San Francisco’s Top Family-Friendly Adventures

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San Francisco's best attractions for the entire family

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San Francisco offers an array of family friendly adventures. Children live in the now. Not every kid can appreciate a Picasso or a historic building for what they’re worth. Thankfully, San Francisco offers an abundance of family-friendly attractions that will leave your little ones grinning.

Kid-friendly hotels in San Francisco

Many hotels in the city cater to families. The most kid-friendly neighborhoods are Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf, where numerous attractions are close by and public transit options are plentiful. If you’re traveling with a car, Lombard Street west of Van Ness offers plenty of quality motel options within a close proximity to the waterfront and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kid-friendly attractions

Some of the most popular kid-friendly attractions are actually museums, but your kids won’t be able to tell the difference. The Exploratorium is an interactive science museum located along the Embarcadero between Pier 39 and the Ferry Building. Inside, you’ll find numerous exhibits that teach scientific principles via hands-on models. There’s also the Tactile Dome, a rounded vault in which participants crawl through pitch-black darkness, relying solely on their sense of touch to navigate the experience.

In Golden Gate Park, which itself offers numerous activities for the family (boat rides on Stow Lake, for example), one finds the California Academy of Sciences. This natural history museum includes scientific exhibits on everything that makes the Earth function. A beautiful aquarium exists below, a sublime foray into the aquatic universe. The rainforest exhibit and planetarium are wildly popular, so head for those first upon your initial visit.

In the verdant Presidio, the Walt Disney Family Museum provides a whimsical look into the history and legacy of Walt Disney. The exhibits are brought to life with multimedia interactivity. A theater can be found below which offers viewings of classic Disney films and special documentaries. If your visit should fall within the months of April to October, the lawn directly in front of the WDFM hosts Off the Grid: Picnic at the Presidio, a food truck gathering that’s a wonderful option during a sunny day. The Yoda Fountain is nearby as well.

The entirety of Fisherman’s Wharf caters well to tourists, and thus their families. From the sea lions at Pier 39 to sharing enormous sundaes at Ghirardelli Square, the options are myriad. Perhaps lesser known is the Musée Mécanique, a gallery of vintage arcade machines from the early 20th century. Admission is free and there’s lots of history to explore here among the games. Additionally, the Hyde Street Pier allows little sailors to board their historic sailing vessels.

If you’ve time for the commute, the San Francisco Zoo is also a fun place to spend the day. For those staying downtown, simply take the L-Taraval Muni Metro line to the final stop. Hold on to your transfers, as they’ll give you a small discount on admission. At the San Francisco Zoo, you’ll find animals as small as insects to towering giraffes, with enough reptiles and monkeys in the middle to delight.

Last, but never least, is a day spent enjoying America’s pastime at AT&T Park, a modern ballpark with numerous amenities and the first LEED Silver-certified ballpark in the country. Kids will love the Coca-Cola Fan Lot, where a giant Coke bottle conceals playground lights that illuminate whenever the SF Giants score a home run.

Explore Another San Francisco Itinerary

San Francisco with Kids … Food, fun and frolicking for the whole family
Best of Fisherman’s Wharf … Seafood and sea lions along the waterfront
Best of North Beach … Modern adventures on the Barbary Coast
San Francisco Gardens … Where gardens thrive on steep slopes, rooftops and barren sandhills
Top Attractions … Must-sees for a first-timer to the City by the Bay

And more related itineraries below.


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