Top 20 San Francisco attractions

Aquatic Park

free admission
Aquatic Park

Explore a quieter section of the San Francisco waterfront with a sandy beach.

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

Relax on the sandy beach, or take a breathtaking walk along 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 the Aquatic Park

1. Stroll along the waterfront path at the Aquatic Park. 

The 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 the Aquatic Park.

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

Municipal Pier near Aquatic Park San FranciscoMunicipal Pier near Aquatic Park San Francisco

3. Visit the free Maritime Museum overlooking the 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.  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. 

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

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

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. 

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6. Enjoy views of famous Alcatraz Island.

The 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.  The 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. Walk along the 1,400 foot Municipal Pier for incredible views. 

Continue along the waterfront path to the arc-shaped Municipal Pier, that circles around with a graceful, tear-drop end.  The 1,400 foot Municipal Pier was constructed in 1931 to provide swimmers a more protected area in the Bay.

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These are the incredible city views at the end of the Municipal Pier.  You can see it all - including Fisherman's Wharf, Coit Tower, Ghirardelli Square, and the Transamerica Pyramid.  Wow!

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It's a gorgeous walk along the Municipal Pier, but it's in dire need of rehabilitation. Years of winter storms have taken their toll, and large chunks of concrete are missing from the decaying pier. Eventually it will close, if nothing is done.

San Francisco PierSan Francisco Pier

Most of the vintage electrical lamp posts no longer work, and many of the original glass fittings have been removed.

If you don't have time to visit Alcatraz Island, the Municipal Pier is a great way to get a closer look at it.

There's nothing at the end of the Municipal Pier, except 360 degree views!   The circular structure at the end of the Municipal Pier was intended to be a convenience station, but was never completed, and is hollow inside.  Imagine all the possibilities for this structure, if the pier is ever rehabilitated.

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. 

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).

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Know before you go

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

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