Pier 39

The site of a transparent walk through aquarium, noisy sea lions, and historic carousels, Pier 39 is the center of action on the San Francisco waterfront. This, and the nearby Fisherman's Wharf combine to create what is one of the top San Francisco attractions.

Pier 39 San Francisco
Pier 39 San Francisco

Pier 39 has everything from an arcade to nautical shops to the excellent restaurants serving perfectly grilled salmon burgers and the freshest clam chowder in the signature bowl of sourdough. You can spend an enjoyable afternoon on your San Francisco vacation at Pier 39 and the Fishermans Wharf just enjoying some hot soup to warm you from the fog and watch the sea lions lounging on the docks.

A few hundred feet away, at Pier 41, there is also room to watch the sea lions, one of the most popular San Francisco attractions. There are more sea lions in the winter, but a small group enjoys sunning themselves and lounging on floating docks between Pier 39 and 41 year round.

Guided San Francisco tours around the bay can be done by cruise, or you can take the spooky late night tour to Alcatraz if you dare. There is also a motorized Cable Car tour with narration and open windows and looks just like a real Cable Car. The Blue and Gold Fleet has cruises to Alcatraz and a Bay Cruise that takes you right under the Golden Gate Bridge. If you take the Bay Cruise to the Bridge, which separates the Bay from the open sea, you can get a good vantage of the city from the water, and this is one of the more scenic types of the different San Francisco Tours.

The smell of cotton candy, hamburgers, and frying shrimp is just too much for long. After all, you do work up a healthy appetite walking along the invigorating water front looking out of the other cities in the Bay Area on your San Francisco vacation. There's no need to resist; there are dozens of places to stop and have a bite on Pier 39 and the outdoor grills and kettles of the Fisherman's Wharf.

You can grab some deep fried squid to go and eat it as you walk along trying to decide which out of the many San Francisco attractions to visit next, or sit down in an excellent restaurant for an unforgettable culinary encounter with an enormous Dungeness Crab. The romantic North Beach neighborhood is a seven-minute walk from the Wharf and Pier 39. It is filled with Italian restaurants, outdoor cafés and trattorias. A Trattoria is a casual version of an Italian Ristorante. Trattoria makes all of its dishes with fresh, local ingredients, and North beach is full of these.

San Francisco is known for having some world class dining and local food that give the city its reputation for being a culinary capitol. Though the walk up stands on Pier 39 may not look that impressive, the long lines and fragrant fish dishes of all kinds will make you want to try some of their dishes.

The different restaurants have their own recipes, so there are several types of clam chowder, from the thick soup served in a sourdough bowl at Boudin Sourdough Bakery, which is a San Francisco institution, to the thinner but equally impressive award winning chowder from Pier Market. They also have a thousand degree mesquite grill, so every grilled seafood dish has seared in flavor. You can eat in or get food to go.

World class entertainment, talented street performers, and unbeatable culinary pleasures await your at Pier 39, where you will want to spend at least a weekend of your San Francisco vacation. There is no admission, so Pier 39 is one of the many free San Francisco attractions that you will love to visit.

Top image: mormonunderpants (flickr)

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