Pier 39
Culture & History

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Our most recommended Pier 39 Culture & History

  • San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

    1. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

    Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from 10:00, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golde...

    Great experience. There are restrooms and a bar with snacks on board. It was a nice relaxing and educational tour to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz island. Everyone was friendly. I would recommend 100%!!

  • San Francisco Hop-On Hop-Off: Classic, Premium or Deluxe

    2. San Francisco Hop-On Hop-Off: Classic, Premium or Deluxe

    San Francisco Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Loop:

    Stop 1: Pier 41 (End of Powell St), Fisherman's Wharf 

    Stop 2: Washington Square – Corner of Columbus and Union Streets

    Stop 3: Embarcadero Center – Corner of Clay and Battery Streets

    Stop 4: Ferry Building - 1 Market Street, between Stuart and Spear Streets

    Stop 5: Union Square South – Geary Street across from Macy’s Entrance 

    Stop 6: Hilton Hotel – Corner of Mason and Ellis Streets 

    Stop 7: Civic Center - Fulton Street between Larkin and Hyde

    Stop 8: Alamo Square/Painted Ladies - Corner of Fell and Pierce Streets

    Stop 9: Haight Ashbury - Corner of Haight and Shrader Streets 

    Stop 10: Golden Gate Park - Music Concourse Drive Golden Gate Park

    Stop 11: Golden Gate Bridge- North Vista Point Main Parking Area

    Stop 12: Palace of Fine Arts – Corner of Rich...

    2 things to improve: they should give you a map when you first get on so you know which stops are closest to the sites you want to see. And both headphone jacks were on the same side, so my husband's cord was stretched across me the entire time.

  • Aquarium of the Bay: General Admission Tickets

    3. Aquarium of the Bay: General Admission Tickets

    Explore the beauty and wonder of San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay with this entrance ticket, giving you access to the 3 main exhibit halls. Discover the amazingly diverse marine life that lives beneath the surface of San Francisco Bay and its surrounding waters. Explore the “Discover the Bay” exhibit, highlighting the unique ecosystem that provides home to a diverse selection of marine life. The exhibits feature more than 20,000 aquatic animals. Learn all about this delicate underwater habitat and the need for its conservation. Then, experience the magic of the habitat at “Touch the Bay,” complete with tide pools where you can touch the creatures that patrol San Francisco Bay’s waters. No trip to Aquarium of the Bay would be complete without a visit to the North American River Otter gallery, where frisky river otters romp, swim, sleep and play. Get a scuba diver’s view of San Franci...

    Very fun! We got to touch the sting rays and baby sharks ! I recommend for a fun short experience. The otters really put on a show underwater and when you walk through the display you are surrounded by sea life as you walk through a tunnel of water and swimming fish! …. and employees that love to give info and suggest cool facts about the different sea creatures.

  • San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

    4. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

    Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket.

    See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

    This was a fun trip! I do wish someone would of warned us about how windy and cold it is if you sit on the outside deck. A winter coat and hat, at least, would of created a more comfortable experience. It did seem like the cruise was generous with the time. The only thing I would change is that when circling around Alkatraz that circling around at oppsite directions so that BOTH sides of the boat can get the good, unobstructed view. If you want an unobstructed view sit on the right hand side of the boat. Otherwise we enjoyed this cruise very much. Thank you!

  • Go San Francisco All Inclusive Pass 60% Attraction Discount

    5. Go San Francisco All Inclusive Pass 60% Attraction Discount

    The Go San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass is an all-access attraction pass that offers the ultimate in convenience, cost savings, and flexibility for visitors to the Bay Area. Customers choose 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7-day passes at a low, pre-paid price. Use the pass to gain access to any and all of the 28 included attractions, saving up to 60% compared to full retail admissions. The California Academy of Sciences, Aquarium of the Bay, Exploratorium, Bay cruises, Six Flags, bike rental and tours, and much more are all included! See below for the complete list. There’s no need to decide in advance what you want to see. The free digital guidebook helps you decide what to do, where to go, and how to get there. With the Go San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass, you’ll spend your time in the Bay Area collecting memories instead of credit card receipts. Included Attractions and Activities: • Big Bus Hop...

    I’m handicapped and the big bus was wonderful to hop off take pictures hop back on. We missed the last bus , but was willing to take us close enough to our car in China town. Wonderful memories

  • San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

    6. San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

    Meet your guide at the north end of Fisherman's Wharf at 9:30 AM and start your experience by taking in the amazing views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Hear how San Francisco transformed from a sleepy village to a booming port city when gold fever swept the nation in 1849. Learn about the life of the Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli at the famous former chocolate factory in Ghirardelli Square. Stroll along the fog-lined waterfront and drool over the numerous stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. Walk a portion of the historic Barbary Coast trail while your guide tells you about it's colorful past. You and your group will then make your way to Pier 39 and admire historic ships in the harbor. Witness the colony of sea lions that have taken over many of its docks. Continue along the Embarcadero Promenade and learn about its evolution fr...

    Dara Mihaly, our tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly. She provided a great experience with historical information that was fascinating. I would highly recommend her for any tourists.

  • San Francisco: 2.5 Hour City Segway Tour

    7. San Francisco: 2.5 Hour City Segway Tour

    Enjoy a 2.5-hour guided Segway tour of San Francisco and see many of the city’s major attractions from the back of a unique, self-balancing vehicle. Following a brief orientation of how to use the transport mode of the future, glide serenely down to the colorful waterfront of Fisherman's Wharf. Get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and stop at the boutique stores of Ghirardelli Square for a spot of window shopping. Look over the bay to Alcatraz, the infamous prison that was home to some of the most notorious criminals, including Al Capone and the "Birdman of Alcatraz." Visit Hyde Street Pier, home of the world's largest collection of historic ships, and get a bird’s eye view of more restored boats at Aquatic Park. See the USS Pampanito Submarine, commissioned in 1943 for multiple war patrols from 1944-1945. Then admire the iconic Transamerica Pyramid as you swoop into the heart ...

    My two sons (13 and 16) and I had a blast on the Segway tour. It was so fun riding, seeing the sights, and learning some interesting history of the city. Jack was a fantastic guide.

  • San Francisco: 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off City and Night Tour

    8. San Francisco: 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off City and Night Tour

    Explore San Francisco with a 1-day ticket, that includes two most popular hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tours. You can hop on and off the bus at any of the designated stops to explore all the major sights of San Francisco at your own pace. The Official City Tour - Hop On, Hop Off This 2 hour tour provides the best views of San Francisco's Downtown, Union Square, The Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park from a Double Decker Bus. Be sure to bring your camera, there will be plenty of photo opportunities to commemorate your visit to the city by the bay.  Official City Tour Highlights: Ghirardelli Square – Over 40 shops and restaurants, including the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop, world famous for its ice cream sundaes. Palace of Fine Arts – Built for the World Fair has been a favorite wedding location for couples throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Also a popular loc...

    The tour started out really well and we enjoyed the information provided through out the trip. We liked the ideal of being able to get on and off at will, but only used that privilage one time. The problem came when one of their drivers did not understand regulations concerning hand caped passengers and their service dog. I was through off the bus because I could not climb the stairs to the upper deck of the bus, when the entire handcape area was wide open. The next bus came by 40 minutes later and we were able to board and return to the start of the ride.

  • San Francisco Bay: Adventure Boat Tour

    9. San Francisco Bay: Adventure Boat Tour

    Travel along the San Francisco Bay in a small group on a boat tour. Travel faster and go farther out into the bay than most other boat tours. You will be as close as possible to the sights and wildlife, in a personal setting.  Depart from the world famous Pier 39. You will be outfitted with weather appropriate gear to keep you warm and dry from the occasional splash. Take in the historic waterfront from a new angle. Make a quick visit to the world famous Pier 39 sea lions, where you can see them eye to eye. There is no need for binoculars on this trip because you will see everything up close. Listen to the narration from your expert captain and learn something new about this historic area. See the waterfront in a way that is unlike any other experience on the bay. Take photos, make memories, and enjoy one of the finest ways to see it all up close. This small group boat tour is limited...

    This was a great trip! We got to see the bay and all the sites. Captain Charles was great telling us all the history of the area. I highly recommend this trip.

  • San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown & Bay Cruise

    10. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown & Bay Cruise

    Start your tour near the Ferry Building with a view of what was once one of the busiest ports in the world. Then catch an iconic San Francisco cable car from a favorite stop and learn what makes this very unique public transport so special. Disembark atop Nob Hill and learn about the industrial tycoons who built the city as you wander through Huntington Park. Visit the beautiful gothic interior of Grace Cathedral. Enter the bustling neighborhood of Chinatown, the largest Chinese enclave outside of Asia and the oldest Chinatown in North America. Taste fresh fortune cookies and see hidden landmarks like the Tin How Buddhist Temple as you learn how the neighborhood went from being a seedy red-light district to one of the most vibrant enclaves in the city. For a little treat, pop into the legendary Golden Gate Factory for an insight into the art (and logistics) of fortune cookie makin...

    We hit all the high points. The cable car, the trolley and walked the streets from Nob's Hill to Chinatown and a boat ride that went by the golden gate bridge and Alcatraz. Our guide was knowledgeable and personable.

Other Sightseeing Options in Pier 39

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What people are saying about Pier 39

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,426 reviews

The cruise started at 11am. We traveled west along the shore line and the narrator described all the pertinent landmarks including the Presidio, the forts and the Palace of Fine Arts. We passed the Golden Gate Bridge and the view was amazing. On the way back we saw Sausalito, Angel Island, Alcatraz and more of the San Francisco cityscape. This cruise should be a requirement for any first time visitor.

2 things to improve: they should give you a map when you first get on so you know which stops are closest to the sites you want to see. And both headphone jacks were on the same side, so my husband's cord was stretched across me the entire time.

This was a great trip! We got to see the bay and all the sites. Captain Charles was great telling us all the history of the area. I highly recommend this trip.

Very nice- the people was very friendly with my mom she walked slowly and then was patient,thanks for everything

It was easy and great . Showed all the great places