Flower People, Pier 39's Tulipmania Is Soon to Bloom

It'll still be winter, but the San Francisco petal party brings some spring zing.

NAME THE QUALITIES... and quirks and undeniable charms of a sea lion? You can, surely, with color and flair. You'd probably start with a sea lion's impressive set of whiskers (yes, those are officially the vibrissae, but a sea lion fan can be forgiven for describing the beastie as especially "whiskery"). You might mention flippers, because who wouldn't notice a sea lion's fabulous flippers, or you could be taken by the sea lion's heart-arrestingly large eyes. And the sea lion's quintessentially sea-lion-ish bark? That's gets a shout-out, er, bark-out, too. You might, also, say "Pier 39" as you're talking about all things sea lion, as the place and the pinniped are inextricably linked in many minds. But there's another "p"-starting word that is also connected to the bustling San Francisco attraction, and it doesn't bark, and it doesn't boast flippers, and it isn't laden with vibrissae, though it rocks a vibrancy and notice-me quality that's on par with those lovable sea lions of Pier 39. It's the...

TULIP WE SPEAK OF, the wintertime star of Pier 39's Tulipmania. The week-long (plus-a-couple-of-days) celebration is showy, and springlike, and it includes "...more than 39,000 blooming tulips" to admire. You can hop on a tour led by a flower-smart guide — meet at the pier's Crab Statue for a 10 a.m. start time — or just wander on your own, soaking up the bulbous beauty of the stately blooms. The 2018 dates? Look to mid-February, for it all opens, like a flower opens, on Feb. 10, and closes its petals on Feb. 18. One of the fun parts of it all, if you're seeking out offbeat outings? You're not at some country garden or grand public park, but at ocean-adjacent, shop-lined, restaurant-filled destination, one that's famous for its sea lion community. So who says tulips and sea lions can't share basically the same general space? Well, no one says that, and thank goodness, for Tulipmania is one of the later winter's loveliest larks. High fives, of the flipper variety, to the sea lions for sharing some of their local limelight for a few days.

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