Pier 39

San Francisco’s Premier Shopping, Transportation and Entertainment Hubs

Since it opened in 1978, Pier 39 on San Francisco’s waterfront has become one of the city’s main tourist destinations, as well as transportation and entertainment hubs. The Pier’s location is ideal for taking full advantage of the foot traffic from the millions of visitors who visit the city each year. Whether you love the t-shirt shops and other touristy vendors that occupy many storefronts or hate them, they are vital for drawing tourists (and revenue) to much more important facilities such as Aquarium of the Bay and other important cultural assets found here.

There are so many fun, cool, and exciting attractions at Pier 39, including:

  • Aquarium of the Bay
    The Aquarium is one of the city’s cultural jewels, with a wide range of different types of aquatic animals showcased in attractive and well-maintained exhibits. Interpreters and other staff members are always nearby to answer questions about the animals and their care and the admission price remains one of the best deals in the Bay Area.
  • Blue & Gold Fleet
    If you want to visit Alcatraz Island or Marin County, see the city and the bridges from the Bay or simply have a relaxing and enjoyable day on the water, chances are good that you’ll enjoy the experience on one of the many vessels in this fleet.
  • The Musical Stairs
    This interactive art exhibit quite literally allows you to make music while you ascend and descend stairs keyed to different musical notes. Who knows? If your timing is good, you might get to see a real musician try to step out a musical idea while you’re there. The real musician might even be you!
  • The Sea Lions and Sea Lion Center
    The sea lions that bask and bark on the dock are hard to miss and fun to watch but if you’d like to learn more about these animals from experts who work with them every day, make sure to visit the Sea Lion Center open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
  • Whale Tour Charters
    Once you board the catamaran for a whale tour charter, get ready to have a wonderful, interesting and exciting experience. These charter tours take guests out to the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, where you may get to sea migrating whales, sea turtles, great white sharks and other sea animals. In the off chance that no whales are sighted that day, your next charter is free!
  • Street Performers

The jugglers, caricature artists, musicians, magicians and other busking street performers found on Pier 39 help make this one of the best places for walking and people-watching in the Bay Area. You never know. That violinist weaving an especially pretty melody could be from the city symphony and the comedian trying out new material could be the headliner at a comedy club later that day.

Pier 39 is very easy to get to, as many mass transit systems have at least one stop nearby and you’re likely to stumble upon it while waking the city’s pretty waterfront. You can experience a great deal of the vibe and energy of the place without reaching into your wallet but you’re almost guaranteed to encounter something or someone that may make you want to part with a dollar or two (or twenty.)