Zoe’s guide to the top attractions in and around Fisherman’s Wharf.For those looking for activities near Fisherman’s Wharf, you can’t get much closer than Hotel Zoe. Step outside the front doors and you’ll find yourself in the middle of all things emblematic of San Francisco. Hop on a cable car, explore the bohemian charm of North Beach, or take the ferry to Alcatraz Island. All the top activities in San Francisco are at your feet!
Fisherman’s WharfHotel Zoe puts a boutique spin on all the fun and excitement of Fisherman’s Wharf. With so much to see and do, you just have to walk out the front doors to find yourself in the thick of it. The Wharf has something for everyone, from seasoned sailors to lifelong landlubbers. Jump on an Alcatraz ferry to tour the Rock or charter a sailboat to live out your America’s Cup dreams. Get active with a sport-fishing charter and bring back the catch of the day. Or combine land and sea when you Ride the Ducks – an amphibious boat that takes you in, on, and back out of the bay. If you prefer your thrills and chills on solid ground, get ready for goosebumps at the San Francisco Dungeon, where you’ll witness reenactments of memorable (and gory) episodes from the city’s history. The action is virtual but the adrenaline rush is real at the 7D Experience, a mind-blowing combination of roller coaster, laser tag, and 3D technology. The scene at the Sea Lion Center can get a little wild, but it’s all-natural fun. For more aquatic wildlife, check out the Aquarium of the Bay, the best way to immerse yourself in the bay without getting wet. With all that excitement, you can really work up an appetite. It’s called Fisherman’s Wharf for a reason, and you can find excellent seafood here, from the famed chowder at the Blue Mermaid to freshly steamed Dungeness crab. Alioto’s and Scoma’s have been serving up an authentic San Francisco experience (and fresh seafood) for generations, and locals still flock there for the cioppino. For a true mix of adventure, take the private shuttle boat to Forbes Island for some underwater dining. Over at Ghirardelli Square, you can find both surf and turf at McCormick & Kuleto’s. Of course, you should pick up some namesake Ghirardelli chocolate while you’re at the Square. Top it all off with an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista, and then retreat to your boutique haven at Hotel Zoe to relax and refresh.
North BeachYour unique base in San Francisco, Hotel Zoe sits right next to the bohemian charm of North Beach, one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods. Sometimes known as Little Italy, North Beach combines Old World elegance with a beatnik twist. And it’s all just steps from Zoe. Presided over by the stately spires of Saints Peter and Paul Church, Washington Square Park is the perfect place to chill in North Beach. If you’re feeling more energetic, head uphill (up, up, uphill) to Coit Tower, where you’ll find historic murals and one of the best views in the city. Keep your ears open for the notoriously noisy parrots of Telegraph Hill. Fuel your adventure with some picnic supplies at Little Vine on Grant Street. This shop is a local favorite for coffee, wine, chocolate, cheese, charcuterie and other necessities. Or cross the park to Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store for hot focaccia sandwiches. Just around the corner is Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, home to long lines and award-winning pizza. For true old-school flavor, hit up Molinari Delicatessen for Italian subs. Time for some post-lunch shopping. If you’re a denim diehard, don’t miss the chance to talk selvedge with the experts at AB Fits. For more bespoke wares, there’s Al’s Attire, a bastion of custom tailoring and made-to-order clothing. Park and Pond has your stationery, note card and gift needs covered. If you’ve ever hankered for a fedora, Goorin Bros Hat Shop is the place to find one. Booklovers and beatniks should just head straight for the famous City Lights bookstore on Columbus. North Beach was made for a memorable night out. Indulge in the retro glamour of Park Tavern, known equally for its cocktails and cuisine. Get the full Little Italy experience at L’Osteria del Forno (the milk-braised pork is where it’s at). Tosca retains a touch of its slightly seedy appeal, although it’s now updated with better food and drinks. Relive the heyday of the Beats with drinks at Vesuvio (not coincidentally located by Jack Kerouac Alley), or go even further back in time at Comstock Saloon, an homage to the neighborhood’s Barbary Coast days. And when you’re ready to call it a night, Zoe is right there to welcome you home.
Hyde Street Cable Cars
The cable cars are a must-do when you visit San Francisco. They are a part of San Francisco’s cultural history and hold a place in American history as well.
There are three cable car lines, two of which connect with Fisherman’s Wharf. The two Fisherman’s Wharf lines, also known as the Powell Street lines, will take you past Union Square and up Nob Hill. From Hotel Zoe, you’re just 1 block from the Mason Powell line. Since we’re so close, you should take this line up into North Beach – and if you do take the Mason Powell line, you’ll be riding on the longest transit line in the world, and one that has been running continuously since 1888.
If you take the Powell-Hyde line, you can go through Russian Hill and see Lombard Street. On the descent towards Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll get a fantastic view of Alcatraz, Angel Island, Mount Tamalpais, and the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a ride to remember – so bring your camera and hold on tight!
Not in the mood for the long wait that goes with the Powell Street lines or already in Nob Hill and want a different view? Try riding the California Street line. Here, the majority of riders are locals just going from point A to point B. This line will take you through the Financial District, the Battery, into the heart of Chinatown and up into Nob Hill.
Also, be sure to watch the cable cars “pull in” at the end of the day. It’s an impressive sight!
Two decades ago, one of San Francisco’s most popular attractions was inaugurated at the Embarcadero: Pier 39. Luckily for us, Pier 39 is just a short walk from the front door of Hotel Zoe. Spend time on Pier 39 and you can anything from shopping at multiple boutiques to trying a variety of restaurants to taking a sunset sail on a catamaran under the Golden Gate Bridge. (Yes, that’s one for the bucket list.) The best part is the people watching from your seat at a cafe here. Plus, your views of iconic sites such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz are spectacular.
And speaking of getting some rare views of San Francisco, you won’t want to miss the crown jewel of Pier 39, the Aquarium of the Bay. Featuring thousands of local sea creatures on display, this is your chance to go eyeball to eyeball with an array of denizens of the deep as you walk through oversized clear tubes that leave you surrounded and amazed by San Francisco’s aquatic residents.
SF Maritime National Historic Park
From the moment you enter our lobby, you’ll understand why we love our location. That’s especially true when you consider that the National Park’s Visitors Center and Interactive Museum is located just a short stroll away. At the Maritime National Historical Museum, you can view vintage navigation equipment, experience a sensory “Walk Along the Waterfront” exhibit recreating the sights and sound of the wharf’s Golden Era, and much more.
There is so much to explore in the park. If you have dreamt of going back in time to raise sails on an historic schooner and sing sea shanties, you can do that here. Or walk over to Hyde Park Pier, where majestic ships such as the Balclutha and CA Thayer are moored. There are also ranger-led tours of the park and guided historic walking tours of the waterfront. You can also simply stroll the quiet paths then have a picnic on the lawn while taking in the incredible Bay views.
3-hour public sails depart from the Kona Kai Marina at 1PM.
Cost: $100 for adults and $50 for kids 18 & under.
Private charters are available for a minimum of $1,200. Maximum number of guests is 24.
There are many tempting options in San Francisco, but only one will taste this delicious. Visit the famed Ghirardelli Square and experience history covering more than a century. From the original factory buildings to the restaurant options available to you, you’re sure to find something that appeals. Ghirardelli Square is only 4 blocks from Hotel Zoe and is one of our favorite things to do in San Francisco.
Ghirardelli Chocolate, a chocolate manufacturer dating to the early 1800s, is the heart of the area. Domenico Ghirardelli, an Italian man who landed in San Francisco by way of Peru, based his confectionary company in what is now Ghirardelli Square. After the company relocated to San Leandro, a group of entrepreneurial and historic-minded San Franciscans bought the property. It was reborn as a mixed-use retail area with restaurants and shops. The area does, of course, include many ways to consume the famous Ghirardelli Chocolate that gave the zone its name.
If you’re fascinated by old-fashioned penny-arcade games, now is your chance to get hands-on. The Musée Méchanique, located on Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 45, allows you to play the coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines – all you need are some coins! They have games dating all the way back to the 1800’s famed traveling carnivals as well as those that are more modern, from the 20th century. Bring your change and your spirit of fun; the museum is a fun interlude on Fisherman’s Wharf. Entry is free.
San Francisco DungeonThe San Francisco Dungeon brings to life the authentic tales of the Bay Area’s dark history through theatrical actors, special effects, gripping storytelling, and 360° sets. The hysterically horrible engaging stories will take you through nine live shows as you experience reenacted scenes from the colorful Gold Rush era to authentic tales about the Barbary Coast criminal gangs, Alcatraz, Shanghai Kelly, and more. It’s the ultimate live action expedition to see, hear, smell, and feel the experience of early San Francisco as you move from show to show guided by our professional actors. Be prepared hilarious fun – and sometimes a few mild scares.
Madame Tussauds San FranciscoThey’ve brought their unique blend of glitz and glamour to Madame Tussauds San Francisco! Get ready to photograph and pose with your favorite A-listers, to challenge sports legends, to hop on stage with international pop icons, and to experience the true “Spirit of San Francisco.” This fun and unique attraction highlights milestone moments throughout history and in contemporary culture – both from around the world and in San Francisco.
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