Skip Fisherman’s Wharf and head straight to Pier 39.
When I first arrived in San Francisco at the beginning of my 30 Days In SF adventures I did what almost everyone who comes to San Fran does, I went to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a beautiful sunny day and it seemed like every tourist visiting the city was there. My friends Daniel and Geoffrey and I decided to skip the Wharf as the crowds were just a bit much, instead we kept walking to Pier 39 where the real action is. Sure Fisherman’s Wharf has the name recognition but Pier 39 is where it’s at. Restaurants, entertainment for kids, shops, and of course Sea Lions, Pier 39 has it all. It’s a very touristy area but hey I’m a tourist and why not.
Located on the Embarcadero and less than a 5 minute walk from Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 is much bigger than what you’d expect. It’s a complex of buildings that encompass over 90 stores and attractions including the Aquarium Of The Bay. Stepping off the walkway and into Pier 39 I quickly realize that it is as popular if not more than Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s alive with people today.
I have no agenda as we wander through Pier 39, instead I’m just observing and soaking it in. Lots of seafood restaurants line the walkways and stores selling everything I don’t need at this particular moment. What I do need though is a drink and as luck would have it they have a Wine Bar just as I begin to get thirsty. Wines of California Wine Bar offers up a wide selection of California wines including tasting flights. I chose a Pinot Noir flight with wines from Russian River, Monterey County and Sonoma Coast. A lovely way to take an afternoon break from the Pier 39 crowds.
Fortified by my flight of Pinot Noir we headed back into the crowds at the Pier. Activity was everywhere. There was a magic show just concluding and a fantastic Carousel for kids of all ages to ride. No I didn’t go for a ride, but I was tempted.
Outside of the shopping area is a walkway that gives you amazing views out towards the San Francisco Bay including the areas Number One attraction, Alcatraz! I don’t know how many photos of Alcatraz over my entire adventure I took but my favourite is still this one from the outside walk way at Pier 39.
Walking back towards the entrance of Pier 39 along the exterior walkway we start to hear noises from the attraction that made Pier 39, Sea Lions. Just over 20 years ago Sea Lions started to show up and sun themselves on the floating docks at Pier 39. Today hundreds of them call this home and depending on the day and time you can see the docks filled with these majestic animals. There are two angles for photos, eye level which can be a bit crowded or you can head up to the second level and get a bird’s eye view. The second level is also where the Sea Lion Centre is located which can tell you anything and everything you need to know about Sea Lions.
This is just a taste of Pier 39 for you. It’s touristy but well worth exploring and enjoying yourself at. I popped by for a second look at the Sea Lions later in my stay and the Christmas and New Years crowds had definitely lessened to more normal numbers which made for easier strolling through the Pier. Lots of iconic eateries are also near Pier 39 so perhaps you can combine a visit to Boudins Sourdough Bakery and Pier 39 to make it an awesome afternoon.
30 Days In SF Over the course of 30 posts I’m exploring Where to Stay, Where to Eat and Drink and What to Do in San Francisco and the Bay area. I won’t get to everything awesome but I welcome your suggestions and if I don’t get to it on this visit there is always the next time!
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