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Bulbs are a bloomin' at Pier 39 by the bay

Looking for a peek at spring?

Head to Pier 39 in San Francisco and stroll through the tulips decorating the 45-acre complex. For six days beginning Feb. 13, the wooden planks at the tourist stop will be decked out with nearly 40,000 tulips.

A free tulip tour is offered daily at 10 a.m., with members of the landscaping team sharing planting and growing tips. It meets at the pier's entrance plaza.

Pier 39 features many draws. At the Aquarium of the Bay, crystal tunnels venture beneath the water's surface and provide a look at the bay's sea life.

The K-dock on the pier's western side is ideal for watching sea lions bark and play. These pinnipeds started arriving at the wooden pilings just off the pier in 1990 and have remained a highlight.

From noon to 9 p.m. on most days, a variety of street performers take to the Alpine Spring Water Center Stage.

Pier 39 also offers more than 100 shopping stops and an abundance of eateries.

It's a great way to spend a day!

WHERE: Pier 39, San Francisco, two blocks east of Fisherman's Wharf at Beach Street and The Embarcadero

WHEN: Feb. 13-18

COST: Free

GETTING THERE: From Modesto, take Highway 99 north to Highway 120 in Manteca. Go west and merge into Interstate 5 at Mossdale, merge into Interstate 205 near Banta and merge into Interstate 580 at Altamont Pass. In Oakland, merge onto Interstate 80, cross the Bay Bridge and take the Harrison-Embarcadero exit. Turn right on Harrison and left at The Embarcadero (Herb Caen Way) and follow it one miles to Pier 39. Parking available across the street

DRIVE TIME: 1 hour, 35 minutes (Mapquest)

MORE INFORMATION: 415-705-5500, www.pier39.com

Bee staff writer Karen Aiello can be reached at kaiello@modbee.com or 578-2392.

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