Category Archives: California

Visiting Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco

Visiting Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf

See all 3 photos
San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf; Pacifica, CA. CC BY-SA 2.0
Source: Flickr: footloosiety

Visiting Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is a popular tourist destination in San Francisco,
CA.  It’s on the eastern side of the city bordering the San Francisco
Bay and is littered with hotels, parking structures, restaurants, and
tourist shops and services.  This is one of the first few places that I
take out-of-towners – most recent being my in-laws for my wedding this
past March 2010.
So, why is this section of San
Francisco called Fisherman’s Wharf?  Historically, the Gold Rush had
brought in a mass of people to San Francisco – and it just so happened
that this section of San Francisco was where all the dungeness crab were
easily being caught.  Because of this, many fishermen stayed at this
popular wharf to catch seafood to sell to locals or to provide for their
In the 1970’s, Fisherman’s Wharf was transformed into
the tourist destination that it is today.  But, if you ever have the
chance to visit, you can still spot fleets of fisherman catching local
fish and crab for many Bay Area restaurants. 

Seafood & Sourdough Bread Bowls

See all 3 photos
CC BY-SA 2.0
Source: Flickr: kckoenig


Fisherman’s Wharf offers a variety of good food, most notably the Dungeness crab which are caught fresh from the San Francisco Bay. 
Another popular San Francisco treat that I recommend are the clam
chowder bowls which you can order at virtually any restaurant at the
wharf; large hollow sourdough bread filled with locally made clam
chowder… it keeps you nice and warm during cold and foggy San
Francisco days!  Seafood is the prime seller here, but that doesn’t mean
restaurants don’t offer other choices for those who want red meat,
chicken, and even non-meat varieties.
Discover the rich chocolate
of the city by venturing to Ghirardelli Square on the northeastern side
of Fisherman’s Wharf.  Once the home of the original Ghirardelli
chocolate factory, the brick square now offers a variety of chocolate
squares and ice cream for visitors to enjoy in the seating area or
outside of the square.  Just a word of advice from a local (myself!): no
matter what time you go, there’s going to be a long waiting line – but
trust me, it’s worth it.


I will admit it: Parking is expensive down here.  Because of that, find
the participating restaurants or attractions of various parking
structures to get your parking validated – that way, you either get free
parking or a deeply discounted parking rate for patronizing local
partners.  There will be a list of surrounding locations where parking
is validated with larger structures printing lists on additional
discounts on the back of your parking ticket.
While walking along
Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll notice many tourist shops where visitors can
buy souvenirs, stands offering fresh crab, sea lions along Pier 39,
street performers (the World Famous Bushman who hides in bushes scaring
unsuspecting pedestrians, dancers and musicians, magicians, caricature
artists, and human statues that scare unwitting pedestrians). 

The World Famous Bushman – YouTube: ayumash

Popular Events at Fisherman’s Wharf include:
1. 4th of July: Many locals and tourists squeeze together at the Wharf to celebrate independence and catch a breathtaking fireworks display over the San Francisco Bay.
2. Fleet Week: The Blue Angels air show is highly popular in San Francisco and draws over one million people around the shores of the city to catch a glimpse of the show. Fisherman’s Wharf is home to one of the best views of the Blue Angels air show and the wharf fills quickly during the day. Attendees can check out the jets and the ships that ground in the bay. (Click for more info.)

America’s Cup 2012-2013 was also hosted in the Bay from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge in October 2012 during Fleet Week, attracting millions of people to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina Green, Fort Mason, and Crissy Field.

See all 3 photos
Fisherman’s Wharf – Pier 39. CC BY-SA 2.0
Source: Flickr: The-O

Popular Places to go:
1. Pier 39
2. The Ferry Building
3. Embarcadero Center
4. San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park
5. Ripley’s Believe it or Not
6. The Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf
7. Ghirardelli Square
8. Aquarium by the Bay
Many tour services are also found here and are offered by several companies to choose from. Popular tours include: San Francisco landmarks, Alcatraz, Napa Valley Wine Tours, Yosemite, Muir Woods/Sausalito, and more.
* For a list of current events at Fisherman’s Wharf to guide your next visit, check out:

* OR you can purchase a GO card, which discount admission tickets to popular destinations at:

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge Daytime. CC BY-ND 2.0
Source: Flickr: TheGreenMan2010

Ah, the Golden Gate Bridge. What a beautiful piece of architecture!


The Golden Gate Bridge was constructed over the Golden Gate Strait, which is where the Pacific Ocean meets the San Francisco Bay. Back in the early 1930’s, this area was known to have a high traffic of ships that brought in goods and transported people between San Francisco, Marin, and various parts of the Bay Area. Because the Bay was so busy, the government did not agree with the construction of the bridge. Even the public didn’t want the bridge erected because the original design was very expensive and very ugly.

After a few more drafts on the design, more promotion, and a boycott on the ferry services, the Golden Gate Bridge began construction in 1933. On May 27, 1937, a ceremonial celebration was held and the bridge was open to pedestrians, bikers, and skaters to cross. By the next day, vehicles were allowed to make their commute to and from San Francisco and Marin. People were excited for this new change and celebrated it through civil and cultural events and activities known as “The Fiesta.”

Quick Facts

From 1937 – 1964, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge and connected State Route 1 and U.S. Highway 101. Today, the bridge holds the record for the United States’ second longest suspension bridge main span at 4,200 feet. The Golden Gate Bridge also has reversible lanes which may be manually adjusted depending on the amount of traffic northbound and/or southbound.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA – by bridgeandtunnelclub

Golden Gate Traffic. Credit: / CC BY-SA 2.0

Traffic on the Bridge

There are 6 lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge with movable markers to adjust the traffic flow.  Because many offices and centers are located in San Francisco compared to the North Bay, the markers are moved to accommodate the increase in traffic during rush hour commute times.  On weekdays, the morning commute has 4 southbound lanes and 2 northbound lanes.  Then in the afternoon, the lanes are changed to have 4 northbound lanes and 2 southbound lanes.  However, because there is no divider between the northbound and southbound lanes, the bridge speed limit is 45 mph (72 km/h) and the whole length of the bridge is considered a double-fine zone to limit the temptation for people to speed across the bridge.  On weekends, there are generally 3 lanes going north and south unless traffic congests for special events and occassions.

The Golden Gate Bridge isn’t just for vehicle traffic.  For locals and tourists who want to walk, jog, or skate across the bridge, there are 2 additional pedestrian lanes that are open.  The east pedestrian lane facing Alcatraz and the East Bay is open during day light hours on weekdays only and the west pedestrian lane facing the Pacific Ocean is open during weekday afternoons, holidays, and weekends.

There is Hope. Credit: / CC BY-ND 2.0

Suicide Prevention

It’s no secret that San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is known for its high number of suicide reports.  The 275-ft fall into frigid cold waters with strong rip currents are a relentless ending for those who jump.  While the cause of death can be immediate upon impact with the water, some cases showed other causes such as hypothermia and drowning.  The Bridge, a documentary based on suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge, has been extremely controversial as its producers tell stories of those who committed suicide in 2004.  It includes interviews of the friends and family of the deceased, witness accounts, an interview with a survivor, and a look into the life of those who had unfortunately lost their lives at the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco has been implementing ways to prevent suicides from happening on the Golden Gate Bridge.  In the evenings, the pedestrian lanes are only open to bicycle traffic but require all bicycle commuters to be buzzed in and out so staff know that they had made it across safely.  Staff members also patrol the pedestrian lanes to locate people who appear to want to jump and escort them off of the bridge to safety.  The span is also dotted with blue signs and yellow phones which offer crisis counseling to offer hope to someone who is thinking of jumping.  And currently, there are lots of discussions, appeals, and proposals to add more preventative measures, such as a suicide barrier, fence, and net.  But with California in a budget deficit, and the current state of the economy, it will take several years of funding before any of it can be developed.  Until then, city officials will continue to bid for more measures of suicide prevention on the Golden Gate Bridge.

For More

Please visit the Golden Gate Transportation District’s web site for more information, the current price of toll, improvement proposals, a live webcam feed, events, and opportunities at the Golden Gate Bridge.

A Stroll Through San Franciscos Ocean Beach

A Stroll Through San Francisco's Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

See all 4 photos
Ocean Beach from Sutro Garden. CC BY 2.0
Source: Flickr: sadsnaps

Sunny San Francisco?

Through conversations with people who have never been to San
Francisco, it seems that people have the notion that the city falls into the
“Sunny California All-Year ‘Round” label, where people lounge on the beach and
wade in calm warm waters of the Pacific.

While this can be somewhat true, San Francisco’s
Ocean Beach
is known by residents to be cold, foggy, and gray. But regardless of how hot or how cold it is
outside, the ocean itself is too cold for comfort. The reason for this is due to the replacement
of the extremely cold water below the ocean’s surface with the surface water
that recedes from the beach, which also known as upwelling. The temperature of the waters at Ocean Beach is an average of 47°F (8°C). Because of the cold temperatures of the water
mixed with heavy rip currents, it is unfortunate to report that many people have
been swept away, drowned, or died from hypothermia. Because of
this, and the fact that no lifeguards are on duty, many people avoid taking a

Warning Sign

See all 4 photos
Rip Currents. CC BY-SA 2.0
Source: Flickr: candiedwomanire

But just because it’s not recommended for the average person to swim there, it doesn’t mean it is not allowed. Because of the high waves and strong rip currents, many people can be found surfing, windboarding, and kite surfing, and it is recognized as one of California’s most attractive spots for such water sports. Local residents can be found on the shore hosting small bonfire parties, exercising their dogs on- and off-leash, jogging, playing Frisbee golf, cleaning up litter, eating at restaurants off of Great Highway, biking, and much more. September and October seem to be the sunniest months that draw many people to the beach for sunbathing and walks on the shoreline.

Ocean Beach Sunset

See all 4 photos
Ocean Beach Sunset. CC BY 2.0
Source: Flickr: kevinkrejci

The Outside Lands

Before the mid-late 1800’s, Ocean Beach was bordered by sand dunes
and had very little roads or transportation.
But because of the California Gold Rush, San
Francisco had an influx of residents and decided that
“The Outside Lands” could be used to expand the city. Development of the steam railroad gave people
an opportunity to head west into The Outside Lands, now known as the Richmond
and Sunset districts, and turn it into inhabitable land. In the early 1870’s, Golden
Gate Park and
additional roads were engineered, which brought thousands of people
westward. In 1884, “Gravity Railroad”
roller coaster was the first amusement ride at the Playland at the Beach
amusement park near the Ocean Beach Pavilion which was used for concerts,
dancing, and partying. One of the most popular treats, the “It’s It” ice cream sandwich, was made and sold at the Playland and is still a popular dessert in the Bay Area. Then the
additions of the Cliff House in 1863 and the Sutro-Baths in 1896 drew in
thousands of tourists, and in turn, made The Outside Lands a popular San
Francisco resort. The ruins of Sutro Baths continue to
draw in tourists to Ocean Beach

Sutro Bath Ruins

See all 4 photos
Ruins of Sutro Baths. CC BY-SA 2.0
Source: Flickr: nerdcoregirl

On another interesting note, 20 ships were shipwrecked on Ocean Beach between 1850-1926. The most popular one is the King Philip
clipper ship, which was shipwrecked on Ocean Beach in 1878. Since then, the ruins of the shipwreck
infrequently emerge from the sand and can be seen just offshore. If you want to be the next person to capture
the King Philip, head down the beach directly west from Ortega
Street and be lucky enough to go when the tide is
extremely low to see the hull of the King Philip sticking out of the sand. The last sighting of the King Philip was in
May 2007.

For maps and visitor information, please see:

The Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts
See all 3 photos
Palace of Fine Arts. CC BY 2.0
Source: Flickr: kevcole

History of the Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine
Arts was constructed for the 1915 Panama Pacific
Exposition.  The Exposition celebrated
both the completion of the Panama Canal, the uplifting
of San Francisco after the
devastating 1906 earthquake, and the progress to that point.  It is situated in San
Francisco’s MarinaDistrict near the Golden
GateBridge and is
home to the Exploratorium, which was previously known to be the exhibition hall
to house Impressionist art during the Panama Pacific Exposition.


See all 3 photos
Colonnades at the Palace of Fine Arts. CC BY 2.0
Source: Flickr: harshlight

The Palace of Fine
Arts was intended to last for one year during the
Panama Pacific Exposition before being destroyed.  Because of that, the original column and
rotunda were built with wood and staff for an easy breakdown.  Bernard Maybeck, an architect from Berkeley,
was appointed as the designer of the Palace
of Fine Arts.  He based its architecture through Roman and
Greek architectural inspirations.

Later in the year, before the Palace
of Fine Arts was schedule to be
demolished, over 30,000 signatures were collected along with donations of over
$300,000 to keep and restore the Palace with longer lasting materials.  With this, the Fine Arts Restoration Day was
held in support of those against the destruction of the Palace
of Fine Arts.  Walter S. Johnson, a philanthropist who
fundraised to save the Palace for restoration and added original colonnades,
was one of the major reasons the Palace
of Fine Arts is still standing


The lagoon mirrors the surface and provides a more
aesthetically pleasing design.  It is
frequently visited by migrating fowl such as ducks, geese, and swan, but is
also home to frogs and turtles.  The park
enveloping the Palace of Fine
Arts Gallery has been named in honor of the philanthropist
Walter S. Johnson and the Theater houses up to 1,000 people in a continental-style
arrangement.  Because of its majestic
beauty, weddings are held in the Rotunda by couples across the globe.  Personally, my family and my husband’s family
were too large to host our wedding there – so my hubby and I snagged our
photographer at the end of our wedding reception so we could snap a few wedding
shots there!

Another series of restorations were completed in 2009 to
seismically retrofit the structure, improve pathways, and restore the
dome.  Now, the Palace
of Fine Arts is open to locals and
tourists alike.  The Palace
of Fine Arts Theater is home to
concerts, lectures, tributes, film events, and much more.  The Exploratorium that is housed at the Palace
of Fine Arts is a science museum that
holds a wide variety of exhibits that is geared toward the hands-on experience.  For tourists who are on a budget in such an
expensive city, I suggest checking out the Exploratorium on the first Wednesday
of the month where groups of 9 or less are admitted for free (groups of 10 or
more will need to make a reservation on free days).

For more information on the Palace of Fine Arts, visit the official websites of The Palace of Fine Arts and The Exploratorium.

Aerial View

See all 3 photos
Aerial View – Palace of Fine Arts. CC BY-SA 2.0
Source: Flickr: jillclardy

At the Palace of Fine Arts

Have you ever attended a wedding or any other special event at the Palace of Fine Arts?

Nope, I’ve never been there.
No, but I plan to soon.
No, I was just walking around and took pictures.
Yes, I attended one!
Yes – I hosted one there myself!
See results without voting