Looking for Pier 39 Things to Do? A Traveler’s Guide

Pier 39 Things to Do: A Traveler’s Guide to the Best of San Francisco’s Waterfront

You are headed to San Francisco, and you’re probably wondering what is there to do in San Francisco? Finding Pier 39 things to do should be at the top of your to-do list!

San Francisco’s iconic Pier 39 stands as a bustling hub of entertainment, dining, and scenic wonders. For travelers seeking an unforgettable experience at this waterfront marvel, we present a curated list of Pier 39 things to do and activities to ensure you make the most of your visit to Pier 39. From playful sea lions to delectable seafood delights, embark on a journey through the best this vibrant destination has to offer.

PIER 39 sea lions on the docks

1. Top Pier 39 Things to Do is Witness the Sea Lions:

Start your Pier 39 adventure with the enchanting sights and sounds of the resident sea lions. It is one of the most unique things to do in SF. Marvel at their playful antics and sunbathing sessions as they frolic on the floating docks. Don’t forget your camera – these adorable creatures make for a perfect San Francisco photo op.

2. Relax at Eagle Cafe – A Historical Gem

Visit this point of interest in San Francisco: the historic Eagle Cafe. Nestled within this iconic locale, the Eagle Cafe offers not only a glimpse into San Francisco’s past but also a cozy spot to unwind. Enjoy a leisurely meal in a setting rich with maritime history, completing your experience with a touch of nostalgia. 

3. Dine at the Best Crab Restaurant in San Francisco:

Pier 39 is renowned for its exceptional seafood, and no visit is complete without indulging in the finest crab dishes. Head to one of the acclaimed crab restaurants, such as the iconic Fog Harbor Fish House or Crab House at Pier 39, where you can savor the freshest catches while enjoying panoramic views of the bay.

4. Ride the San Francisco Carousel:

Unleash your inner child by taking a spin on the vintage San Francisco Carousel. Located near the entrance of Pier 39, this whimsical ride features hand-painted city landmarks and is a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.

5. Marvel at 7D Experiences: Thrill Ride and The Flyer Thrill Zone:

For an immersive flight experience without leaving the ground, check out The Flyer – San Francisco. This 3D flight simulation ride takes you on a thrilling journey over the city’s iconic landmarks. Feel the wind in your hair and enjoy the sensation of soaring over the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

For an adrenaline-packed adventure, step into the 7D Experience. This state-of-the-art attraction combines motion, wind, and laser-blasting special effects for an immersive and thrilling experience. Buckle up for a wild ride that will leave you exhilarated.

6. Enjoy a Cruise Around the Bay:

One of the top things to do in San Francisco! Take your exploration beyond the pier by embarking on a bay cruise. Several operators offer scenic tours departing from Pier 39, allowing you to witness the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the San Francisco skyline from the water. Choose from sunset cruises, brunch sails, or even adventurous sailings.

7. Savor Sweet Treats at Pier 39’s Candy Stores:

Indulge your sweet tooth at one of the delightful candy stores lining the pier. From saltwater taffy to gourmet chocolates, these confectionery havens offer a delightful array of treats. Sample some local sweets as you explore the pier’s sweet side.

8. Immerse Yourself in the Aquarium of the Bay:

Dive into the underwater wonders of the Aquarium of the Bay. Walk through transparent tunnels surrounded by sharks, rays, and mesmerizing marine life. It’s an immersive experience that provides a glimpse into the diverse ecosystems of the San Francisco Bay.

9. Shop for Unique Souvenirs:

Pier 39’s vibrant marketplace is a shopping haven for unique souvenirs. Browse through a variety of shops offering everything from local art to San Francisco-themed memorabilia. Pick up a keepsake to remember your visit to this iconic destination. With all of its unique shops, it is one of the main Pier 39 things to do.

10. Enjoy Live Street Performances:

The lively atmosphere at Pier 39 is enhanced by talented street performers showcasing their skills. From musicians to magicians, these entertainers add a dynamic flair to the pier’s ambiance. Take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the impromptu performances that make every visit to Pier 39 unique.

11. Dine with a View at Pier 39 Restaurants:

Beyond crab restaurants, Pier 39 offers a diverse culinary scene with restaurants boasting panoramic views. Whether you crave a casual meal or a fine dining experience, there’s a restaurant to suit every palate. Enjoy your favorite cuisine while basking in the breathtaking vistas of the bay after checking off your list of things to do near San Francisco!

Sea lions and sunset at Pier 39 12. Capture the Sunset at Pier 39:

As the day winds down, seize the opportunity to witness a spectacular sunset. Find a comfortable spot along the pier, enjoy the changing colors of the sky, and soak in the tranquil beauty of the San Francisco Bay.

13. Attend Special Events and Festivals:

Keep an eye on the events calendar for special festivals and celebrations happening. From holiday festivities to cultural events, these gatherings add a dynamic and festive atmosphere to the pier, providing additional reasons to plan your visit.

14. California Welcome Center:

Make your first stop at Pier 39 the California Welcome Center. Gather information about the city’s attractions and Pier 39 activities, get insider tips from knowledgeable staff, and pick up maps and brochures to help plan your San Francisco adventure. It’s a valuable resource for maximizing your time at the pier and beyond.

15. Alcatraz Island Excursion:

While not directly on Pier 39, the convenience of booking an Alcatraz Island excursion from the pier makes it a notable addition. Experience the chilling history of the infamous island prison with a guided tour, complete with ferry transportation. Learn about the lives of former inmates and the fascinating escape attempts that shaped Alcatraz’s storied past.

16. Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure:

Elevate your bay cruise experience with the Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure. Departing from Pier 39, this narrated cruise takes you on a scenic journey around Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Learn about the city’s maritime history and enjoy brea

thtaking views of the iconic landmarks.

17. Customized Souvenirs at Build-A-Bear Workshop:

For a unique and personalized souvenir, stop by the Build-A-Bear Workshop. Create your own stuffed animal, complete with outfits and accessories. It’s a fun and interactive way to craft a memento that captures the spirit of your San Francisco adventure.

18. The Crystal Shop:

Dive into the metaphysical world at The Crystal Shop. Explore a wide array of crystals, gemstones, and spiritual artifacts. Whether you’re a seasoned crystal enthusiast or a curious visitor, this shop offers a unique opportunity to discover the beauty and energy of these natural wonders.

19. Seafood Sampler at Pier Market Seafood Restaurant:

Delight your taste buds with a seafood sampler at Pier Market Seafood Restaurant. This dining establishment on Pier 39 offers a variety of fresh catches, including Dungeness crab and clam chowder. Enjoy a seafood feast with views of the bay for a quintessential San Francisco culinary experience.

20. Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals:

Cycle from Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito via the Golden Gate Bridge and coast downhill into Sausalito for seaside dining before ferrying back to PIER 39, offering both a scenic ride and coastal culinary experience. Blazing Saddles offers bike rentals (including electric!) and routes suitable for all riders.

21. Get Lost in Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze

The best $10 you’ll ever spend on a psychedelic maze experience! Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze‘s neon labyrinth of mirrors is sure to entertain family and friends of all ages. This is one of the best cheap things to do in San Francisco.

22. San Francisco Themed Escape Rooms

The Flyer Thrill Zone features two 30-minute escape rooms perfect for locals and travelers with limited time looking for things to do in San Francisco and Pier 39 things to do. Escape the Rock is an Alcatraz-themed prison escape room, and San Francisco Speakeasy is a Prohibition era-inspired escape room. Work together to find your way out and back to the pier!

23. See It From Above

Fly 20 feet in the air and try out acrobatic moves on the Frequent Flyers bungee trampoline. Must be between 30 and 230 pounds to ride. Get even higher with the Bay Plunge, which launches riders 40 feet in the sky.

a whale jumping out of the ocean, showing its belly

24. Witness the Whales

San Francisco Whale Tours offers just that and more, with a stable catamaran that embarks from Pier 39 into the SF Bay and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. It’s one of the best things to see in SF!

25. Sip and Sail

The first and only floating wine bar is called Wine Therapy. This yacht will take you on an unforgettable tour of the Bay with amazing views and amazing wines.

Pier 39 is a multifaceted destination that caters to all tastes and preferences. From the playful antics of sea lions to the exhilarating 7D Experience, every corner of the pier promises an adventure. Indulge in the culinary delights of the best crab restaurants, embark on a bay cruise, and savor sweet treats as you explore the unique charm of this iconic San Francisco landmark. With its lively atmosphere, breathtaking views, and diverse array of activities, Pier 39 remains a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an immersive and unforgettable San Francisco experience.

Indulge in a quintessential San Francisco culinary experience with the iconic Dungeness Crab, celebrated for its sweet and succulent meat. This delectable crustacean is best enjoyed at the Crab House on Pier 39. Nestled along the vibrant waterfront, the Crab House offers a dining extravaganza where guests can feast on Killer Crab in sizzling iron skillets while enjoying panoramic views of the bay. Whether cracked and served with drawn butter or incorporated into mouthwatering dishes, Crab House’s commitment to quality ensures a memorable and authentic taste of San Francisco’s maritime heritage. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich seafood tradition at this renowned establishment, where each bite is a celebration of the freshest catch and the culinary prowess that defines the essence of Pier 39.

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Crab House on Pier 39

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