Fisherman’s Wharf is probably the city’s most over-the-top and crowded tourist destination. It encompasses a broad swath of north-facing waterfront packed with everything from sweat shirt stores (ideal for those tourists who forget to pack layers in the chilly summer months) to a wax museum, seafood restaurants and all the various street performers that tend to accumulate in such areas. You may rub elbows with people from Minnesota, Milwaukee or Munich here, but are less likely to find locals, who have long since discovered other places in the city that are just as scenic and less crowded. Recently, when friends of mine visited with their 5- and 7-year-old daughters, I advised that they avoid Fisherman’s Wharf as it was just too touristy. They decided not to take my advice and reported back that it was actually a wonderful spot for children. I dropped by a couple of weeks later with my own daughter, and realized they were right. What I’d forgotten was that even though it is rather honky-tonk, it’s also set right on the beach, offering splendid views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate. There’s plenty of entertainment and good food — as well as good chocolate at Ghirardelli Square — to be had, and it’s free and easy to get to from one of the city’s street cars and cable cars. In fact, Fisherman’s Wharf is close enough to downtown that adventurous families can walk over without too much trouble. Be prepared for large crowds and some tacky souvenir shops; try to head out to the waterfront and relax with a bowl of clam chowder.
Jefferson Street , San Francisco, 94133, CA