When visiting San Francisco, you have to experience Pier 39. The historic pier opened in 1978 and continues to entertain visitors with a wide variety of attractions, restaurants, stores, and more. With so much to see and do at Pier 39, one might not know where to begin. To make the most of your San Francisco vacation, check out which Pier 39 attractions are truly worth your time.
Sea Lions at Pier 39
Ever since I was a child, I have loved sea lions. I’m that person at the aquarium who rambles off different facts and anecdotes about the animals. It’s no wonder that out of all the Pier 39 attractions, watching the sea lions on the K-dock is by far my favorite.
In 1990, sea lions flocked to Pier 39 in droves. This was shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, causing the sea lions to migrate, and they haven’t left! What started out as a handful of sea lions quickly turned into a giant colony, with totals nearing 900 during the winter months. During the summer months, the sea lions migrate south for their breeding season. As a result, the best time to catch a glimpse of these amazing animals is during the spring, fall, or winter.
To learn all about the California Sea Lions, visit the recently opened Sea Lion Center from Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39.
Remember the iconic FAO Schwarz floor piano scene from the movie “Big” starring Tom Hanks? If you’ve ever wanted to recreate it, you don’t have to travel to the Big Apple. San Francisco has its own version at Pier 39.
Visitors can climb the musical stairs and create their own tune using the steps as notes. The musical stairs are part of an interactive art exhibit by Remo Saraceni, Fun fact, the artist who created the floor piano for the movie, “Big”.
Dazzle Pier 39 guests by taking a climb, hop, skip or stroll up the musical stairs located at Building O on the pier. As one of the top Pier 39 attractions, you do not want miss out on this musical staircase.
Aquarium of the Bay
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to learning about marine animals. (Remember my fascination with sea lions?) For me, going to an aquarium is the equivalent of a child visiting Disney World. Luckily, for aquarium lovers such as myself, Aquarium of the Bay is located right on Pier 39!
Located right on the water, the aquarium is home to more than 20,000 fantastic sea species. Guests of all ages will love learning about the animals that call the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean home. From touch exhibits to a scuba diver’s view of the ocean, it’s easy to see why the Aquarium of the Bay made our list of the best Pier 39 attractions.
The excitement of the Pier 39 extends into the sea when you embark on one of the many harbor and bay cruises available from Blue & Gold Fleet. Whether you book the Escape from the Rock Cruise or the San Francisco Bay Cruise Adventure, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable experience.
If you dare, book your tickets for the Escape from the Rock Cruise. On this cruise, guests listen to the chilling tales of legendary prisoners at the infamous jail while circling the island. For a lighter, less crime-filled experience, reserve your spot on the San Francisco Bay Cruise Adventure. This cruise brings passenger up close and underneath the Golden Gate Bridge for unparalleled photo opportunities and lifelong memories.
The San Francisco Carousel
Tap into your inner child and ride the San Francisco Carousel at Pier 39. The carousel is the only one in the city with hand-painted depictions of San Francisco landmarks including Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and more. This legendary carousel was handcrafted in Italy and is consistently listed as one of the greatest Pier 39 attractions to experience.
No matter if you’re visiting Pier 39 with your children or with friends, a ride on the San Francisco Carousel is a wonderful experience for all ages.
Other Pier 39 Attractions to Enjoy
Although they may not have made our list of top Pier 39 attractions, you can also check out the following spots and entertainment at the pier:
- Gourmet Restaurants and Dining Options
- Plenty of Stores and Boutiques
- 7D Experience
- Street Performers and Musicians
- And More
Book Your San Francisco Vacation
No San Francisco vacation is complete without a trip to Pier 39. Then again, a San Francisco vacation isn’t complete without a hotel or tour reservations either. Remember to book your vacation with Reserve San Francisco to save time and money.