Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fisherman's Wharf {San Francisco}

As I am still filling out paperwork for my second job, I've had a couple of days off a week to explore the city. We've had particularly beautiful weather recently, and I decided to take advantage of one of our warmer days to go visit Fisherman's Wharf along the shoreline. 

Living here, there are a lot of things I love (and a few things I don't) about Fisherman's Wharf. The eclectic collection of cute artisan shops neighboring tourist traps, Ghirardelli Square and fresh dungeness crab are just a few.

Some of my favorites from my "tourist for a day" excursion in Fisherman's Wharf:

Living right near the cable car line. Although noisy at night, they are a fun way to see the city. During the summer they are absolutely packed with tourists (and they cost $5 a pop, unless you have a monthly pass), so I'll be walking.

Passing by my old street at Hyde & Chestnut.

Ghirardelli Square. Or the chocolate shop, or the chocolate factory, or the sundae place, or heaven. Whatever you want to call it. By now we all now about my sweet tooth and love affair with chocolate, so this place is exciting for me.

This place was exactly 133 steps from my old apartment.

I knew that because I was 12 years old and had a pedometer.

Don't mess.

There are lots of vendors' stalls along the water next to Ghirardelli Square. It's a great place to pick up some jewelry, artwork or hand-made t-shirts. As with any tourist-driven market, the wares are hit or miss, but I particularly like the sterling silver rings you can find here.

Old ships that are now a permanent fixture in the harbor.

Hyde St. Pier, a free, open-air type of museum where you can learn all about the wharf, boats and ships. 

If you're into that kind of stuff.

I prefer the chocolate.

A view of Alcatraz, where they famously kept prisoners and high-profile gangsters like Al Capone.

Seagulls down by the water. Ever since Finding Nemo, I always imagine them having an Australian accent.

The Dolphin Club; a swim club. Now I'm convinced these people are crazy, because the water is freezing cold and they do it without a wetsuit.

The Bay is also known to have Great White Sharks stray in from the Farallon Islands every once in a while.

You will never find me swimming in there.

Even the tourist shops are kind of charming.

Although kitschy, I have to admit that there is something about the nautical motif that almost draws me in.

But not quite.

Here's an example of the mix of shops I was talking about. On your left, In-N-Out Burger, home of the Double-Double, animal fries and burgers made "protein style." On your right, Rosie's Roses, an artisanal shop where the owner makes her own bath salts and truffles.

Now before any In-N-Out fans start freaking out on me, I'm not knockin' your burger, I'm just saying that the two are very different.

Checkered tablecloths at seafood cafes near the water.

The fishing boats that take people for bay tours or sea fishing for pretty cheap.

To me, they look like the boat from Jaws.

Something else I won't be doing.

Alioto's, a restaurant that has become somewhat of a staple at the Wharf.

Little seafood shacks in the wharf, where you can get great grab-n-go food.

Hot clam chowder and dungeness crab.

If you're looking for fabulous crab, come in February - that's when it's said to be freshest.

The Boudin bakery, where they make the famous San Francisco sourdough bread.

They pump the air from the bakery outside, so you can smell the flour and yeast of the freshly-baked bread from a block away.

There's even a window from the sidewalk where you can watch the bakers make their creations. It's pretty fun to watch how they make the loaves and rolls.

As you get closer to Pier 39, you'll start seeing more street performers. Many of them are of the spray-painted "hey I'm a statue but I'm moving" type, but every once in a while you'll see some more creative artists and acrobats.

There's also Bush Man. Bush Man can't be explain, but has to be experienced first-hand. Once you've been here, you'll know why.

Pier 39. This is probably the tourist hub of the Wharf.

Did I say probably? Sorry, I meant definitely.

But they still have their fare share of a few good places to check out.

This was one store that caught my eye - I've seen them before but I think it's a fun concept.

The sea lions of Pier 39. These docks used to be teeming with them (we could hear them barking at night from our apartment balcony) but a few years ago most of them left. Now only a handful remain. It's still one of those big our-climate-is-changing mysteries and scientists still haven't figured it out.

Now if you're tired after a full couple of hours of sightseeing, the f-train is one convenient transportation option for getting home. I love the old style of the cars, and they recently repainted them in cool vintage hues. The f-train will take you around the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building, which has many beautiful shops and a huge, wonderful Farmer's Market.

But that's for another time. For now, I'm walking up the steep hills back home.

Refreshing views like these make all of that walking worth it.

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