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Places to Visit in San Francisco With a Family and Kids

Updated on April 18, 2017
Robin profile image

Robin lives in the bay area and has lived in San Francisco. She has three children that love to explore our beautiful city!

Golden Gate Bridge

Source

Things to do in San Francisco with Kids

SanFrancisco is a great city to travel to with kids. There are a lot of activities and attractions to see that are fun for both parents and their children.

I wrote an article about the top 5 attractions to see in San Francisco with toddlers. While this list is great for toddlers, it may not be perfect for older children. My list included:

  • The Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito
  • Crissy Field
  • Golden Gate Park and Carousel
  • Steinhart Aquarium
  • Riding a Cable Car

For kids that are a bit older, I would still recommend the Aquarium, Crissy Field, Golden Gate Park, and the Cable Car, plus a few more attractions.

Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz

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Famous Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, CaliforniaSailing in San Francisco is amazing!
Famous Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California
Famous Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California | Source
Sailing in San Francisco is amazing!
Sailing in San Francisco is amazing! | Source
Source

Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz Island

Fisherman's Wharf: Although not a favorite among locals, Fisherman's Wharf is a major tourists stop. The Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe It or Not! are along the strip, as are Ghirardelli Square for a sweet chocolate treat and Boudin's famous Bakery and Museum. A bowl of clam chowder is a must as well.

Alcatraz Island: Ferries to Alcatraz launch from Fisherman's Wharf and would be fun for older children. Alcatraz, also known as The Rock, is the infamous federal penitentiary. Here's a link to the official Alcatraz booking site from the National Park Service. I recommend buying your tickets from the Park Service instead of from an affiliate so you don't get scammed. Advanced bookings are recommended, especially during the summer months. Tickets include: a ferry ride provided by Alcatraz Cruises and a cellhouse audio tour which is amazing. As you walk around the prison you will hear the stories told by actual inmates and prison guards. I recommend buying tickets weeks if not months in advance, especially in the summer.

Cable Car, Chinatown, Union Square

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San Francisco Cable Car with Alcatraz in BackgroundSan Francisco's China Town is  a must see!
San Francisco Cable Car with Alcatraz in Background
San Francisco Cable Car with Alcatraz in Background | Source
San Francisco's China Town is  a must see!
San Francisco's China Town is a must see! | Source

Cable Car, Chinatown, and Union Square

Cable Car: There are three cable car routes: Powell/Hyde line, Powell/Mason line, and California line. Visiting San Francisco just wouldn't be complete without riding a cable car. If you plan correctly, it can bring you to a destination and replace a cab ride. Unfortunately, if you get off the cable car, you need to repay to get back on. The last time I rode one it was $5 a person one way. If you buy a Muni Passport you can get on and off and see the sites along the way.

The Powell-Hyde line will probably show you the most sites: Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street (The Crookedest Street in the World), Chinatown, Union Square, and Russian Hill.

Chinatown and Union Square: Chinatown is a great activity for kids and adults. Plus, you can easily walk a few blocks and you're in Union Square, the city center of great shopping.

Crissy Field and Exploratorium

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Crissy Field in the fogCrissy Field:  A great beach for the kids with the Golden Gate in the backroundSan Francisco Exploratorium
Crissy Field in the fog
Crissy Field in the fog | Source
Crissy Field:  A great beach for the kids with the Golden Gate in the backround
Crissy Field: A great beach for the kids with the Golden Gate in the backround | Source
San Francisco Exploratorium
San Francisco Exploratorium | Source

Crissy Field and Exploratorium

Crissy Field and Exploratorium:Crissy Field is a beautiful walk along the bay with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the City. It is near the Exploratorium, which is a must for elementary+ age children. It's a little too advanced for toddlers but great for older kids. I would go to the Exploratorium (closed on Mondays) and then walk to Crissy Field (north of Exploratorium and the Marina).

California Academy of Sciences: Steinhart Aquarium

California Academy of Sciences - Steinhart Aquarium: The California Academy of Sciences is a must-see with your children. It is an amazing facility in Golden Gate Park that was opened in September of 2008. I highly recommend taking the whole family as adults and children will love the exhibits.

Go Giants!

Lila, our daughter, loves the Giants!
Lila, our daughter, loves the Giants! | Source

A San Francisco Giants Game

AT&T Park or the home of the San Francisco Giants is a great family activity! The World Champions have an amazing baseball park and on a sunny day, it's a great activity. There's a great slide and a lot of child activities in the park and you get to see some of the best athletes in the game. Wear your orange and black and join in on the fun!

Ferry Ride and Sausalito

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View from the ferry
View from the ferry
View from the ferry | Source
Source

Bike the Golden Gate Bridge, Visit the Ferry Building and Sausalito

Bike the bridge: I haven't done this, but it looks like fun. Bike the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and return to San Francisco by ferry to the Ferry Building. Blazing Saddles is the name of the company that offers this tour.

Ferry Building: The Ferry Building is now a high-end market in San Francisco. Open stalls offer a wide variety of foods, wine, and novelty items. If you don't want to bike the bridge, from here you can catch a ferry to Sausalito. A beautiful town on the east-side of the Bay known for its art galleries, shopping and waterfront dining. Here are the ferry schedules.

Golden Gate Park

Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park
Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park | Source

GoCar Golden Gate Park and Stow Lake

I think renting a GoCar would be really fun with kids, especially older ones. A GoCar is a GPS guided three-wheeled car with a narrated tour. Although expensive, I think this would be a memorable event. I would rent the car and cruise Golden Gate Park; if you plan it for a weekend, less cars will be on the road as the park closes a few streets to autos.

You can also GoCar Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio and Ocean View, Ocean Beach, Inspiration Point, the Palace of Fine Arts, and Lombard Street. The safest bet is Golden Gate Park. The GoCars are difficult to see and can be dangerous on major SF streets. Here are some reviews from Yelp.

Go on a Segway or Electric Bike Tour

If you have older kids, a segway tour could be a great activity for your family! The guided tour incorporates fun and learning about the city. The Electric Tour Company provides guided tours for around 45 minutes for around $70. There are tours around the wharf, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Park as well as an advanced hills tour - which is perfect for San Francisco!

San Francisco Attractions Map

show route and directions
A markerGolden Gate Park -
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
get directions

www.goldengatepark.org

B markerFerry Building -
S.F. Ferry Bldg, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
get directions

C markerSausalito, Ca -
Sausalito, CA, USA
get directions

D markerChrissy Field, San Francisco -
Crissy Field Marsh, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, CA, USA
get directions

E markerCalifornia Academy of Sciences -
California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
get directions

F markerUnion Square -
Union Square, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
get directions

G markerAlcatraz Island -
Alcatraz, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, CA, USA
get directions

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Cooper Harrison 6 months ago from San Francisco, CA

        These are all great ideas - nothing like riding the cable cars!

      • profile image

        Teresa M 5 years ago

        Great hub, we are in SF and were looking for great things to do post-Fisherman's Wharf - love your ideas.

      • MarieAlice profile image

        MarieAlice 7 years ago from Peru

        I was living in los Angeles for a couple of months before moving to new York, but I never had the chance to travel to San Francisco. Now that I read this hub I have some ideas where to go with my 4 kids.. thant for the information...

      • crickette_w profile image

        crickette_w 7 years ago

        Oh, just went today, wish I had read this first....Thanks, I know I will go back...thanks for the suggestions.

      • Emme West profile image

        Emme West 7 years ago

        I'm not sure how old you have to be to do this, but the Segway tours of San Francisco are very neat too.

      • MikeNV profile image

        MikeNV 8 years ago from Henderson, NV

        I have been to San Francisco a couple of times and always enjoyed the experience, but never really had the time to stop and visit the tourists sites.

      • J.T. profile image

        J.T. 10 years ago

        excellent hub, I´m going to san francisco in 5 five weeks, so now I´ve got some pretty good ideas about what I should go see, thanks Robin!

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

        Patty Inglish 10 years ago from North America

        Looks great! The GoCar really looks like fun.

      • profile image

        pinoysaamerika 10 years ago

        Thanks for the tip! I haven't been to San Francisco so this will help a lot.

      • raymondphilippe profile image

        Raymond Philippe 10 years ago from The Netherlands

        Been in San Francisco once, a very long time ago. I enjoyed the stay tremendously. Had to do it without your tips. :-)

      • Robin profile image
        Author

        Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

        No problem, Jimmy. Sorry it took so long to get it to you. Please email me with any questions!

      • jimmythejock profile image

        James Paterson 10 years ago from Scotland

        Thanks Robin,just the type of information i was looking for great hub.....jimmy