13 Best Things to do in San Francisco with Kids
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San Francisco is one of the most popular vacation spots in the United States. It has beautiful weather all year round, delicious food, and plenty to explore. Whether you’re visiting or a local, you may be wondering what to do in San Francisco with your children.
While there are some unmissable tourist attractions in San Francisco, anyone who knows of it might think that it isn’t a kid-friendly city. But San Francisco is well suited for kids of all ages. Families flock to San Francisco for its world-renowned tech scene, incredible views, and the breathtaking Golden Gate bridge.
Plus, there are many hidden gems only tourists with little ones in tow can experience. If you’ve ever wanted to visit San Francisco with your family but haven’t had the time or thought it wouldn’t be worth the trip, read on for the top 13 things to do in San Francisco with kids!
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognizable bridges in the world, and it’s worth visiting with your kids. The Golden Gate Bridge is a 1-mile suspension bridge that connects San Francisco and Marin County. It is the 2nd longest suspension bridge in the United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. The bridge is 8,980 feet long and stands 746 feet high.
The Golden Gate Bridge has several walking paths along its length where you can enjoy views of both sides of San Francisco Bay and watch for marine traffic below. Take your kids to different viewpoints to look at the majesty of the bridge. A fun note to mention to your kids is why it’s painted orange. It was painted this color to make the bridge easily seen through the thick fog, a constant in San Francisco.
Children’s Creativity Museum
Visiting the Children’s Creativity Museum can create an engaging, interactive, and educational day with your kids. Located in Yerba Buena Gardens, this museum is a creative space for kids to use technology to create art.
Your children can access a green screen, Animation Studio, Making Music Studio, and more. Kids can play games in the museum’s Tech Lab or create a solution with materials at the Innovation Lab. There are many ways for children of all ages to get creative.
Younger children can draw their cartoons or create music videos; older kids can build robots that teach them about coding and engineering. Your children can also learn about stop-motion animation, photography basics, and other skills.
Aquarium of the Bay
One of the best family-friendly activities in San Francisco is visiting the aquarium. The Aquarium of the Bay is perfect for having fun with your family and will keep your kids entertained for a full day. Look for jellyfish, sharks, otters, and more. There’s also a gallery to touch sea animals, including sea stars, leopard sharks, and bat rays.
Mission Dolores Park
Mission Dolores Park is a great place to spend the day with your family, so long as you can brave the crowds. This park is jam-packed on sunny days, so be prepared for a loud, lively atmosphere! The streets surrounding Dolores Park will be packed full of cars, and the bus routes that go right by the park are limited. Parking may be challenging, but once you get settled in, there are plenty of activities to enjoy:
- Meet new people while you picnic! These grassy hills are packed with people enjoying their time outdoors; feel free to bring some food and make friends as you enjoy it together.
- Bring a frisbee or a basketball for tossing around on Dolores’ basketball court. The park has six tennis courts, a soccer field, and a playground.
- Walk down 18th Street and grab a snack from Bi-Rite Creamery.
California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is the place to go for natural history buffs and their families. It’s one of the largest natural history museums in the world with a 4-story rainforest, a planetarium, an aquarium, and more exhibits; there’s something to learn for everyone. It’s not just about what the kids will like; it’s about what they will have fun learning.
The Exploratorium is a hands-on science and technology museum at the forefront of scientific research. With its interactive exhibits, it’s a beautiful place to spend the entire day. It’s also one of the best places to take kids in San Francisco, as they can explore their interests and learn about themselves.
Cable Car Ride
The San Francisco Cable Car is an absolute must-do for all visitors to San Francisco, especially if you’re taking kids. It’s well worth the extra wait to ride one of these historic cable cars down the steep hills of San Francisco.
There are three cable car lines in San Francisco. In the Fisherman’s Wharf area, look for Powell-Hyde or Powell-Mason lines. The California line takes off from the Financial District. It runs through Nob Hill and near Chinatown, so it’s a great way to view some of the city’s best sites without walking up or down these steep streets – just make sure your kids can handle riding in a reasonably crowded cable car!
At Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll find a bunch of restaurants, arcade games, and shops selling all kinds of souvenirs. Walk around with your kids and grab some chocolate at Ghirardelli Square. Enjoy exploring Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum and the Madame Tussauds.
In addition to exploring the Fisherman’s Wharf, you may want to visit the nearby Pier 39. Your kids will love the area because it has plenty of attractions and activities for them to enjoy.
Visiting Lombard Street is a must for any person visiting San Francisco, whether you’re on a family vacation or looking for some fun things to do with kids in the city. This crooked Street is not only beautiful and picturesque; it also offers one of the best views of San Francisco, so be sure to take lots of pictures from the top!
Kids will love driving through the curves of Lombard Street. You can also walk up or down the sidewalks of Lombard Street, so park nearby and explore this famous attraction more.
Koret Children’s Quarter Playground
Popular with the San Francisco locals, the Koret Children’s Quarter Playground is a great place to take the kids. The children will be entertained with a playground and a carousel for hours. The playground also includes a climbing wall and a concrete slide.
The historic carousel has 62 colorful wooden animals waiting to be ridden by the kids. The playground also has picnic areas for having lunch or a snack. Built in 1888, the Koret’s playground is located in Golden Gate Park and is one of the oldest playgrounds in the country.
San Francisco Zoo & Gardens
One of the best spots in San Francisco for families is the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. The zoo has a wide variety of animals from around the world. You’ll find more than 2,000 animals and over 250 plant species here.
It also offers kids many educational programs and a Summer Zoo Camp.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
The Bay Area Discovery Museum is near the Golden Gate Bridge and offers many activities to keep your children engaged while learning about science, history, and art. The museum provides indoor and outdoor exhibits, daily programs, classes, and a Summer Discovery Camp. The museum encourages kids up to 8 years old to participate in the activities.
Road Trips From San Francisco
While San Francisco is one of California’s most popular tourist destinations, there are some great road trips to places that are just as appealing to families.
One of the popular family-friendly trips near San Francisco that feature beautiful scenery and fun activities is Lake Tahoe! Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in America. It’s the perfect getaway if you’re looking for a drive to a lake destination from San Francisco. You can escape the hustle and bustle of city life to enjoy some tranquility on Lake Tahoe’s crystal clear water.
Regarding day trips from San Francisco, the Sonoma Coast is the perfect destination. There’s something for everyone on this day trip — hiking, scenic drives, camping, and fishing- so everyone will be entertained. Better yet, these activities can be enjoyed as a whole family. Visit Sonoma Coast State Park with your kids or enjoy the hiking trails, beaches, and sailing in Bodega Bay.
If you are craving a spectacular road trip, you can head to Los Angeles with your kids on an epic Pacific Coast Highway trip.
Conclusion: Things to do in San Francisco with Kids
San Francisco is the city by the bay, and it’s a beautiful city to visit with kids. With so many things to do and places to see, you might think it would be hard to pick which ones are the best for your family. But we hope this list of 13 things to do in San Francisco with kids helps you plan your next trip to California.
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