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Experience the Fun in San Francisco at Pier 39!
Sea lions regularly camp out in the western part of Pier 39. They started coming in droves during the beginning of the year 1990, just after the Loma Prieta earthquake occurred in 1989. At first, only a few visited, but their numbers eventually grew due to the protected environment and the abundant food supply that they found in the marina. Tourists can see the sea lions in the Western Marina, but if you want to learn more about these playful creatures, you can visit the Sea Lion Center.
One of Pier 39's most popular attractions, the San Francisco Carousel, was intricately handcrafted with details of the famous landmarks in the city such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Alcatraz, Lombard Street, and the sea lions. It features more than 30 animal designs for riding and it is made up of 1,800 LED lights. It is the only known carousel in San Francisco that is designed with attractions of the city! You can find this carousel at the Bay End.
About 20,000 sea creatures from San Francisco Bay are waiting for you at Aquarium of the Bay. It has three main exhibit areas— each displaying the mesmerizing wonders that can be found beneath the surface of the bay. Some of the underwater creatures that you will find here are the moon jellies, the Sevengill shark, and the bat ray. Visitors can walk through glass tunnels to see the sea creatures swimming overhead. The aquarium holds daily animal interactions and feedings as well as occasional sustainable seafood discussions.
Pier 39 is also home to one of the famous 'Hearts in San Francisco” – a collection done by the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation last 2014 in support of programs and initiatives of the general hospital and trauma center. The heart sculpture in Pier 39 is called the 'Open Heart.” It was hand painted by artist and San Francisco native Patrick Dintino, whose mother successfully undergone an open heart surgery. This heart sculpture can be found at the first level of the Bay End.
Riding the 28-foot Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) is a great way to explore the San Francisco Bay. Before you can step aboard, you must first be wearing the proper gear that will keep you dry and warm in case you get splashed. The Bay Voyager will bring you to the different sites around the bay in a unique and fun way. You get to see the boats and cargo ships in the Port of Oakland before they venture out into the Yerba Buena Island. The Voyager will also take you under the Bay Bridge and along the waterfront World War II watercrafts.
After all the walking, riding, and sightseeing, it is time to fill your hungry bellies. A good spot to dine is the Players Sports Grill and Arcade, which can be found at the Bay End. It is a 12,000-square foot place for drinking, dining, playing games, and enjoying the views of the bay. This is a great dining place for sports enthusiasts as it has over 200 live sports feeds from around the world. Once you have finished eating and drinking, try out any of their 85 arcade games such as NBA Hoops, Air Hockey, Elvis Pinball, and Skeeball.
How to Get Tickets?
Pier 39 is open to the public. It is not a private, gated attraction so you do not need to get tickets or purchase admission fees to visit the place.
How To Get Around?
The best way to get around Pier 39 is on foot. It is generally an accessible facility and it is complete with ramps and elevators for disabled visitors. They even have wheelchairs for rent in their Welcome Center.
What Should I Wear?
Wear comfortable clothing. Since the place has several different visitors, both local and foreign, you will see some wearing stylish clothing and others in a comfortable travel attire. There are no dress codes in any of the restaurants. One important thing to note is that the weather can change quickly in San Francisco, so it is best if you bring a jacket with you in case it suddenly gets cold. For footwear, it is highly suggested to wear flat shoes since the pier is made of wooden slats that can cause heels to get stuck and the surface can be slippery when it rains.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit is in January because that is when the sea lions begin to wander around the pier. However, it can get pretty crowded during this month. If you want to avoid the crowd, you can visit the place during the later parts of the year.
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Will I Need a Guide?
A guide is not necessary to enjoy the experience. You can join guided tours, but it is best if you explore the area on your own. That way, you can explore the attractions freely and stop to see street performances as long as you wish.
How To Get There?
Pier 39 is located at the farther end of Fisherman's Wharf. You can take the antique F-line streetcar. This line passes through Market Street and all the way to Embarcadero and to Fisherman's Wharf. Another option is to ride the 39, 47, 8X, or 8BX bus. You can also ride the San Francisco cable cars that leave from Market or Powell since they drop off a few blocks away from Pier 39