Need a guide to the numbered San Francisco piers? Lots of the waterfront attractions in San Francisco are designated by their San Francisco pier locations.
The piers in San Francisco run along the Embarcadero, the street that follows the curve of the northeastern edge of the city.
The numbering starts at the Ferry Building at the end of Market Street; to the left are the odd-numbered piers, and to the right, the even-numbered piers.
The waterfront tourism activity mostly happens between the Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf to the north and west. Hence, the piers associated with various San Francisco activities and attractions are usually the odd-numbered ones, like the well-known Pier 39.
What's where at the piers? Here are some items of interest to visitors associated with the San Francisco piers.
Did the name of the store, Pier 1 Imports, comes from the Pier 1 that's just to the right of the Ferry Building? Haven't been able to find out, but I suspect that might be the case.
A boating dock available for the public; tie your boat up free for three hours. A water taxi service is now available here; you can sail to Fisherman's Wharf or the ballpark for $10 ($5 for SF residents).
Also at Pier 1 1/2: La Mar, an upscale Peruvian restaurant chain (they have empanadas...yum). Both inside and outside dining.
San Francisco Pier 3 houses the offices of the Hornblower yacht company; some of their bay cruises leave from here.
There is some limited parking available here.
The Plant Cafe Organic, is here also, another upscale restaurant featuring organic, locally-grown produce. California fusion, vegetarian and non.
San Francisco Piers 1 through 5 have been designated the Central Embarcadero Piers Historic District. These piers were originally used for inland trade, shipping cargo upriver into the Sacramento Delta.
During World War 2 they were heavily used for military purposes: troop and supply ships bound for the Pacific Theater were loaded here.
After the war, the most of the commercial shipping moved to the Port of Oakland across the bay, which was better able to handle the large container ships.
TV chef Michael Chiarello, of the Bottega restaurant in Napa, has opened a new restaurant at Pier 5, featuring Spanish cuisine. Coqueta serves dishes from Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Region, and has a tapas bar.
San Francisco Pier 7 is a long, skinny pier, lined with benches, looking straight down at the Transamerica building. This pier is a very popular spot for fishing. Locals do some serious crab fishing here, mainly at night, and also catch sharks and perch. Incredible views of the city; very romantic at night with the twinkling lights.
Pier 14 (on the other side of the Ferry Building), is another extremely long pier, jutting way out into the bay, with great views of the Bay Bridge and the city.
Additionally, Pier 14 is "blessed" with a couple of huge art works, a silver rocket and an enormous metal spider.
The Exploratorium, our fascinating, hands-on, science museum, is now located at piers 15/17, in its new and much larger space. More on the Exploratorium.
This is the location of the oddly-named Pier 23 Cafe. A funky dive, with good seafood and pretty views of the bay form the eating area in back.
All day parking is available inside the pier structure for $20 (double for special events).
Pier 27 was the home of the 2013 America's Cup facility. Now the site of the new cruise ship terminal, recently opened.
Can handle only one cruise ship at a time; overflow goes to Pier 35.
The western side of Pier 27 is now a large parking lot open to the public ($12 for two hours, $15 for the day weekdays, $20 day flat rate on weekends).
Departure point for the Alcatraz ferry, the only one that actually stops at the island.
Check out my tips on getting the tickets and visiting Alcatraz.
Backup cruise ship terminal. Handles overflow from new terminal at pier 27.
The famous attraction. Check out Pier 39 San Francisco for a local's viewpoint and tips on what to do there.
The Blue and Gold ferries leave from Pier 41 (and the Ferry Building). For bay cruises, and transportation to Sausalito, Tiburon, and Angel Island, see San Francisco bay cruises.
The Red and White fleet of ferries leaves from this pier for their bay tours. For more info, see San Francisco bay cruises.
Pier 45 has three really cool attractions: two World War 2 ships to climb around on (submarine SS Pampanito and Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien), and Musee Mechanique, a weird and fun museum with 200 antique, coin-operated games.
In addition to the numbered San Francisco piers, there are a couple of other well-known piers past Pier 45, at the western end of Fisherman's Wharf.
Hyde Street Pier at the end of Fisherman's Wharf hosts a number of older ships available for exploring: sailing ships from the late 1880's and several steam-powered ferries and tug boats.
This city pier extends way out into the bay in a long, curving arc, just west of Aquatic Park. Great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.
I've created a page on the best prospects for parking along or near the piers: see Embarcadero Parking