Things to do in San Francisco with Kids

Jody Vandergriff

San Francisco is a bustling city full of incredible attractions and activities for the whole family. If you're planning a trip to the City by the Bay with your kids, there are countless things to do that both adults and kiddos will enjoy. Here are my favorite kid-friendly things to do in San Francisco.

Tags: Kid Friendly

  • Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco, United States

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      Embarking on an underwater adventure at the Aquarium of the Bay is a journey that promises to mesmerize both kids and adults alike. From the moment you step into the aquatic wonderland, you'll be surrounded by captivating marine life found in San Francisco Bay. Kids can get up close to graceful sea rays gliding through the water, marvel at the intricate patterns of seahorses, and even encounter the mysterious world of jellyfish. The interactive touch pools allow young explorers to experience the textures of sea stars and anemones firsthand. As you walk through underwater tunnels, you'll be transported to the heart of the bay, with sharks and other sea creatures swimming gracefully overhead. With its focus on education and conservation, the aquarium not only provides a thrilling experience but also imparts valuable lessons about the importance of protecting our oceans and their inhabitants. A visit to the Aquarium of the Bay is a truly immersive and educational adventure that leaves kids wide-eyed and inspired by the wonders of the deep.

  • The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, United States

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      A visit to The Walt Disney Family Museum is like stepping into a magical realm of creativity and imagination, perfect for families seeking a dose of enchantment. From the moment you walk through the doors, the museum invites you on a journey through the life and legacy of Walt Disney himself. Engaging exhibits, interactive displays, and immersive storytelling offer a captivating experience that resonates with both kids and adults. As you explore Walt's groundbreaking contributions to animation and entertainment, you'll gain insights into the visionary behind beloved characters and timeless stories. From early sketches to iconic films, the museum showcases the evolution of Disney's work, inspiring young minds to dream big. Interactive activities like animation stations let kids channel their inner artist, creating a hands-on connection to the magic. A visit to this museum is not just about learning – it's about discovering the power of imagination, storytelling, and the enduring impact of one man's dream on generations of families.

  • Angel Island, United States

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      A family adventure to Angel Island promises an unforgettable day of exploration and outdoor escapades. The ferry ride alone is a thrilling start, offering scenic views as you approach this serene island oasis. Once ashore, your kids can run, hike, and roam through scenic trails that reveal breathtaking vistas of the bay and the city skyline. Picnicking in lush surroundings or grilling up a delicious meal adds a sense of togetherness and adventure. For history enthusiasts, the island's past as an immigration station comes to life through fascinating exhibits, giving kids a glimpse into the lives of immigrants who passed through its gates. And if your family loves nature, keep an eye out for local wildlife and beautiful landscapes, making every step a discovery. Whether it's exploring the history, soaking in the views, or enjoying the great outdoors, Angel Island is an enriching experience that promises quality family time and memories that will last a lifetime.

  • Koret Children's Playground in San Francisco, United States

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      A visit to the Koret Children's Quarter with kids is a gateway to pure, unbridled fun in the heart of Golden Gate Park. This iconic playground, the oldest public one in the U.S., is a haven for young adventurers seeking excitement. From swings that reach for the sky to exhilarating slides that send laughter echoing, every corner is a new invitation to play. The historic carousel adds a touch of whimsy, offering a timeless spin on joy. As kids explore the colorful structures and climb, swing, and slide to their hearts' content, they're not just playing – they're building friendships and creating cherished memories. The sprawling lawns provide space for picnics and games, making it a perfect spot for families to relax while the little ones unleash their energy. In the Koret Children's Quarter, every twist and turn brings another opportunity for discovery, connection, and endless smiles.

  • Chinatown San Francisco in San Francisco, United States

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      Exploring San Francisco's vibrant Chinatown with kids is like embarking on a cultural treasure hunt filled with sensory delights. As you step into this bustling neighborhood, the atmosphere becomes a whirlwind of colorful sights, enticing aromas, and the rhythmic beat of drums. Wander through narrow alleys adorned with intricate lanterns, vibrant murals, and bustling shops offering an array of exotic wares. Your young adventurers will be captivated by the array of unique and quirky items, from trinkets to traditional herbs. Engage their senses with the wafting scent of authentic cuisine and the chance to sample delectable dim sum or sweet treats. Keep an eye out for the ornate architecture and ornamental gates that transport you to a different world. Whether it's exploring hidden gems or experiencing traditional lion dances during festive times, a visit to Chinatown promises an immersive cultural journey that will leave kids wide-eyed and eager to uncover more about the rich heritage of this vibrant community.

  • Baker Beach in San Francisco, United States

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      Hit the sandy shores of Baker Beach and enjoy stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. This beach has one of the best views in the whole Bay Area, but can get very windy so bring warm clothes (this isn't So Cal!). Build sandcastles, take a leisurely stroll, or simply relax by the water.

  • Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, United States

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      A visit to Fisherman's Wharf with kids is a captivating adventure that promises a perfect blend of excitement and wonder. From the moment you arrive, the vibrant atmosphere sweeps you into a world of sensory delights. Stroll along the bustling waterfront, where the enchanting aroma of fresh seafood mingles with the sounds of street performers and the lively buzz of activity. Your little explorers will be captivated by the sight of colorful storefronts, souvenir shops, and charming eateries offering a variety of treats. Whether it's indulging in creamy clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl or delighting in sweet confections, the culinary options are sure to satisfy every palate. Don't miss the chance to watch the playful antics of the sea lions at Pier 39, an unforgettable experience that elicits laughter and amazement. With engaging attractions, like the Aquarium of the Bay and historic ships to explore, Fisherman's Wharf is a family-friendly destination that promises a day of discovery, joy, and cherished memories by the bay.

  • Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, United States

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      The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a haven of interactive learning and playful exploration that ignites the curiosity of young minds. Nestled on the shores of the bay, this dynamic museum offers a plethora of hands-on exhibits, inspiring children to engage with science, art, and the world around them. From creative art studios and engaging STEM activities to outdoor adventure zones, kids can dive into a world where learning is disguised as fun. With its stunning waterfront location, the museum seamlessly combines indoor and outdoor spaces, allowing children to connect with nature while they experiment, build, and discover. Whether it's constructing elaborate structures, investigating the wonders of water, or experimenting with sound and light, the Bay Area Discovery Museum promises an enriching experience that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and a lifelong love for learning.

  • Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco, United States

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      For children who have a passion for the arts, a visit to the Children's Creativity Museum is a must. This interactive museum is dedicated to fostering creativity and imagination in kids, providing a range of activities that allow them to express themselves through various art forms. Imagine your child stepping into a world where they can become animators, musicians, and designers. They can bring their drawings to life in the animation studios, compose their own music in the music-making stations, and unleash their imagination in the design labs. The Children's Creativity Museum provides a safe and supportive environment for your child to explore their artistic talents and let their imaginations soar. Through hands-on activities and interactive exhibits, your child can develop their creative thinking skills, learn to express themselves through different art forms, and gain confidence in their abilities. Whether they are painting a masterpiece, creating a stop-motion animation, or designing their own inventions, the Children's Creativity Museum encourages your child to think outside the box and embrace their unique creative voice. Engaging in educational activities is not only a great way to keep your child entertained but also a wonderful opportunity for them to learn and grow. Whether it's exploring the wonders of science at the Exploratorium, delving into the natural world at the California Academy of Sciences, or unleashing their creativity at the Children's Creativity Museum, these experiences will leave a lasting impact on your child's education and development.

  • California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, United States

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      If your child has a fascination with the natural world, a visit to the California Academy of Sciences is a must. This unique museum combines a planetarium, an aquarium, and a natural history museum, all under one living roof. Step into the aquarium and be mesmerized by the vibrant colors and diverse marine life. Your child can learn about different ecosystems, from coral reefs to kelp forests, and gain an appreciation for the importance of conservation. They can even touch starfish and sea cucumbers in the interactive touch pools, getting up close and personal with these fascinating creatures. Next, venture into the planetarium and embark on a journey through space. Your child can learn about the wonders of the universe, from the formation of stars to the exploration of other planets. They can gaze at the night sky and marvel at the beauty of the cosmos, igniting their curiosity about the mysteries of the universe. Finally, explore the natural history museum and discover the rich diversity of life on Earth. Your child can come face to face with dinosaur fossils, learn about the evolution of species, and understand the interconnectedness of all living things. The California Academy of Sciences offers a comprehensive learning experience that will leave your child with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural world.

  • Exploratorium in San Francisco, United States

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      With over 600 interactive exhibits, the Exploratorium is a paradise for young inquisitive minds. From exploring the human body to understanding the laws of physics, this museum provides a wide range of activities that will spark your child's curiosity and ignite their creativity. Imagine your child stepping into a world where they can touch, feel, and experiment with various scientific concepts. They can witness the magic of electricity as they create their own circuits or explore the wonders of light and color through interactive exhibits. The Exploratorium truly brings science to life, making learning a fun and immersive experience. As your child explores the museum, they will have the opportunity to engage in experiments, ask questions, and make connections between what they see and what they learn in school. The hands-on nature of the exhibits encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills, helping your child develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

  • Alamo Square in San Francisco, United States

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      After taking in the beauty of the Painted Ladies, take a moment to relax in Alamo Square Park. Spread out a picnic blanket and enjoy a leisurely lunch while soaking up the sunshine. The park offers a peaceful respite from the bustling city, allowing you to recharge before continuing your San Francisco adventure.

  • The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, United States

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      Make your way to Alamo Square Park, where you'll find the colorful Victorian houses known as the Painted Ladies. These iconic homes are one of San Francisco's most photographed locations. Let your kids run around in the park while you admire the beautiful architecture and snap some pictures of these stunning dwellings. The Painted Ladies are a prime example of Victorian architecture, with their ornate detailing and vibrant colors. Each house has its own unique charm and character, making them a delight to explore. As you stroll along the street, you'll notice the intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and decorative trim that adorn these historic homes. Did you know that the term "Painted Ladies" actually refers to any set of Victorian or Edwardian houses that have been painted in three or more colors to enhance their architectural details? While the term is commonly associated with the houses in Alamo Square, you can find similar examples throughout San Francisco and other cities around the world.

  • Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, United States

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      No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to Alcatraz Island. Known as "The Rock," this former federal prison allows visitors to explore its fascinating history. Take a guided tour and learn about the notorious criminals who were once incarcerated here. Your kids will be captivated by the tales of Al Capone, the Birdman of Alcatraz, and daring escape attempts. As you step foot on the island, you can't help but feel a sense of intrigue and mystery. The imposing concrete walls and guard towers loom overhead, reminding you of the prison's dark past. Inside the cell blocks, you'll see the cramped and austere conditions that the inmates endured. It's a chilling reminder of the harsh realities of life behind bars. But Alcatraz Island is not just about its prison history. The island is also home to a diverse range of wildlife and offers stunning views of the city skyline. Keep an eye out for seabirds, such as cormorants and seagulls, as they soar above the rocky cliffs. And don't forget to take a moment to appreciate the panoramic vistas of San Francisco Bay, with its sparkling blue waters and iconic landmarks in the distance.

  • Presidio of San Francisco in San Francisco, United States

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      The Presidio offers numerous hiking trails that are perfect for families who want to get some exercise while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Choose from easy, family-friendly trails to more challenging routes that offer stunning views of the San Francisco skyline. Don't forget to bring water, snacks, and comfortable shoes as you embark on your nature adventure.

  • Crissy Field in San Francisco, United States

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      Located near the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field is a picturesque beach that offers stunning views of the bay. Let your kids build sandcastles, fly kites, or simply enjoy splashing in the water. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, rent bikes, bring a kite or have a family picnic in this beautiful waterfront setting. Crissy Field is the perfect spot to relax and soak in the beauty of San Francisco. It can get really windy though so bring a sweater!

  • Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, United States

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      Indulge in San Francisco's vibrant food truck scene at Off the Grid. This popular gathering of food trucks offers a wide variety of cuisines to satisfy every palate. From gourmet burgers to mouthwatering tacos and artisanal ice cream, your kids are sure to find something they love. Enjoy your meal at shared picnic tables and soak in the lively atmosphere of this unique culinary experience.

  • Sea Lion Viewing Area in San Francisco, United States

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      A visit to the Pier 39 sea lions is a delightful experience that promises both entertainment and awe. As you stroll along the iconic Pier, you'll be greeted by the sight and sound of these charming creatures basking in the sun or playfully jostling for prime spots on the docks. The lively antics of the resident sea lions create an atmosphere of joy and wonder, captivating visitors of all ages. Watch as they gracefully dive into the bay's shimmering waters and hear their distinctive barks fill the air.

  • The Original Ghirardelli Chocolate & Ice Cream Shop in San Francisco, United States

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      No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to Ghirardelli Square. Treat your kids to a decadent ice cream sundae at the world-famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop. The rich, creamy flavors combined with the stunning views of the bay will make this a truly memorable experience. Don't forget to sample some of Ghirardelli's delectable chocolates before you leave!

  • Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, United States

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      Visiting one of the world's most famous landmarks in the world is exciting for all ages. The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic suspension bridge offering breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay and the city skyline. Take a leisurely stroll or rent bicycles to ride across this iconic landmark. Don't forget to bring your camera to capture the incredible panoramic views! As you walk along the bridge, you'll notice the intricate design and engineering marvel that went into its construction. The bridge's bright orange color stands out against the blue waters of the bay, creating a striking contrast that is a photographer's dream. If you're lucky, you might even spot a sailboat gliding underneath the bridge, adding to the picturesque scene. For those interested in history, did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937? It took four years to build and was once considered the longest suspension bridge in the world. Today, it remains an iconic symbol of San Francisco and a testament to human ingenuity.