8 Great Family Friendly Activities in San Francisco


San Francisco is a beautiful city. It’s called the City by the Bay for a reason, as it’s right on San Francisco Bay, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. From the Golden Gate Bridge to Chinatown, the city is filled with many things to do and see. In fact, it has so many activities to choose from – especially for parents with young kids – that it’s one of the most-visited places in the United States. Whether you want culture, education, or simple fun on your family vacation, consider one of these activities:

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is a San Francisco neighborhood located right on the bay (hence it’s name.) One of the coolest things to see here are the sea lions, which hang out en masse on docks, creating quite a spectacle. After seeing them, take the cable car to Union Square for lunch and shopping. Don’t forget to stop at the Disney Store!

Crissy Field

Crissy Field is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a park with a reclaimed tidal marsh and beach. Make sure to stay on the paths while walking to the beach in order to preserve the plant habitats in the marshy areas. The walk is worth it, as your family will be rewarded with an amazing view of the water and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts is located within walking distance of Crissy Field, so if you wanted to, you could combine both into one day of fun. The Palace is a group of interesting structures left over from the Panama-Pacific Exhibition in 1915. Sometimes there are art exhibit there, although walking around the grounds is just as enjoyable. It’s a great place to bird-watch and picnic, and the lakes surrounding the Palace are simply beautiful.

California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is one of the largest natural history and science museums in the world. That alone makes it worth visiting. There’s an indoor rainforest, an aquarium – complete with African penguins, a planetarium with the world’s largest digital dome, and plenty of exhibits and activities for kids. It’s so much fun that they won’t realize that they are learning things.

The Ferry Building

There’s nothing like a ferry ride to Sausalito or Tiburon to round out a trip to San Francisco. The Ferry Building itself is enormous, with a huge clock tower. Inside is a marketplace filled with local arts and crafts and farm-raised foods. Make sure to set aside enough time for lunch before your ferry ride.

The Exploratorium

The Exploratorium, located at Pier 15, bills itself as a “public learning laboratory.” It consists of several floors of science experiments, art, and exhibits designed to make learning entertaining. I recommend it for families with kids that are least four years old; the exhibits and places to explore might be too much for younger children.

San Francisco Zoo

It’s hard to say what the San Francisco Zoo’s best feature is, because it is all amazing. It might be the animals, or possibly the train designed for kids. It could be the newly renovated playground. Actually, it’s all of those – they are tied! You and your family can easily spend five hours here and you still won’t see everything.

Bay Area Discovery Museum

The Bay Area Discovery Museum is located at the first exit after the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s filled with activities for kids, and has everything from an art room to a river to play in. There’s also a train room, a section filled with music and bubbles, a huge playground, and even blocks to build with. Because of its location, there’s a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and it’s very close to downtown Sausalito, where, after you leave the museum, you can stroll along the waterfront and eat ice cream while watching the boats pass by.

San Francisco is filled with many different family-friendly things to do. You won’t regret the trip, and will make memories that will last for years to come!

#SanFrancisco #FamilyTravel

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Caroline Glassell, owner of Travel Barista, is a world-wide traveler, freelance travel writer, and multi-lingual mom of two daughters. Growing up in both Sweden and Portugal she developed a passion for travel at a young age. Her love of travel ultimately brought her to over thirty 

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