Top 20 San Francisco attractions

Pier 39

Pier 39

Pier 39 is located on San Francisco’s northern waterfront, at the Fisherman’s Wharf. 

This bustling pier has restaurants, a sea lion colony, aquarium, mirror maze, and many more attractions!

10 best things to do at Pier 39

Check out the incredible 7D Flyer Theater experience where you can soar like an eagle over San Francisco landmarks.  

Jump above the crowds at Pier 39 on the bungee trampoline, take in a free show at Center Stage, or ride the historic carousel.   

Don't forget to walk up the musical Piano Steps, and sound out each note with a step.

1. Eat at a waterfront restaurant

Enjoy glorious views at one of Pier 39’s waterfront restaurants.  Try the upscale Chart House or Fog Harbor Fish House.  Some more casual options are the Crab House or Pier Market.  If you have kids, the fun atmosphere at Bubba Gump is perfect.

Pier 39 San FranciscoPier 39 San FranciscoBEST things to do Pier 39BEST things to do Pier 39

2. Visit the Sea Lion docks

Visit the Sea Lion Docks on the west side of Pier 39.  Take a seat, and observe a colony of playful sea lions barking and jostling for limited space on the k-docks.

This sea lion colony mysteriously arrived after the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, relocating from Seal Rock at Land’s End, just 8-miles west.  There’s also a small Sea Lion Center nearby with interactive displays.

San Francisco Pier 39San Francisco Pier 39

Pier 39 sea lionsPier 39 sea lions

Tourists at Pier 39 watching sea lionsTourists at Pier 39 watching sea lions

3. Explore touchpools at the Aquarium of the Bay

The Aquarium of the Bay is at the entrance of Pier 39. 

Explore touch-pools full of sea stars, rays and housing sharks, walk through a 300-foot acrylic tunnel and gaze up at sea life.  Take the elevator to the lower floor, and be mesmerized by tanks full of ethereal moon jellies.

#1 Guide to Pier 39#1 Guide to Pier 39

4.  Visit the psychedelic Mirror Maze

Explore the psychedelic Mirror Maze, with a tunnel of mirrors and arched hallways illuminated in fluorescent light.  See how long it takes to find your way out!

5.  Walk up the Piano Steps at Pier 39

Walk up and down the free Piano Steps, sounding a note with each footstep.  This fun, interactive exhibit was created by artist Remo Saraceni.  You might remember his Floor Piano in the Tom Hank’s movie “Big”.

6.  Enjoy free shows at Center Stage

Catch a free show at the Center Stage, just near the carousel.  See magicians, clowns and other performers, most certain to delight your kids.

7. Ride the Carousel

Ride the historic, double-deck Carousel at Pier 39, with stunning hand paintings of San Francisco landmarks.  This jewel-like, Italian carousel has 1,800 golden lights. Fun fact, there used to be a pool of jello at this site, that tourists dove into to retrieve items!

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Rides at Pier 39 San FranciscoRides at Pier 39 San Francisco

8. Jump on a bungee trampoline

Jump up to twenty-feet in the air on a bungee trampoline, and peer up over the crowds at the Pier 39.  Fine for kids as long as they meet minimum height requirements.

9.  Soar over San Francisco landmarks at The Flyer theater

Soar above San Francisco’s most famous sights on The Flyer theater, with motion seats to simulate the sensation of flying.  Soar above the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Muir Woods and Pier 39.

The Flyer at Pier 39The Flyer at Pier 39

10. Visit the 7D Experience Theater

Visit the 7D Experience 20-seat theater.  Wear 3D glasses, tighten your seatbelt, then shoot laser guns at zombies while sitting in your motion activated chair.  So much fun!  Afterwards, navigate your way out of a web of laser beams.

 

Explore other things to do near Pier 39

1. Pier 41 is steps from Pier 39, with views of Alcatraz Island and Telegraph Hill.

Pier 41 San FranciscoPier 41 San Francisco

Pier 41 San Francisco with views of Coit TowerPier 41 San Francisco with views of Coit Tower

2. Musee Mecanique is a vintage arcade on Pier 45, with fun arcade games and amusements.

3. USS Pampanito Submarine is a WWII submarine open for tours on Pier 45.

4. SS Jeremiah Obrien warship is also on Pier 45, and was part of the D-Day Armada.

5. The Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is one block back from the waterfront, on Jefferson Street.

6. The FREE National Park Visitor Center Museum has exhibits on San Francisco's Barbary Coast and Gold Rush days.

7. Hyde Street Pier has historic boats to tour, like tall-ships, a ferry and paddle-wheeler.

8. The Aquatic Park Beach is a lovely stretch of sand in front of the Maritime Museum, overlooking a lagoon.

9.  The FREE San Francisco Maritime Museum provides a nautical history of San Francisco.

10. The 1,600 foot Aquatic Park Pier is perfect for a walk, extending all the walk out into the harbor.

11. Ghirardelli Square is a chic location for restaurants, shopping and fun.

Know before you go

  • Restrooms: yes.
  • Parking: Pier 39 garage (100 Beach St)
  • Cable Car: Take the Powell-Mason Line, which travels from Union Square to near Pier 39.

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