Sea lions resting on the dock at Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf

Sea Lions

Sea lions are the unofficial mascot of San Francisco. So much so, even the baseball team was formerly called “The Seals.” And although not as prominent as they once were at Fisherman’s Wharf (as in the 1990s), these animals are still a delight for many people. So mosey on over to Pier 39 and see the critters for yourself.

To find the sea lions, you need to travel to the neighborhood of Fisherman’s Wharf, specifically Pier 39. They’re not ON the pier—that would be weird and a little too smelly—riding a carousel with a sea lion staring at you. Rather, the viewing platform for sea lions is located on Pier 39. The animals themselves are adjacent to the pier on old fishing docks they took over in the ‘90s. And they’ve been a tourist attraction ever since.

The sea lions are better seen under blue skies. Visit after 1 p.m. when the fog has usually burned off.

Sea Lion Viewpoint at Pier 39

Usually basking in the sun after a tough swim for sardines, the sea lions jump, play and yawn to your delight. And most times, you’ll smell them before you see them. It’s as if the sea lions are being paid to relax at the wharf. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy wonderful views of Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Have we sold you on a viewing yet?

Schedule your tour of California – Book Now!

When you visit San Francisco, you’ll have a chance to see the heartwarming creatures in their natural element. Don’t be one of the many lazy persons who miss out on the animals. They’re located at the end of Pier 39, all the way to the left, and make a great photo op.

Empty Sea Lion Dock

How Do I Find the Famous Sea Lions?

  • The famous sea lions are located to the left of Pier 39 as you face north (toward Alcatraz). To reach them, instead of walking the center of Pier 39 (through crowds and tourists), we recommend you take the back “alley.” It’s less crowded and easier.
  • You can use public transportation routes 9x, 10, 19, 20, 30, 39, 47 and bus 49; the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason cable car lines; or the easiest (and most crowded in the morning), the F-line. If you’re in a rush, just grab an uber.
  • To reach the sea lions from Union Square you can ride most of the above bus lines, the fastest being bus 30 (around 20 mins), or you can ride the F-Line (40 mins) and face crowds. And FYI — waiting for a cable car IS NOT worth your time. Instead, ride a cable car during a less-crowded time of day.

Sea Lions Sleeping

Orange Sky Co. says:

Orange Sky SF Logo

The sea lions are a playful, sleepy and heart-warming attraction; they smell, stretch and bark to your delight. Feel free to snap as many photos as you want, but keep your distance. The sea lions are wild animals and can be dangerous if you’re too close.

Location of the Sea Lions