Pier 39 - San Francisco
SF’s Top Tourist Attraction
Pier 39 is San Francisco’s No. 1 tourist attraction. Located just two blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf, the two-level waterfront complex features a variety of specialty shops, fun restaurants, art galleries, live entertainment, carousel rides, Bay cruises, boat rides, an aquarium, and special attractions. And its top draw – the world-famous sea lions. Walk to the very end of Pier 39’s dock to see stunning views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay and the City skyline. It’s a fun place to hang out for people-watching and perfect for picture-taking.
Sea Lions at Pier 39
San Francisco’s famous “barking” Sea Lions have become one of the city’s most popular attractions, drawing over 15 million of visitors from around the world. Pier 39’s sea lions are very LOUD and entertaining. They are known to behave like big dogs and over the last two decades have become quite a draw to tourists and locals alike. Fun for kids and big kids too!
Shortly after California’s October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the sea lions mysteriously took up residence on the pier’s floating platforms. Within a few months, the sea lion population at Pier 39 grew to about 300. And by October 2009, they reached a record-high of more than 1,701 – truly a sight to behold!
And then… just as mysteriously as the sea lions arrived at Pier 39, they all but disappeared by the end of 2009. By mid-November, they numbered 927. And after Thanksgiving, there were a mere 20. During the first week of 2010, an estimated 2,000 sea lions arrived off the central Oregon Coast (about 500 miles north of the Golden Gate) and about 500 sea lions moved into the private preserve Sea Lion Caves near Florence, Oregon. It is believed that 2009’s summer El Niño along the CA coast pushed the food north and the sea lions followed. By mid February 2010, the sea lions started returning to Pier 39 (due to the influx of herring in San Francisco Bay). Numbers were nowhere near their record high of 1,700. In May 2010, about 500 sea lions were seen cavorting on the docks. By November, the numbers had dwindled again. Today, there are hundreds of sea lions and their popularity continues to be at an all-time high. 🙂
Aquarium of the Bay
Visit the Pier’s Aquarium of the Bay. It is home to over 20,000 local aquatic animals (featuring more than 200 different species), including jellyfish, sharks, bat rays, skate, giant sea bass, rock fish, anchovies, and river otters. Get an up-close view of these magnificent marine animals as you walk through 300-feet of crystal clear tunnels surrounded by sharks, bat rays, eels… and more. They’re so close, you can almost touch them! The Aquarium is open daily – Monday-Sunday at 11am-6pm (11am-3pm on Christmas Eve). Closed on Christmas Day.
Enjoy San Francisco’s world-famous street performers – magicians, jugglers, mime artists and comedians. Daily outdoor shows are free to the public. Additional shows are scheduled in the evening during the Summer season.
SF Fleet Week
SF Fleet Week celebrations take place annually in October. Pier 39 is one of the best viewing areas to see the U.S. Navy Blue Angels over San Francisco Bay during this fun event.