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21 Very Best Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids (by a Local Parent!)

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San Francisco is an iconic destination for travelers from around the world, but it is especially fun to explore with kids. I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2005, and the last 13 years of that time has been with at least one kid in tow. While we haven’t done every family-friendly thing there is to do in San Francisco, we’ve come pretty darn close at this point.

If you are planning a trip to the City by the Bay, here are my recommendations for the truly best things to do in San Francisco with kids. The activities listed are informed by lots of personal experience over the years. I’ve included recommended age ranges for each activity below as well, because the city has a number of attractions that are probably best saved or at least prioritized for certain ages and stages.

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge - View from Marin Headlands

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How to Save Money on Activities & Admissions in San Francisco

Before I get into the best things to do, an important word about cost. San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in America. A lot of travelers to the area will definitely experience some sticker shock when it comes to activities. Budget accordingly, but also make sure you aren’t overpaying by doing a little research first.

When you are buying admissions to several activities in a short period of time (common for tourists to the city), there are definitely ways to save! An easy method is with multi-attraction passes. Two companies – CityPass and Go City – have several options to choose from.

CityPass in San Francisco

CityPass in San Francisco offers both a 4 attraction pass and a 3 attraction pass. The standard CityPass San Francisco offering – the 4 attraction pass – includes the California Academy of Sciences and a Blue & Gold Fleet San Francisco Bay Cruise, plus the choice of 2 more (from 4 options). The 3 attraction pass (San Francisco C3) gives the choice of 3 attractions from a list of 9. Both of these passes are good for 9 days, so they provide a fair amount of flexibility for travelers.

Go City San Francisco

Go City also has two pass types available in San Francisco. The first is the Go City All-Inclusive pass, which is available for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days. This pass is an “all you can eat” option that lets you see as many attractions as you can possibly visit for the number of days you purchase it. The list of attractions is quite long (over two dozen choices). The pass includes a number of offerings outside the city limits as well, including two Northern California theme parks. If you plan to go hard on a visit, this pass likely unlocks the most savings. But this kind of touring can also be exhausting with kids and isn’t for everyone.

Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass

The other option from Go City in San Francisco is the Explorer pass. With this pass, you can bundle 2-5 activities of your choice together for a discount. Then you have up to 60 days to redeem all of them. This makes this pass great for vacationers on longer trips who want to go at a more leisurely pace. I think this is also the best pass for locals who might want to do multiple outings with kids on a longer school break or summer vacation.

Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass

Other Ways to Save Money in San Francisco

If the multi attraction passes aren’t a fit, or you are looking for additional discounts to supplement what is available on these passes, there are even more options to save. Several attractions in San Francisco have discounted bundled tickets for families when you buy direct. There are also regular museum free days in San Francisco as well (SF Tourism Tips keeps a helpful list). Sometimes attractions offer military discounts, AAA savings, or online advance purchase discounts too.

And finally, remember that there are a ton of free things to do in San Francisco. Work some of those in to your itinerary as well. (See my top 25 free things to do in San Francisco with kids!)

21 Best Activities & Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids

So now let’s dive into my top picks. Here are 21 of our family’s recommendations of the best things to do with kids in San Francisco. Peek at this map to help figure out which attractions are close together that can be done in a single day to minimize your transit time.

(I’ve also indicated which of these attractions are included on the multi-attraction passes offered by CityPass and Go City. Hopefully this helps you in building an itinerary that saves money.)

1) Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39

San Francisco Pier 39 Crab
  • Location: Blocks surrounding the intersection of Beach Street & the Embarcadero (Fisherman’s Wharf sign is at 2820 Taylor Street)
  • Cost: Various (many free)
  • Recommended Ages: All ages
  • Discount Passes Applicable: Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass (Fisherman’s Wharf Walking Tour by ExperienceFirst), Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass (Fisherman’s Wharf Walking Tour by ExperienceFirst)

The neighborhood most tourists flock to first in San Francisco is Fisherman’s Wharf. Located on the northern waterfront, the area includes the famed Pier 39 and a number of family-friendly attractions and iconic places to eat.

To be sure, Fisherman’s Wharf is touristy, complete with plenty of overpriced and inauthentic experiences. But there’s plenty of classic San Francisco there as well. So don’t be a travel snob and skip it – especially with kids who are likely to enjoy its offerings most of all.

My kids always love visiting Boudin Bakery where you can sample real San Francisco sourdough. Also a hit is watching the Pier 39 sea lions sunning themselves (and occasionally fighting) on the docks. The double decker carousel at the end of Pier 39 is especially enjoyable with little ones.

For all of the best things to do and see with kids, see my full guide to Fisherman’s Wharf with kids.

2) Aquarium of the Bay

San Francisco Aquarium of the Bay Child at Entrance
  • Location: Intersection of Beach Street & the Embarcadero
  • Cost: $29.75 adult, $19.75 child (4-12) + ticketing fee
  • Recommended Ages: Toddlers/Preschoolers, School Age Kids
  • Discount Passes Applicable: San Francisco CityPass, San Francisco C3, Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass, Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass

Located on Pier 39, the Aquarium of the Bay is enough of a standalone attraction that it gets a listing all of its own. It’s worth a visit with kids even if you don’t plan to spend much time otherwise at Fisherman’s Wharf.

The aquarium certainly isn’t as large as some other aquariums in major cities but it is especially high quality and unique due to its focus on the marine life specific to the San Francisco Bay. There is an underwater tunnel where visitors can view the “sharks of Alcatraz,” touch pools with rays, a river otter exhibit, and plenty of jellyfish. Plan on about 1.5-2 hours to view it all at a leisurely pace.

While the Aquarium of the Bay can be a bit pricey, there are a number of ways to save on admission. Families can purchase a family 4 pack (2 adults + 2 kids) for $80 to immediately save about 20%. The attraction is also offered on both the San Francisco CityPass and San Francisco Go City passes.

3) Alcatraz

Visiting San Francisco's Alcatraz Island with Kids
  • Location: Ferries depart from Pier 33 (Alcatraz Landing)
  • Cost: $42.15 adult, $42.15 junior (12-17), $25.80 child (5-11), $39.80 senior (62+)
  • Recommended Ages: School Age Kids, Teens

Alcatraz Island is one of San Francisco’s most well-known sites. During its days as a high security prison until 1963, “the Rock” was home to some of America’s most notorious prisoners, from Al Capone to the “Birdman” Robert Stroud. Today, visitors can hop aboard a ferry to the site, take an audio tour of the prison, roam the surrounding grounds.

There are a number of resellers who will charge you more for boat access to Alcatraz, so I highly recommend booking directly and only through the official National Park Service concessioner – Alcatraz City Cruises. Tickets are expensive, but include an audio tour of the cellhouse. Families can save a bit by purchasing a family pack that includes 2 adult and 2 child tickets for $123.10.

Visiting Alcatraz requires something approaching a half of a day with the boat transport time. Because of the time required to visit and the nature of the attraction, it isn’t an attraction I really recommend to families with kids under 5. But school age kids and older will likely find it fascinating. We last visited when my youngest was 7 and he listened to every detail of the audio tour with rapt attention.

One word of warning – bring jackets and fleece (yes, even in summer!). The winds on the Bay are no joke. On all but a couple of the warmest days of the year, you will be very cold.

4) Golden Gate Park

San Francisco Golden Gate Park de Young Museum
  • Location: Multiple entrances (501 Stanyan St most used)
  • Cost: Various (many free)
  • Recommended Ages: All ages
  • Discount Passes Applicable: San Francisco C3 (de Young Museum), Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass (Highlights of Golden Gate Park bike tour, Golden Gate Park bike rental by Unlimited Biking, de Young Museum), Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass (Highlights of Golden Gate Park bike tour, Golden Gate Park bike rental by Unlimited Biking, de Young Museum)

The largest green space in the city is home to a number of family-friendly attractions and sights. Golden Gate Park has a children’s playground, a historic carousel, multiple gardens, a Japanese tea garden, the SkyStar Ferris wheel, and several world-class museums, from the de Young Museum/Legion of Honor to the California Academy of Sciences.

You can’t possibly do it all, even in a full day, so pick a couple of highlights that interest your family most. With teens, Segway (ages 12+ only) or electric scooter (ages 16+ only) tours are a unique way to get around. With all ages, bike rentals and bike tours (many of which offer kids bikes, baby seats, trailers, and/or trailalong bikes) are available too.

5) California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences San Francisco - Kids Viewing Aquarium
  • Location: 55 Music Concourse Dr. (in Golden Gate Park)
  • Cost: Variable based on date & time. Peak $44 adult, $34.25 child (3-17), $38.25 senior (65+).
  • Recommended Ages: Toddlers/Preschoolers, School Age Kids
  • Discount Passes Applicable: San Francisco CityPass, San Francisco C3, Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass, Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass

Located within Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is one of the best science museums you can find anywhere in the country – hence the separate special listing here! If you can do only one thing in the park with kids, this should be it.

The California Academy of Sciences combines an aquarium, a natural history museum, and a planetarium all under one roof. The collections are extensive and engaging, and the museum and grounds are meticulously maintained. Highlights include Claude the albino alligator and the new Shake House that simulates the motion of the 1906 and 1989 San Francisco earthquakes.

The California Academy of Sciences is one of the priciest attractions in San Francisco, but there are a few ways for travelers to save. The museum participates in bundled savings from both CityPass and Go City (and because of the museum’s high price this is a good choice to bundle), so pick the pass type and length that works best for the other sights you plan to see.

6) Exploratorium

Exploratorium San Francisco
Image courtesy of the Exploratorium.
  • Location: Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green St.)
  • Cost: $39.95 adult, $29.95 youth (4-17), $29.95 senior (65+)
  • Recommended Ages: School Age Kids, Teens
  • Discount Passes Applicable: San Francisco CityPass, San Francisco C3, Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass, Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass

On the San Francisco waterfront between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf is another world-class science museum. The Exploratorium sparks curiosity by blending art and science, encouraging visitors to tinker, create, and explore.

I find that many of the exhibits are a little sophisticated, so the museum isn’t as good of a fit with the youngest of kids. But school age kids and above, as well as parents and grandparents, can really dive deeply into the offerings. In fact, it’s so much fun for adults that the museum hosts evening After Dark adults-only events too.

7) Ride a Cable Car (& See the Cable Car Museum)

San Francisco Cable Car California Line Nob Hill Chinatown
  • Location: Cable Car Museum: 1201 Mason Street
  • Cost: Cable car ride: $8 ages 5+, Cable car museum: free
  • Recommended Ages: All ages

No visit to San Francisco is complete without seeing and riding one of the iconic cable cars up the city’s steep hills. The city runs three lines that are likely to be in a number of places tourists will happen to be: the California line (running from the Financial District up and over Nob Hill), the Powell-Mason (running from Union Square to one end of Fisherman’s Wharf), and the Powell-Hyde (running from Union Square to the other end of Fisherman’s Wharf by Ghirardelli Square).

Just be aware of a few things before you board. First, cable cars can be very popular. During certain peak tourist periods, they are more like an amusement park ride with a long line than an actual convenient and timely form of transportation. Second, cable cars can be a bit dangerous with little ones. I recommend putting babies in a carrier and being extremely careful if you have an active toddler. And leave the strollers behind when you plan to ride – there is almost never enough room to transport anything other than the most compact of umbrella strollers aboard these crowded vehicles.

Related: Complete Guide to San Francisco Transit and Transportation

If you want to learn more about how these historic forms of transportation work, I also recommend making a quick stop by the Cable Car Museum to learn more.

8) Walt Disney Family Museum

Walt Disney Family Museum with Kids - Exterior
  • Location: 104 Montgomery Street (in the Presidio)
  • Cost: $25 adult, $15 youth (6-17), $20 student (with college ID), $20 senior (65+), free child (5 & under)
  • Recommended Ages: School Age Kids, Teens
  • Discount Passes Applicable: San Francisco CityPass, San Francisco C3, Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass, Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass

You don’t have to go to Southern California to experience Disney history. Walt Disney’s daughter Diane Disney Miller called Napa Valley her home in her later years and established an impressive Disney attraction nearby in San Francisco in the Presidio. The Walt Disney Family Museum explores Walt the man, his family, and his legacy. It regularly has unique special exhibitions, and the icing on the cake for Disney fans is looking at the museum’s scale model of the original Disneyland layout.

Visiting can be a bit of a challenge with youngest of kids, especially if parents and older kids really want to dive deeply into learning the history and details. That said, I first visited with a 3 year old and 7 year old and got a lot out of it even then. See my guide for visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum with kids for more tips and details.

Got a Star Wars fan in the family? There’s a unique chance to geek out with another Disney franchise a few steps away. Swing by the neighboring Letterman Digital and New Media Arts Center where a fountain featuring a life-size statue of Yoda is located.

9) Walk, Bike or Drive the Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge View from Sausalito
  • Location: No address, but you can’t miss it (it’s on Highway 101 over the water)
  • Cost: Free
  • Recommended Ages: All ages
  • Discount Passes Applicable: San Francisco C3 (bike rental from Bay City Bike) Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass (bike rental from Blazing Saddles and/or bike tour from Unlimited Biking), Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass (bike rental from Blazing Saddles and/or bike tour from Unlimited Biking)

San Francisco’s most famous sight is undoubtedly the Golden Gate Bridge. Its red spires loom large suspended over the Bay, connecting the city to Marin County. Depending on the ages of your kids and the time you have available, it’s fun to walk, bike, or drive the span.

Bike rentals are available from a number of companies at Fisherman’s Wharf or near the Ferry Building. Blazing Saddles is one that has been around for a long time that I’ve personally used that is included with all Go City San Francisco products. A popular option is to ride over the bridge, descend into Sausalito for a meal or a snack, and then ferry back to the city. There are even guided tours if you’d prefer not to navigate it all yourself (one from Unlimited Biking is available with both Go City San Francisco products too).

If you choose to drive, there are many different vantage points with magnificent views. Especially easy to access is the H Dana Bower Rest Area at the first exit in Marin County after leaving San Francisco and crossing the water (often labeled as Golden Gate Bridge View Vista Point on map apps). If you have a little more time, go up into the Marin Headlands along Conzelman Road where there are multiple pullouts to see a different angle from afar.

10) Lombard Street

  • Location: Lombard Street (between Hyde and Leavenworth)
  • Cost: Free
  • Recommended Ages: All ages

Another fascinating drive or stroll with kids is down the crookedest street in America – Lombard Street! Located right in the thick of things in Russian Hill (not far from Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square), this stop doesn’t require much time and is usually a kid favorite. In fact, driving the steep streets of the whole surrounding neighborhood is always fun for my kids!

The line to drive Lombard Street backs up a bit on weekends and other times when tourists are out and about. If you are walking or coming via cable car or other transit (the Powell-Hyde line goes right by the top of the hill), there is a separate sidewalk to walk down or up. The view at the bottom of the block (at Leavenworth) is a great backdrop for a family photo.

11) Coit Tower

San Francisco Coit Tower
  • Location: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd
  • Cost: Free to enter. Elevators: $10 adult, $3 child (5-11), $7 youth (12-17), $7 senior (62+) (SF resident discounts available)
  • Recommended Ages: School Age Kids, Teens

On the top of Telegraph Hill is a memorable feature of the San Francisco skyline – the white column of Coit Tower. The tower was build as a memorial to San Francisco’s volunteer firefighters who died in the city’s 5 major fires, including the one that followed the 1906 earthquake. Visitors can tour the tower’s Depression-era murals for free or pay a fee to ascend the elevators for some magnificent city views.

Hiking to the tower is not for the faint of heart or really for anyone with strollers, so this is probably best saved for families with older kids. Parking at the top is in extremely short supply so I recommend taking the #39 bus to the top from Fisherman’s Wharf. There’s a nearby cafe perfect for a snack or lunch with a view.

12) Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square with Kids - Entrance San Francisco
  • Location: 900 North Point Street
  • Cost: Various (many free)
  • Recommended Ages: All ages

If you or your kids have a sweet tooth, Ghirardelli Square is a can’t-miss stop for a treat. Located on the waterfront west of Fisherman’s Wharf, the square is home to dining and retail, with three different locations to buy and eat hot fudge sundaes from San Francisco’s famous historic chocolate brand.

Brand new in 2022 is the recently renovated Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience, where guests can see chocolate bars made before their very eyes, select a custom mix of Ghirardelli’s famous individual chocolate squares for a souvenir or gift, or indulge in a hot fudge sundae.

Related: Complete Guide to Ghirardelli Square with Kids

There’s more to do than just eat, as the offerings in and around the Square have been growing in recent years. One of the best activities on the block for families is a round at Subpar Miniature Golf – a unique mini golf experience with handcrafted holes that highlight San Francisco’s iconic tourist attractions.

13) San Francisco Zoo

San Francisco Zoo Penguins
  • Location: Sloat Blvd & Upper Great Highway
  • Cost: $25 adult, $18 child (2-11), $20 senior (65+) (SF resident discounts available) + $11-13 parking
  • Recommended Ages: Babies/Toddlers, Preschoolers, School Age Kids
  • Discount Passes Applicable: San Francisco CityPass, San Francisco C3, Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass, Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass

San Francisco has a quality zoo sure to please any animal-loving kiddos in your traveling family. You can spend anywhere from about 2 hours to something approaching a full day here. Highlights include an impressive penguin exhibit, rhinos, lions, tigers, and lemurs, among many other animals. The Little Puffer Steam Train ride is a fun addition to a visit (extra fee required). (Related: Complete Guide to Trains in Northern California.) The playground areas are also quite well done, and there is a historic carousel on property as well.

The San Francisco Zoo is located way out on the far southwestern side of the city, so it’s a bit far from a number of other attractions families may visit. Combine it with a visit to Ocean Beach, Land’s End, or even Golden Gate Park to minimize long transit times.

14) Oracle Park & the San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants Oracle Park Aerial View
  • Location: 24 Willie Mays Plaza
  • Cost: Varies (as low as $10 per ticket for some games). Tours are $25 adult, $17.50 child (3-11), $20 senior (55+)
  • Recommended Ages: School Age Kids, Teens

If your visit to San Francisco falls in the late spring, summer, or early fall, consider catching a San Francisco Giants baseball with your family. As much as it pains me to say it (everyone in my family is a hardcore Oakland A’s fan), the Giants have a very nice ballpark and an impressive team most years. The park includes a Fan Lot with lots of fun activities and play areas for kids – worth arriving early before game time to have time to experience.

But even if you aren’t in town when the Giants have a home stand, you can take baseball loving kiddos for a visit. Oracle Park offers tours almost daily for an additional fee. These tours take guests into some areas not ordinarily open to the public like the dugout, field, luxury box, and press suite.

(And if baseball isn’t your sport, San Francisco is of course also home to the Golden State Warriors. Tickets to see a basketball game at Chase Center are pricey, but well worth it if the opportunity presents itself.)

15) Children’s Creativity Museum

Childrens Creativity Museum San Francisco Yerba Buena Gardens
  • Location: 221 4th St
  • Cost: $20 everyone ages 1+, $15 for Preschool Playtime, $5 per carousel ride ages 3+
  • Recommended Ages: Babies/Toddlers, Preschoolers, School Age Kids

Located in Yerba Buena Gardens, the Children’s Creativity Museum centers the arts and technology in its hands-on exhibits and activities. The museum is targeted at kids ages 2-12 and features lots of interactive opportunities for kids looking to get creative and experiment, whether in physical spaces or digitally. The Children’s Creativity Museum is open weekends for all ages as well as for Preschool playtime on Thursdays and Fridays. Walk-ins are welcome so this is an easy activity to add on a whim to a travel itinerary as time allows.

Adjacent to the museum is a must-ride for kids and kids of all ages: a 100+ year old historic Looff carousel, the LeRoy King Carousel. This carousel originally was located at San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach, a Coney island style amusement park of a bygone era in the city. It is traditionally open on Saturdays and Sundays but it also often open on many weekdays during school holiday breaks. Also in Yerba Buena Center is an ice skating ring, bowling alley, and beautiful gardens.

16) San Francisco Bay Cruise

Blue and Gold Fleet Bay Cruise at San Francisco Pier 41
  • Location: Pier 41
  • Cost: $37 adult, $26 child (5-11), $31 senior (65+), $31 junior (12-18) for 60 minute Bay Cruise
  • Recommended Ages: School Age Kids, Teens
  • Discount Passes Applicable: San Francisco CityPass (60 min Bay cruise), San Francisco C3 (60 min Bay cruise), Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass (90 min Escape from the Rock cruise), Go City San Francisco Explorer Pass (90 min Escape from the Rock cruise)

One of the best ways to get a feel of the city is to get out on the waters of the San Francisco Bay. If the ferry to Alcatraz doesn’t fit into your plans, a shorter cruise of the bay might just fit the bill.

The Blue & Gold Fleet operates several cruises to get some amazing views of the city and learn about its history. There is a basic 60 minute bay cruise, a sunset cruise (returning in spring 2023), and a 90 minute “Escape from the Rock” cruise. This cruise goes under the Golden Gate bridge, past Angel Island, and that circles Alcatraz. All cruises include audio guides in many different languages so that older kids and adults can get an introduction to the city landscape and history. Pack lots of layers for the usually frigid bay air!

17) San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Hyde Street Pier Entrance
  • Location: 2905 Hyde St.
  • Cost: Free for most of the park area; $15 adult (16+), children free (15 & under) for Hyde Street Pier (admission is included with an America the Beautiful National Park Pass or 4th grade Every Kid Outdoors Pass)
  • Recommended Ages: Preschool, School Age, Teens

One of several National Park Service run sites in San Francisco is the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The park is located near Ghirardelli Square at the far end of Fisherman’s Wharf. If you have kids interested in transportation and boats, this is a must-do.

The park includes a Visitor Center, the Maritime Museum (located in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building), a Maritime Research Center, and the Aquatic Park Historic District. Its centerpiece is the Hyde Street Pier, where 8 historic ships are moored. For an additional fee for access to the Pier, visitors can climb aboard and explore the ships.

The park participates in the Junior Ranger program and offers two activity booklets for kids to complete as they learn and explore – one for kids ages 5-8 and one for kids ages 9-12. It also offers an interactive education mobile app based game, Agents of Discovery. Families must solve challenges and complete an assigned “mission,” with a prize available at the end.

The park also includes a protected cove with a very pretty beach and open grassy area overlooking the water. It’s an ideal place for a picnic or a beach day for families when the weather is warm.

18) Live Theater and Performances

Frozen North American Tour - photo by Deen van Meer
Photo credit: Deen van Meer / © Disney
  • Location: Various
  • Cost: Various
  • Recommended Ages: School Age, Teens

While San Francisco may not have the big theater name of New York City or London, the city’s arts scene has always been thriving. For traveling families with kids who are a little bit older, I highly recommend making time for a show or performance if you are spending more than a day or two in San Francisco.

Touring casts of Broadway shows are regularly in town in the theaters run by BroadwaySF (the Orpheum and Golden Gate theaters) and additional shows are often available at the Curran. On deck for the rest of 2022 and early 2023 are shows like Frozen, Dear Evan Hansen, and Six. The San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Opera are also world class, as is homegrown theater American Conservatory Theater, so there are plenty of options to choose from.

And if one of the bigger shows don’t fit in the schedule or the budget, some smaller venues can really delight.

19) The Presidio – Tunnel Tops & More

Presidio Tunnel Tops Playground
Photo courtesy Rachel Styer / Presidio Trust.
  • Location: 210 Lincoln Boulevard and surrounding area
  • Cost: Free
  • Recommended Ages: All Ages

If you are headed to the Walt Disney Family Museum, you’ll already have reason to visit the Presidio. But this neighborhood and national park site in San Francisco has many more kid-friendly offerings to consider as well.

Brand new as of Summer 2022 (and getting uniformly rave reviews) is Presidio Tunnel Tops, a large green space built atop the tunnel that connects the roadways of the city to the Golden Gate Bridge approach. Tunnel Tops has play structures, picnic spaces, and an amazing view of the bay and Golden Gate when the fog clears. Food trucks and vendors are available here 7 days a week as well.

There is more green space and outdoor space to explore at Crissy Field. The Presidio is also home to indoor trampoline park House of Air and Presidio Bowl. Both are perfect for a rainy day activity in San Francisco with kids.

20) Beaches

San Francisco Aquatic Park Cove Beach
  • Location: Various
  • Cost: Free
  • Recommended Ages: All ages

With its foggy weather and cooler temperatures, San Francisco isn’t often considered quite the beach destination compared to its Southern California counterparts. But the city is home to a long stretch of beaches along the Pacific and bay coasts that can be pretty glorious on sunny days when the fog decides to stay away. No matter what time of year though, expect the water to be cold. A wetsuit is a must if you plan to spend any time in the water!

Top beaches to visit include:

  • Aquatic Park Beach: As already mentioned above, this small beach next to the Hyde Street Pier is well-located to other tourist attractions. The protective cove is safe for little ones.
  • Crissy Field Beach: Easily walkable from the Presidio, this beach has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the bay side.
  • Baker Beach: Adjacent to the Presidio, on the Pacific side of the Golden Gate, this beach has views of the bridge that can’t be beat.
  • Ocean Beach: Way out in the Sunset, this beach is not safe for swimming due to strong currents and riptides in the Pacific, but is a popular spot for beach strolls or to watch surfers.

21) Ferry Building

  • Location: 1 Ferry Building
  • Cost: Various (many free)
  • Recommended Ages: All ages

Finally, while it’s a mecca for foodies and often thought of as an adult destination as a result, the Ferry Building has a lot to offer families as well – even those with picky eaters like mine. The Ferry Building holds a weekly farmer’s market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays that is fun to explore with kids.

The marketplace is also home to several family-friendly shops and restaurants. One of my kids’ favorites is Book Passage, a local bookstore with a well-curated collection of San Francisco reads and a kids corner. For a quick treat, Humphry Slocomb has truly decadent ice cream flavors. And one of the most family-friendly restaurants in San Francisco is in the Ferry Building – Gott’s Roadside, a high-end dinner with shakes and burgers to die for.

During the month of December, the Ferry Building transforms into the Merry Building, making it a holiday destination for shopping and activities that my family enjoys visiting. (See more holiday activities in San Francisco with kids).

More Info For Visiting San Francisco with Kids

Family at Pier 39 San Francisco with sea lions

Looking for more things to do in the San Francisco Bay Area with kids?

Looking for the very best things to do in San Francisco with kids? A local parent recommends the top family-friendly attractions and activities in San Francisco, from the California Academy of Sciences to Pier 39 and more.

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