The city of San Francisco boasts 182 playground, 82 recreation centers, and more than 300 coffee shops, not to mention numerous museums, historical and cultural centers. There is something for everyone in this beautiful city by the bay.
No visit to the city is complete without a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf. Located on the northern waterfront, the area is filled with souvenir shops and stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bowls. There is also a colony of sea lions that call the area home as well as a bunch of historic ships to explore. At Ghirardelli Square check out the boutiques and eateries that are housed in the famed former chocolate factory. Within the Wharf District you will also find Pier 39, Anchorage Square, the National Maritime Museum, and Historic Hyde Street Pier.
The most visited museum in the San Francisco area is the California Academy of Sciences. Visitors can walk through a four-story rain forest and watch the butterflies. There is also a Planetarium, Aquarium, and living roof. On average visitors spend about 3 to 4 hours exploring all the museum has to offer.
Disney fans will love to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum founded by Walt Disney’s daughter Diane. Parents enjoy browsing all of the memorabilia, and children will enjoy the museums’s Little Open Studio for story time and family-friendly activities. The museum also offers special film screenings of Disney movies.
Voted the #1 Spot for Kids in the country by CNN head to Pier 15 along the waterfront and visit the Exploratorium. This science museum encourages everyone to touch, explore and play with its over 600 exhibits. The onsite cafe and waterfront restaurant both serve seasonal and sustainable cuisine prepared by local chefs.
At Pier 39 you will find the Aquarium of the Bay which is easily accessible from anywhere in the city. Kids will enjoy learning about the plants and animals that call the Bay Area home as well as exploring the lab where they can touch a star fish, baby shark or stingray.
The Children’s Creativity Museum is geared towards children ages 2-12 and inspires kids to imagine, create and share in a multimedia environment. Exhibits include a Music Studio, Animation Studio, Imagination Lab and Cloud Gallery.
Experience San Francisco’s Chinatown, the largest outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. Make sure to check out the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory on Ross Avenue, and see how the fortune gets inside the cookie. Click on this link for a self-guided walking tour of the area.
Train enthusiasts will love a ride on a historic streetcar on Market Street between Castro District and Fisherman’s Wharf followed by a visit to the free San Francisco Railway Museum. The museum is closed on Monday’s but open from 10 am to 5 pm the rest of the week.
Alcatraz, once a world-famous maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. While there are several tour providers, Alcatraz Cruises offers a Family Pack ticket which includes round-trip ferry ride to Alcatraz Island, cell house audio tour, and optional programs and exhibits. The Family ticket is for 2 adults and 2 children (ages 5-11) and costs $120.25. Tickets to Alcatraz should be booked as far in advance as possible, as tours sell out quickly.
Located north of San Francisco is Muir Woods, a national park known for it’s towering Redwood Trees. Visitors enjoy the many trails that wind through these tall trees. The park is open daily, but hours vary by season. Reservations to visit the park are now required. Please note there is no WiFi or cell service in the area so please download your parking or shuttle reservations before you arrive.
The Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco to California’s northern counties. This beautiful bridge has tremendous 746-foot tall towers, sweeping main cables, and signature orange color. Visitors to the area who want to learn more about its history and construction can do so at the Visitor’s Center.
Day Trip Suggestions-
Sonoma or Napa Valley- If you happen to be visiting the area without young children both the Sonoma and Napa Valley wine countries are just a short distance from the city.
Silicon Valley- Tech lovers will enjoy a trip to Silicon Valley home of tech giants Google and Apple. A stop at the Computer History Museum gives visitors a better knowledge of the evolution of technology over the last 100 years.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park- Explorers could spend weeks hiking the 800,000 acres of natural wilderness. The park also offers paved trails of shorter hiking routes that visitors can enjoy as guided walks or solo.
Other nearby areas to explore: Sausalito, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, and Monterey.
San Francisco Professional Sports Teams- The San Francisco area has six professional sports teams. For game tickets visit the team website or a reputable ticket broker.
San Francisco Giants- Professional Baseball Team, regular season runs late March through the end of September. Tours are available of Oracle Field year round with certain blackout dates. Please check the website for details.
Oakland Athletics- Professional Baseball Team, regular season runs late March through the end of September.
Oakland Raiders- Professional Football team, regular season runs September through December. The team will be relocating to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.
San Francisco 49ers- Professional Football team, regular season runs September through December.
San Jose Sharks- Professional Hockey Team, regular season runs from October through early-April.
Golden State Warriors- Professional Basketball Team, regular season runs from mid-October through mid-April.
Family Friendly Restaurants
Super Duper Burgers- This local chain has restaurants in the Castro District, Financial District, Union Square, Marina District and Metreon and offers simple, classic, affordable burgers and milkshakes.
Squat & Gobble- Known for its crepes, this kid friendly establishment has a patio, high chairs, booster seats and offers one kid’s meal free with every adult entree from Monday through Thursday after 5 pm. There are 3 locations in the area.
The Ice Cream Bar Soda Fountain- Fifties-style soda jerks in bowties, caps and aprons scoop ice cream from behind a vintage soda fountain. This spot also serves soup and super sized sandwiches.
Foreign Cinema- See a movie on a giant outdoor wall screen while enjoying dinner. Kids enjoy a 3 course prix fixe meal (veggie and fruit to start; pasta, chicken or steak; and ice cream for dessert) also comes with crayons and a coloring book. Reservations accepted and recommended.
Baby Blues BBQ- Serving BBQ ribs, wings, pulled pork, brisket, and chicken, it’s a great place to watch the big game. Kids love the dedicated Kids Korner with toys, games, and a craft table.
Urban Putt- A high-tech 14 hole indoor mini golf set in a converted Victorian home in the Mission area serving mini-corn dogs, fried chicken and soft serve ice cream. Go early, as after 8 pm it is reserved for the 21+ crowd.
Pier 23 Cafe- Perfect after a visit to the Exploratorium, the kids menu has fish n’ chips, burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese and pasta. This popular spot has amazing views of the bay from it’s huge patio. Complimentary cowboy hats come with crayons in a Mason jar for the kiddos. Avoid at happy hour however.
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