San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
The park makes up the western end of Fisherman’s Wharf, so it’s easy to visit during a day of sightseeing in the city’s main tourist precinct. Hyde Street Pier is one of the top attractions, where you can tour ships such as the Balclutha, a 3-masted square-rigger that rounded Cape Horn 17 times, or learn how Hercules, a steam tugboat, towed another ship from New Jersey around the tip of South America to San Francisco.
At the Marine Museum, explore exhibits that tell the story of San Francisco’s history as a port city and provide context to the historic ships with information on the culture of the maritime industry. If you’d like to see the area on a guided experience, book a Segway tour or bike tour for ease of getting around.
Things to know before you go
*The park is ideal for history and naval buffs. *Head to the visitor center at the corner of Jefferson and Hyde streets to plan your experience. *Driving is not recommended in this busy neighborhood, as street parking is limited. *Wear comfortable shoes to walk out on the piers and along the waterfront.
How to get there
For a classic San Francisco experience, take the Powell–Hyde cable car, which runs north from Union Square to Hyde and Beach streets. Alternatively, take the F line streetcar along the Embarcadero.
When to get there
Evening provides sunset views and the best light for photos, or go in the morning to beat the crowds that descend on Fisherman’s Wharf every day. The Fourth of July (when the city puts on a fireworks display) and Fleet Week (early October) are great times to be on the waterfront.