Does Fisherman’s Wharf may make you think of lollygagging tourists, street performers, and chains restaurants? That’s fair, it’s to be expected actually, because Fisherman’s Wharf has huge helpings of all of those. What you may not realize though is that it also has tons of great things that make it worth a visit for even the most jaded of locals. What you don’t believe me? Then read below:
Time Needed: Approximately 5 Hours
333 Jefferson Street
Fast Food Restaurant
I know this is a chain with like eleventy-hundred locations, but even the most die-hard locavore will travel from all ends of The City for a delicious Double Double. Nearly everyone I talk to lumps a trip to In-N-Out with whatever reason they are visiting the Wharf. It’s like “Yeah, I gotta meet my aunt and uncle over at the Wharf before they go to Alcatraz, so I’m gonna make sure to swing by In-N-Out afterwards.” I usually respond with “will you please bring me back something?”
2. Tanguito Argentinian Food Truck
2850 Jones Street
Fast Food Restaurant
Do not under any circumstances google images of Tanguito Argentinian Food Truck. Oh shoot, you just did, didn’t you? I warned you! Now you’re gonna spend the rest of your day fantasizing about the Tanguito burger aren’t you? That delicious combination of beef, cheese, and chimichurri sauce is enough to make you weak in the knees. And if or some reason you’re still hungry afterwards, the empanadas are like little hot pockets from heaven. Ahh man, now I’m gonna google the images.
3. Musee Mecanique
Pier 45, Shed A
This might be the coolest place, not just on Fisherman’s Wharf, but in all of San Francisco. Part museum/part arcade, Musee Mecanique has an unimaginable array of coin operated games ranging from the time they were invented up until today. Whether you want to watch a lynching played out by antique mechanical toys or play the Indiana Jones pinball game, Musee Mecanique is a great place to waste your time and your quarters.
4. The Gold Dust Lounge
165 Jefferson Street
Bar & Lounge
The citizenry of San Francisco and San Francisco lovers around the world let out collective groan a few years ago when short-sighted developers evicted the legendary Gold Dust Lounge. It had been sitting on Powell Street since at least 1933 and was a favorite to both tourists and locals alike. Unfortunately time and greed wait for no one so the Gold Dust moved digs over to Fisherman’s Wharf and has now brought its legendary coolness to a host of new people. Decked out like a Victorian brothel, The Gold Dust is the best place on the Wharf to pop in for a drink. Plus somebody told me that the actual bar is one of the longest in the United States. Let’s hear it for the kind of camaraderie that only exists between drunk strangers.
5. 7-D Experience
To begin with I like the fact that the 7-D Experience has absolutely zero regard for the laws of physics and the basic fabric that holds our universe together. They’re like “these silly humans can only perceive four dimensions (if you include time) so, let’s give them SEVEN DIMENSIONS and blow their minds!” I’m pretty sure the other three dimensions in this case are lasers, surround sounds, and zombies, but then again, I’m not a physicist. Anyways, there’s nothing else I can really do at this point but cut and paste their “about section” because well…you’ll see:
Experience the thrill of a roller coaster and the excitement of an interactive shooting gallery –all without leaving your seat in our state of the art digital theater with surround sound, 3D effects and the newest in laser technology. Compete to achieve the highest score in the theater as everyone tries to capture the gold, eliminate the bad robot cowboys, or survive the zombie apocalypse. The sharpshooter with the best aim will have their picture displayed on the big screen and everyone will have the opportunity to view and purchase their action “shot” as well.
I think you left part of your skull under your desk when your mind was just blown.
6. Keane Eyes Gallery
3040 Larkin Street
You’ve seen Margaret Keane’s work before, even if you don’t realize it. People and animals with humongous saucer like eyes that just pull you into the painting and enchant you. There was this whole deal back in the day where her ex-husband tried to take credit for her work and a whole brouhaha ensued. Tim Burton even made a movie about it called Big Eyes. If you’re as enchanted with her work as I am, you can pop into the gallery and get an eyeful yourself. See what I did there? Eyeful?!? Ugh…I disgust myself.
7. The Buena Vista
2765 Hyde Street
Bar & Restaurant
Cost: $9 (for Irish coffee)
Ah screw it. Some things are classic for a reason. The Irish Coffee was purportedly perfected here in 1952 and people have been coming through to fix both their caffeine and booze jonze ever since. On a cold, foggy night, when all the tourists are tucked away back home in Arizona or Istanbul it’s nice to sit here with an Irish Coffee and a book and imagine yourself in a San Francisco that existed a long time ago.
8. Forbes Island
Pier 39 & 41
Cost: $12 (for drink)
The term “island” is misnomer considering that Forbes Island is actually just a houseboat, turned into a restaurant, and tied up near the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf. Don’t feel like you have to stay for a whole meal. You can get a taste of the experience over a couple of cucumber martinis or some appetizers. You call the restaurant from the dock and then they send a boat over to get you. Once there you can explore the 1,600 foot “island” that visionary dreamer Forbes Kiddoo has created. It’s got a lighthouse, a beach, palm trees, and even underwater dining. Who knew that San Francisco’s quirky weirdness extended even to this part of the city?
This itinerary was curated by Broke-Ass Stuart. Stuart Schuffman is a contemporary American travel writer and blogger known for his guide book Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco. His travel documentary television series Young Broke & Beautiful debuted in June 2011 on IFC.