Pier 39, San Francisco

4 out of 5 stars 4 Stars - 118 Reviews

The Embarcadero at Beach Street (415) 705-5500

Been here? Rate It!

hide
  • fat sea lions
    fat sea lions
    by machomikemd
  • The cityscape of San Francisco seen from Pier 39
    The cityscape of San Francisco seen from...
    by azz8206
  • The Coit Tower and Transamerica Building
    The Coit Tower and Transamerica Building
    by azz8206
  • solopes's Profile Photo

    The Lottery

    by solopes Updated Sep 26, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    San Francisco - USA
    1 more image

    Thousands of people in Portugal discuss the best way to promote tourism in our country. Well, sometimes it just a question of luck, as in San Francisco. The sea lions decided to invade pier 39, and locals only needed to accept them to have another unused attraction.

    So, while the discussion continues, the lottery (or a candle in Fatima for the religious people) may help, but for the moment, only one message: If a lot of animals invade any Portuguese space, before acting, think at San Francisco's example: Extermination is not always the answer.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism

    Was this review helpful?

  • nyceagle1633's Profile Photo

    Sea Lions

    by nyceagle1633 Written Nov 7, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pier 39 (at least to me) is cheesy, BUT, the one thing I absolutely loved and laughed my arse off was the sea lions. I could sit there and watch them for at least an hour, arfing at each other, basking in the sun, they are hilarious.

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Eco-Tourism

    Was this review helpful?

  • bakingguitar's Profile Photo

    Welcome to the Tourist Trap

    by bakingguitar Written Mar 28, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pier 39 is what i like to call: a waste of money. Pier 39 is full of expensive fun/food. Places here are expensive. There's really nothing great say about Pier 39. It's really busy all the time, things are EXPENSIVE, WAY to many People. If you like arcades, i would recommend on going to the Metreon instead. More games, better games, better token exchange rate.

    Was this review helpful?

  • cjg1's Profile Photo

    The Big Tourist Trap

    by cjg1 Updated Jan 28, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    4 more images

    Ah...Pier 39...the place created for the tourists. Shopping, dining, fun for the kids and all jammed together on Pier 39. If you are looking for crowds, this is the place to be. With places like the Hard Rock Cafe...of course the masses will come to visit. Throw in some sealions and ice cream and it's a family fun fest.

    Pier 39, is a place to go when you have never seen it before or just happen to be walking by in the area. I have found it a bit to congested for my liking and the food and shops overpriced for what they are selling.

    Was this review helpful?

  • cjg1's Profile Photo

    Check out what's left of the Sea Lions

    by cjg1 Updated Jan 27, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Liz and the
    4 more images

    The Sea Lions of Pier 39 are a big tourist draw. Once the sea lions numbered in the hundreds but recently their numbers have dwindled down significantly and no one knows why.

    During our last trip to SF, we walked around Pier 39 and checked out the animals. There were a handful clustered together as well as a loner sitting by himself.

    Was this review helpful?

  • azz8206's Profile Photo

    Great For Picture Taking

    by azz8206 Updated Jan 10, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sea lions lazing around on a sunny afternoon
    4 more images

    Pier 39 is a great place to load up your camera with some very nice pictures. You get some great views over the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Coit Tower and the San Francisco skyline, not to mention the sea lions.
    You can buy a sourdough bowl of delicious clam chowder or enjoy an ice cream while sitting on the pier and listening to the sea lions bark.
    Take the Powell-Mason cable car to the end of the line at Taylor St. then walk three blocks down and to your right. It's about a ten minute walk to the pier.

    Related to:
    • Gay and Lesbian
    • Photography
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • tim07's Profile Photo

    Pier 39

    by tim07 Updated Feb 28, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Refurbished in 1978 to resemble a wooden fishing village, this 1905 pier has over 100 shops & restaurants spread over two levels.

    As well as its most famous attraction, the sea lions, it also has an aquarium & amusement arcades. Another highlight is the San Francisco Carousel, this hand painted carousel has 32 animals to ride.

    Was this review helpful?

  • SabrinaSummerville's Profile Photo

    Amazing Sight

    by SabrinaSummerville Written Dec 20, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    4 more images

    I had expected Pier 39 to be a pretty special place, but nothing could have prepared me for this total mish-mash of shops, restaurants, amusements, and wildlife.

    The huge Christmas Tree and topiary reindeer at the entrance was just a suggestion of things to come. As I walked along the pier the attractively painted shops became more unusual, the restaurants (just starting to open for the day) beckoned with the wafting scents of garlic and seafood, and people jostled in the icy cold December morning to feast their eyes on this delightful spectacle.

    I found myself facing the famous two tiered carousel. It wasn't as impressive as I'd expected, smaller perhaps, but there it was.

    It's hard to miss Pier 39 as gigantic flags announce that you've arrived. Next door you will find the pier where you buy tickets for day trips to Alcatraz and boat trips around the bay and under the Golden Gate bridge.

    We had only a very short time here. We intended to come back but never made it this trip. It is something I will continue to regret until I get here again.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Birdwatching
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • amandajayne81's Profile Photo

    Super Sea Lions

    by amandajayne81 Written Oct 25, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I loved these guys

    I had heard that there were sea lions that liked to hang around Pier 39 and I was expecting to spot a few here and there. Initially I did but then I kept walking and spotted LOTS more. They are noisy and smelly but definitely worth watching for a while, There is a shopping, games, Aquarium complex right next to the se lions, My favourite shop was 'Lefties of San Francisco.' My favourite magnet from there was 'Everyone is born right handed only the greatest overcome it!'

    Pier 39 is the place that most of the day tours leave from. Free to look around and definitely worth the time.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    The sea lions of Pier 39

    by Jefie Written Oct 3, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sea lions at Pier 39
    3 more images

    The several shops, restaurants and family attractions found at Pier 39 make it a very popular spot for visitors. However, what I enjoyed the most about Pier 39 was to watch the colony of sea lions that has taken over a huge part of the docks! The first sea lions appeared at the pier in 1989 - back then, only a dozen or so sea lions hung around Pier 39. Two years later, the population had swelled to over 500 individuals, and the last official count indicates that over 1000 sea lions now live at Pier 39! Of course, the smell is... interesting, but it's worth breathing through your mouth for a few minutes to watch the sea lions interact with each other :o)

    Was this review helpful?

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Pier 39

    by richiecdisc Updated Sep 16, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    the big bulls
    1 more image

    Heralded as the city’s number one attraction, Pier 39 is an amalgam of tourist attractions ranging from a top flight Aquarium, assorted shops and restaurants, and the ferry terminal to outlying areas like Marin County and Alcatraz. But mostly what it’s famous for is its loud pod of sea lions that call the floating docks off the pier home. Tourists clamor for the best shots and though touristy, it’s hard not to get sucked right in.

    Though it is a tourist trap, we could not resist to have a peek on our 2008 return trip. I had a better zoom so figured on getting better shots of the sea lions besides, the walk to the Wharf area from downtown is a beautiful one.

    Related to:
    • Zoo
    • Aquarium
    • Theme Park Trips

    Was this review helpful?

  • sarahfh's Profile Photo

    Follow Salty...

    by sarahfh Written Jul 9, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Quoted as Americas second biggest attraction after Disneyland, Pier 39 does tacky tourist haunt well. With Seaworld on the right, you head up the pier with souviener shop, followed by restaurant, followed by 3-D cinema playing Spongebob Squarepants – you get the picture.

    Awaiting you at the end of the pier are the most famous residents of San Francisco – a whole lot a seals. Barking, fighting and smelling rather rotten, they bask in the sun on large wooden areas. Worth a look, follow the Salty sea lion signs to find them if you get lost!

    Was this review helpful?

  • razorbacker's Profile Photo

    Sea Lion Show.

    by razorbacker Written Mar 27, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    4 more images

    Loads of fun! If we had time we could've sat and watched their antics for hours, climbing across each other, fighting, and just lolling about. Everyone there found it most enjoyable, and you will, too.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • sue_stone's Profile Photo

    Pier 39 and Sea Lions

    by sue_stone Written Feb 8, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sea Lions
    4 more images

    One of the popular attractions in the Fisherman's Wharf area is Pier 39. The pier is home to numerous shops, restaurants, street entertainers and amusements, and as you may expect some of it is a little tacky.

    A couple of shops that did catch my eye were a magnet shop - sounds boring, but it was filled with more magnets than you have ever seen in one place in your life! There was also the delicious looking and smelling Fudge House.

    The main attraction of Pier 39 for me was that it is home to a group of Sea Lions. This noisy, slippery group can be seen just off the wharf, lazing about, soaking up the sun and 'passing wind' which creates a stinky fug that wafts across the viewing public.

    The sea lions began hanging out at the pier back in 1989, and these days almost 600 of them converge on the area in winter, less in summer. I really enjoyed watching them and would rate a visit to these amusing creatures as a must-see.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Aquarium
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • trvlrtom's Profile Photo

    If you really have to....

    by trvlrtom Written Dec 30, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pier 39

    Many of the millions of visitors to SF come to Pier 39. Why? Well, because everyone knows about it and probably thinks they should go there. Make no mistake, this is a tourist trap that wants to take your money. On a recent visit to the City we had teenagers with us and felt it our duty to let them see it. They had fun looking around, seeing the sea lions and shopping for T-shirts and some souvenirs.
    My wife and I let them loose and took refuge in the "Wines of California" wine bar, where we enjoyed a pleasant glass of regional wine at a quiet table overlooking the sailboats and out to the Bay Bridge. Not a bad use of time, and I'd recommend it.
    Then we went upstairs to the National Park Store, where we didn't feel at all bad about buying a few items for gifts, with the money going to the park system rather than a corporation. They had a good selection of books, posters, etc.
    Then, while the girls made another trip into a tourist shop, I wandered around the California Welcome Center, which I thought did a pretty good job of offering up maps and brochures about places all over California. This is a worthwhile stop to get information without any sales pressure.
    A respite along the tourist trail.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: San Francisco

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

99 travelers online now

Comments

Hotels Near Pier 39
3.5 out of 5 stars
1319 Opinions
0.2 miles away
Show Prices
3.5 out of 5 stars
1788 Opinions
0.3 miles away
Show Prices
4.5 out of 5 stars
1912 Opinions
0.3 miles away
Show Prices

View all San Francisco hotels