2. In Walking Distance

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Where I stayed
Europa Hotel
What I did
Took a lot of photos

Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, October 6, 2011

IN WALKING DISTANCE

I find it easy to walk north from North Beach to Fisherman's Wharf, which refers to the entire waterfront, between Aquatic Park and Waterfront Park West; although some may refer to only Pier 39 as Fisherman’s Wharf. The streets, as well as the piers, are packed with many shops and eateries. Pier 39 contains many shops, restaurants, a carousel, views of resting sea lions, and a visitors’ information center, which includes internet services. Pier 41 offers tours of Alcatraz. Fish Alley is the area between Powell and Taylor, filled with so many seafood restaurants. The segment of Taylor, between Embarcadero and Jefferson, I like to call "Crab Row", because of so many restaurants, specializing in crab, packed into a very small space. Pier 43 ˝ is the permanent berth of the USS Pampanito, a retired submarine which saw action during WWII. As a museum, visitors can come aboard and handle the weapons and other equipment. The adjacent Pier 45 berths several other historical sea vessels and a mariner’s gift shop.

A shorter walk eastward can get me to the Embarcadero, an avenue which connects Mission Bay to Fisherman’s Wharf. This historical waterfront contains many piers still in operation, though some have been converted to shops and restaurants.

The south end of Columbus Avenue ends at the Financial District, near the heart of San Francisco. Here is where much profit is made by investors, brokers, and other business people. For them and others, there are shops, restaurants, bars, and parks.

PLACES TO SEE

Aquatic Park, to the west of Fisherman’s Wharf, is used by locals and visitors alike for strolling, tanning, swimming, boating, and just relaxing and people-watching.

Fort Mason, to the west of Aquatic Park, is a former military base converted to a park. The barracks contain offices that co-ordinate activities, including children’s entertainment.

Justin Herman Plaza, between the Embarcadero Center and the Embarcadero, is where many locals relax, play music, or sell their ware. On certain days, you can catch a flea market, farmer’s market, or a concert.

Musee Mecanique, on Pier 45 (at the end of “Crab Row”), is a museum of automatons and several other antique machines. Admission is free but each machine will cost 25 cents to perform its show. So make sure you have plenty of quarters.

Sequoia Park hugs the Trans-America Pyramid, at its east side. A cluster of tall trees forms a curtain around an area of benches, statues, and a fountain. Local business people find this a peaceful sanctuary from the commotion of the city.

PLACES TO SHOP

The Cannery, on Jefferson, between Leavenworth & Hyde, contains a hotel, several shops, and eateries.

The Ferry Building, across the street from Justin Herman Park, is not only a port for a ferry system, but also a collection of shops, eateries, and places to just relax and watch the world go by.

Ghirardelli Square, across Beach Street from Aquatic Park, was a historical chocolate factory, now a large bustling mall. Many locals and visitors alike crowd the restaurants and taverns.

PLACES TO EAT

Joe’s Crab Shack (on Jefferson, between Taylor & Jones) serves ice-cold beer at the bar, which is so refreshing on hot days. Tasty fried seafood goes very well with it. Cocktails are served in jam jars for that rustic waterfront look. The rest of the place serves a variety of seafood to entire families. The wait staff provides occasional entertainment, by dancing in the aisles when certain songs are cranked up; like Cotton-eyed Joe and Love Shack.

Pier 23 (Embarcadero, near Battery & Greenwich) has a great view of the Bay. I especially like it at night, watching fully-lit fishing boats parade by.

PLACES TO DRINK

The Blue Mermaid (The Cannery) serves drinks and seafood. They are especially proud of their crab and corn chowder.

Buena Vista Café (2765 Hyde & Beach) boasts of being the first pub to bring Irish coffee to San Francisco. They even have a large picture recipe for this drink behind the bar.

Hard Rock Café (Pier 39) is a legend present in every major city of the world. Here, you can’t miss it. Its doors are flanked by two giant golden guitars.

Jack’s Bar (The Cannery) boasts 68 beers on tap. Jack’s Garden Café is its outdoor extension, in the middle of the Cannery, where you can listen to live music or just watch the people go by.

OTHER SERVICES

The Duck Tours didn’t impress me. Most of the tour was on land and in areas I’ve already seen. On the water, I saw nothing of interest. But the kids seemed to enjoy it, so if you have children that need to be entertained, this could do it. The office and pick-up point is at 2766 Talyor, near the corner with Jefferson.
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