Pier 39 & Fisherman’s Wharf – Centers Of San Francisco Fun
It’s not only a historic location, it’s one of the city’s major tourist attractions. Located on the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 in San Francisco is one of the city’s popular destinations in San Francisco, famous for its family attractions, seafood restaurants, and frolicking sea lions. Despite the crowds (especially in the summer) and a wee bit of tackiness, there are plenty of family-oriented museums, monuments and attractions worth visiting. You have to go to Pier 39 if only to view the famous sea lions.
Tucked in between the souvenir stands, you can find authentic seafood restaurants, small shops, and garden parks with open areas for picnics. Pier 39 San Francisco is also the gateway to bay cruises, ferries, catamarans, and helicopter rides to take you to Angel Island, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito. Much of the cities maritime past is also moored here alongside a bevy of sailboats, yachts and ferries filled with visitors and commuters. Let’s take a look at the things to see and do at these popular sites.
Pier 39 is one of the most notable attractions throughout San Francisco, California. Throughout the year, various events take place. You can also visit seven days a week in order to enjoy the scenic views as well as dine in the many restaurants.
Pier 39 San Francisco Attractions Pass
This is a popular all-in-one pass that gives you freedom, flexibility and saves you money at Pier 39. You get free entrance at the Aquarium of the Bay, tickets to the 7-D Experience, and a 2-day pass to the Hop-on Hop-off trolley. You also receive a Pier 39 Fun Pack.
And that’s not all. There’s also a choice between two bay cruises — San Francisco Bay Cruise Adventure or Escape from the Rock Cruise. In short, you get a lot of fun in one package.
What You Will See
When you stand on the pier, you will be able to see all sorts of different things. This includes sea lions in the water, who will put on a show for you at any time of the day or night. You will be able to stand on the pier for hours to people watch and take in all of the incredible sights.
This is no longer a working prison, though tours are still available. You can take a ferry to the island and visit the cell house. There are tours during the day and at night. It’s always a good idea to get your tickets up to 90 days ahead of when you want to visit. Adult tickets for the day are $45.25 and the night tour tickets are $52.25.
The Golden Gate Bridge
When you stand on the pier, you can see the bridge in the distance, which is definitely iconic of San Francisco. If you want to get an even better view, the best thing to do is to go to the Overlook, which is located off of Lincoln Boulevard. You can find the details here.
You won’t want to miss out on the other attractions at Pier 39, too:
- 7D Experience
- Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze
- Musical Stairs
- San Francisco Carousel
- Sea Lion Center
Even if you don’t participate in any of the paid activities, you can enjoy all of the sights and sounds. Plus, there is a lot of shopping to be found on and around Pier 39. Plenty of specialty shops will allow you to walk into one-of-a-kind stores to bring home a souvenir of your time here.
While you are at the pier, you may want to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The following restaurants are located directly on the pier:
- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
- Chart House
- Crab House
- Eagle Cafe
- Fog Harbor Fish House
- Hana Zen Japanese Grill
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Mango’s Taqueria
- Luigi’s Pizzeria
A resource for all of the dining is found here. You can also find plenty of carts and counter restaurants if you don’t want to make a big deal out of a meal.
Special events take place on the pier all the time throughout the year. This includes periodic live music as well as an array of events that occur each and every year. There are a few you may want to mark on your calendar:
- Chinese New Year
- Spring Fireworks
- Fleet Week Celebration
- Sea Lion Anniversary
You can find out about all of the special events here.
Although there is plenty to see and do on Pier 39 to keep you busy for a full day, there are a few notable attractions nearby that you may want to see. There’s enough to do throughout San Francisco that you can stay busy for days on end. Taste chocolate, view wax statues and soak up the culture of the area.
Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
Celebrating more that 40 years of waxy figuration (that’s what they call it), Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum has recently undergone a major facelift and a move from Fisherman’s Wharf to its new location not far away on 145 Jefferson Street.
Expect to marvel at state-of-the-art exhibits along with old favorites like the Hall of Religions and the Chamber of Horrors. And, of course, you’ll see all the modern-day celebrities like Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie and even Albert Einstein. Free entrance with the GO San Francisco Card and the Pier 39 Attraction Pass.
S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien
Located on Pier 45 in Fisherman’s Wharf, the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien is one of the last two surviving World War II Liberty Ships and the only one with the original configuration.
The ship is a D-Day veteran having made eleven trips between England and Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. For the 50th anniversary of D-Day, the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien sailed back to Normandy for the memorial ceremony. Explore the engine room, which was the location used in the 1997 movie Titanic. Free admission with the GO San Francisco Card.
Aquarium of the Bay
At the Aquarium of the Bay you discover the diverse and rich aquatic life found in the San Francisco Bay. This non-profit museum has over 300 feet of clear tunnels to let you explore the vast array of marine animals up close. It’s fascinating, whether you’re on your own or with a family group. There are plenty of hands-on activities geared to children of all ages. (Like us!)
Located at Pier 39 San Francisco, free entrance to the Aquarium of the Bayis included with the GO San Francisco Card, the San Francisco CityPASS or the Pier 39 Attraction Pass.
You will be able to do a lot of sightseeing simply by walking around, especially if you are going to stay in the main area around the pier. However, you may also want to consider the cable cars. There are full routes and maps available on the San Francisco Cable Car website, which will also tell you the fare options.
Tours from Pier 39
San Francisco Bay Catamaran Cruise From Pier 39
Sail away from Pier 39 on a 55-foot catamaran for a cruise that will give you unbelievable 360-degree views and a taste of brisk open sea air. You sail by Alcatraz and Sausalito and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on this 90-minute nautical expedition. If you’re up for real adventure, the canvas trampoline nets let you experience the Bay up close and personal.
Visit Angel Island On The Blue & Gold Fleet Ferry
Take the ferry to visit Angel Island, a California State Park famous for welcoming millions of immigrants as they arrived to America. It’s commonly referred to as the Ellis Island of the west.
It is also one of the most important historic military sites in the USA, with garrisons and compounds dating back as early as the Civil War, and even during the World Wars. The ferry is also free with the GO San Francisco Card.
Red & White Golden Gate Bay Cruise From Pier 39
San Francisco’s Red and White Fleet has been plying the waters of the bay for more than 70 years. We like this one-hour cruise that takes you along the shoreline of North Beach, Aquatic Park, Hyde Street Pier, and the National Maritime Historic Park. The highlight of course, is sailing directly under the Golden Gate Bridge.
You also steam past Sausalito, Angel Island and Alcatraz. As you approach Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll be greeted by the barking sea lions, and see the SS Jeremiah O’Brien and the USS Pampanito. The cruise is free if you have the GO San Francisco Card.
San Francisco Vista Helicopter Tour From Pier 39
Depart from Pier 39 San Francisco on a helicopter ride you’ll never forget. See the best of San Francisco on this tour — Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco city skyline. But that’s not all. Your pilot takes you on a detour to fly over the craggy Pacific Coastline, seeing Sausalito, Tiburon, Marine Headlands and Angel Island.
- Pier 39 & Fisherman’s Wharf – Centers Of San Francisco Fun
- Tours from Pier 39