Attractions & Sea Lions
Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf is the third most popular tourist destination in the U.S., after the two Disneylands. It has several interesting attractions and many special events, especially on the Fleet Week (featuring the Navy Blue Angels) and the 4th of July weekends.
It’s FREE. So, why not wander around and check out the truly “wild” sea lions barking and sleeping at the northwest end which are definitely worth seeing (note: they are usually there but not always since they come and go from the ocean at will … the maximum every recorded there is 1701 in November 2009). Check out the new Sea Lion Center on the top floor above the sea lions for some informative background including an on site naturalist. The rest of Pier 39 is “touristy” but nice … worth a walk through on the way to see the sea lions and nice bay view from the end of the pier. It’s worth a quick trip, even for locals who think they are too sophisticated for Pier 39, during off season.
Some of the restaurants are competitively priced and better than most of the Wharf; we like the Fog Harbor Fish House (pleasant, nice view & bar) and Eagle Cafe (casual, nifty decor and an outside porch). The Aquarium by the Bay is worth at least one visit in a life time. Check out the California Welcome Center, 2d floor on the west side, for details and more coupons.
Here is a “free” parking tip for locals: Check out the Pier 39 Offers Page in advance; some of these “offers” usually include a coupon for 1 free hour of parking (saves you $10) at the Pier 39 Parking Garage (as of February 2017). Another, non-cumulative way, is to get your parking ticket validated by participating Pier 39 restaurants for 1 free hour of parking. This helps make going to Pier 39 & Fisherman’s Wharf fairly easy.