California: San Francisco, Pier 39 Family Vacation Fun on the Bay. On the waterfront and fun for all ages, what could be better? Celebrating more than 25 years as the premier festival marketplace on the Bay, it includes specialty shopping, waterfront dining, activities and entertainment. The PIER is one of the first places to take the kids when in San Francisco. In addition to people watching the view of the Bay is incredible and the pier space family friendly and the people watching simply the best.
Ride the carousel. Long before you see the beautiful revolving art form you will hear its traditional organ music. Amid hundreds of twinkling lights riders select from moving horses, rocking chariots, spinning tubs and swings. Created in Italy specifically for the city of San Francisco, the intricately hand-painted carousel depicts famous San Francisco landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Chinatown, Lombard Street, Alcatraz and the gregarious California sea lions. It is the only carousel in the country that has artistic renderings of its home city.
Enjoy the entertainment. Free entertainment has always been an integral part of PIER 39's history. With unparalleled views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Bay as a backdrop, street performers including jugglers, magicians, mimes and comedians entertain. Guests marvel as these zany performers bring laughter and cheer to thousands. (PIER39. Beach Street & The Embarcadero, San Francisco 1(415) 705-5500, or www.pier39.com)
Encounter sea lions. They are, of course, the PIER 39 "sea lebrities" -- hundreds of California sea lions that call the Pierr home. The Marine Mammal Center provides educational programs for visitors so they may learn about these marine mammals and offer an up-close view of the sea lion habitat. Throughout the years, the educational program has been a success with visitors to PIER 39. The sea lions, whose population grows as high as 900 during the winter season, have been a hit with visitors. Annually, the sea lions tend to migrate to the Channel Islands in the summer season -- but now, a small number stay in the Bay Area throughout the year. K-Dock is now officially designated a "Watchable Wildlife" viewing area by the California Watchable Wildlife Project. (The Marine Mammal Center. 1(415) 289-7325)
Shop ‘til you drop. The marketplace complex has more than 110 stores, 11 full-service restaurants with Bay views and numerous fun-filled attractions. It is on the not-to-be-missed list for families visiting San Francisco. Clever shops span the gamut of interests and include San Francisco Sock Market, the place to find the perfect sock for every personality and The Hip Generation for junior fashions & hip stuff. Puppets on the Pier is a dream for anyone who loves hand puppets & marionettes. The Pearl Factory visitors may select their own oyster and then extract the pearl.
Take a magic carpet ride. This comedy action adventure utilizes special effects to create a personalized movie with you as the “star” flying above scenic San Francisco. The Magic Carpet Ride is free but the personalized video has a cost. Participants may preview the entire movie before purchasing. The outcome is a video souvenir complete with your picture on the cover just like movie stars on video rentals. During the winter they have a Cyber Sleigh Ride with Santa. (The Magic Carpet Ride. 1(415) 397-3939 or www.studio39.net)
Walk with the sharks. The Aquarium of the Bay brings visitors face-to-face with marine life. More than 300-feet of crystal clear tunneled walkways allow kids of all ages to see sharks, eels, octopus and thousands of marine animals indigenous to the waters of the Bay. Throughout the Aquarium, naturalists are on hand to answer questions and encourage exploration. See, touch, learn and discover the San Francisco Bay in an adventure you will never forget. (Aquarium of the Bay. 1(415) 623-5300 or www.aquariumofthebay.com)
Sit inside of a movie adventure. The Great San Francisco Adventure is a 30-minute destination film highlighting the history, scenic beauty, celebrations, people and enchantment of San Francisco. The movie is produced in 70-mm format, which provides excellent film clarity on a 19-foot-high, by 42-foot-wide screen. The theatre's seats position the viewer close to the screen, encompassing your entire field of vision. (The Great San Francisco Adventure. 1(415) 956-3456.)
Try a turbo trip. Turbo Ride creates a thrilling adventure through the magic of films and sophisticated simulation technology where the hydraulic seats move in sync with the action on the big-screen. Turbo Ride presents four fun adventures: Dino Island II in 3-D, Mad Racers in 3-D, Superstition and Dino Island. (Turbo Ride. 1(415) 392-8313)
Cruise the Bay. It is the home of the Blue & Gold Fleet, established to provide pleasure cruises on the Bay, it is now the exclusive provider of passenger transportation to Alcatraz Island. It also now holds the distinction of being the largest ferry and passenger excursion vessel operator serving the San Francisco Bay. (Blue & Gold Fleet. For tickets the go to booth located in PIER 39 West Marina Park area or at Pier 41. 1(415) 705-5555 or www.blueandgoldfleet.com)
Information and images by Family Travel Files. Copyright 2010.