In the spirit of full disclosure, I should preface this post by saying that my visit to Pier 39 was comped by the good people at Pier 39 in the form of complimentary passes to a number of Pier 39 attractions including Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, Blazing Saddles Bike Tours, RocketBoat, the San Francisco Carousel, and the Aquarium of the Bay.
Hanging out on Pier 39
Heather (aka the Nomadic American) and I breezed into San Francisco after having spent a lovely few days in Monterey recovering from our run in a with one of the black bears in Yosemite. With just 24 hours to fit in as much as possible, we didn’t even drop off our stuff at HI-San Francisco Downtown, where we’d been lucky enough to also score a free night’s accommodation.
It’s safe to say that San Francisco was very generous to us, actually.
Braving the RocketBoat
After finding a place to park we made a bee line to attraction #1 in our eyes, the infamous RocketBoat. Promising plenty of thrills and rock & roll music, RocketBoat takes tourists on a short thirty minute sprint around the Bay that guarantees to get all riders soaking wet. They weren’t exaggerating either.
It was a chilly afternoon despite being mid July, but Heather and I laughed off the suggestion of wearing a poncho and went into it with our arms in the air. After a few sharp turns and sudden stops, I understood why the pilot was so confident in his promise we’d get wet.
We weren’t just wet – we were drenched!
Wet and starting to feel the chill of the approaching night, Heather and I made a beeline for the NFL merchandise store in hopes of getting me a Baltimore Ravens jersey to:
a). Show my newfound love of the Ravens
b). (More importantly) Stop me from getting hypothermia
Perhaps psychically predicting that they would be defeated by the Ravens in the Super Bowl to come, San Francisco stubbornly refused to provide me with the magnificent purple bastard that would save me. I settled on a generic hoodie and returned to the pier ready to find something to eat.
Eating at Fisherman’s Wharf
While I definitely found plenty of options along Pier 39 when it came to food, our travel budget didn’t quite extend far enough for a number of them. On top of that, the dinner rush had well and truly started and neither of us fancied waiting 20-30 minutes to get a table.
Heather smartly suggested we take a short walk to the nearby Fisherman’s Wharf to find a bite to eat. I’m so glad we did. While Heather tucked into delicious Dungeness Crab, I treated myself to a heaping helping of clam chowder which we washed down with icy cold beers. It was heaven to our empty stomachs.
Although Pier 39 is clearly the more popular place in that neck of the woods, there were plenty of people out enjoying the balmy evening; soaking in live music or watching as spray paint artists competed with one another for the adoration of the crowd.
Back to Pier 39 for some carousel and mirror maze action
With our bellies full, we returned to Pier 39 to check out the San Francisco Carousel and Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze. By this time the sun had gone down and I was ridiculously pleased that I’d invested in that sweater earlier in the evening.
Our first port of call was the double-decker carousel. I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not I liked it.
Truth be told, it’s just a carousel. What did you expect?
Now Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze? That was cool. I wouldn’t have expected a great deal from it, but we had a lot of fun wandering through the maze. It’s particularly amusing when you reach the end and are given the option to go back through. It’s no easier having done it already once!
By the time we emerged from the exit (entrance?) to the maze, it was getting late in the evening. We spent a bit more time wandering around the various shops (I particularly liked the magic shop), hit up a place for a Cookie Cake on the way out, and then retired to our hostel. Good times.
Would we have visited Pier 39 without the comped entertainment? It’s hard to say. I hadn’t even heard of Pier 39 until they reached out to us and suggested we visit.
Would I recommend it now that I have been? For sure. I’m a sucker for touristy places with a festive bent to them, and Pier 39 certainly had that. You’re going to pay a little extra on account of the fact it’s a tourist place, but there were more than enough things to see and do and places to eat – plus it’s nice and close to the Fisherman’s Wharf if you’re fancying some fresh seafood.
Have you been to Pier 39? What did you think? Any recommendations?