Boasting impressive views towards the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, Pier 39 is the heart of tourist action in San Francisco, located on the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s famed for its resident California sea lions who bark and belch on the docks and is also home to plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops and live music entertainment.
In addition to the sea lions which can be viewed outside of the cold winter months, Pier 39 is also home to the Aquarium of the Bay, famed for its stunning walk through tanks and 3D movie theatre showcasing marine-themed films. The 7D Experience is another of its most beloved attractions, combining theatrics and video gaming in a simulated Dark Ride", while a more laid-back attraction is the two-story vintage carousel with hand-painted San Francisco landmarks that stands towards the end of the pier. Ferries to Angel Island, crisscrossed with nature trails, depart from Pier 41 just to the west, while cruises out to the notorious island prison of Alcatraz depart from Pier 33, just a short walk to the east.
Pier 39 is easily accessed from the Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 bus stop or the historic F-Market streetcars which travel along the Embarcadero. Ferries from Alameda/Oakland and Vallejo dock at nearby Pier 41, located just a short walk to the west.
While Seal Rock at Ocean Beach was the preferred residence of San Francisco’s sea lions in the past, the refurbishment of the docks at Pier 39 required the removal of all boats, which was the sea lions’ cue to move in. When boat owners returned, they were left to navigate around these new squatters, and as tourists started to arrive to catch a glimpse, the Marine Mammal Center advised that the docks should be left to the animals and boats relocate elsewhere.