A trip to San Fransisco wouldn’t be complete without going to the infamous Pier 39. Although it is a tourist trap there is still so much to do and see it is definitely worth checking out. If you are only going to be in San Fransisco for a short time limit yourself to a few hours. Otherwise you could end up spending the entire day walking around the fun souvenir shops, seeing the sea lions, watching the street performers, and eating all sorts of foods.
The pier is alway free to walk down but the most of the shops don’t open until 10am and start closing around 8pm. You can find the Aquarium of the Bay and live musicians at the entrance plaza. As you make your way down to the waters edge you will find lots of souvenir shops where you can grab a bite to eat or buy magnets, socks, puppets, hats, and t-shirts. Right in the middle you will find the San Francisco Carousel and a small stage where there are street performers usually juggling or doing magic tricks every hour and a half. Check the schedule to not miss a show. Don’t forget to visit the sea lions and the Sea Lion Center. You can always hear them barking or see them lounging on the docks below. Make sure to snap a few photos. Other things that are easy to miss are the musical stairs, Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, and the Solve It! Think Out of the Box play area.
This year Pier 39 is turning 39! The Pier will be celebrating something every weekend for 39 weeks starting in January. There is lots to look forward too including Tulipmania February 11-19th Check out more events here.
PARKING TIP: Parking can be tricky around San Fransisco. You can end up spending big bucks. The Pier 39 Parking Garage open 24 hours a day 7 days a week is right across the street from the pier. Weekdays are $9/hour and weekends are $10/hour. If you plan on eating at one of the restaurants you can receive one hour of free validated parking. You can also get 2 hours of free parking if you are a AAA member by going to the California Welcome Center on Level 2. They will also give you a Savings Fun Pack book filled with lots of discounts and coupons. This is what we do every time. We can usually see and do everything we want on the pier in under 3 hours. If you want to stay longer you are probably better parking a little further away at a parking garage that offers a low daily rate.