Daily Escape

Fisherman's Wharf

Photo by Getty Images

Fisherman's Wharf

San Francisco, California

Move over, Mack, you’re on my flipper … Hey, buddy, you’re crowding my corner of the dock …” What do the hundreds of sea lions say to each other while lounging about the marina of Pier 39, the commercial area of Fisherman’s Wharf that has become San Francisco’s tourism and entertainment (and apparently sea lion) epicenter? With street performers, bungee trampolines, a carousel, 3-D theaters and other high-energy human diversion here, it is uncertain why, exactly, a multitude of sea lions would decide to call Pier 39 home. And where they go every winter is even more of a mystery, but they are disinterested in our musings -- they’re just sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time.


You Might Also Like

Cabazon Dinosaurs
Cabazon Dinosaurs (Interstate 10 - Cabazon, CA)

Cabazon Dinosaurs (Interstate 10 - Cabazon, CA)

Don't be surprised to see a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex perched alongside the road while driving on Interstate 10 in Cabazon, CA. Visitors can climb to the top of the dinosaur for a close-up view of its teeth. Make a pit stop to pick up souvenirs at the museum shop, located inside Ms. Dinny, a 150-ton Apatosaurus, considered the largest concrete dino in the world. 960 1280

Dan Eckert, flickr  

General Sherman Tree (Generals Highway - Sequoia National Park, CA)

General Sherman Tree (Generals Highway - Sequoia National Park, CA)

James Wolverton, a naturalist who served among General William Tecumseh Sherman's troops, named this sequoia tree after the Civil War general in 1879. According to the US Department of the Interior, it is the largest tree by volume, standing 275 feet and 52,000 cubic feet. Nature lovers can appreciate the beauty of this tree by taking Generals Highway, located off US Highways 180 and 198 in southeastern California. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Randy's Donuts (805 W Manchester Blvd. - Inglewood, CA)

Randy's Donuts (805 W Manchester Blvd. - Inglewood, CA)

Visitors should add this roadside attraction to their travel plans. In Inglewood, CA, near the Los Angeles International Airport, stands the famous Randy's Donuts. The donut-shaped façade of this landmark building is just as popular as the tasty pastries made inside this 24-hour bakery. Located on the corner of West Manchester Boulevard and La Cienega Boulevard near Interstate 405, the giant donut -- built in 1953 -- has been featured in videos and movies like 2012, Iron Man 2 and Get Shorty. 960 1280

Extra Medium, flickr  

Jimmy Carter Peanut (Route 45 - Plains, GA)

Jimmy Carter Peanut (Route 45 - Plains, GA)

The Peanut is one of the wackiest monuments built to pay homage to the 39th US President Jimmy Carter. During the 1976 presidential campaign, members of the Indiana Democratic Party built this 13-foot-tall statue to honor Carter as he "stomped" through the state. The plaster and mesh statue pays tribute to Carter's early career as a peanut farmer and currently resides on Route 45 in his hometown, Plains, GA. 960 1280

Donna Sullivan Thomson, flickr  

The Catsup Bottle (800 South Morrison Ave - Collinsville, IL)

The Catsup Bottle (800 South Morrison Ave - Collinsville, IL)

The world's largest bottle of ketchup remains in Collinsville, IL, even after the bottlers of Brooks Rich & Tangy Ketchup left town in the 1970s. This 170-foot-tall water tower was built in 1949 for the G.S. Suppiger ketchup-bottling plant, the bottlers of Brooks. The bottle reads "catsup" after the original Brooks bottle. Plan your road trip in July and attend the annual Catsup Bottle Festival, featuring a hot-dog-eating contest, ketchup tasting and crowning of Little Princess Tomato and Sir Catsup. 960 1280

Anne Hornyak, flickr  

Lenny, The Chocolate Moose (419 US Highway 1 - Scarborough, ME)

Lenny, The Chocolate Moose (419 US Highway 1 - Scarborough, ME)

Meet Lenny, the world's only life-size moose made of 1,700 pounds of creamy milk chocolate. Located in Scarborough, ME, Lenny draws tourists to Len Libby Candies, a store that sells handcrafted chocolate and ice cream just south of Portland. 960 1280

Patti Gravel, flickr  

Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox (300 Bemidji Ave - Bemidji, MN)

Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox (300 Bemidji Ave - Bemidji, MN)

Eastman Kodak recognized lumberjack Paul Bunyan, along with his trusty sidekick Babe the Blue Ox, as the 2nd most photographed icons in the nation. These oversized, mythical characters stand high above the shore of Lake Bemidji, near the Tourist Information Center in Bemidji, MN. Road trippers can also see other versions of the colossal statues in Bangor, ME; Portland, OR, and Klamath, CA. 960 1280

two stout monks, flickr  

Jolly Green Giant (Interstate 90 - Blue Earth, MN)

Jolly Green Giant (Interstate 90 - Blue Earth, MN)

This 55-foot-tall Jolly Green Giant is a must-see if you're planning a road trip from Minneapolis to Iowa. Visit the town of Blue Earth, MN, to see this roadside attraction, built in 1978 to commemorate the completion of nearby Interstate 90. The vegetable company gave the town permission to use its symbol as long as the townspeople provided 100% of the funds to build it. 960 1280

Doug Kerr, flickr  

Carhenge (Highway 87 - Alliance, NE)

Carhenge (Highway 87 - Alliance, NE)

Just north of Alliance, NE, on Highway 87, road trippers should keep an eye out for Carhenge. In 1987, artist Jim Reinders created this replica of the UK's Stonehenge using 38 automobiles placed in a circle measuring approximately 96 feet in diameter. Additional, smaller sculptures have been created at the site, known as the Car Art Reserve. 960 1280

Kevin Staff, flickr  

World's Largest Ball of Stamps (Flanagan Boulevard - Boys Town, NE)

World's Largest Ball of Stamps (Flanagan Boulevard - Boys Town, NE)

See the world's largest ball of stamps on Flanagan Boulevard in Boys Town, NE. The Boys Town Stamp Collecting Club started collecting stamps in 1953 to create this oversized sphere that today measures 32 inches in diameter, weighs 600 pounds and contains almost 5 million canceled stamps. The Ball reached its current size in 1955, and was featured in the syndicated newspaper column, "Ripley's Believe It Or Not." 960 1280

Laurence Pearlman © 2013  

Lucy the Elephant (9200 Atlantic Ave - Margate, NJ)

Lucy the Elephant (9200 Atlantic Ave - Margate, NJ)

In Margate, NJ, locals and visitors can climb a spiral staircase into the howdah, or bed, atop Lucy the Elephant. From this perch, it's possible to see views of Margate, NJ, the Atlantic City skyline and Atlantic Ocean. This 130-year-old, 65-foot pachyderm -- located along the beach in Josephine Herron Park -- has on-site, outdoor picnic tables, so pack a lunch. 960 1280

Tony Fischer, flickr  

World's Largest Pistachio Nut (7320 US Hwy 54-70 - Alamogordo, NM)

World's Largest Pistachio Nut (7320 US Hwy 54-70 - Alamogordo, NM)

One of the more recently built roadside attractions is the World's Largest Pistachio Nut in Alamogordo, NM. Built in 2009, this 30-foot-tall nut was dedicated to the owner of McGinn's Pistachio Tree Farm (aka PistachioLand), who, according to locals, was a big fan of roadside attractions. It's worth a detour. 960 1280

The Flippers, flickr  

The Shoe Tree (US 50 - Middlegate, NV)

The Shoe Tree (US 50 - Middlegate, NV)

Take a break from driving to see this cottonwood tree just off US 50 -- also known as the "loneliest road in America" -- in Middlegate, NV. Tourists and locals drape footwear on the branches of the Shoe Tree. 960 1280

LeeAnne Adams, flickr  

Enchanted Highway (Regent, ND, to Gladstone, ND)

Enchanted Highway (Regent, ND, to Gladstone, ND)

See local artist Gary Greff's collection of the world's largest scrap metal sculptures along the Enchanted Highway, a 32-mile stretch of road between Regent and Gladstone, ND. Some of the sculptures have picnic shelters where travelers can stop for lunch, or weary drivers can check in at Gary's motel in Regent, The Enchanted Castle. 960 1280

J24L, flickr  

Golden Driller (East 21 St. - Tulsa, OK)

Golden Driller (East 21 St. - Tulsa, OK)

Planning a road trip near or through Tulsa, OK? Check out the Golden Driller, a 76-foot-tall, 22-ton concrete and iron rendering of a man. The statue was erected in 1953 to celebrate Tulsa's good fortune as entrepreneurs rushed to capitalize on the growing number of oil fields in the area. Built to withstand a 200-mph tornado, this roadside attraction was declared Oklahoma's official state monument in 1979. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Dinosaur Park (940 Skyline Drive - Rapid City, SD)

Dinosaur Park (940 Skyline Drive - Rapid City, SD)

This isn't your regular Jurassic Park! Head to Dinosaur Park if you're traveling near Rapid City, SD. This 75-year-old outdoor park is full of dino statues that project a decidedly 1930s'-era understanding of these creatures. Dinosaur Park is located on Skyline Drive and is almost as popular an attraction as nearby Mount Rushmore. 960 1280

Paul Weimer, flickr  

Cadillac Ranch (Interstate 40 - Amarillo, TX)

Cadillac Ranch (Interstate 40 - Amarillo, TX)

Created in 1974 by a group of artists called the Ant Farm, this graffiti-splattered homage to Cadillacs represents the car's evolution from 1949 to 1963. Travelers along Interstate 40, near Amarillo, TX, can see Cadillac Ranch from the road. 960 1280

waxhawian, flickr  

The Beer Can House (222 Malone St. - Houston, TX)

The Beer Can House (222 Malone St. - Houston, TX)

In 1968, John Milkovisch, a retired upholsterer for the Southern Pacific Railroad covered his house with aluminum siding made entirely of 50,000 flattened beer cans, bottles and other beer paraphernalia. Locals and visitors can visit this artsy house located on 222 Malone Street in Houston, TX. 960 1280

  

Benewah Milk Bottle (Interstate 90 - Spokane, WA)

Benewah Milk Bottle (Interstate 90 - Spokane, WA)

Two giant milk-bottle-shaped buildings are the only things remaining from the once-booming Benewah Dairy Company in Spokane, WA. This bottle building -- pictured above -- was built in 1935 and is located just off I-90 in downtown Spokane. The other building is located on Garland Avenue and was built in 1934. Dairy owner Paul Newport hoped the bottle-shaped storefronts would attract customers to the retail outlets. 960 1280

RoadsideArchitecture.com  

Fred Smith's Wisconsin Concrete Park (Wisconsin 13 - Phillips, WI)

Fred Smith's Wisconsin Concrete Park (Wisconsin 13 - Phillips, WI)

In Phillips, WI, artist Fred Smith created more than 200 concrete sculptures, scattered across 3.5 acres of this 16-acre small-town park. After Fred's death in 1976, the Kohler Foundation spearheaded the park's restoration and turned over control of the park to Price County, to be used as a public art park. 960 1280

Steve Mays, flickr  

Foamhenge (South Lee Highway - Natural Bridge, Virginia)

Foamhenge (South Lee Highway - Natural Bridge, Virginia)

Travelers visiting the Natural Bridge in Virginia should also pay a visit to its neighbor, a full-size, Styrofoam replica of the UK's Stonehenge. In 2004, American artist and entertainer Mark Cline built Foamhenge on a hillside in the Shenandoah Valley. 960 1280

Alun Salt, flickr  

San Francisco Solano
Founded on July 4, 1823, by Father Jose Altimira, this historic mission was the site of the Bear Flag Revolt that led to the establishment of the California Republic in 1846.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/edbierman  

San Rafael Arcangel
This mission is located 20 miles north of San Francisco at the foot of Mount Tamalpais. It was established as a sanitarium and hospital for San Francisco neophytes suffering from depression and disease.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/edbierman  

San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores)
On a site selected by Juan Bautista de Anza, the first mission church was a 50-foot-long log and mud structure. It was eventually moved to higher ground, adjacent to Lake Dolores. The mission was dedicated to Saint Francis by Father Serra in 1776.
960 1280

Robert A. Estremo, Wikimedia Creative Commons  

San Jose
The most recent mission to have its church restored, the work truly captures the look and feel of 1830s prosperity. Founded in 1797 by Father Lasuen, the fertile site was chosen because of its view of Mission Dolores and Yerba Buena Island.
960 1280

Sanfranman59, Wikimedia Creative Commons  

Santa Clara de Asis
Located on the Guadeloupe River, the log chapel was founded in 1777 by Father Serra in honor of St. Clare. In 1851, work began which ultimately produced Santa Clara University as we know it today.
960 1280

Jaga, Wikimedia Creative Commons  

Santa Cruz
Although the soil was excellent and the location ideal, this mission never reached its potential. The dedication of Mission la Exaltacion de la Santa Cruz was made in 1791 by Father Lasuen, but the site was unfortunately located next to Branciforte pueblo, a community of ex-convicts and thieves.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pocait  

San Juan Bautista
Founded by Father Lasuen in 1797, this mission was unwittingly located directly above the San Andreas fault. Much of the original structure remains and has been restored. It's considered the largest California mission church and the only one with 3 aisles. It was named for John the Baptist.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/harshlight  

San Carlos Boorromeo de Carmelo
Founded by Father Serra in 1770 on Pentecost Sunday, this mission was considered to be his favorite. Both he and Father Lasuen are buried here. It served as the ecclesiastical capital of California, as well as Father Serra's headquarters for administrative duties as president of the missions.
960 1280

Didier B, Wikimedia Creative Commons  

Nuestra Senora de la Soledad
The padres named this mission for Our Lady of Solitude in 1791, which fits its isolated location. The rich soil and plentiful water helped the mission produce more than 100,000 bushels of wheat per year and raise nearly 17,000 head of livestock.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pocait  

San Antonio de Padua
Located 40 miles north of Paso Robles, this picturesque mission is nestled in the grasslands and oak trees of the San Antonio Valley. Named for a saint known as the "miracle worker," it was dedicated in 1771 by Father Serra. The church is known for its campanario and archway bells.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/edbierman  

San Miguel Arcangel
This mission was founded in 1797 by Father Lasuen. It completed the mission chain from San Luis Obispo to Mission Dolores in San Francisco. Located in the Salinas Valley, it was the mid point between the San Luis Obispo and San Antonio Missions. Under the direction of Esteban Munros, the Indians painted the walls and ceilings with ornate designs; the original murals are the best preserved in California today.
960 1280

Elf, Wikimedia Creative Commons  

San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
This humble chapel, built of logs, was dedicated to St. Louis, Bishop of Tolosa in 1772. It was the first mission to use tiles extensively on the roof due to repeated attacks by Indians who used flaming arrows to ignite the original thatched roof.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/edbierman  

La Purísima Concepción
Founded in 1787 by Father Lasuen, this mission is located 50 miles west of Santa Barbara. Considered to be the best example of mission architecture, it has 37 rooms that have been completely restored and furnished.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanvernon  

Santa Ines
This mission was named for a 13-year-old Roman martyr, St. Agnes, who refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods in 304 AD. Santa Ines was dedicated in 1804 by Father Estevan Tapis. The museum contains a notable collection of vestments, church records and missals.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pfly  

Santa Barbara
Founded in 1786, the "Queen of the Missions" was the first to be christened by Father Lasuen and has continuously served as a parish church for the local population.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenlund  

San Buenaventura
The ninth mission in the chain was founded on Easter Sunday in 1782 by Father Serra and dedicated to St. Bonaventure. It was the last mission the humble priest would christen. Restored in 1957, the facade exhibits an unusual triangular design which opens onto the gardens.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenlund  

San Fernando Rey de Espana
Father Lasuen named this mission in honor of King Ferdinand III of Spain in 1797. Located 25 miles north of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, the convent is the largest freestanding adobe in California and was originally used as a hospice for travelers.
960 1280

Geographer, Wikimedia Creative Commons  

San Gabriel Arcangel
Founded in 1771 by Junipero Serra, this fortress-like structure with 5-foot thick walls and narrow windows is a design not found in any other mission. One-fourth of the wealth of the California missions' in stock and grain was credited to San Gabriel.
960 1280

Wikimedia Creative Commons  

San Juan Capistrano
Named for Crusader Saint John of Capistrano and designed in the shape of a cross, this great stone church once consisted of 7 domes and a bell tower so tall it could be seen from 10 miles away.
960 1280

Ken Lund http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenlund  

San Luis Rey de Francia
Known as the "King of the Missions," San Luis Rey de Francia lies in a sheltered valley just east of Oceanside on State Highway 76. Named for Louis IX, the crusading King of France, the cross-shaped church was dedicated on the Feast of St. Anthony in 1798 by Father Lasuen.
960 1280

Geographer Wikimedia Creative Commons  

San Diego de Alcala
The mission trail in California began here on July 16, 1769, when Fathers Serra, Palou and Parron planted a large cross in the beachhead near the mouth of the San Diego River. A bell was suspended from a nearby tree, and the site was dedicated to St. Didacus.
960 1280

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsaint  

Map of all 21 missions along the coast of California, from San Francisco to San Diego. 960 1280

© 2011 Pentacle Press, www.missionscalifornia.com  


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.