to visit. We'll enjoy your beauty as well as your less than flattering features- and we'll continue to come. You might not agree with our choices, but, don't insult us, humor us.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 06:55 PM
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Isn't one of the reasons may discourage Fisherman's Wharf (or other tourist traps or cliches) is that they ultimately are pretty unrewarding and not representative of what a city has to offer? Sure, you may like it, but many people will find it utterly disappointing, tacky, and a waste of time. Thus, the reason why people who live there may discourage you.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 09:27 PM
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MikeT, but why discourage people? Why not give people a chance to form their own opinion? Some locals act like you should avoid the wharf area at all cost, yet one of the first things people tell you to do is to take a trip to Alcatraz. How do you do both? I am a realist, I know that there are a lot of tacky things about the Wharf, but how about the cruises, the bike rentals and the great central location for visiting some really great neighborhoods? And wow, the physical beauty of the bay, I can't imagine taking a trip to San Francisco and not visiting the Wharf at least once. And it's a shame that you are kind of made to feel wrong or even stupid for feeling that way.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 10:56 PM
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< many people will find it utterly disappointing, tacky, and a waste of time.>

Uh, tacky is part of its charm, folks. And wasting time is why I vacation.

I'm also pleased someone is lauding instead of laughing at this area. It's fun. As are, in a different way, San Francisco's museum of modern art, Nob Hill, SoMarket, Castro, Chinatown, sushi-boat bars, chowder vats, Gary Danko, Sausalito and Marin.

I had the same problem, being from a much less well known but also heavily touristed area. "Why do they all want to go there?"

Now that I've lived away for a good long while, when I go "home," I get it. It's fun.

It's all good.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 07:29 AM
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Excellent thread...good point and counterpoints! I will be staying at the Sheraton Fisherman's wharf,,,got a great priceline bid! I love looking at the scenery at the Wharf, we have nothing like that here! I live in very touristy Fort Lauderdale(not SF level, but enough). To each his own I guess!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 07:55 AM
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OK - I'm convinced. The Wharf is "the place to be"!!!!

After I drop my wife off for her "Victorian San Francisco" tour today, I had planned to pick up some "goodies" at Whole Foods (AKA Whole Paycheck) on Franklin & Calif, drive or walk a few blocks to Lafayette Park, take the folding chair out of the car, walk up to the highest point in the park, & plop myself down & read the Sunday paper or a book & munch on the goodies. The panoramic views of the Bay are fantastic from there. My wife's tour ends near the park, and we planned to go to the Fillmore St shopping area to pick up a gift for a friend.

Now I'll head to the Wharf instead and hang out. Anyone know a place to get a good corn dog???

>>Stu, I have never done one of the Victorian homes tours (where do you find them?), but I would like to.<<

This is one of the reasons I try to pursuade people to venture beyond the Wharf, or perhaps skip it entirely. My posts usually include "other" things to do instead (or in addition, if you like) to the Wharf. Don has visited the City a half dozen times, and does not know about the "Victorian San Francisco" tour - or perhaps any of the City Guides tours. It's one of 30 different free walking tours offered by City Guides, which is sponsored by the Public Library. Info and schedules are at:
www.sfcityguides.org

Here are some of my "bests", offered as alternatives to The Wharf:
-Best neighborhood - Noe Valley
-Best Views from within the City - Twin Peaks, viewing platform at Eagles Point (northeast edge of Lincoln Park Golf Course), Fort Point Wharf (much better than Fisherman's Wharf, IMO)
-Best views from outside of the City - GGNRA, across the GG bridge & up, up, up to the east of the bridge.
-Wife's favorite shopping areas - Fillmore & Noe Valley
-Favorite restaurant I've dined at within last month - Aziza - Calif/Moroccan food, way out on Geary.
-Favorite coffee shop - X/O on Church & 30th in Noe Valley
-Favorite place to have lunch by myself - Tadich
-Best "hidden" areas right under the typical tourist's nose - take walk #4 from Adah Bakalinsky's "Stairway Walks in San Francisco", or Jack Early Park off Grant between Francisco & Chestnut.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 09:26 AM
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Stu,

Perhaps one other "best": a quick early morning stroll along the wharf to see the seals and the the view (before the busloads of trinket shoppers arrive). But, I agree that almost any other neighborborhood would be a better place to stay...
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 09:30 AM
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I wanted to add that warnings in previous threads were only encouraging visitors to immerse themselves (by way of hotel choice) in one the many vibrant neighborhoods during their stay in SF. I don't recall people saying do not go SEE the wharf area...
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