With its 14 different full-service restaurants and its commanding view of the bay, Pier 39 is one of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco. Approximately 10 million people visit Pier 39 every year, and the sea lions that frequently appear near Pier 39’s docks are one of the interesting sights to see. Pier 39 celebrated its grand opening on October 4, 1978, and the most popular attractions currently include Aquarium of the Bay, the 7D Experience, the San Francisco Carousel, Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, the Musical Stairs, and Frequent Flyers.
Located at Embarcadero and Beach Street at the edge of Pier 39, Aquarium of the Bay features the Under the Bay exhibit with 300 linear feet of tunnels where people can see thousands of fish and other sea creatures. The Touch the Bay exhibit allows visitors to touch sharks, bat rays, sea skates, sea stars and sea cucumbers. Aquarium at the Bay contains more than 60,000 fish from 273 different species as well as 50 different species of sharks.
The 7D Experience features DarkRide, a state-of-the-art laser blasting game with a huge movie screen and the most current 3D technology for adults and young people to enjoy. In the Laser Maze Challenge, people navigate through a web of laser beams that they have to jump over or crawl under to compete with their friends and beat the clock. A new addition to the Laser Maze Challenge is Beam Busters where people try to break as many laser beams as possible in a set amount of time.
Situated near the end of the pier, Pier 39’s San Francisco Carousel was originally hand-painted in Italy with scenes of the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Coit Tower, Alcatraz and Chinatown. With more than 30 different carousel animals to ride, children and adults can also enjoy the carousel’s 1,800 twinkling LED lights while listening to classic organ music. Other attractions for children include Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze where the challenge is to wind your way through dead ends, endless circles and hallways to find the only exit. Musical Stairs is an interactive art exhibit created by Remo Saraceni who also created the floor piano in Tom Hank’s movie “Big”. Frequent Flyers is a bungee trampoline where people of all ages can jump as high as 20 feet in the fresh San Francisco Bay air.
Boat rides are available from Pier 39 on the Blue and Gold Ferry. Also operated by the Blue and Gold Fleet, the Rocket Boat features a high speed ride and rock and roll music. People can also sail around the bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge in the Adventure Cat catamaran boat. Pier 39 is close to Chinatown, the North Beach shopping area, and the Embarcadero. Parking can be difficult in this area, but it’s easily accessible via the historic F streetcars that operate on Market Street.