Belching, barking and back scratching are hardly the stuff that tourist dreams are made of, unless you’re talking about the colonies of sea lions that bask in the sun and play on their floating docks at Pier 39.
The sea lions have called the pier home since 1989, shortly after the San Francisco Loma Prieta earthquake. Marine biologists believe the animals reside here because there is plenty of food in the bay and their natural predators (white sharks and orcas) don’t hunt here. Their numbers fluctuate during the year, and they’re typically absent in the summer months when they venture south to breed and give birth. But you may be lucky enough to see hundreds of these playful critters; in November 2009 a record 1,701 were counted!
There’s a wide variety of sea life on display at the nearby Aquarium of the Bay. Walk through two clear tunnels and see marine species native to San Francisco, including rays, sharks and octopi, swimming right above you.
Pier 39 is a two-level complex of shopping, sideshows, entertainment, dining, rides and attractions that can keep you busy for an afternoon or an entire day. If you need some down-time, step aboard the "Neptune" for a 90-minute wine tasting cruise on the bay. Or, just settle back on a bench and check out the terrific views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the city skyline.
Pier 39 is immediately adjacent to Fisherman's Wharf at the northern end of the Embarcadero. It is accessible on foot and is also serviced by cable cars which run up and down the Embarcadero and also to downtown.
Hotel Zoe San Francisco is 2 blocks from Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and the Alcatraz Island ferry.
This family-friendly San Francisco hotel is located on the waterfront, within a 5-minute walk of Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. Aquarium of the Bay and Ghirardelli Square are also within 15 minutes.
This smoke-free San Francisco Sheraton is within 2 blocks of the cable car turnaround and Pier 39, 5 blocks from Ghirardelli Square, and within 1 mile of Lombard Street and Chinatown.
Located in North Beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Powell and Market Cable Car Turnaround, Fishermans Wharf Cable Car Turnaround, and Hyde Street Pier. Ghirardelli Square and Lombard Street are also within 15 minutes.
This 27-story San Francisco Hilton hotel towers over the city's financial district, North Beach's Italian shops and cafés, Chinatown, and the Embarcadero Center.
Located just 1 mile from Union Square, this Holiday Inn is within 2 blocks of Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square.
Across the street from San Francisco Bay, this boutique hotel occupies a creatively converted 1909 brick warehouse; fun-filled Fisherman's Wharf is right outside; the Alcatraz ferry is 6 blocks away.
This San Francisco hotel is within 2 blocks of Fisherman's Wharf and less than 2 miles from the Union Square District.