Insight | Pier to Pier at The Embarcadero | Travelspective


San Francisco is a city that competes with the best of ‘em. High rises and tech start-ups add to the bustling downtown scene while Japanese tea gardens and lush hiking trails just minutes away offer respite from them. There is so much to do that the city can become an overwhelming playground for the senses, but if you thought choosing where to go was hard before, allow us to both lighten and load down that burden. Most coastal towns in the U.S have a pier or two, but none come close to the fanfare and reverie put into the merry-go-round of activities packed into San Francisco’s Embarcadero district. Walking along the many wharfs unfolds a new adventure with every step. Near perfect weather and views that stretch the bay to reveal notable sites, such as Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, just serve to preserve the fond memories formed between these docks.

Go from watching sports in 100-year-old bars to trying, in our opinion, the best damn clam chowder in the bay area. If architecture is your thing then the Ferry Building on Pier 1 will be right up your alley. The beautiful part about being there is it is a foodie paradise, so feast your eyes and feed your appetite at the same time. Ocean-faring enthusiasts, on the other hand, might find San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park just the place to float your boat. No matter what your fancy, there’s a pier that has it. Arcades? Check. Beautiful views and barking seals? Check. Whiskey bars, ferry tours, and fresh, locally sourced produce? Check, check and triple check.

Take a look at our Native Notes below for some of our favorite piers and the activities you can enjoy while on them.

If pier hopping is your plan, then Pier 39 is the holy grail of starting points. Foodies can make a day of popping in and out of restaurants, literally all day. But to really get the local experience, you’ve gotta try the seafood. Places like Fog Harbor Fish House and Alioto’s were favorites for freshly caught daily specials, but for an alfredo that doesn’t skimp on the shrimp, drop into Crab House.

Or just hit the Ferry Building Marketplace on Pier 1. We totally mentioned that above, but if your favorite part of travel revolves around food then we’d be doing you a disservice by not reiterating this tidbit.

Foot traffic can become a bit harder to navigate as visitors near Pier 45. Vendors selling savory clam chowder bread bowls, perfect for a chilly night on the pier, are set up on the corner. But press on and Pier 45 earns patrons a bit more entertainment as reward. Pop around back and visit Musée Mécanique, an arcade filled to bursting with games that cross an era to be there.
Food and drink go hand in hand, and on San Francisco’s Pier 3, the best watering hole we found was an American whiskey bar by the name of Hard Water. Check out our video here, then stop in and say hello to Michael if you’re in the area. Your liquor cabinet will thank you.