This is a heavily-trafficked area, especially at the height of tourist season, so walk your dog on a tighter leash than usual, keeping them close for their safety as well as out of consideration of others, as some walking spaces may be very tight. Grab an ice cream cone or hot dog and sit on a bench along the wooden piers, watching the passers-by. You can also walk a short distance to surrounding neighborhoods, like Chinatown or the Marina District where it's a little less likely to find chain restaurants and overpriced gift shops.
The Wharf can swarm with people, especially in the Fall (the height of tourist season), when it's sunny and warm. This makes for great people watching but can be overwhelming to a dog as it can feel like their senses are being barraged. If your dog is people-reactive, this may be a great place to take them after months of training, as a final test or step in their counter-conditioning. Try sitting at a bench, having them sit next to you, and feed them treats as people walk by.
Marina Green Triangle is just a quick 15-minute jaunt from the Maritime National Park and offers parking and nice, open space for a dog and owner to run or walk. Built-in equipment calls for many fit individuals to attend this park, where they can be seen doing an exercise routine right in the middle of the park, beautiful San Francisco scenery around them. This park is along the San Francisco Bay Trail, which extends 500 miles, tracing the natural curves and lines of the Bay. You're likely to spot some bicyclists and joggers utilizing it.
Also nearby is the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, another National Park. An expansive park, you and your pup could easily spend hours just walking the many trails or sitting and enjoying the many views Golden Gate has to offer. Just a few of the sites and activities you can enjoy here:
Many tourists flock to Pioneer Park on fog-less days to join the line for Coit Tower, which offers high views of the surrounding San Francisco Bay Area. Dogs, however, aren't allowed to enjoy the heights with their humans. Luckily for the both of you, there's more to do in Pioneer Park than stand in line at Coit Tower. The park offers views of the ocean, paved walking trails, restrooms, and is well-shaded with lush trees and brush. Stairs, although sometimes lengthy, make your walk through the park easier. And multiple trash bins and doggie bag dispensers help you and Fido keep the park clean!
If you're looking for something a little smaller and maybe with less of a crowd, you can head to Washington Square Park. An open, grassy lot, Washington Square can be quite busy on one of SF's sunny days with people sprawled out on blankets and towels. During overcast days, the park can be a little quieter, making a great spot for your pet to run and play.
George Sterling Park has become an unofficial dog park, which is great news if your little buddy is looking to meet friends. This park is alongside Hyde Street which is a historic route for cable cars and even has tennis courts if hitting a ball around sounds like your speed. Otherwise, save the tennis ball for a game of fetch