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Belching, barking and back scratching are hardly the stuff that tourist dreams are made of, unless you’re talking about the colonies of sea lions that bask in the sun and play on their floating docks at Pier 39.
The sea lions have called the pier home since 1989, shortly after the San Francisco Loma Prieta earthquake. Marine biologists believe the animals reside here because there is plenty of food in the bay and their natural predators (white sharks and orcas) don’t hunt here. Their numbers fluctuate during the year, and they’re typically absent in the summer months when they venture south to breed and give birth. But you may be lucky enough to see hundreds of these playful critters; in November 2009 a record 1,701 were counted!
There’s a wide variety of sea life on display at the nearby Aquarium of the Bay. Walk through two clear tunnels and see marine species native to San Francisco, including rays, sharks and octopi, swimming right above you.
Pier 39 is a two-level complex of shopping, sideshows, entertainment, dining, rides and attractions that can keep you busy for an afternoon or an entire day. If you need some down-time, step aboard the "Neptune" for a 90-minute wine tasting cruise on the bay. Or, just settle back on a bench and check out the terrific views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the city skyline.
Pier 39 is immediately adjacent to Fisherman's Wharf at the northern end of the Embarcadero. It is accessible on foot and is also serviced by cable cars which run up and down the Embarcadero and also to downtown.
You won't believe how much there is to do at Pier 39. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Examine our San Francisco things to do page to learn about more activities while you're here.
Hotel Zoe Fisherman's Wharf is 2 blocks from Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and the Alcatraz Island ferry.
Located in North Beach, this boutique hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum and Pier 39. San Francisco Bay and Ghirardelli Square are also within 15 minutes. Ferry Building Station is 29 minutes by foot.
Located in North Beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Fishermans Wharf Cable Car Turnaround, Hyde Street Pier, and Ghirardelli Square. Lombard Street and Pier 39 are also within 15 minutes.
This smoke-free San Francisco Sheraton is within 2 blocks of the cable car turnaround and Pier 39, 5 blocks from Ghirardelli Square, and within 1 mile of Lombard Street and Chinatown.
Guests can hop a cable car right outside this hotel; stroll 2 blocks for fun on Fisherman's Wharf; explore the delights of Ghirardelli Square, 3 blocks away; and walk 5 blocks to the Alcatraz ferry.
Located in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, San Remo Hotel is just 5 blocks from the steaming sourdough chowder bowls of Fisherman’s Wharf. Lombard Street and the ferry to Alcatraz Island are both within a half-mile, and guests need only walk 1 block to hop a cable car to Union Square.
The 17-story Hyatt Regency is located on the Embarcadero waterfront, across from the Ferry Building Marketplace, close to the Embarcadero Center, Union Square, and Moscone Convention Center.
Located in Downtown San Francisco, this romantic hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Powell and Market Cable Car Turnaround, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Cable Car Museum and San Francisco City Hall are also within 1 mi (2 km). Powell St. Station is 7 minutes by foot and Civic Center Station is 11 minutes.