It was vacation, and yes, I confess, I was a total tourist and enjoyed Pier 39. Great shops, really great food. Perfect place to wander around and enjoy the kinds of crowds you are willing to deal with because it's a vacation.
Recommended (but w/Mixed Feelings).
I've got mixed feelings about pier 39. The shops, and their staff s are very good, but the common areas are crowded and a bit cramped. I also have buyer's remorse about some of the pricey items I bought.
On the other hand, one can find beautiful, original art that cannot be found anywhere else. As far as the eateries, if you get a nice table, the views of the bay are fantastic. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a better place at the Embercadero to eat, while relaxing at the same time.
I wanted to personally thank your for sharing your thoughts about PIER 39 on CitySearch. PIER 39 works hard to try and make the PIER an appealing place for out-of-towners and locals alike. Historically, it is much less crowded at the PIER in the morning, shortly after we open.
I am in charge of posting the information on CitySearch for PIER 39. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for us, particularly with regard to the PIER 39 web site. Thanks again!