7 Things to Do in Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

by Bridgette Redman  |  Published September 18, 2023

Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco is an iconic waterfront destination where the scent of saltwater mingles with the aroma of fresh seafood and the vibrant energy of the city meets the tranquility of the Bay.

(Photo: Aquarium at the Bay / Courtesy GetYourGuide)

This diverse destination teems with attractions for all ages and interests. From its world-famous seafood eateries and lively street performers to historic landmarks like Ghirardelli Square and the picturesque views of Alcatraz Island, the Wharf promises an unforgettable experience. Visitors can explore the intriguing aquatic life at the Aquarium of the Bay, take a scenic cruise on the bay or delve into the city’s maritime history at the USS Pampanito submarine. A must-visit destination for anyone traveling to San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf is chock full of things to do. We delve into seven fun and interesting options for anyone visiting the Wharf.

Aquarium of the Bay

Located on Pier 39, Aquarium of the Bay offers a range of activities that celebrate the marine life of the waters that embrace Fisherman’s Wharf. From virtual science lessons to sea expeditions to unique marine experiences, the Aquarium offers visitors affordable options to celebrate sea-faring creatures such as octopuses, sharks, river otters, sea lions and many of the more than 24,000 animals that can be found in the waters off the Wharf. An affiliate of The Smithsonian, there are numerous activities and exhibits available at the Aquarium, including touchpools, bay labs, underwater tunnels and galleries filled with playful river otters. From $31.75 per person.

Madame Tussauds

Photo: Madame Tussauds San Francisco / Courtesy GetYourGuide)

This museum is an Instagrammer’s dream. It’s a chance to be photographed with realistic-looking replicas of the stars of San Francisco and California, including Steph Curry, Jimi Hendrix, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Beyonce, Adele, Stephen Spielberg and George Clooney. It’s filled with interactive exhibits so you can jump onto dance stages with superstars or enter a whimsical wonderland of flowers. In the Oval Office exhibit, they’ve expanded the tradition of creating a presidential replica to include Vice President Kamala Harris. There are three floors with six zones that include music, leaders and entrepreneurs, sports, Spirit of San Francisco, film and A-listers. From $26.99 per person.

The Escape Game

(Photo: The Escape Game / Courtesy Viator)

Embark on an unforgettable team adventure at The Escape Game on Fisherman’s Wharf. With a dedicated game guide (who will provide as many hints as you want), you’ll select any of six immersive escape games and work with a team to solve a themed mystery. You and your team have exactly one hour to solve the puzzles and complete the adventure. Themes include the The Depths, Special Ops: Mysterious Market, Gold Rush, Prison Break: Alcatraz and Timeliner: Train Through Time. The family-friendly games can accommodate up to 8 people. Experiences start in the morning and go as late as midnight. From $43.99 per person.

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Cartoon Art Museum

(Photo: Mike Liu via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Join the more than 30,000 visitors who each year explore the Cartoon Art Museum. Filled with comic strips, comic books, anime, political cartoons, graphic novels and underground comix, they open their doors to anyone who wants to partake of their cartoon art exhibitions, screenings, animation classes, workshops and research materials. You might even get to meet a professional cartoonist within its walls. The Museum’s 8,000 square feet include galleries, screening areas, education space, a store, a library and a collections facility. Founded in 1984 by a group of cartoon art enthusiasts, it moved into its first of four permanent residences with an endowment from “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz. From $10 per person.

San Francisco Carousel

(Photo: Marco Verch Professional via Flickr / CC by 2.0)

Installed on the pier in 2008, visiting the San Francisco Carousel on Pier 39 provides not just a fun ride, but a lesson in San Francisco history. Handcrafted in Italy, it is intricately hand-painted with San Francisco landmarks. Take a close look at the carousel and you’ll see such sites as the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Chinatown, Lombard Street and Alcatraz. There are also paintings of the beloved California sea lions. Featuring 1,800 twinkling LED lights and more than 30 animals to ride, the two-storey carousel plays traditional organ music for its riders seven days a week from 10am. to 8pm. Tickets from $5 per ride.

Scavenger Hunt Adventure

Photo: Fisherman’s Wharf welcome sign / Courtesy of

With so much to see – and so many tickets begging to be bought – sometimes you need an option that will be kinder to your budget. It’s why Urban Adventure Quest has put together a Fisherman’s Wharf scavenger hunt, a three-hour adventure that proffers clues that users can solve while navigating city streets and absorbing the Wharf’s scenery and attractions. All you need is a team and a smartphone – and a willingness to undertake challenges and solve puzzles. Teams require a minimum of two people and a maximum of five. Past participants praise the tour for taking them to both iconic and little-known sites. From $21.34 per person.

Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze

(Photo: Jon Collier via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Take the whole family on a psychedelic trip that is 100% legal. Pier 39 hosts Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, a labyrinth of mirrors illuminated by black lights that evokes the psychedelic era of the 60s and 70s in San Francisco. Created by the late Charles Magowan, the 2,000-square foot maze features 77 mirrors that create the neon hallways forming kaleidoscopic pathways. Retro music resounds through the attraction, heightening the fun for those wandering through the jungle of reflections. Tickets can be bought online and are valid for any day and time – and once you enter, you can stay for as long as you want. Children aged 5 and under enter for free. From $10 per ticket.