Visiting Pier 39 in San Francisco

Last year I headed to San Francisco for a couple of days whilst on my honeymoon around North America and visited Pier 39. Situated along the coastline, Pier 39 is surrounded by active moorings with ships coming and going on a regular basis for both trade and tourism – a few piers down for example you can jump on a ferry to Alcatraz.

So what makes Pier 39 so special? Well, the area has been transformed from a shipyard into a thriving destination offering food, drink and entertainment.

Pier 39 San Francisco

Shops and restaurants

Walking into Pier 39 was not the experience I expected. I’d read about it before heading to the city however I underestimated how large the site was.

Being a bit of a tourist trap there are as you would expect, a lot of tourist shops selling the usual crap that tries to get flogged, I heart SF tshirts, Alcatraz miniatures etc. Alongside these however were plenty of other shops selling clothing, and restaurants selling everything from pancakes to 3 course a la carte meals with a particular focus on seafood.

During our visit we grabbed a bit to eat and a drink at a restaurant on the end of the pier overlooking Alcatraz island which was pricey but offered a good experience.

Family friendly

As shown in the previous gallery there is a lot of entertainment available for children, making Pier 39 an extremely attractive destination for families visiting San Francisco.

Pier 39 Magician San Francisco

Throughout the site there are numerous arcades offering penny slots and gaming machines etc. Outside along the main promenade there are a couple of live entertainment areas. Down the far end for example is “Center Stage” (I know, wrong spelling right?) where during our visit a guy was putting on a children’s magic show.


As mentioned at the start of this post Pier 39 is one of many piers in the area and so it is surrounded by shipping activity.

Just alongside Pier 39 is the harbour where you can wander along the walkways and take a look at what yachts the city has to offer. Some of them are certainly impressive!

Sea lions at the harbour

Whilst at the harbour something I hadn’t read about and was unexpected were the sea lions! Along the harbour edge there were at least 50 of them sunning themselves on the walkways. Being a big fan of wildlife this was an excellent surprise and great to experience.

Pier 39 certainly offers a lot to both tourists and locals though I expect the majority of locals are likely to avoid the area. If you are heading to San Francisco however I would suggest that this is a must visit stop on your tour of the city. Food, drink and plenty of entertainment to keep couples and families occupied. 9/10!

Leave a Reply