On any sunny day, scores of walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, and skateboarders are likely to be streaming along Herb Caen Way, the wide bayside promenade that runs for three miles along San Francisco's Embarcadero from South Beach Harbor to Fisherman's Wharf. The northern portion of the promenade described here (see Embarcadero South for the southern stretch) runs from the...
On any sunny day, scores of walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, and skateboarders are likely to be streaming along Herb Caen Way, the wide bayside promenade that runs for three miles along San Francisco's Embarcadero from South Beach Harbor to Fisherman's Wharf. The northern portion of the promenade described here (see Embarcadero South
for the southern stretch) runs from the Ferry Building, the city's historic water transport hub and now a mecca for fresh, organic local foods, to Fisherman's Wharf; we have extended the tour to include nearby Aquatic Park and Ghirardelli Square.
The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park visitor center, tucked away inside the Argonaut Hotel at Jefferson and Hyde streets, is a treasure trove for anyone interested in San Francisco's maritime history. Among the displays are a tule reed canoe similar to those used by the native Yelamu people and a Fresnel lens once used at the lighthouse on one of the Farallon Islands, 30 miles outside the Golden Gate. You can take a simulated walk along the waterfront through the ages, and a computer kiosk provides a virtual tour of the inaccessible places in the park, including inside the antique boats moored at the Hyde Street Pier across the street.
Parking in downtown San Francisco can be expensive and difficult to find; the Ferry Building is well served by public transportation, including Muni, BART, and several ferry lines. Metered street parking is available along the Embarcadero and there are numerous fee lots near Fisherman's Wharf, all of which have accessible spaces.
At San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park visitor center, Hyde St. Pier, and the Ferry Building (on busy days, and especially during farmers markets, there can be long lines to use the Ferry Building's restrooms).
Along the route, accessible public restrooms are inside the Port office at Pier 1, in the arcade at Pier 3, at Alcatraz Landing between Piers 31 and 33, at Pier 39, in the octagon building inside the parking lot on Taylor St., and at Ghirardelli Square. The restrooms at the Maritime Museum at Aquatic Park are fairly accessible except the main entry is narrow and the toilets are low. There are also several accessible unisex toilets in green and gold kiosks along the route, but they're often occupied or dirty.
Other Things of Interest
From June through November, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers a ranger-led interpretive sailing program (fee) aboard the historic scow schooner Alma, which is wheelchair-accessible with some assistance. The tours, which depart from Hyde Street Pier, are about three hours long.
If you don't feel like wheeling all the way from the Ferry Building, you can take a historic streetcar along Muni's F line to Fisherman's Wharf, with accessible stops along the way, though in summer the F line can be very crowded. You can also rent an electric GoCar with hand-operated controls near Fisherman's Wharf to tour the waterfront.
Reviewed by Eileen Ecklund, March 18, 2013