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Pier 39 and the Sea Lions

Pier 39 and the Sea Lions

Pier 39 Famous for its sunbathing sea lions, shopping and nearby is the Ferry Arch framing the bay

PIER 39 in San Francisco, with its jubilant atmosphere, bustling shops, and iconic sea lions, embodies the essence of the city’s waterfront allure. This comprehensive blog post delves into the rich history, vibrant present, and must-visit aspects of PIER 39, providing insights into why this landmark is a cornerstone of San Francisco tourism.

Prayitno, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons



Construction of PIER 39 began in 1977, and it opened its doors to the public a year later, in 1978. By 1988, it was recognized as the third-most visited attraction in the United States. Its ability to draw visitors, both domestic and international, has not waned, making it a perennial favorite on the San Francisco sightseeing circuit.


Situated at the edge of the San Francisco Bay, near the intersection of Stockton and Embarcadero, PIER 39 offers a two-level extravaganza of shopping, dining, and entertainment. It’s a family-friendly venue with over 110 specialty shops and a plethora of dining options that cater to every taste and preference. The Pier’s unique location also provides stunning views of the Bay, making it a perfect spot for leisurely strolls and photo ops.

Not to be Missed

Sea Lions at Pier 39
Sea Lions at Pier 39
  • Sea Lions: The wooden docks at the end of OIER 39 are famously taken over by dozens of sea lions. Since 1990, these marine mammals have delighted visitors with their playful antics and barking conversations.
  • Vintage Carousel: A marvel of craftsmanship, the two-tiered carousel features a variety of animals and scenes from San Francisco, offering a whimsical ride for children and adults alike.
  • Aquarium of the Bay: Get up close and personal with over 20,000 local sea creatures, including interactive exhibits that allow for hands-on experiences with marine life.
  • Live Entertainment: The Pier’s stage hosts a variety of street performers and magicians, providing interactive and engaging entertainment for the whole family.
  • Dining and Shopping: From iconic eateries like the Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump to unique shops selling everything from high-end jewelry to novelty gifts, Pier 39 has something for everyone.

Location, Address, Website, and Hours

  • Location: Northern tip of The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA
  • Address: Pier 39, San Francisco, CA 94133
  • Website: Pier 39 Official Site
  • Hours: Open daily, with shop and restaurant hours varying. Check the official website for specific details.
Tobias Kleinlercher / Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Tobias Kleinlercher / Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Why You Should Visit

Pier 39 is not just a destination; it’s an experience that encapsulates the vibrant spirit of San Francisco. Whether you’re here to watch the sea lions, enjoy a meal with a view of the Bay, or find the perfect San Francisco souvenir, Pier 39 offers a memorable slice of city life. Its enduring popularity underscores its appeal as a place where entertainment, shopping, and dining converge against a backdrop of scenic beauty.

Fun Facts

  • Did you know? The sea lions started arriving at Pier 39 after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and have since become one of the Pier’s main attractions.
  • Did you know? The carousel at Pier 39 was handcrafted in Italy, making it a piece of international artistry right in the heart of San Francisco.
  • Did you know? Pier 39 offers one of the best vantage points for views of Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pier 39 continues to enchant visitors with its dynamic mix of scenic views, unique shopping experiences, delicious dining options, and, of course, the famous sea lions. A visit to Pier 39 is more than just a day out in San Francisco; it’s an opportunity to immerse oneself in the city’s maritime culture, enjoy family-friendly entertainment, and create lasting memories against the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay.


Nearby Points of Interest

Cable Cars: open to the public since 1873, this fascinating mode of transportation conveys visitors from Market Street to Beach Street, where Fisherman’s Wharf is less than a ten-minute walk away. Be sure to watch operators move the cable car on a turntable to point it in the right direction for the return trip to Market Street!
 this island prison is now a famous tourist attraction, but in its heyday, it housed the era’s most infamous prisoners. Inmates could hear laughter carried across the water from the city, and many attempted the one-mile swim to land. Visit today for a tour!
don’t miss the panorama from the 210-foot high tower, which offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, the Bay Bridge, and the San Francisco skyline.
:  Little Italy offers a variety of bars, comedy clubs, and authentic Italian restaurants. Try some focaccia bread, or take a walk in the relaxing green space of Washington Square.
Mural-filled alley with perfect backdrops for Instagram and Tik Tok. Free and Family friendly. Located at 757 Beach Street near Hyde St.

PIER 39 can be featured on these tour routes:

City Tour
Lucky Tuk Tuk Sightseeing Tours at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Lucky Tuk Tuk City Tour

Explore beautiful San Francisco in your own private, electric Tuk Tuk! Perfect for families and groups. A personal guide for your party commandeers this modern-day rickshaw at a pace that’s right for you!
Evening Tour
Night View of Bay Bridge and Coit Tower from San Francisco

Night Private Charter San Francisco Lights Tour

Explore San Francisco at night in a cozy, electric Tuk Tuk! Get up close to the glittering lights and go where buses don’t dare in this modern-day rickshaw. Live commentary included!

Jump Aboard these Other Fun Tours and Rentals to Explore San Francisco

Buckle in and explore the city with an entertaining driving tour of or a trip over the Golden Gate Bridge to walk among the .
San Francisco Jeep Tours will drive you and up to 6 guests in a convertible Jeep. You’ll see all the iconic sites and attractions on exclusive routes with a fun and experienced tour guide.

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