Pier 39: Ultimate Guide

Every time someone start looking for San Francisco when planning a trip, Pier 39 appears as one of the first places to visit in the Golden City. No wonder: full of attractions, shops and located in one of the most tourist spots in the city, the place had everything to be a success. If you haven’t already included Pier 39 in your San Francisco trip plans, we’ll give you many tips on how to explore the pier in the best possible way.


Inaugurated in 1978, Pier 39 is an entertainment center built on a pier in San Francisco. Pier 39 is located along the San Francisco Waterfront, two blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf, between Beach Street and The Embarcadero. The pier offers perfect views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, and the city skyline from almost every corner. It’s not hard to understand why the site was named San Francisco’s most visited attraction, right?

Pier 39 has two floors full of shops, restaurants, performances by street performers, aquarium, carousel, among other attractions. It is also home to the world-famous sea lions. You can’t say you’ve been to San Francisco without visiting Pier 39!

5 Best Things to do on Pier 39

We’ll use the Pier 39 website’s map to help us identify its main attractions.

1. 7D Experience 

7D Experience is a place for virtual experiences that combine 3D movies, full-motion seats, wind, lighting, and blasters so you can complete challenges in a fun and electrifying way, inside a 20-seat theater. Dark Ride simulates a roller coaster, in Laser Maze Challenge you participate in a mission with laser beams and Beam Busters is another version of Laser Maze Challenge.

Location: Building M, Level 1
Hours: Open Friday – Sunday from 11am – 8pm
Price: $14 per personLocation: Building M, Level 1
Booking: Tickets can be purchased through the Flyer Thrill Zone website

2. Aquarium of the Bay

The San Francisco Pier 39 aquarium has more than 20,000 species of fish and marine creatures that inhabit the San Francisco Bay Area. You’ll be able to see Sevengill shark, moon jellies, lots of fish and you can even touch a bat ray’s wing. There are also special times to observe the daily educator-led animal feedings and it is possible to interact with them.

Location: Building R on Pier 39
Hours: Open Monday – Sunday from 11am – 6pm, Last Entry is 5:30pm
Price: $29.75 per person
Booking: Tickets can be purchased through the Aquarium of the Bay website

You can also buy your ticket with us and combine with other tours and attractions! Link here

3. Musical Stairs 

This is your chance to create your own music in an unusual and fun way! Musical Stairs’ attraction is an interactive art presented by Artist Remo Saraceni, creator of the musical stairs in Tom Hank’s film “BIG”. To enjoy the music, go up and down the magic stairs.

Location: Building O, Levels 1 & 2

4. Carousel

Handcrafted in Italy, the San Francisco Carousel is hand-painted with some of the most famous San Francisco landmarks, like Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, and others. The Carousel two floors and features 1,800 LED lights and 30 animals to ride.

Location: Bay End of The PIER, Level 1
Hours: Open Monday – Sunday from 11am – 8pm 

5. Sea Lions

Perhaps the Pier 39’s most well-known and beloved attraction, the sea lions camped at Pier 39 has been affectionately coined “Sea Lebrities”. They began arriving in droves in January 1990, shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At first, they were few, but due to an abundant supply, available dock space, and the marina’s protected environment, the population grew to over 300 within a few months. At first, the restaurants were afraid that the smell and the loud bark of the animals would drive away tourists, but in fact, they ended up becoming one of the main attractions of the pier, attracting thousands of tourists (and locals) every year.

Location: K-Dock

Shopping at Pier 39

The Pier has more than 50 stores of all types, from souvenirs to fine jewelry. Check out this link to see all the options.

Where to Eat at Pier 39

What has no shortage in the Pier are restaurants, snack bars, and quick snacks. There are some great options for the whole family including: 

Get to Know More of Pier 39

Check out the Pier 39 map here to see all other main attractions.