While there’s no debate that Fisherman’s Wharf can pull lots of money from your wallet, don’t forget that there’s plenty of cheap fun to be had as well! Take the kids, hop on the bus or cable car, and head to the water. These inexpensive Wharf attractions will keep your family entertained and out of the poorhouse.
Free Entertainment at Pier 39 – Normally we’d suggest you visit the wharf’s famed sea lions. However they recently left en masse and they didn’t say when they’re returning. In any case, their neighbor, Pier 39, does a good job entertaining visitors for free with outdoor concerts and street performers. Their musicians perform on stage nine times daily and there’s no admission charge. They also feature kid-friendly street performers, including jugglers, magicians, acrobats and more. Last time I was there, I saw a magician doing some toilet humor tricks – the kids ate it up. If you're looking for a Wharf hotel, in short walking distance of Pier 39 is the kid-friendly Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf.
Boudin’s – walking west along the Wharf, you’ll notice Boudin’s, the flagship store of this wonderful SF sourdough company. Watch the bakers through the large windows on the street, as they shape the bread into crabs, alligators and turtles. If you hunger for more information, tour the museum inside, where you’ll get a less crowded floor-to-ceiling window view of the operations, plus lots of other information. The self-guided tour costs $3, but the street viewing is free. A Wharf visit isn’t complete without eating the chowder in the sourdough bread bowl there. Their sandwiches and salads are awesome too. 160 Jefferson Street (between Mason & Taylor). The Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf is a couple minute walk away.
Hyde Street Pier – Continue walking west a few blocks, and you’ll come to the Hyde Street Pier. This is part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. Stop first at the Visitor’s Center across the street from the pier, by the Argonaut Hotel. There, kids can learn how to earn a free ranger badge. Walking around the pier is free, along with the innards of some maritime exhibits. There’s a nominal $5 cost for those over age 16, to board the historic vessels. Jefferson/Hyde Streets
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