After embarking from your Alcatraz cruise at Pier 33, head to the nearby Fisherman’s Wharf, where you have many choices for lunch, including the newly-opened Waxman’s Pizzeria, on Ghirardelli Square, a wheelchair accessible place serving artisan twists on the classic pies. The pizzeria’s chef, Berkeley-born renowned chef Jonathan Waxman, also runs a dinner restaurant next door, where an open kitchen and wood burning oven serve up chicken with salsa verde and other California-Italian inspired fusion dishes. The diner is also wheelchair accessible.
These venues are signs of the increasing new life in the classic but struggling square. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the square, for years seen as a place where tourists crowded into Ghirardelli’s chocolate shops, it is now attracting unique and upscale restaurants and shops, making it a bit more exciting for visitors and locals alike. The Bluxome Home Street Winery recently opened a tasting room on the square joining other newcomers Le Marais Bakery and Bistro, and Mashka artisan jewelry around the centerpiece of Andrea’s Fountain.
Even though it may be mobbed with tourists, you should still brave the crowds for a treat at Ghirardelli’s but be forewarned that it is a steep approach coming from Fisherman’s Wharf.
After lunch, take in more of Fisherman’s Wharf. It is one of the flat places in the city, and easy to navigate. Pop into the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park to explore old ships and learn about the history of the area, and how it went from housing more than 400 fishing boats to a modern center of retail and dining. For those who are unable to climb around and explore the ships, the visitor’s center offers virtual tours.
Walk through the Wax Museum to view presidents and other figures immortalized in wax. A paved, but at times steep, path connects the wharf to the red brick Cannery, built by the Del Monte company in 1907 as the world’s largest fruit canning facility. Due to the steep nature of the terrain, travelers who are unable to walk long distances or need to avoid uneven terrain, may want to go by car. The cannery is now a shopping mall, but its open courtyard, filled with century-old olive trees and street vendors, adds a unique element.