Sea Lions at San Francisco’s Pier 39

Pier 39 in San Francisco is home to a group of wild sea lions that have drawn tourists since 1990.

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The sea lions started arriving at Pier 39 following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At that time boats were still docked at the pier. There was discussion about moving the sea lions, but it was decided that they could stay and boat owners were relocated. The docks were later replaced with floats that were able to withstand the sea lions weight.

The best time to see the sea lions is from late July to mid May, as during June to July many of the sea lions leave to breed. You can also view the Sea Lions via the Sea Lion Webcam.

The sea lions are located at K-Dock in Pier 39, which is on the edge of the Fisherman’s Wharf district.

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Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco

Hyde Street Pier is a historic automobile ferry pier located on the west end of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

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The pier, which was built in 1922, was the main ferry terminal connecting San Francisco with Marin County prior to the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Today the pier is part the San Francisco Marine National Historic Park and is home to many historic ships including the 1886 steel-hulled rigged sailing ship Balclutha, the 1890 side-wheel steamboat Eureka, the 1891 scow schooner Alma, the 1895 schooner C.A. Thayer, the 1907 steam tugboat Hercules, and the 1914 paddlewheel tugboat Eppleton Hall.

Hyde Street Pier is located at Fisherman’s Wharf at the end of Hyde Street.

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Musée Mécanique, San Francisco

Musée Mécanique is a collection of penny arcade games located in a museum on Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

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‘Laughing Sal’ – one of San Francisco’s most nostalgic landmarks at Playland from from 1940 – 1972.

Ed Zelinksy begun collecting at age 11. Originally his collection was exhibited at Playland, an amusement park located next to Ocean Beach.

In 1972 Playland closed and the Musée Mécanique collection moved into the basement of the Cliff House (click here to read my blog post on the Cliff House).

In 2002 Musée Mécanique was moved to Fisherman’s Wharf. Today it is owned and managed by Ed’s son Dan Zelinsky.

There are over 200 coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and arcade games. It is free to enter the museum, but visitors pay to play the games. The games are priced from one cent to a dollar. There are change machines available.

Musée Mécanique is located at in Shed A, Pier 45, which is at the foot of Taylor Street.

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Cliff House, San Francisco

The Cliff House is a San Francisco restaurant on a headland above the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach.

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The Cliff House’s origins go back to 1858 when the house was built by Samuel Brannan, who founded San Francisco’s first newspaper the California Star. In 1863 the second Cliff House, a restaurant was built. In 1883, the building was brought by Adolph Sutro, who later opened the Sutro Baths.

In 1887 the building was partially damaged by a dynamite explosion when a ship run aground. Although the building was repaired it was destroyed by a fire on Christmas night 1894.

Sutro built a new seven-story Victorian Chateau in 1896, the same year he began work on the Sutro Baths. Sutro’s Cliff House survived the 1906 earthquake but was burnt to the ground a year later. Following the fire Sutro’s daughter commissioned architectural and engineering firm Reid & Reid to rebuilt in neo-classical style.

In 1937, George and Leo Whitney purchased the Cliff House and redeveloped in as a roadhouse to compliment an amusement park that the Whitleys had managed since 1926. On the terrace is a room size camera obscura. This was built in 1947 and today is the last remaining structure of the amusement park. 

The building was acquired by the National Park Service in 1977. In 2003 the building was renovated and restored to its 1909 appearance.

Today there is a casual walk-in bistro, an elegant restaurant, a Sunday champagne buffet brunch room, cafe, two bars, and a gift shop.

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Sutro Baths, San Francisco

The crumbling concrete ruins of the former Sutro Baths are on the northwestern edge of San Francisco above the Pacific Ocean.

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When the Sutro Baths opened in 1896 it was the world’s largest indoor swimming pool complex with seven pools. The baths were built by former San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro.

An ice skating rink was added in the 1930s and in 1964 the complex was sold to property developers. A suspicious fire in 1966 destroyed the building before it was demolished.

Following the fire the condo development plans were abandoned. The ruins are now part of Golden Gate Recreational Area managed by the National Park Service.

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Baker Beach, San Francisco

Baker Beach is a public beach on peninsula of San Francisco.

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It is a popular beach with its views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Swimming is not recommended at the beach because of the rough surf conditions and rips.

The beach is also a photo stop for those walking the cliffside Coastal Trail.

The northern section of Baker Beach nearest the bridge is considered a clothing optional beach.

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Muir Beach Overlook

Muir Beach Overlook is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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Muir Beach Overlook provides stunning views of the Pacific Ocean coastline and its rocky cliffs. Between the months of November and June you may be lucky and see migrating blue whales.

During World War II it was used as a site to watch for potential attacks following the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Several of the historic base-end stations remain.

Muir Beach Overlook is located north of Muir Beach on Highway One (State Route 1)

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