Spend an in-expensive day at Fisherman’s Warf, San Francisco

San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Warf has been a gathering place since the early days of the 19th century, when it was a hub of activity in the commercial fishing world. This is where the fishermen brought in their catch, unloaded, and gathered to “unwind”. Today it is one of the most visited areas of San Francisco, and for good reason, it’s restaurants, shops, attractions and awesome views can be appreciated all year long.

View of San Francisco bridge and the Warf

View of San Francisco bridge and the Warf


A though for your day: Choosing to spend a day at the Warf, as opposed to traveling to Napa/Sonoma Wine Country is probably saving you hundreds by not buying those cases of wine, at least today.


The main attraction of the Warf as far as seafood is concerned is the Dungeness crab which is you have never partaken, is almost a mandatory part of visiting San Francisco. Back in early days before this became a tourist area, the fishermen would cook the crab in massive steel pots and sell them to those walking about the streets. Today they are still served boiled, however you’ll have them on a plate, with silverware and napkin, or in most cases a bunch of napkins.


Visiting today, there are many excellent restaurants for enjoying the “fresh catch” of the day, as well as an iconic sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder, another specialty here. Later in the article we will give a few hints of what awaits you in the world of taste buds in San Francisco’s, Fisherman’s Warf.


Best time to visit for cheaper hotel rates? October through March, except holidays.


The Warf is where you can not only see the infamous Alcatraz Island in the bay, but also where you can catch the boat out to the island for a tour. If you are only visiting for a day, you might not want to do a tour however, if staying at one of the area hotels, another day’s activities should include an Alcatraz Tour.


These guys seem quite cute to visitors, but you wouldn't want them outside your bedroom window at night!

These guys seem quite cute to visitors, but you wouldn’t want them outside your bedroom window at night!


Strolling the Warf streets and visiting the many shops, although appearing to be tourist traps, actually can hold treasures, especially during a cool or rainy afternoon. Who doesn’t have a shirt or sweatshirt or two with a destination or attraction on it? Whether it’s a coffee mug or a hoodie with “I Spent Time On Alcatraz Island”, somewhere down the road it will surly bring a smile to your face. Also, among those little shops, you’ll find local artist crafts as well as boutique clothing stores and maybe something really special for someone at home.


Just imagine walking through a giant glass tube with this guy staring at ya!

Just imagine walking through a giant glass tube with this guy staring at ya!


If traveling with or without small children, the Pier 39 Aquarium of the Bay is a fun, exciting and informative experience, and a great place to visit. You will experience the underwater world of the waters in the bay, including otters, Giant Pacific octopuses, bat rays and sevengill sharks, during your stroll through clear glass tunnels. If you’ve never experienced this before, it’s quite a hair-raiser at times, so be sure your blood pressure is in check.


The Aquarium is divided into four “learning areas” where you can experience the diversity of the waters around San Francisco. Discover the Bay shows you the animals found around the area docks. Under the Bay is where you walk through two massive clear tunnels viewing over 200 species. Then there’s the Touch the Bay where you actually arrive in the “petting zoo” and actually get to touch sharks, rays and more. Finally it’s time of course for a visit with California’s Otter families in the River Otters: Watershed Ambassadors area. All in all, the aquarium is a great place to spend a few hours and well worth the time and entry fee.


As with many other tourist areas, there’s also a Fisherman’s Warf Wax Museum, where you and the kids can experience famous and infamous personalities from our nations history. Although it may not be such a big deal to parents, it can be quite fascinating to children.


Fun for all, a visit to Fisherman’s Warf isn’t complete without checking out the USS Pampanito, a real World War II submarine docked at Pier 45. Right nearby you can also visit and explore the largest U.S. collection of historical vessels by heading to the Hyde Street Pier, and don’t forget your camera. This area is ripe for a “selfie” or two.


There's nothing quite like cracking open one of these beauties and dipping fresh crab in a cup of steaming hot butter!

There’s nothing quite like cracking open one of these beauties and dipping fresh crab in a cup of steaming hot butter!


Now it’s time to talk about some of the best and most interesting places to eat on the Warf. We’re most certain that you have heard of Bubba Gump, and if you walk out to the end of Pier 39, you’ll find Bubba Gump Shrimp Company where you can relax with bowl of clam chowder or fresh seafood and enjoy the almost perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.


Money saving tip: If looking to save $$$ and stay on budget, look for Annie’s Hot Dogs & Pretzels cart.


Another great choice especially while keeping in the “cost saving” mode would be Lou’s Fish Shack on Jefferson Street. Eat inside or outside in a casual environment, with live music. This is a fine place to grab an appetizer and a beer and do some people watching, or just to get off your feet. Get a bowl of clam or crab bisque for under $10 or the signature bread bowl for under $12.


If you’ve been thrifty and want to experience some of the best food on the Warf, and willing to spend some extra cash, then lunch or dinner at Pompeii’s Grotto could be your place. If weather is behaving, there’s nothing quite like an outside along the sidewalk table for two. This restaurant opened back in 1946 and has been a “go to” restaurant ever since. Serving classic Italian, and fresh shellfish and fish, there’s something for everyone’s palate.


In case you didn't know, San Francisco is home to Ghirardelli Chocolates! Visit the factory for a tour, or grab some on the Warf.

In case you didn’t know, San Francisco is home to Ghirardelli Chocolates! Visit the factory for a tour, or grab some on the Warf.


Money savings at Pompeii’s: Think about getting an awesome plate of fresh fish tacos for under $10 and a $6 draft of Big Daddy for lunch.


Now these are just a few dining options for you to think about, with many choices from sit down restaurants to stands. All in all, most offer spectacular views of the bay, and fresh seafood to put a super memory on those taste buds of yours.


When I travel, and I travel like crazy! I check for the best possible rates for my destination

on http://www.cheaphotels.com. And you should too! Just saying 😉


Happy Trails,



About storiesbygary

I am a Freelance Writer / Photographer, writing travel related articles for international magazines, blogs and websites and my own published books.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Budget Travel, Budget Vacation, California, cheap hotel, cheap vacation, oysters, restaurants, San Francisco, seafood, travel, travel with dogs, Travel With Gary, Vacation and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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