Epic Guide to San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, California including things to do, historic boats, lodging, history, and more.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located in the Fisherman Wharf neighborhood of San Francisco.
The park is easily accessible and a great area to spend a few hours exploring. Be prepared for the weather because in San Francisco you don't know what is going to happen during the day.
When my wife visited the park for the first time it was raining so badly she had to buy an umbrella at a gift shop so she could keep exploring. When I visited the park it was a gorgeous sunny afternoon perfect for exploring the park.
About San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park is located in San Francisco, California. The site includes a fleet of historic vessels and a visitor center, as well as a museum and library. The park was created to preserve and honor America’s maritime history.
Is San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park worth visiting?
Yes! The park gives visitors the opportunity to step back in time through the historic boat displays. It is truly amazing to see how well preserved the boats/ships are.
Make sure to check and see if the park is offering any guided boat tours during your visit. Sailing on the Alma was one of my favorite National Park Bucket List moments.
History of San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park has been in the works for over 65 years. Beginning in 1950, the site operated as the San Francisco Maritime Museum Association.
The museum building started being built in the year 1936. The building, characterized by the late Art Deco design, was built by the WPA (Works Project Administration).
The WPA was a New Deal Administration that began in 1935. Its goal was to create jobs for millions of jobseekers by creating projects such as public works buildings and new roads.
The museum building was originally built as a public bathhouse. It was in 1950 that the building was repurposed into the museum.
In 1954 the museum Association acquired the Balclutha. Also known as Star of Alaska or Pacific Queen, the steel-hulled ship was built in 1886 in Scotland.
During this time period, the ship was used to carry commodities such as wine, oil and coal from Europe to the east coast of the United States and other countries along the Pacific Ocean.
Between 1899 and 1930, the ship worked to trade timber and coal from the Pacific Northwest in America to the coasts of Australia.
America providing the timber, and Australia the coal. Balclutha then joined the salmon trade, sailing from San Francisco to Alaska.
For these voyages the ship carried over 200 men, as opposed to the 26 man crew previously.
In 1933, the ship was bought by Frank Kissinger at which point it appeared in the movie Mutiny on the Bounty. In 1954 the ship was restored and put on display at the museum, becoming a National Historic Landmark in 1985.
There are five additional historic vessels contained in the park, the 1895 schooner C.A. Thayer, the 1890 ferryboat Eureka, the 1891 schooner Alma, the 1907 steam tug Hercules, and the 1914 paddle tug Eppleton Hall.
The C.A. Thayer worked as a lumber schooner traveling from Washington to San Francisco, and sometimes as far south as Fiji.
Salmon as well as cod fishing came next for the vessel. The state of California bought the vessel in 1956. Numerous restorations were done over the next 50 years and in 1984 it was registered as a National Landmark.
The Eureka was built by the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad Company. It is the largest existing wooden ship in the world.
It was built with a main deck for railroad cars, and another deck above for passengers. Working around the clock, the Eureka would carry passengers between San Francisco and Tiburon during the day and haul railcars at night.
During World War I, the ship carried munition-filled rail cars for the war effort. The weight of the work was so great, that the government later paid for a complete restoration of the vessel.
After the war, the vessel was mainly a passenger boat but would occasionally haul automobiles as well.
The Alma was built in San Francisco. Until 1918, Alma was used to transport a number of commodities including hay and lumber. Thereafter, it became a salt-carrying barge and eventually an oyster schooner. Alma was bought by the state of California in 1964 and designated as a historic landmark in 1988.
The Hercules was built for a tug boat company as part of their Red Stack Fleet. It was an oceangoing tug ship at the beginning of its life. In 1916, Hercules actually pulled the C.A. Thayer to the state of Washington.
The ship transported barges and also helped transport equipment used to construct the Panama Canal. In 1947 Hercules was commissioned to transport the hull of the USS Oklahoma from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco Bay.
The USS Oklahoma was a battleship that had been struck by three torpedoes during the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the journey to San Francisco Bay, the ships were caught in a dangerous storm off the coast of Hawaii.
The Oklahoma began taking on water and Hercules very narrowly escaped being pulled down with the Oklahoma into the ocean depths.
Hercules was bought by the state of California in 1975 and designated as a historic landmark in 1986.
The Eppleton Hall was a paddlewheel tugboat built in England. It was designed to tow seagoing bulk cargo ships. It is one of only two surviving types of paddlewheel tugboat of its kind which was actually found in large numbers during its time.
In the 1950s it was modified for passenger travel and was tasked with transporting officials from ships after their sea jobs were complete. The ship has been restored to its post-war condition in the 1940s and resides at the Maritime National Historic Park.
The Maritime Research Center originated in 1939 and is home to the largest collection of maritime information on the West Coast. It is also the largest museum in the National Park Service.
The history present in this historical park far surpasses what one article can capture. Between the visitor center, museum, and the vessels themselves, the rich history of ship building, places, and high seas adventures are abundant.
The site is also alive with the history of the people who lived, worked on and created these vessels and others in history.
Things to know before your visit to San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
$0.00 - There is no entrance fee to visit the park.
$15.00 - Entrance fee to board historic vessels. Per person fee to board the historic ships at Hyde Street Pier. Good for seven days. Children 15 and younger are free.
Planning a National Park vacation? America the Beautiful/National Park Pass covers entrance fees for an entire year to all US National Park Sites and over 2,000 Federal Recreation Fee Sites.
The park pass covers everyone in the car for per vehicle sites and for up to 4 adults for per-person sites.
Buy on REI.com and REI will donate 10% of pass proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities.
Free Entrance Days -Mark your calendars with the five free entrance days the National Park Service offers annually.
Pacific Time Zone
Dogs on leashes are welcome in the Aquatic Park Historic Landmark District, except they are not allowed on the beach.
Dogs are not allowed on Hyde Street Pier, or on the historic ships.
We had great cell service while visiting the park.
Hyde Street Pier is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Last entrance at 4:30 PM) The pier is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days.
Maritime Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days.
Free Wi-Fi is not available within the park.
Insect repellent is always a great idea when outdoors, especially if you are around any body of water.
We use Permethrin Spray on our clothes before our park trips.
Make sure to bring your own water bottle and plenty of water with you. Plastic water bottles are not sold in the park.
The pier and maritime museum are best reached via public transportation or uber. There is very little to no parking near the park.
There is no designated parking area for the Park. There is metered street parking and garages and parking lots that charge various prices to park.
There are no restaurants within the park but there are a ton along the waterfront.
We really enjoy stopping into Boudin and having soup in a sourdough bread bowl every time we visit the park.
There are no gas stations within the park but there are many nearby.
Drones are not permitted within National Park Sites.
National Park Passport Stamps
National Park Passport stamps can be found in the visitor center.
San Francisco Maritime NHP is part of the 2019 Passport Stamp Set.
Electric Vehicle Charging
There are no EV Charging stations within the park but they can be found all over San Francisco.
Details about San Francisco Maritime NHP
Size - 50 acres
Check out how the park compares to other National Parks by Size.
June 27, 1988
In 2021, San Francisco Maritime NHP had 2,827,885 park visitors.
In 2020, San Francisco Maritime NHP had 1,936,101 park visitors.
In 2019, San Francisco Maritime NHP had 4,016,598 park visitors.
National Park Address
2905 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
Park phone number for information - 415-447-5000.
National Park Map
Where is San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park?
San Francisco Maritime NHP is located next to San Francisco Bay near Pier 47. It is in the heart of San Francisco, California.
Estimated distance from major cities nearby
Oakland, Ca - 12 miles
San Jose, Ca - 50 miles
Stockton, Ca - 83 miles
Sacramento, Ca - 88 miles
Modesto, Ca - 92 miles
Fresno, Ca - 186 miles
Oakhurst, Ca - 194 miles
Reno, Nv - 218 miles
Los Angeles, Ca - 383 miles
San Diego, Ca - 502 miles
Estimated Distance from nearby National Park
Yosemite National Park - 167 miles
Sequoia National Park - 263 miles
Kings Canyon National Park - 238 miles
Pinnacles National Park - 125 miles
Redwoods National Park - 313 miles
Where is the National Park Visitor Center?
The visitor center is located in a 1908 historic brick cannery warehouse. You can explore “The Waterfront” exhibit and take an interactive walkthrough of six historical waterfront neighborhoods.
Plus grab your park stamp, Junior Ranger program, and find out about ranger programs.
The visitor center is located at 499 Jefferson Street at the corner of Hyde Street and is open seven days a week from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Getting to San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Oakland International Airport (OAK)
San Jose International Airport (SJC)
Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
- The Visitor Center is located at 499 Jefferson Street (at Hyde), San Francisco, CA 94109 (415-447-5000)
- The Hyde Street Pier and the historic ships are across the street from the Visitor Center (call the Visitor Center, 415-447-5000 for directions and info)
- The Maritime Museum is in the Bathhouse Building at 900 Beach Street (at Polk), San Francisco, CA 94109 (415-561-7100)
- For research in the collections, plan a research visit to the Maritime Research Center in Fort Mason Center, Building E, San Francisco CA 94123 (415-561-7030)
Best time to visit San Francisco Maritime NHP
There really isn't a bad time to visit San Francisco. The weather can get wet and foggy but the next day it can be beautiful.
Weather and Seasons
San Francisco experiences amazing summers and short cold winters.
The warmest weather is from June 13th to October 24th when the average daily high temperature is above 69 degrees.
The coldest weather is from December 4th to February 4th when the daily temperature is below 59 degrees
Best Things to do in San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
We suggest planning a couple of hours to explore San Francisco Maritime NHP. If you are a boat historian or someone who loves watercraft you may want to plan longer.
Visiting the park is one of the best things to do in San Francisco with kids.
Hyde Street Pier
The pier is open seven days a week from 9:30 am to 5 pm. However, a ticket to board the historic ships is not sold after 4:30 pm. The pier is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days.
Historic Boat Collection
The historic boat collection is an amazing way to see how boats have changed and stayed the same over history.
Entrance Fee to Board the Historic Vessels - $10.00 Per person fee to board the historic ships at Hyde Street Pier. Good for seven days. Children 15 and younger are free.
Visit the Hyde Street Pier ticket booth to purchase a ticket to explore the historic vessels. Cash and credit/debit cards with a Visa/Mastercard logo are accepted. Credit/Debit cards preferred for payment.
The park collection includes:
1886 SQUARE-RIGGER BALCLUTHA
You can walk up the 1886 Balcutha gangway and step back into the 1800s. See what it was like for sailors who spent months at a time on the ship transporting California wheat to Europe.
1895 SCHOONER C. A. THAYER
Imagine the C.A. Thayer piled high with Douglas Fir trees that were transported from Puget Sound to California for building materials in the early 1900s.
1890 STEAM FERRYBOAT EUREKA
The 1890 ferryboat Eureka was originally built to move trains across San Francisco Bay. Make sure and check out the inside of this ship. You may be surprised to find classic cars and trucks inside.
1891 SCOW SCHOONER ALMA
Alma is the last San Francisco Bay scow schooner still afloat! The flat-bottomed scows carried cargo including hay, grain, and fertilizer between farm communities and San Francisco.
Check out what it was like to go sailing on the Alma during the summer!
1907 STEAM TUG HERCULES
This steam tug pulled big ships out to sea along with dragging huge rafts of logs. It was also used to tow huge lock structures for the Panama Canal.
1914 PADDLEWHEEL TUG EPPLETON HALL
Can you believe this little tugboat crossed the Atlantic from England under its own power in 1969.
1890 (CIRCA) SAN FRANCISCO BAY ARK
The Junior Ranger program is fantastic! This program offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to learn more about the park.
This is one of our favorite things to do in San Francisco with kids! They can learn about the park while getting to explore epic historic ships.
The Maritime Museum is located in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse building. The museum has changing exhibits that explore West Coast maritime history.
The bathhouse was built in 1939 by the City of San Francisco and WPA - Works Progress Administration. Make sure and check out the lobby murals.
The Maritime Museum is located in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building. Open seven days a week. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days. Standard hours are 10 am to 4 pm daily.
Aquatic Park Historic District
Visit one of San Francisco's few urban beaches and watch the trolly cars turn around. You can also stroll along the waterfront and the Municipal Pier.
If you feel like going in the water be very careful of seals. There have been a few people bit along the shoreline by seals.
Small Boat Shop on Hyde Street Pier
During your visit take time to talk with the boat builders at the small boat shop.
It is so cool hearing what they are working on and how they learned the craft of boat building.
Maritime Cell Phone Tour
The Maritime Voices cell phone audio tour is located along Hyde Street Pier. There are eight stops along the pier.
At each stop, you can listen to a variety of two to three-minute programs narrated by park rangers.
Dial 415-294-6754 and enter the tour number and then #
#1 - Orientation: A Portal into Maritime History
#2 - History Afloat
#3 - Houseboating: The Lewis Ark
#4 - Swimmers in the Bay
#5 - Art & Architecture Aquatic Park: Form/Function
#6 - Creation of a National Park
#7 - Global Climate Change in the National Parks
#8 - Park Overview: From Sail to Steam - Bridging Oceans and Cultures
#9 - The Only Way Across the Bay
#10 - The Passenger Experience: Culture of Its Own
#11 - Steam Juggernaut
#12 - A Story of Survival
#13 - Born Again: Restoration of the C.A.Thayer
#14 - Good Wood: Preserving Ships and Forests
#15 - Sail, Steam, and Self Reliance
#16 - Survival of an Underdog
#17 - On the Inside
#18 - A Memorial to the Grand Age of Sail
#19 - Danger and Adventure on the High Seas
#20 - Charting a Musical Course Through Maritime History
#21 - Families At Sea
#22 - A World of Interconnection
#23 - The Last of Her Kind
#24 - The Good and the Bad: Life Aboard Hercules
#25 - Power and Danger
Alma and Small Craft
#26 - A Local Lifeline
#27 - More Alive than Ever!
#28 - Significance of Small Craft
Guided Tours of San Francisco
Check out some of the epic tours you can take in San Francisco Bay to experience the maritime history of the area.
Golden Gate Bay Cruise - Sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and around notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's history via an award-winning audio commentary, available in 16 languages.
Wharf and Waterfront Segway Tour - Explore the wharf and waterfront of San Francisco on a 2.5-hour Segway tour and get panoramic Pacific Ocean views from the back of a unique self-balancing vehicle. See historic sights, such as Fisherman’s Wharf, loop through Little Italy and more.
Hop On Hop Off City and Night tour - The 1-day Day Hop-On Hop-Off Pass combines two tours on one incredible value ticket! It gives you the opportunity to explore all the must-see sights of San Francisco by day and at night.
San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise - Enjoy spectacular views in a casual and fun atmosphere. Sail past Alcatraz, around Angel Island, along Tiburon and Sausalito, and under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Escape from the Rock Bay Cruise - Sail underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and circle Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home.
Hiking in San Francisco Maritime NHP
Always carry the 10 essentials for outdoor survival when exploring.
There are no specific hiking trails within the park but there are some great areas to explore.
How to beat the crowds in San Francisco Maritime NHP
The best way to beat the crowds is to visit on a weekday or early in the day. Summers and holidays are busy with tourists visiting San Francisco.
Where to stay when visiting San Francisco Maritime NHP
There are a couple of National Park Lodges located near San Francisco Maritime NHP
The Argonaut Hotel is located within Fisherman's Wharf historic Haslett Warehouse building with epic views of San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz.
Cavallo Point is located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. This epic hotel offers both historic lodging and contemporary rooms.
Additional San Francisco Lodging includes:
Kimpton Alton Hotel - Fisherman's Wharf - Close to Lombard Street, Kimpton Alton Hotel - Fisherman's Wharf, an IHG Hotel provides a free daily manager's reception, a coffee shop/cafe, and dry cleaning/laundry services. Treat yourself to spa services, such as a deep-tissue massage or a facial. The onsite restaurant, Abaca, features Filipino cuisine. Free in-room WiFi is available to all guests, along with a bar and a 24-hour gym.
Holiday Inn Express and Suites Fisherman's Wharf - located close to Lombard Street, and provides a free breakfast buffet, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a gym. Stay connected with free in-room WiFi, and guests can find other amenities such as a 24-hour business center.
Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf - 4-star hotel near Pier 39. Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco provides a terrace, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a bar. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. The onsite restaurant, Brick and Beam, features American cuisine. In addition to a 24-hour gym and a 24-hour business center, guests can connect to free in-room WiFi.
Marriott Courtyard San Francisco - Located close to Lombard Street, Courtyard San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf provides a coffee shop/cafe, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a gym. In addition to a business center and a restaurant, guests can connect to free in-room WiFi.
Marriott San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf - 4-star hotel. Marriott San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf, which provides dry cleaning/laundry services, a bar, and a gym. Be sure to enjoy a meal at Red Fin, the onsite restaurant. Stay connected with in-room WiFi (surcharge), and guests can find other amenities such as a business center.
There are no National Park Lodges within the park.
For an epic adventure check out Escape Campervans! They have a location right in San Francisco.
Parks Near San Francisco Maritime NHP
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
See all of the National Parks near San Francisco
Check out all of the amazing fun things to do at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco after you explore the park!
Check out all of the fun things to do in San Francisco with Kids!