Everywhere along the Embarcadero (odd numbered piers north of the Ferry Building along the waterfront) from the Financial District and Market Street clear over to Van Ness Avenue and Ghirardelli Square is becoming touristy with Pier 39 being ground zero.
Unique Suggestions: If you are a first visitor, defintely check out the area as there are still a few redeeming qualities such as Pier 45 with its older wooden constructed ships, the U.S.S. Pampanito (World War II Balao Class Submarine) and the Sea Lions that can be seen from Pier 39 are always fun to watch for a while...
Pier 39 is bogus. In my opinion anyway. I went when it was (surprise) raining. Everything was damp, an old dirty lady was smoking really awful cigarettes right next to me (i dont mind smoke but these were awful!) AVOID the bathrooms at the very least.
Just next to Pier 41, is Pier 39. A definite tourist trap that is vibrant and colourful, and filled with all sorts of small shops and places to eat.
We had our dinner at one of the restuarants there, overlooking the Sea Lions hangout place. It offered us a good view of the place, and it was perfect to watch the sunset. The food was not too bad too.
I wouldn't exactly say that Pier 39 is a tourist trap. However, other areas of Fisherman's Wharf seem to have more of a marine atmosphere and the Cannery looks a bit like the old factory. Pier 39 is simply an area of restaurants and t-shirt shops.
Pier 39 along fisherman's Wharf is a mish-mash of restaurants, entertainment and souvenir shops. Everything here is expensive, especially food, and the price doesn't necessarily reflect quality. On the upside, there are usually some very good street entertainers around here that are well worth watching.
I really enjoyed this area! Walk into Pier 39, where there are 100's of stores where you can buy gifts/souvenirs. Yes, you will spend WAY more then planned, but you can't leave this beautiful city without a T-Shirt, keychain, postcards, that show you have been to the city by the bay! Also there, Marine World, Game rooms..and much much more fun! Beautiful views of Alacatraz, the bay. The sea lions napping. Absolutely love this part of San Francisco :)
Pier 39. It's full of over priced shopping and it's next to a pier. sure, it's cool to see the seals, near pier 39, but only tourists actually but stuff there. unless you like hollywood novelty- the hollywood store has a lot of that- but you could find better cheaper stuff online. There's a merry go round in the center bur the one in children's playground in golden gale park is much better. If you'll be in San francisco for a while it might be worth it just to see what it is, but if you have limited time, don't waste it.
One of the places I didn't like was Underwater World, the aquarium from Pier 39. The Monterey Bay Aquarium (down San Francisco) is much better nice and big. Even though there's a tunnel under the water, the Aquarium of Underwater World is not very interesting. Anyway, for those interested in the sea world and animals go and visit it, although it's better to see the sea lions outdoors at Pier 39, and it's free!
Pier 39 is the most East Pier of Fisherman's Wharf.
Everything is made in wood and colored. There are acrobats to attract the tourists.
But everything here is expensive and has a poor quality.
Possibly one reason to visit is to see the sea lions, but to be honest they don't do a lot and they smell.