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What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

Louisville, Ky
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What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

I really don't understand why all the put downs of the wharf area on this site. Speaking as a tourist, I have been to San Francisco over a half dozen times and have always seen myself heading to the wharf for some reason or other. We have stayed in different areas each time, the last time was the Hyatt at the Embarcadero (which was by far the most convenient to pulic transportation, with the cablecars, muni buses and subways right outside the front door). San Franciso is perhaps my favorite city, and although I have always enjoyed Union Square even when it seemed there ws a lot of criticism of the area (stayed at the Hotel Monaco), it's a grat downtown area, I guess that I have never really found the admiration that seem to be felt by the locals on this site. Of all the area That I have stayed in, I rellly loved staying in the North Beach area. It is a great area, with the Fisherman's Wharf on one side and Chinatown on the other, which makes it very convenient when you are a tourist. I will be going back to San Francisco in March, and have decided to stay in the wharf area at the Argonaut. Tell me if I am wrong, but it seems very convenient to me. There is no city that I have been to that can claim the physical beauty of San Francisco bay. So it seems like a great place to stay. Add to that the Argonaut sounded really nice and the convenience to public transportation and the boats that go to Alcatraz and Sausalito (which I fell in love with the first time that I visited SF back in the 70's). Not to mention the convenience to several neighborhoods, which I think is the thing about San Francisco that makes it a really special city. I really can't wait to go back and spend sometime exploring the neighborhoods like North Beach, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights and the such. Not to mention maybe a ferry ride (which I have never done) to Sausalito. Plus, I really like the wharf area, even if it is touristy. Hey, after all I am a tourist.

San Francisco
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1. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

The Argonaut aside, I don't recommend it in great part because most of the hotels there are very overpriced for the quality of the hotel you recieve. If paying some of those prices, I want a nice hotel, not a "high end motel".

As far as other parts of the Wharf, the only place I really see "worth" spending any real amount of time at would be where you board a ferry. The restaurants are highly overpriced for the quality of the food, the shops don't carry anything of real value (much better souvenir shops in other areas ie The Cable Car Meuseum's is great!)...

Don't get me wrong, I understand that FW is a great source of income for many and I do think that it is an okay place to visit, however, spending lots of time here (unless with small children) doesn't appeal to me. I do think Union Square is better as far as convenience goes as you can easily get anywhere in the City --not just Fisherman's Wharf. Just my opinion.

San Francisco...
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2. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

Don512-

First, I enjoy the Wharf and feel like a tourist when I am there. However, please note: The Embarcadero (where the Hyatt Regency is) is NOT the Wharf. But I think, in addition to what Saks said, the reason that so many people are down on the Wharf is because it is not "San Francisco" anymore. San Franciscans are very anti-chain, anti-big box and pride themselves on individualality(?). The Wharf has become, filled with chain restaurants, chain hotels, souvenier shops all filled with the same stuff, cheesey attractions and so on. The tourist like it, and again, I have fun when I go because it is different than normal, but it is not really what San Francisco is about anymore. It used to be a real Wharf with fisherman and shipping and I also try to still appreciate the history of what it was when I visit. But now, in locals minds, San Francisco is about the neighborhoods and their uniqueness. That's my take on it.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

As a place to find a hotel, the Wharf is just fine.

But the Wharf area (along the water from Pier 39 to the Cannery) is so dominated by tourists and so little-used by local residents that it is not a good place to spend time to experience the history or culture of the city.

San Diego
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4. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

We have also been to San Francisco many times. I think staying in different neighborhoods each time is a lot of fun. We have stayed near the wharf-all tourists and no "real "people. we've stayed in chinatown.--Lots of real people and convenient. Our favorite area now to stay is on the side streets just west of Union Square I/m not sure if it's consideed Pacific Heights. It is a residential neighborhood with lots of small hotels and the Radisson at Japantown -which is a whole other unique expeience. Anyway, it is convenient by walking or public transport and it makes me feel like I actually live in San Francisco. I hate feeling like a tourist even when I am one.

San Francisco...
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5. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

Sometimes I fear that we who live here, are too sophisticated for our own good.I'm sure you will enjoy the Argonaut. The majority of hotel rooms in the Wharf area are nothing special, but that seems to be an exception. You know that you are right about the bay. SF exists largely because of the bay and its importance to shipping and transportation throughout history. I always reflect on the history of the Gold Rush era when walking around the shoreline of the Bay and think what it must have been like to be on a ship, on a new adventure. Take away the bay (and hills) and what do you have? LA. So yes, there are a lot of what we call, cheesy, tacky things about the Wharf, but it is important to look past that. Focus on Aquatic Park, Hyde St Pier, the smell of the bay, the smell of crabs cooking in pots. I hate Pier 39, the Wax Museum, the t-shirt shops, etc., but it's those other things that bring me back, because they are unique, just as Union Square, Coit Tower,North Beach, the GGB, GG Park....etc., are. There are many flavors to sample and everybody has their favorites. I applaud your taste testing. If it works for you, then it is the correct choice. Be sure to have an Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista And yes, take that ferry, such a stress free trip.

La Habra, California
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6. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

Hi, I agree with you don512 and think that a lot of residents of most, if not all, large cities think that the "touristy" areas are not worth visiting compared to the "real" neighborhoods of the city so I don't think this feeling is unique to San Francisco. I feel like both types of areas are worth visiting. Sure, some parts of Fisherman's Wharf may seem tacky but many parts are not and the views are magnificent.

Even Pier 39 has "authentic" attractions such as the established Swiss Louis Italian/Seafood restaurant that moved to that location recently (I highly recommend dining there) and the sea lions berthed at the pier.

Pacific Grove...
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7. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

When I think of Fisherman's Wharf, I think of the wax museum, overpriced seafood restaruants, or the pearl guy who tried to install a large pearl in my small setting and bent the setting, or the fur shop that told us not to touch the furs when we walked in.

There are places I just know and love better

San Francisco, CA
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8. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

I personally would prefer to stay at the Argo for a few reasons:

1. While FW does have touristy stuff, it also has Gharadelli Square and The Cannery. The Argo is at the far west end of FW which provides some seperation from the tacky stuff. This is the nice part of FW with the historical brick buildings. It is also walking distance to the ferry for Alcatraz and Sausalito.

2. I think the charm of SF are the great neighborhoods including Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, The Marina, Union Street. These are all within walking distance as are their shops, restaurants, etc...

3. You can quickly leave the touristy stuff behind at FW. Walk left out the front door of the Argo and you can take a wonderful walk or bike ride along the water to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

4. I like Union Square but I am not a huge shopper. If you love to shop, then stay here but for me, I would rather be closer to the water, a neighborhood restaurant where the locals hang or go for a walk to GGB and staying in FW is closer to these attractions than Union Square. To me, Union Square is the same as any great shopping district in NYC, Boston, Chicago but that is not what makes SF or any of those other cities unique. I just got back from 5 days in NYC and I liken Union Square to the shppping on 5th, 57th, etc which is great but I loved Soho, The Village, Upper West Side and hanging out with the locals. Granted FW is not for locals but it is so close to what makes SF a great city such as the neighborhoods, walking along the water to the GGB or simply enjoying the views.

Just my two cents.

California
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9. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

Being a native of this city, I've only been to Alcatraz once, Twin Peaks maybe once and the fish wharf you can count on one hand. I shown around relatives and drive around and they "oooooo" and "ahhhhhhh" the views which is why I think many people return. Now in terms of where to stay, the choice is up to you. Don512, I can tell you are a seasoned traveller and a person who enjoys their vacations. Even if some say don't stay at the fish wharf, please return again and again, and I'm not associated with the tourism bureau.

Louisville, Ky
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10. Re: What's So Bad About The Fisherman's Wharf Area?

I want to thank everyone who has replyed to this post. I was afraid when I wrote it that people wouldn't take it seriously, just thinking that I was picking on the city. I really love the Union Square area, I've alway been a big fan of downtown areas. But I may be wrong, but as a tourist, it seems that public transportaion is a lot more convenient at the wharf area. As I said in my original post, we really enjoyed the Hyatt at the Embarcadero for that same reason. It just seems to me that most of what interest me is closer to the bay and more accessible from the Wharf area. Not to mention that I really like those little "F" buses, which will take me all the way from the wharf area to the Castro, making it conveient to get to the Union Square area also.