Pier 39


Jugglers, Sea Lions and Showmanship

Written by Scott Messmore

If San Francisco has a little bit of something for visitors, then Pier 39 has something for everyone who's already there. With 110 retail shops, 11 restaurants with great views of San Francisco Bay, Pier 39 also has a carousel, underwater park, a 300-berth marina, old style arcade and even a movie theater. People flock to Pier 39. The Pier has been named by local and national newspapers as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States, and even the world by the London Observer in 1992. Built in 1977 with antique wood from older San Francisco piers, Pier 39 is a 45-acre site that earns well over $100 million each year in retail sales.

Underwater World

In addition to the fine dining and shopping at Pier 39, there's plenty of activity along the boardwalk. Wandering jugglers and clowns entertain crowds on the boardwalk or visitors can play at the Cyber Station Family Games Arcade for bumper cars, video games and pinball machines. One of the most popular "attractions" is a gift from Mother Nature herself: hundreds of California sea lions frolicking in the water. Hundreds of the playful mammals started showing up in the area after the San Francisco earthquake of 1989. And show they did, simply taking over the K dock at Pier 39. The sea lions, sometimes as high as 900 in the winter time, migrate to and from the Channel islands. Pier 39 formed a sea lion watching educational program with the Marine Mammal Center and provides tour guides at K-Dock from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, weather permitting. For tourists who love to tote a camera around, make sure you have plenty of film with the sea lions. For more sea lion information call 415-705-5500.

Hours of Operation and Location

If you're in the mood for more sea life, UnderWater world is waiting with thousands of fish, crabs, sharks, bat rays, sturgeon and much more. Visitors see marine life first hand as they walk through a submerged acrylic tunnel, only inches from the water. Walking through UnderWater World can take as long as 90 minutes to examine live fish, kelp, coral rock formations and maybe a visiting scuba diver. UnderWater World is located near the entrance to Pier 39 and is open daily except for Christmas Day. Hours change with the season. Adults are charged $12.95, Seniors $9.95, children $6.50 and children under three are free. Advance ticket sales are assessed a $2 fee. For more information call 415-546-2700 or toll free at 888-SEA-DIVE. The Great San Francisco Adventure is a feature film that gives visitors a cinematic guided tour of the City by the Bay. Turbo Ride is a hydraulic machine with film effects that takes viewers on wild rides with dinosaurs and The Secret of the Lost Temple. The Blue & Gold Fleet operate out of Pier 39 with scenic tours of Alcatraz Island and ferry service to Greater San Francisco. The Blue & Gold Fleet sails with more than three million visitors a year since setting sail in 1979. To make reservations for a tour call 415-705-5555. For fares and schedules call 415-773-1188.

Pier 39 shops are open daily from 10:30 a.m. with closing times varying with retail shops. Restaurants are open from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. each day. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are optional days for businesses. A 1,000 car capacity parking garage is located across the street from Pier 39. Pier 39 is located two blocks east of world famous Fisherman's Wharf at the Embarcadaro and Beach Street. For more information call 415-705-5500 or for visitors who live outside of California, call 800-325-7437.

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