San Francisco: Undiscovered pleasures, just west of Fisherman’s Wharf, Part I of II

Tourists flock to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and Embarcadero waterfront.  Far less visited but offering an equal amount of awe and interest, is the waterfront just west of Fisherman’s Wharf.   Visitors can take in this panoply of engaging sites by walking, bicycling or by auto – and the views are simply stunning!

The historic Balclutha and other vintage ships along Hyde Street Pier

National Maritime Museum is in this historic building at Aquatic Park; open daily


Vintage row boats, owned by the private South-End Rowing Club, are regulary used at Aquatic Park and the San Francisco Bay

 The view of the Golden Gate, from Ft. Mason/Marina District area

Cable Car turn-around, at base of Hyde Street; cars can be boarded here

The Hyde Street Pier (and its historic ships) is on the western edge of Fisherman’s Wharf, at end of Hyde Street.  Administered by the National Park Service, it offers a treasure trove of historic ships that brought life to the San Francisco waterfront.  Ships include the 1886 square-rigger Balclutha, 1895 schooner C. A. Thayer, 1890 steam ferryboat Eureka, 1891 scow schooner Alma, 1907 steam tug Hercules, 1914 paddlewheel tug Eppleton Hall, 1915 steam schooner Wapama and scores of smaller watercraft.  One can walk the pier at no charge; to tour the vessels, cost is $6 for adults, kids under 16 no charge, open 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

Adjoining the pier is the Aquatic Park Historic District, boathouse and National Maritime Museum.  The museum tells the story of SF Bay history and how ships played a major part in the city’s evolution.  The park offers stunning views of the bay, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge and is open 10 AM  to 4:00 PM.  For info on the pier and district:

Just a block up Hyde Street is the Hyde Street Cable Car turnaround, where cable cars are turned 180 degrees on a hand-turned turntable for their return trip up Hyde Street, and passengers are loaded.  Right across the street is the iconic Buena Vista Café, 2765 Hyde Street, (415) 474.5044.

Ft. Mason separates the Aquatic Park District from the Marina District; visitors can walk or bicycle a path through the old fort to the Marina District.  There, a wealth of boats, small to large, can be viewed from a number of vista points.  Views of Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Golden Gate become ever more impressive.  One of the Marina District’s more evocative stops is the Wave Organ, at the eastern end of the jetty that forms the Marina’s boat harbor.  Here an array of pipes are activated by wave action, and subtle notes are played to the delight of young and old; it’s located at 1 Yacht Rd and is most musical at high tide.

We will bring you Part II early in the coming week, with insights into the Palace of Fine Arts, Crissy Field and the historic Civil War-era Fort Point (under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge)!

Take the time to explore SF’s waterfront, west of Fisherman’s Wharf!

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