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PIER 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf and PIER 39

The most popular tourist destination in the city, Fisherman’s Wharf is still a working fishing pier, bringing in thousands of tons of fresh fish and crabs annually. Freshly cracked crab and crusty sourdough bread are not the only delicacies to tempt the visitor here.

Over eleven million people a year come for the shops, bay cruises, attractions and historic view restaurants. Eight-seven percent of visitors to the city include Fisherman’s Wharf on their itineraryand with good reason.

The wharf abounds with shops and restaurants; waterfront marketplaces include The Anchorage, The Cannery, Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39.

Still a working wharf, ‘Fish Alley’ sells thousands of tons of sole, shrimp, salmon, sea bass, squid and other deep-sea delicacies. During crab season (mid-November through June) devotees line up for the best of the catch. A fleet of historic ships berth at Hyde Street Pier, near the Maritime National Historical Park and Museum.

Fisherman’s Wharf reached its peak in the late 1800s, selling more fish than all the other West Coast ports combined. But signs of overfishing surfaced as early as 1900, and the situation was made worse by pollution and river damming. The fishing business declined precipitously, and only now are concentrated efforts to clean up the Bay and boost the fish population beginning to show results. (Construction has been completed on an $18 million state-of-the-art fish processing plant at Pier 45, which opened August 25, 1995 and is being hailed as the cutting edge in technology and efficiency.)

Here at Fishermen’s Wharf start the ferries to Alcatraz.

PIER 39

From amazing views and a sea of sea lions to chowder bread bowls and California wines, a visit to San Francisco must include PIER 39! PIER 39 offers two levels of dining, entertainment, shopping and attractions, all surrounded by unbeatable views of the city and the Bay.
Located along the historic San Francisco Waterfront, PIER 39’s location provides the picture-perfect backdrop for postcard views of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Alcatraz and Angel Islands, and the famous city skyline.

Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Sea Lions

The sea lions that camp out in PIER 39’s West Marina have been an international sensation for more than 25 years. A few California sea lions began “hauling out” in PIER 39’s West Marina shortly after the 1989 San Francisco Loma Prieta earthquake. The boisterous barking pinnipeds started arriving in droves and took over K-Dock in January 1990. At first, they numbered from 10-50, but due to a plentiful herring supply, the available dock space and protective environment, the population soon grew to more than 300 within a couple of months.

The Marine Mammal Center, an organization devoted to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals and the study of these animals’ health, advised PIER 39 that the sea lions should be allowed to stay. As a result, The Marine Mammal Center (The Marine Mammal Center) and PIER 39 have worked together for the last two decades to ensure the health and well-being of PIER 39’s sea lion population. An educational program was also developed to educate visitors and school groups about these marine mammals.

In November 2009, a record number of sea lions were counted on K-Dock (1,701 to be exact!), but later that same month, their numbers quickly dwindled. By December 2009, only a handful of sea lions were hauled out on K-Dock. Researchers at The Marine Mammal Center attributed their departure to a shift in their food source that caused the population to travel to other regions in their normal range including the Oregon Coast to feed. However, the California sea lions slowly began migrating back to PIER 39, much to the delight of locals and tourists who gather from all over the world to watch the playful mammals.
You can watch the sea lions from wherever you are around the world! Visit the Sea Lion section on pier39.com to check out the Sea Lion Webcam: Sea Lions – PIER 39

San Francisco Sightseeing & Attractions Overview

Learn about the top S.F. sightseeing and attractions in our article: San Francisco — sightseeing & attractions

Map Pier 39

Historical Milestones

August 1977 – PIER 39 breaks ground. Authentic 1910 wood from Piers 34 and 3 are used to erect the new structure.

October 1978 – PIER 39 opens on schedule to fanfare in San Francisco. Originally, PIER 39 had 50 stores, 23 restaurants, a diving pool and street performers.

May 1979 – Blue & Gold Fleet launches its first Bay Cruise.

August 1981 – Moor + South acquires property, forming the PIER 39 Limited Partnership.

May 1983 – Diving pool at Bay End of The PIER replaced with Venetian Carousel from inside Palace of Fun Arts.

January 1989 – PIER 39 is named the third most-visited attraction in the country by USA Today.

January 1990 – California sea lions begin arriving in droves on PIER 39’s K Dock, creating a local and international sensation. To date, the population has grown as high as 1,701.

April 1996 – Underwater World (now Aquarium of the Bay) opens to the public.

October 1996 – Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant & Market opens at PIER 39.

July 1998 – PIER 39 is named “Best Place to People Watch (San Francisco)” and “Best Video Games Arcade” as voted by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Readers’ Choice competition.

July 1999 – PIER 39 is named “Best Place to People Watch (San Francisco)” as voted by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Readers’ Choice competition.

May 2002 – Riptide Arcade family entertainment center (now Players Sports Grill & Arcade) opens with more than 100 video games, virtual reality units, novelty and prize redemption games.

August 2002 – Hard Rock Cafe opens.

October 2003 – PIER 39 celebrates its 25th Anniversary on San Francisco’s historic waterfront.

December 2008 – Arrival of the new, two-story San Francisco Carousel. The Carousel was hand-crafted in Italy and featured paintings of famous San Francisco landmarks.

May 2009 – Blue & Gold Fleet officially debuts RocketBoat, the high-speed thrill ride on San Francisco Bay.

July 2009 – Riptide Arcade is remodeled into an arcade and restaurant, and renamed Players Sports Grill & Arcade.

November 2009 – A record 1,701 Sea Lions haul out on PIER 39’s K-Dock. Six new floats are added to accommodate the sudden influx of these marine mammals. San Francisco Whale Tours also joins the PIER 39 Marina.

January 2010 – Aquarium of the Bay obtains non-profit status after it is acquired by The Bay Institute.

May 2011 – PIER 39 is ranked most-visited attraction in San Francisco by San Francisco Travel Association’s 2010 Visitor Profile Study.

October 2012 – 7D Experience – a simulated roller coaster and laser blaster attraction – opens at PIER 39.

June 2013 – Musical Stairs by Remo Saraceni, creator of the famous piano from the Tom Hanks movie Big, are installed at PIER 39.

October 2013 – PIER 39 celebrates its 35th Anniversary on San Francisco’s historic waterfront.

January 2014 – The Sea Lion Center, owned and operated by Aquarium of the Bay, opens at PIER 39. The Sea Lion Center is a free interpretative learning center focusing on the California sea lion.

July 2014 – PIER 39 unveils Open Heart—part of San Francisco General Hospital Foundation’s 2014 “Hearts in San Francisco” collection—at the Bay End of The PIER.

January 2015 – PIER 39 celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the sea lions’ arrival to PIER 39.

April 2015 – PIER 39 once again ranked most-visited attraction in San Francisco by San Francisco Travel Association’s 2014 Visitor Profile Study.

October 2017 – PIER 39 celebrates its 39th Anniversary on the San Francisco Waterfront.

March 2018 – PIER 39 once again ranked most-visited attraction in San Francisco by San Francisco Travel Association’s 2017 Visitor Profile Study.

June 2018 – The “Skip The Straw” Campaign launches at all restaurants and eateries on PIER 39.

July 2018 – PIER 39 partners with Alipay to create a seamless payment experience for Chinese visitors on The PIER.

September 2018 – PIER 39 named a Legacy Business by the City of San Francisco.

January 2019 – The Flyer – San Francisco, an immersive flying theater attraction, opens at PIER 39.

Web: PIER 39 San Francisco, Restaurants, Attractions, Sea Lions, and Shopping

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