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This year marks the twenty fifth anniversary of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, California. This is not a national park where you will gasp at amazing views or wonder at native wildlife. Similar to the Independence National Historic Park in Pensylvania, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is a National Park devoted to the preservation of history. In this case boats.
I was surprised to see signs for a National Park Visitors center right on the throughfare of Fisherman’s wharf. But the easy pedestrian access made this an ideal place to explore as part of our day. Hyde street peir was historically a major port for ships in the last hundred years and here at the Maritime National Historical Park visitors can take part in that little slice of history.
My favorite boat was the three masted Balclutha, at least I think that’s what it was called. I went to look up the name on the National Parks Website today but because the government shut down, I couldn’t get the info. Regardless, the boat reminded me of tales of pirates and Charlotte Doyle. On board you can meander through carpenter’s quarters and along the deck and really imagine what it would have been like to ride the seas in the years before motors.
Other boats in the fleet included a 1920s tug, a Wartime ship with classic cars in the hold and a schooner that takes visitors on rides every hour. The pier is free and open to the public, but to tour the boats make sure you bring your Annual National Parks pass, or pay a $5.00 entrance fee.
The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park was a great diversion on our exploration of Fisherman’s Wharf. I highly recommend it.
Time: 30 minutes – 3 hours
Price: Free on the pier, $5.00 to explore the floating museums
Tips: This national historic park is located at Fisherman’s wharf, near Ghiradelli square and within easy access of the famous San Francisco cable cars. Make it part of the whole day excursion.