14 Things You Should Know Before Visiting PIER 39

If you are heading to San Francisco and researching PIER 39 things to do – you came to the right place. From discounts and special offers to parking and reservation advice – we’ve got you covered!

Enjoy – and feel free to share with friends looking for things to do at PIER 39.

 

Local Seasonal Specialties

Don’t miss local Dungeness Crab season November-February. If you’re visiting in May, be sure to enjoy Local King Salmon. Year-round Fisherman’s Wharf must-haves include fresh warm sourdough bread, clam chowder sourdough bread bowls,  and seafood cioppino. These specialties can be found at Crab House, Pier Market and Fog Harbor Fish House.

PIER 39 Attractions: Free Entertainment You’re in luck, there is loads of free entertainment on PIER 39! Of all PIER 39 things to do, not to be missed:

PIER 39 Sea Lions: Of all the pier 39 activities, the sea lions are the most famous and popular.

The best place to view the famous sea lions is the end of the pier, left hand side, bottom level. To learn more about the sea lions, visit the Sea Lion Center on the upper level. The sea lion San Francisco’s best time of year to view the most is late July–mid May. In June-July many sea lions leave PIER 39 docks to breed. But there will still be a few hanging around to see.

Know before you go: Check the PIER 39 sea lion web cam here to see how many there are today.

Live Performances: Artists like magicians, acrobats and musicians perform every day at the entrance and the end of the pier. As long as the weather is good, catch live performances every day at 12pm, 1:20pm, 2:40pm, 4pm, 5:20pm, 6:30pm, 7:40pm and 8:50pm. Do be prepared to nominate someone from you group to join in the fun! The performers often bring up participants from the audience to be part of the show.

The most up-to-date performance schedule can be found here.

Learn PIER 39 History: Walk the pier and keep an eye out for plaques of fun facts placed sporadically around on the walls and buildings.

Musical Stairs: Challenge: Play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on the music stairs across from Pier Market Seafood Restaurant.

What To Wear

Whatever makes you feel comfortable. Our visitors range from SF locals to travelers from around the world – with attire varying from formal/stylish to comfortable travel wear. All attires are welcome in the restaurants.

The number one thing locals know that visitors don’t? It usually gets cold every day in San Francisco, even during summer. There’s a reason the famous quote is “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” We recommend wearing layers and definitely bringing a jacket or sweatshirt. If you forget your warm layers there are plenty of sweatshirt shops for you to buy a new souvenir that reminds you of your favorite city or of your favorite sports team from the sports store Lids located at the front of the PIER.

Footwear tip: PIER 39 is made of wooden slats that thin heels can get stuck between, and that can get very slippery on a rainy day. Wear flat shoes with some tread, or thicker heeled shoes with some tread.

Phone Charging

Since there are so many things to do at the pier in San Francisco, you will likely have your phone out taking photos and videos of all the pier 39 things to do.

Then that moment comes… BATTERY LOW. The worst.  Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, Fog Harbor Fish House, Wipeout Bar & Grill, Crab House and Eagle Cafe provide portable charging to diners at the table during their meal upon request. iPhone and Android are compatible.

Restaurant Reservations

If you can’t find a reservation online, don’t worry. Most restaurants hold tables for walk-in guests or have a running waitlist. If you are planning your visit in advance, most restaurants open reservations 3 months ahead. If not, we recommend visiting the host at the front door to be seated or put your name on a waitlist and they will text you when your table is ready.

Breakfast Lovers

Biscoff Coffee Corner opens at 8am daily serving to-go coffee, pastries and fresh made waffles topped with Biscoff cookie butter spread and Biscoff cookie crumbles. Eagle Cafe opens at 8am daily serving breakfast until 11:30am serving breakfast favorites including eggs, pancakes, fresh toast, breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, mimosas, bloody marys, the works! Click here to see the menu.

Free Wifi

Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, Fog Harbor Fish House, Wipeout Bar & Grill, Crab House, and Eagle Cafe provide complimentary wifi to dine-in guests.

Discounts

All PIER 39 Visitors: For discounts at most shops, restaurants and attractions, at basically all PIER 39 things to do, visit the California Welcome Center (on the upper level, left hand side towards the entrance, just past Fog Harbor Fish House) to redeem.

Coffee Lovers: If you plan to grab coffee after your meal, hold onto your receipt! Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, Fog Harbor Fish House, Crab House, Eagle Cafe and Wipeout Bar & Grill all offer 20% OFF your entire coffee drink purchase at Biscoff Coffee Corner (located at the entrance, lower level, right hand side). You can also plan to buy specially coffee beans and Biscoff cookie products to take home for souvenirs to your friends back home and have your San Francisco trip live on.

Family Visitors: Visiting with kids under 12? Dine at Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, Fog Harbor Fish House and Wipeout Bar & Grill before you visit the Aquarium of the Bay. Take your Kids Menu to the Aquarium of the Bay for discounted tickets! $2 off adult tickets, and $1 off kids tickets. (Up to 6 discounted tickets per coupon).

Sport Fans: Planning to watch a live game? If you stop in at Biscoff Coffee Corner, keep your receipt! Every Biscoff Coffee Corner receipt offers 20% OFF at Wipeout Bar & Grill – a surf-style restaurant showing live sports on flat-screen TVs that can be seen from every seat in the restaurant. (Located at the entrance of PIER 39).

Parking

The most convenient parking in Fisherman’s Wharf is the PIER 39 Garage open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Directions: To park in the PIER 39 garage, drive north on Embarcadero past North Point Street. Note: make sure you’re in the left-turn-only lane. Turn left onto beach street and the entrance to the garage will be on your right. Tip 1: Park on the 3rd level and take the pedestrian bridge (next to the level 3 elevators) which takes you over Embarcadero street and straight onto Pier 39. Score! Tip 2: One Hour Free Parking Validation: When you dine at a full service restaurant on PIER 39, be sure to get your parking ticket validated for 1 hour free! (after you get validation, put your ticket in the payment machine before you leave and it will automatically deduct one hour of parking) Tip 3: Plan to arrive early on weekends and busy holidays. The parking garage fills up.

Holiday Information

PIER 39 stores and restaurants are open 365 days a year – making it the perfect place to visit during the holidays when other businesses close down. We’re delighted to help make holidays special for you and your family and friends! Busiest days of the year: New Year’s Eve, Fourth of July and SF Fleet Week.

Around November a massive holiday tree goes up at the front of the pier to greet all guests with holiday cheer! The rest of the stores all along the pier get decorated as well for a festive fun uplifting atmosphere to really soak in the season. There is also a magical tree light show that typically happens every 15 minutes with dancing lights choreographed to music that is fun for all ages to see. Check the PIER39.com website for more information about the tree lighting before you visit if you plan to catch it. It only comes on once the sun goes down around 5pm onward.

While PIER 39 usually closes around 10pm, this fun space does stay open until midnight on New Year’s Eve! We recommend making later evening reservations to dine at one of your favorite restaurants on the pier but plan to be finished with dinner before midnight. Then, head outside into the open with time to spare to stake out a great viewing space along the PIER of the spectacular fireworks show to ring in the new year ahead.

Pet Friendly

Leashed dogs are allowed on PIER 39 in the common areas. (Pier Market Seafood Restaurant and Wipeout Bar & Grill welcome well-behaved dogs to sit with their family during their meal on the outdoor patio.)

Lost and Found

If you misplace something in the common areas of PIER 39, visit the PIER 39 security booth. If you leave something behind inside a shop or restaurant, we recommend also contacting them directly.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz tours are .3 miles down from PIER 39 on the Embarcadero (about a 5 minute walk).

Alcatraz does sell limited same-day tickets for tours. The office (where the tours are) opens at 7:30 AM –  get there as early as you can (they can sell out quickly). For same day ticket sales, they only sell 4 tickets max to EACH party and all four people in the party MUST be present. Otherwise, during the summer months and busy holidays the Alcatraz tours are pretty booked up in advance and sold out.

You may be wondering, what is PIER 39 in San Francisco? Well, the PIER story is dear to our hearts. Our Patriarch, Warren Simmons, was the developer of the pier with a vision of PIER 39 attractions on the waterfront that local and visitors alike would have a place to enjoy the San Francisco waterfront. Watch this short video to learn a bit more about his vision.

Since Warren Simmmons developed and brought PIER 39 to life it has been one of the top visited sites in all of San Francisco since 1978. It allows guests to take in spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the San Francisco Bay, and the famous sea lions. What’s not to love? It’s also so close to Alcatraz (we highly recommend visiting this landmark and doing the tour) that it makes for the perfect outing to catch both in the same day.

The above tips are special things to know that you might not pick up from simply viewing what shops and things to do. But there are many amazing shops and attractions in addition to the secret tips we listed above that you do not want to miss. For instance, there are bike rentals to take a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, the 7D experience which is a movie with moving seats and interactive lazers to shoot zombies and compete against fellow riders. Into a brain challenge? Try out the Escape Room to see if you and your group can figure out how to crack the code and get out of the puzzle in a set amount of time.

After finding out what PIER 39 is, the common question follows what is there to do at PIER 39? We hope these tips and tricks of what to do in PIER 39 help you plan your best visit. If you have any questions or suggestions about things to do in San Francisco PIER 39, please email simco@simcorestaurants.com.

While you are in the area, check out things to do near PIER 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf here.