Pier 39, San Francisco
Pier 39 has a number of quality but really EXPENSIVE stores targeted at San Francisco tourists as the number one tourist destination in the City is not the Golden Gate Bridge but The Fisherman's Wharf of which Pier 39 is a major part of. A variety of gifts, gourmet foods, and handmade items can be purchased at the Pier 39 mall. It is a festival marketplace featuring 110 specialty shops and 13 full-service Bay view restaurants serving fresh seafood, California cuisine, and casual fare but again at tourist prices!
Hours: Open daily, shop hours vary
Cost: No admission fee
Address: The Embarcadero at Beach Street, SF, CA, 94133
Directions: "F" trolley from Market Street, or on the Powell-Mason cable car,
Unique Suggestions: It is a great place to pick up high-end but expensive San Francisco souvenirs
Fun Alternatives: you can enjoy sights and window shop at pier 39 and if you are a cheapskate, then don't buy.
Again one of my favorite areas of the city. PIER 39 is San Francisco's Premier Bay Attraction. The 45-acre open air complex has two levels of shopping, dining, and entertainment. PIER 39 houses more than 110 shops, 14 full-service restaurants, entertainment and numerous attractions. Best of all, PIER 39's location provides the picture perfect backdrop for postcard views of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Alcatraz, Angel Island on San Francisco Bay and the City skyline. but again, a word of caution, the pier 39 area of the embarcadero is one whole tourist trap hehehe since the prices of the assorted good, foods and souvenir items here are on the high side so that if you are a budget conscious person, don't buy items here since strolling around is free and just buy the souvenir items you want at the union square area if you are going to downtown.
Unique Suggestions: don't buy items here as their are higher priced than in other areas of the city
Fun Alternatives: no alternative since it is one of the major tourist attractions in the city but again, if you are a cheapskate, don't buy souvenit stuff here.
address: The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States
number: (415) 705-5500
Pier 39 is pier from the Port of San Francisco, rebuilt specifically to cater to tourists. There is nothing authentic--no commercial fishing or shipping fleet here at all. Between Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, and Pier 39 tourists can purchase all the souvenir kitsch one could think of, with Pier 39 selling the most corporate brand named sponsored junk that's made in China. The better ferry boat services leave from near the Ferry building, NOT Pier 39. Steinhardt Aquarium in San Francisco doesn't suck in real Bay water, but it is newer and the tanks slightly less crowded.
Unique Suggestions: Visit the Aquarium of the Bay or take a Blue and Gold Fleet Charter Ferry into the Bay, but both will be very crowded.
Fun Alternatives: After you've had your fill of this rarified tourist air, head for the neighborhoods for a real SF experience. The Ferry building is the better departure point for ferries, and Golden Gate Park the better museum experience...
This is one of those tourist magnets that locals avoid like the plague. What promises to be a shopping/dining/entertainment mecca in truth offers very little of value except a nice vantage point for watching the sea lions and a good National Park Store - which doesn't even show up on their list of retailers. Some local tours can be booked here/nearby as well. Otherwise, it's pretty much a giant yawn of so-so restaurants, overpriced bric-a-brac and ever-present street musicians (although some of them aren't bad).
I came here only for the NPS store - bought the requisite Christmas ornament for our "Travel Tree" there.
If you're doing the Wharf Shuffle or might enjoy watching sea lions lay about, give it a pass through but otherwise give it a pass.
Unique Suggestions: Show your support for the NPS with purchase at The National Park Store or take the kids to see the lions from one of the decks.
Fun Alternatives: Do the Saturday Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building - lots of fun, handcrafted items there, and this is where you'll find the locals.
If it's even possible Pier 39 is more of a tourist trap than Fisherman's Wharf, we spent all of about 15 minutes here as I wanted to see the resident sea lions that have made their home on a series of docks off Pier 39 after which we ran through the Pier to get out as quickly as we could.
Pier 39 is filled with tourist oriented shops and restaurants, if that's your thing then you will love it here. I probably would have enjoyed it when I was in high school or maybe even college but as an adult, I find it overcrowded and filled with uninteresting things.
Unique Suggestions: Come here to see the sea lions if that interests you and leave
Fun Alternatives: San Francisco is filled with great restaurants, do a little research and find something that's not part of a national chain or serving overpriced, subpar food
One of the most commonly taken photos in San Francisco, is oddly enough these Pier 39 squatters. The sealions are noisy, lazy and are occupying some mighty pricey real estate. But in the end, they bring so many visitors to Pier 39 (which can arguably called a tourist trap as well) that they are now welcome.
Beware, they are not in residence year 'round. In the winter months they swim off to warmer climes. Then you may see only one or two of the lazy beasts have stuck around. There is even a webcam for those who wish to see them after they've gone home!
Pier 39 is, depending on your point of view, tourist heaven or tourist hell. Locals avoid this tourist holding pen like the plague, and for good reason.
What can you expect to see? Tourists - of all shapes and sizes - loud colors and even louder voices - Abercrombie & Fitch and Tommy Hilfiger as far as the eye can see. You can grab a $12 plate of shrimp or a $5 scoop of ice cream, sit on a bench and pretend you're back at your hometown mall. Many of the same stores will be there.
The cool ocean breeze and vague, nautical theme are the only things that suggest you're in San Francisco. You could very easily be in Monterey, or San Diego, or Penn's Landing, or anywhere. Pier 39 is San Francisco -thoroughly cleansed of San Francisco-ness. If Disneyland had a place called "Friscoland," it would look exactly like Pier 39. Call it "Branson by the Bay!"
The only locals you will see here are those dragged here (kicking and screaming) by out of town guests. The expensive restaurants are just OK, and the cheaper places are just lousy. The stores range from interesting but overpriced (Magnet shop) to just plain stupid.
If shopping at tacky malls for overpriced, ugly souveniers surrounded by loud, pushy tourists is you're idea of fun... then by all means go. But this isn't San Francisco by any means. It's a mall - plain & simple - designed for people who want to be in San Francisco but, at the same time, want everything to be exactly like it is at home.
Unique Suggestions: If you take the Alcatraz tour, you may be tempted to stroll over to Pier 39. Sucker! At least go and see the sea lions - you can walk along the western outer walk, see the sea lions, and not step foot in Pier 39! The sea lions are most plentiful outside of summer; during the summer the docks may be deserted.
Oh yeah... if you want to take the Alcatraz tour - MAKE RESERVATIONS! And if you have reservations, allow LOTS of time to get to the dock. If you can't get on the Alcatraz tour, take the Bay Cruise or Angel Island boat - anything to get on the water - and away from Pier 39! Even Fisherman's Wharf - tacky tourist trap that it is - has at least SOMETHING to do with San Francisco. Pier 39 is every single bit as lame as you've heard. And, if you go, you'll find that, if anything, these criticisms aren't harsh enough!
PIER 39. Basically its busy, expensive, with loads of tourist shops and theme rides. Too much like Disneyland for me. There are better things to do if you want to see the real San Francisco.
Fun Alternatives: Anything but this.
Transportation to Fisherman's Wharf can be an attraction of itself, the F Market runs through the area, the Powell-Hyde Cable Car lines runs to Aquatic Park, at the end of Fisherman's Wharf and the Powell-Mason Cable Car carline runs few blocks away. We did it hiking and when we were walking to Pier 39 (the second most visited attraction in California) we were stopped by the "smiling police". We were asked to smile a bit more and as a reward we received a "I love San Francisco" and "I luv your smile" sticker.
Pier 39 (just 2 blocks away from Fisherman's Wharf) is located at Beach Street and this renovated cargo pier is home to the Blue & Gold Fleet. The pier has two levels of restaurants and specialty shops. It's a great place to watch the sail boats, cruise ships and cargo ships pass by on the San Francisco Bay. The innumerably amount of seelions on K-Dock are definately worth a visit. Pier 39 is also about as close as you can get to Alcatraz Island without getting on a boat.
Beach Street and the Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94109.
It is loosely defined as the area Ghirardelli Square (near Pier 41) and Pier 35.
Unique Suggestions: See the sea lions.
Fun Alternatives: Sorry...maybe it's also a must-see?
This place is so much of a tourist trap, I almost vomitted. You don't even need to enter it to realize that everyone here is from somewhere other than San Francisco. Don't waste your time with the cheesy souvenir stores or chain restaurants.
Unique Suggestions: On a clear day you could get a nice view of Alcatraz from here.
Whose idea was this?? Just like Fisherman's wharf...a complete waste of time. If you couldn't tell by looking at the place, I don't know what it'd take for you to figure it out.
Unique Suggestions: Run through...and check out the sea lions.
Fun Alternatives: Take a hike around the Presidio or around Golden Gate Parks' many sights to be seen. If you are going to invest your time, you might as well see something nice and unique to the area.
Pier 39 is an overblown Mall. Everyone kept telling me you have to go to Pier 39, its basically a bunch of overpriced shops and restaurants on a pier.
Fun Alternatives: Spend more time around Chinatown, Haight Ashbury. These areas will give you a feel of what real San Francisco is like.
I guess there's no real harm in going by Fisherman's Wharf while you're in San Francisco, in fact it's probably pretty hard to avoid it. But I just felt I ought to warn people that this place is tourist central, and all locals I spoke to said they avoided the area as much as possible. The streets around here are lined with street performers of all kinds and shops and restaurants are over-priced and characterless. The whole area just has this tacky, touristy feel about it. I guess, the main point I'm trying to get across here, is that there's so much more to San Francisco than Fisherman's Wharf, so just try to avoid spending too much time here.
Unique Suggestions: One piece of advice concerning Fisherman's Wharf that I actually read in my Rough Guide was to come early in the morning, before the crowds of other tourists arrive, so that you can enjoy unobstructed views over the Bay. Other than this, I would suggest including a visit here in some other activity - for example clycling the Golden Gate Bridge or a trip to Alcatraz. That way it's more like a distraction whilst doing something really worthwhile, and you're less likely to feel like you've wasted a morning or afternoon by coming here.
PIer 39 has nothing to offer, in my opinion. Historical San Francisco has so many wonderful, clutural neighborhoods that one would be wasting their time haning out at PIer 39, which is often crowded with tourists and has cheesy shops.
Fun Alternatives: I would opt to check out Fisherman's Wharf or Ghiradelli Square.
I guess no matter how many people tell you it's a tourist trap, you just have to go down there and see it for yourself. Yup. It is a huge tourist trap with over-priced food and stores, obnoxious crowds and street people begging.
Unique Suggestions: Seeing the seals was fun.... for about three minutes; but is that really worth the trolley ride and the walk through the gauntlet of people to get to see them?