Top 20 San Francisco attractions

Aquatic Park

free admission

Explore a quieter section of the San Francisco waterfront on the sandy beach at Aquatic Park.

Aquatic Park has a picturesque setting on the San Francisco waterfront, with a lagoon and beach protected by the arc shaped arm of the Municipal Pier.  

Relax on the sandy beach, or look out at the 1,400 foot Municipal Pier. Visit other nearby attractions, like the flotilla of historic ships at the Hyde Street Pier, the free Maritime Museum, and stunning Fort Mason. 

10 best things to do at Aquatic Park

1. Stroll along the waterfront path at Aquatic Park. 

Aquatic Park SF

Aquatic Park is at the quieter, western end of the 1-mile long Fisherman's Wharf, less than a 15 minute walk from Pier 39. Tourists visiting Pier 39 are often unaware that the Aquatic Park exists, and that the Fisherman's Wharf also includes Aquatic Park.

2. Sink your feet in the golden sand at Aquatic Park.

Municipal Pier near Aquatic Park San Francisco

3. Visit the free Maritime Museum overlooking Aquatic Park.  

This nautical-themed building was a Roosevelt-era WPA project, constructed between 1936 to 1939.  The opening attracted thousands of people, and it was declared a "Palace for the Public". The bathhouse had all the modern conveniences, like an emergency clinic, restaurant, snack bar, and showers, and the adjacent bleachers were constructed as part of the project, for people to sit and relax.

Much to everyones dismay, in 1939 the bathhouse was rented to a private businessman and converted to a seafood restaurant known as the Aquatic Park Casino, but then went bankrupt in 1940. Between 1942 to 1945 the U.S. Army housed troops in the building, and in 1951 it became a maritime museum.

4. Hang out in the bleachers at Aquatic Park. 

Aquatic Park SF swimming

Sit and relax on the bleachers, and enjoy the best seat in the house!

5. Follow the waterfront path up the hill from the Aquatic Park to charming Fort Mason.

SF Aquatic Park

Fort Mason's historic hillside buildings overlook the Aquatic Park. Fort Mason is a former U.S. Army base, that has been converted into a youth hostel, rentals, and a grassy, bluff-top recreation area with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

6. Enjoy views of famous Alcatraz Island.

Aquatic Park has open vistas of the Bay, all the way out to Alcatraz Island.  You'll often spot swimmers in the protected lagoon of the Aquatic Park. Aquatic Park was formerly known as Black Point Cove, and has been a popular place for swimmers since the 1860s.

7.  Visit the Hyde Street Pier adjacent to Aquatic Park, with a flotilla of historic ships.

8. Look out at the 1,400 foot Municipal Pier.

Municipal Pier SF

The 1,400 foot Municipal Pier was constructed in 1931 to provide swimmers a more protected area in the Bay.

San Francisco waterfront

These are the incredible city views at the end of the Municipal Pier (pier is now closed).  

Years of winter storms have taken their toll, and large chunks of concrete are missing from the decaying pier. 

San Francisco Pier

Most of the vintage electrical lamp posts no longer work, and many of the original glass fittings have been removed from the pier (now closed).

The circular structure at the end of the Municipal Pier (now closed) was intended to be a convenience station, but was never completed, and is hollow inside.

9. Walk one block back from the Aquatic Park, to Ghirardelli Square where you can load up on sweet treats or visit a restaurant.

10. See award winning exhibits at the Visitor Center, next to the Aquatic Park. 

gaspar de portola expedition 1769

Spend a few hours at this fascinating visitor center, learning about key events in San Francisco's history, like the Gold Rush, San Francisco shipwrecks, and the immigrants who made a living at the Fisherman's Wharf (499 Jefferson Street).

Know before you go

  • Address: 900 Beach Street, San Francisco, CA 94109.
  • Maritime Museum: hours.

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