How to Spend the Morning in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf with Kids - Henry and Andrew's Guide

Beat the crowds and spend the morning in Fisherman’s Wharf! Sea lions, street performers, arcade games and crab for breakfast – all before your kid’s nap time!

Going to the Fisherman’s Wharf in the morning is the best – the Fisherman’s Wharf gets pretty crowded any day of the week, every season – but not so much at 9am! (The big crowds tend to come around after 11am.) There is plenty to do here in the early mornings before the crowd comes out. The morning is the best time to explore this amazingly touristy Fisherman’s Wharf. We did all of this in one morning – all before a big family nap. 

We live here, but if you are here from out of town and have jet lag (or just have kids that wake up super early), then coming to Fisherman’s Wharf early in the morning is a must! (Check out this post if you have kids that wake up early and need more things to do in San Francisco early in the morning.)

On a budget? Make sure to check out FREE things to do at Fisherman’s Wharf in this post. Many of them also available early morning!

Park by Ghirardelli Square

The best part about getting to Fisherman’s Wharf early in the morning besides no crowds is the parking! The street parking at Fisherman’s Wharf area is still expensive at $6.50 an hour or something like that, but it beats the other parking spaces! We love to park by Ghirardelli Square area so we can walk to Pier 39 and back (usually via stroller for Henry on the way back).

Walk towards Hyde Street Pier and Look at Boats and Fun Exhibits

This hidden gem of a pier is open early (9:30am) but if you are there even earlier, it’s still fun to walk around and just look at the boats and exhibits while you take in the fresh ocean air!

Walk towards Pier 39, Stopping at Shops and Take Pictures with Pirates

These souvenir shops open pretty early! They have cool figurines you can take pictures with too. We saw lots of pirates, a bear, turtle, the list goes on. Henry loved spotting each one and taking pictures of them.

Grab an On-The-Go Crab Cup

Where else can you have fresh crab on the go for breakfast? Only at Fisherman’s Wharf! We were surprised when Henry said he wanted to eat crab at 9:30 in the morning. Maybe seeing real crabs all around made him want to try some? We were more than happy to pay close to $15 for a small cup of crab if it meant he was going to eat more than French fries that day. Andrew loved it too! We grabbed a bench by Musée Mécanique (next stop) and had a family crab breakfast.

See Street Performers on the Way to Pier 39

When we went, we saw a puppet show performed on the street, which was hilarious and impressive. I know there are dancers, musicians, artists, and those who like to scare people. All are fun and games and a must-experience at Fisherman’s Wharf. They start early too!

Watch the Sea Lions at Pier 39

Sea lions just don’t go to sleep, well… they sleep all day but in a visible spot.  We got there right around 10:30 and we were able to stand up front right away, without being in people’s way. Early bird catches the front row seating of the sea lion show!

Go on the 2 Story Carousel at Pier 39

Henry is a carousel fanatic and this one impressed him! We did not have to wait in line at all when we went to this 2 story carousel at the Fisherman’s Wharf in the morning. The lines get pretty long in mid-day, so be sure to check this place out before the crowds! You can get 2 coins for $5 each or 3 coins for $10… make sure to pick the right vending machine!  (Adults must pay even if you are going to stand next to a child.)

Have Lunch at Pier 39 – Wipeout Bar and Grill

There are so many kid-friendly options at Pier 39, and many get so crowded! Perks of having lunch at 11:15 – no lines and we beat the hangry monster. We loved Wipeout Bar and Grill! Great, fast service and kid-friendly ambiance. They serve brunch too if you are there that early.

Eat Cotton Candy before Walking Back

After our early lunch, we got Henry cotton candy from a vendor. We figured – why not – it’s a fun special morning at Fisherman’s Wharf, and he will have the sugar high to walk back to Ghirardelli Square!

That’s how we spend a morning at Fisherman’s Wharf! Have you been to Fisherman’s Wharf? What was your favorite part? Let us know!