Tourist Traps and Sea Lions

Heads up, this post may contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission.

Nicholas and I are trying to decide what to do in San Francisco on New Year’s Day. I suggest Pier 39. We came to SF over ten years ago and my brother and (now former) sister-in-law, who used to live in the area, told us that Pier 39 was touristy. They said it in that negative way that San Franciscans have. We ignored their advice and took the kids to Pier 39,  and had a blast. Fast forward.

Nicholas suggests the Ferry Building. He’s a San Franciscan now. Looking down his nose at touristy stuff. Actually, he says he hasn’t been to Pier 39 yet. We decide to be tourists and go there. Big mistake, sort of.

We go back to the room where Zung is just finishing his conference call. If you are wondering why Zung is doing a conference call on New Year’s Day, it is because he is retiring. He has worked at primarily, universities, for his entire post doc career (32 years) and his definition of retirement does not involve golf courses or gardening. It involves starting a new business with a bunch of other old guys. This is a far better plan than hanging around the house, being annoying. Although, if he cooked dinner every night, that wouldn’t be so bad. He cooks twice a week now. If I could ramp that up to every night, that kind of retirement I could get in to. The new business plan seems to be working out though. Just waiting to see if it is the next big thing.

But, I digress.

We call for an Uber and it takes us to Pier 39, where the traffic is horrific. It is not moving at all. When it does finally move, it crawls. Our driver takes a detour and drops  us off across the street.

Pier 39 is packed with humanity. I guess there are a lot of people that don’t buy that snooty, “It’s a touristy type of place”.

There is a beautiful Christmas tree, so we stop to take some pictures.

DSCN2054 DSCN2055

We wander around the shops. We take some pictures.


DSCN2059 DSCN2060 DSCN2061 DSCN2062 DSCN2064DSCN2066


I find myself wondering what was so appealing when we were here 10+ years ago. It seems like the same shops and this time it feels so, dare I say it, touristy. And it is really crowded.

Then we find the sea lions.


There are hundreds of sea lions that hang out here, of their own choice. They are noisy and smelly and a wondrous sight to behold.

DSCN2067 DSCN2071


They are so entertaining. We could watch them for hours. They have made wading through the sea of humanity worth it. If you go to San Francisco, they are definitely worth a trip to Pier 39. Don’t be distracted by the touristy stores (although the sock store was fun). Just make a beeline for the end of the pier and then go to the left. You won’t regret it.

We finally tear ourselves away from the sea lions and make our way back to the front. We stop to buy some mini donuts (remembering how much we liked them the last time we were here).


Ugh. I gave up eating donuts years ago. They have no redeeming qualities. Every time I fall off the wagon, I regret it. Thankfully, these were mini donuts, so it was a mini transgression.

Traffic in front is still horrible, so we just decide to get one of the taxi’s that is sitting there, instead of calling for an Uber. I get in first and the driver doesn’t acknowledge me. When Zung gets in the driver says, “Good evening, sir.” WTH is up with THAT? Whatever. We return to the hotel.

Were it not for the sea lions, I could not recommend Pier 39. But they are not to be missed. All in all, we’d had a nice day. Being with my boy was, of course, what made it awesome.

We still had the evening to look forward to.


Leave a Reply

Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: