Random Acts of Beauty: Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Published in: Just For Fun

Back when I lived in San Francisco proper you would have had to drag my ass kicking and screaming to Fisherman’s Wharf or Pier 39, two of San Francisco’s most renowned sights. I would have yelled, “Only tourists go there, yo!” But times have changed. El Hub just loooooves the touristy parts of the city, so this morning we drove the 10 miles south from Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco for a relaxing day trip.

I still find SF’s tourist spots totally kitschy, but the weather was gorgeous in the city today, and I couldn’t help but fall in love a little bit more with beautiful San Francisco, one of my favorite places in the world.


Here’s a tip: next time you visit Fisherman’s Wharf, there’s a “secret” free parking lot at the end of Van Ness Avenue, next to Aquatic Park. It’s at the far end of the Wharf area, but if you don’t mind walking, it offers four hours of free parking! In SF, finding free parking is like finding your perfect foundation shade.

A view of Aquatic Park from the secret parking lot

We started out by walking down to historic Hyde Street Pier to check out the old boats docked there. It’s where the ferries headed north across the Bay to Marin would depart from before the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937.

San Francisco fun fact: before the bridge connected San Francisco to Marin in the North Bay, the ferry route between Hyde Street Pier and the small town of Sausalito in Marin was once considered a segment of Highway 101.


El Hub found a friend taking a nap on the pier…


Of course, El Hub’s homie paid me no mind when I tried to pet him.


This is nothing new. I welcomed him to the clan of cats that ignore me and use me on a daily basis.

Our visit with the cat was cut short by my stomach, which started grumbling for New England clam chowder.


Hungry, we trekked the quarter mile to Pier 39, which has a lot of restaurants and shops, and stopped to eat at Pier Market restaurant. Most eateries near Fisherman’s Wharf are over-priced tourist traps, but Pier Market was delicious (order the crab cakes, yummy!). El Hub also loved his grilled salmon sandwich with fries. The price wasn’t bad, either, and the bathroom was clean. From now on, ’tis the only place I’ll eat at Pier 39.


After lunch, we walked along the pier admiring huge tubs of beautiful tulips, which were there to brighten up the place.


At the end of the pier, we stopped to admire the view!

The Golden Gate Bridge

Random Makeup and Beauty Blog fun fact: I grew up in the Bay Area but have never been to Alcatraz, ha!


Called K-Dock, there’s a part of the pier controlled by a gang of sea lions, those lazy bastards.



El Hub took a picture of me with Coit Tower in the background. Back in the day when I worked in downtown SF, I used to actually walk up the stairs to Coit Tower for fun on my lunch hour. Talk about crazy!


On the walk back to the car, we stopped for cupcakes at Kara’s Cupcakes shop in Ghirardelli Square. When I bring company to Fisherman’s Wharf, I like to get them cupcakes from Kara’s. I treated El Hub to a chocolate one and snagged a Meyer Lemon-filled treat for myself.


I threw a few pennies into the Ghirardelli Square fountain and wished for more sunny days like today.


Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 37 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Tekoa says:

    What the heck? What’s grass doing on the ground in Feb? That’s a flower! This is not fair.

  2. Glosslizard says:

    Hi Karen!

    What a fabulous day trip! And such a perfect day for it, too! I was commenting to my hubby that it would be a perfect afternoon to go off to the city and tourist about! We couldn’t because of another commitment, but I’m glad you did it for us! Those pictures are so wonderful, I do love SF! Perhaps the city board of tourism should hire you to talk the place up! πŸ™‚

  3. Karen says:

    Hi Tekoa,

    Girl, I forgot to mention that I was also wearing a t-shirt while I galavanted about. πŸ™‚

    I loves me some Canada, but am not hearty enough for your climes. When do ya’ll come out of the snow?

  4. Karen says:

    Hi Glosslizard,

    It was shockingly warm there, too. You never know what you’re going to get when you cross the bridge so when I saw the bright blue sky over Crissy Field I did a happy dance in the car. πŸ™‚

    Have you ever had an Irish Coffee’s at the Buena Vista cafe near Fisherman’s Wharf? I’ve always heard good things about them and so this morning I told El Hub that I wanted to go there to get one. He was like, “Um, it’s not even 11 and you want some whiskey?” Honestly, I had no idea that Irish Coffee actually had booze in it. I thought there was some sort of special Irish Cream, not a shot of Granpappy’s Cough Syrup. So no Irish Coffee for me, as I’m a total lightweight, boo.

  5. Joanna says:

    Free parking? Makes me want to go to the City right now. Sadly, I hate the drive across the bridges (San Mateo, Bay Bridge). I think it’s time I went to the Pier myself, it’s been awhile. Oh and that whole lived in the Bay Area without seeing Alcatraz thing? I can relate. 18 wonderful years in the Bay Area and not once have I ever went there. πŸ™‚

  6. TUPRNUT says:

    Sounds like a perfect way to spend a Saturday! It looks so beautiful there…. so I’m living through you today… sure beats the 10 degree temp outside and crazy cold wind.

    Oooo… clam chowder! That sounds yummy. That is one of my favorite things to make and one of my hubby’s favs.

  7. Glosslizard says:

    Oh, I have had many an irish coffee at the Buena Vista (according to legend, the irish coffee was invented there)! Mmmmm! Their salvation is the super-creamy whipped cream they heap on top (you can ask for extra) it cuts the strong flavor and the high octane! But, yeah, I tend to go there evenings, not before 11 am! πŸ˜‰

    What I really want now is one of those cupcakes! Mega-yum!

  8. Holly says:

    Aww it looks so lovely there I have always wanted to visit san Fransisco, i would love to go and see Alcatraz (is that weird?!?). How boring am I though spending my life trying to keep people out of prison then wanting to visit them for holidays!!

    The weather has been beautiful over this side of the pond too this weekend, freezing cold but lovely, sunny and bright! It was so lovely I actually took the dog out for a walk, the poor thing didnt know what was going on I think its the first time he has seen me walk anywhere!

  9. Kristi says:

    Loved your post Karen! It brought back fond memories of the first out of town trip my boyfriend and I took to SF, about 8 years ago. However, you’ve got to get your be-hiney over to Alcatraz, it’s great! Everyone needs to capture the quintessential Kodak moment of themselves behind bars. And, be sure to get your mother a magnet with a picture of an old lady in jail that says “MAMA” across the bottom, I guarantee she’ll love it! My aunt and uncle lived in Memphis for 6 years and never went to Graceland. They drove the rest of us there three different times, but never went in.

  10. Karen says:

    Hi Tuprnut,

    Yum, I’ve never actually had home made clam chowder. I bet it’s delicious. Yesterday’s bowl was served in a hollowed out sourdough bowl that you gnaw at after you’ve finished the soup. I tore through half my bowl before I realized that I should’ve taken a picture of it before I started eating, ha!

    10 degrees outside, ouch! Stay warm, homie. πŸ™‚

  11. Karen says:

    Hi Joanna,

    Funny, ha? The weird thing is now is that I literally live right down the street from the Alcatraz Ferry and I can take it any ole time I feel the hankering to go. But it still hasn’t happened yet!

  12. Jessica D says:

    Pompeii @ the Fisherman’s Warf is also a clean restaurant w/ good food. Two girlfriends and I went there during a late night after working at our company’s annual conference. We took the trolly @ Market Street and walked all the way over. A totally cool experience we all still remember. IT was so memorable, my hubby and I went back the next year for our first wedding anniversary :o)
    I also heart SF!

  13. Karen says:

    Hi Glosslizard,

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely ask for extra cream when I go there next, which will hopefully be some time after 11 am, ha!

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Holly,

    What kind of dog do you have? I have to live vicariously through all ya’ll because I can’t have any pets right now, boo hoo!

  15. Karen says:

    Hi Kristi!

    LOL, okay, one of these days I’ll have to do that. I think that I want to go during a night tour (dunno if they have em, but I’ll find out), because that would be *extra* scary.

    Yeah, and my mom would probably love that magnet, too.

    Funny thing is, I’ve always wanted to go to Graceland, go figure. πŸ™‚

  16. Karen says:

    Hi JessicaD,

    Ohhhh, thank you for the recommendation. I’ll definitely check it out!

    I love SF too. I am still plotting to move us back there. El Hub will be an SF resident sometime in the future, he just doesn’t know it yet. πŸ˜‰

  17. Holly says:

    Hi Karen,

    I have a shih tzu he is my baby! Hes a total house dog and doesnt particularly like going out in the cold lol so we dont tend to go for long walks, he is happier just to run out into the back garden then run back into the warm!

    I had a Golden Retriever for years who was like the worlds’ best dog, he took himself for walks and just came back when he was ready, carried the shopping into the house from the car and was never any trouble everybody loved him but the one I have now is the biggest attention seeker in the world, he refuses to sit on the floor and cries constantly if im talking on the phone because i am not giving him all of my attention! Its a good thing he is so cute!

  18. Karen says:

    Awww, Holly, your dog sounds like the cutest drama queen, ever. πŸ™‚ I agree, being cute makes it hard to lay the law down with small dogs, sigh.

    Your golden retriever sounds like he was a dream come true. I’d love to have a dog that walked himself and brought the groceries in, LOL! My family had a black labrador retriever when I was growing up and even though he had lots of spunk and personality he was naughty. He wouldn’t do nothing for nobody!

  19. Holly says:

    Hi Karen,

    Yeah the golden retriever was amazing, we bought him when he was a few years old though, he was an ex show dog and had even won Crufts! so he was amazingly well trained when we bought him, if the training had been left up to us he would never have been anything like as intelligent!

    The good thing about the little one we have now though is that he will let me dress him up in anything! I even painted his nails a couple of days ago ( Chanel Blue satin if you were wondering :p )!

  20. Mrs. Lynne says:

    What a great day it was over there! I miss the bay πŸ™ Fisherman’s Wharf is actually where Hubbo and I spent our first V-Day. Good times.

  21. Amanda says:

    oooh-sounds like a great day-I’ve only been to Fisherman’s Wharf once, but it was fun! We did as much touristy stuff as we could, but didn’t make an Alcatraz trip, or Ghirardelli. My in-laws live in San Jose/Saratoga, so we always mention going back up to SF for another day trip-it just hasn’t happened yet. But maybe it will soon-my hubby and I were just recently talking about trying to do more of the city this spring. I would also love to go see the “mecca” sephora in SF-isn’t there one there that is huge, like multiple stories?

  22. Tekoa says:

    The snow should be gone by the end of April. Stop laughing. >_

  23. sophie says:

    Bonjour karen,

    You’re definitly right, San Francisco is one of the most beautifull places in the world.
    I have always loved it and these photos are reinforcing this !
    You’re really in the fortunate position of living there !!
    I can’t wait for seeing some wonderfull other sights on your blog!!
    Thank yu Karen !!

    Your french friend beauty addict,
    Sophie !!

  24. Karen says:

    Hey Holly,

    Those show dogs are very well behaved, and smart! I’ve been watching a few dog shows on the Animal Planet channel lately (what can I say? I find them relaxing) and it’s fun to see them strutting their stuff. It’s like the Academy Awards show for dogs. πŸ™‚

    LOL, your lil dog is rocking the Chanel “It” polish! TOO CUTE! Nails of that fine caliber deserve at the least a stylish collar, or perhaps a Burberry outfit to match your fantastic new trench.

  25. Karen says:

    Hi Mrs. Lynne,

    Fisherman’s Warf is a cute V-Day date, awwww!

    Girl, I swear, we should’ve met when you lived here. It’s funny that we should meet over the internet and become buddies when you are an ocean away now.

    Next time you come to the Bay we gotta go to Pier Market, for sure. I’m already craving those crab cakes, yum!

  26. Karen says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Unfortch that Sephora is now only one story. It used to be two but they changed the location a few years back.

    The “new” mecca for me is the Bloomingdale’s cosmetics section, which is located right next door to the Nordstrom. It’s HUGE! And there are a lot of brands you don’t see anywhere else. I just found out last week that they have the Armani beauty line there, HOLLA. I’ve been dying to try the foundation for years and now I can finally get my paws in it. *drools*

  27. Karen says:

    Oh Tekoa, are you serious? Holy sh*t. I give all you Canucks a big fat high five. Ya’ll are some seriously hardy people. Props.

  28. Karen says:

    You’re welcome, Sophie. When the weather gets better I hope to take a few day trips to the Wine Country in Sonoma, so I’ll be sure to take some lovely pictures to share with you. πŸ™‚

  29. Ashveena says:

    Hi Karen,

    I adore your site and read it religiously. I also live in Berkeley so I love all the Bay Area notes you throw in. You are the best!!

    I grew up around here and I’ve never been to Alcatraz either =)


  30. Karen says:

    Hi Ashveena,

    Yay, thank you so much! I always love meeting other Bay Area folks πŸ™‚

    Berkeley is a fantastic town, and one of my favorite places to visit in the Bay Area. I love the hills and the vibe there.

    It’s funny how for all of us Bay Area natives not going to Alcatraz is like a weird badge of honor.

    Anyway, I hope you got to spend some time out in this wonderful weather. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it stays sunny! Take care πŸ™‚

  31. Lilan says:

    Looks like you had a great day in San Francisco! The cupcakes look delish!!

    I haven’t gone out to Fisherman’s Wharf since September (probably the last time we had nice enough weather to be out all day). The BF and I walked from the Safeway in the Marina through Fisherman’s Wharf and past Pier 39 and back. It was so gorgeous, we hardly noticed the mileage.

    I remember it was a really nice day, complete with clam chowder and sourdough bread – yum! Maybe I can make a trek out this coming weekend if it’s still nice πŸ™‚

  32. Vera says:

    Don’t feel bad about not visiting Alcatraz, Karen. I was born and raised in SF and still live here and have not yet been there either. hehe I’m hoping that will change sometime this year. We shall see. I’m glad you had a great time. I need to go down to Fisherman’s Wharf now. I haven’t been there in a couple of years. lol

  33. Lea says:

    Your photos are gorgeous..and you too of course! I love visiting SF at least once a year I make a trip up to the Bay Area. Last year was the bombest..we stayed at the very posh/trendy Clift Hotel. And I never get tired of doing the same touristy thing every year..Golden Gate Bridge, Fish’ Wharf, Ghirardelli, Lombard Street, ride the cable car, Palace of Fine Arts, Chinatown, Macy’s etc. Although there’s one place I can’t afford to visit everytime that’s the Alcatraz, and it’s good enough as they haven’t changed/added anything on the tour for decades. And I can’t believe you’ve never been there you local-silly-goose! You must go, take photos and share here!

  34. Mrs. Lynne says:

    It is funny how we meet over the Internet and not when we were conveniently located near each other. But one day mi’lady, we’ll have our meet and it’ll good times!

  35. Grace Dubecki says:

    Love San Fransico – went there during the hippie hitch-hiking days in the 70’s. The people were great!! It still looks beautiful!
    Never went to Alcatrez either.
    Thanks for the warm feeling of remembering what a beautiful place it is.
    I live by the water now, but right now, it is frozen solid!!!

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