70 Best Family Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids - TourScanner (2024)

Table of Contents
1 –See sea stars, sturgeons, sharks and more at Aquarium of the Bay 2 –Marvel at the famous Golden Gate Bridge 3 –Explore the California Academy of Sciences 4 –Check out the San Francisco Botanical Garden 5 –Have fun at the Children’s Creativity Museum 6 – Join boat tours on the Bay 7 –Meet celebs at Madame Tussauds 8 –Spot sea lions lazing in the sun 9 – Fly over San Fran during airplane tours 10 –Learn and play at Bay Area Discovery Museum 11 – Show the animals love at the San Francisco Zoo 12 –Find famous paintings at the Museum of Modern Art 13 –Walk up (or down) the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps 14 – Go wild at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom 15 –Hang out at Mission Dolores Park 16 – Sightsee the city on the bus tours 17 –Catch a boat over to Alcatraz 18 –Deep dive into the Exploratorium 19 –Put your mind to the test with escape rooms 20 – See the famous twisty Lombard Street 21 – Eat and shop at the oldest Chinatown in North America 22 –Discover the magic of Enchanted Fairy Garden 23 –Learn how to ride the waves with surf lessons 24 –Uncover the life of the iconic storyteller at the Walt Disney Family Museum 25 –Get lost inside Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze 26 – Eat like a local during a food tour 27 –Make a splash at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor 28 – Check out Fisherman’s Wharf 29 –Eat gelato from Little Italy 30 – Treat your kids to the ice cream shops 31 – Spin around on the Skystar Wheel 32 –Defy gravity and try indoor skydiving 33 –Be fooled at the Museum of 3D Illusions 34 – Zoot around the city with cute GoCar tours 35 –Relive story tales at Children’s Fairyland 36 – Ride The Flyer simulator 37 –Exercise with an urban hike 38 –Buy chocolate from Ghirardelli Chocolate Company 39 – Watch a show at the Palace of Fine Arts 40 –Observe people body-bending at Circus Bella 41 – Visit City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, the first all-paperback bookstore in the USA 42 – Grab an espresso from Pinhole Coffee 43 – Tackle the scavenger games 44 –House of Air Trampoline Park and Café 45 – Spend the afternoon at Presidio of San Francisco 46 – Marvel at the acrobats from Dear San Francisco 47 – Feel like a bird during exciting helicopter tours 48 –Go boating at Stow Lake 49 – Visit the best beaches 50 – Explore Yerba Buena Gardens 51 – Uncover an Egyptian scribe at the Legion of Honor 52 –Play games at the arcades 53 – Snap pics in front of the Painted Ladies 54 –Buy goods from local farmers and artisans at The Ferry 55 – Shop the 826 Valencia Pirate Supply Store 56 – Play rounds of mini golf 57 – Relive movie moments with Movie Sights tours 58 –Join the Agents of Discovery mission 59 – Enjoy two activities in one spot at SkateBowl 60 – Ride the famous San Francisco Cable Car 61 – Watch a movie at the outdoor cinemas 62 – See three historical cable cars at the San Francisco Cable Car Museum 63 – Dive into American art at De Young Museum 64 – Go roller skating at the Church of 8 Wheels 65 – Have fun at California’s Great America 66 – Go horse riding 67 – Shop, eat and play at The Crossing at East Cut 68 – Ride and sing on the San Francisco Carousel 69 – Take in the views from Coit Tower 70 – Lunch or book dinner at the best restaurants for kids How to get to San Francisco? Where to stay in San Francisco with kids? Visiting San Francisco on a budget? Looking for the best tours in San Francisco? Final thoughts

Unleash your child’s imagination, let their creativity run wild, learn a new skill or educate young minds on important moments in American history during a fun-laden trip to the Bay Area.

California’s third-largest city offers a fantastical mix of indoor and outdoor activities, with an abundance of family things to do in San Francisco with kids.

Play in the sunshine at the city parks and colorful gardens, or spend the day at one of the exciting amusem*nt parks themed around popular cartoons.

Marvel at acrobats performing crazy tricks at the (modern-day) circuses or show them that fairies are real at one of the fairylands.

There are museums especially designed for little ones, like the Children’s Creativity Museum, the Exploratorium and the Bay Area Discovery Museum. Test unique activities like indoor skydiving or a flight simulator experience.

Visit the beaches, piers, local chocolatiers, food markets and aquariums.

Of course, you can’t leave off sightseeing the impressive landmarks and monuments, from the Golden Gate Bridge to a ride on the city trams.

With so many fun things to do in San Francisco, good luck deciding what to try first!

1 –See sea stars, sturgeons, sharks and more at Aquarium of the Bay

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Did you know that the San Francisco Bay spans three central bays (San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun), with both sea and freshwater flowing through the estuary? Home to worlds of marine creatures, appreciate and become educated on native species at the Aquarium of the Bay.

Comprising two floors and housing over 24,000 local aquatic animals, little ones love saying hello to the fish, mammals and invertebrates calling the aquarium home. Learn all about the ecosystems of San Fran Bay through the seven varying animal habitats here.

The ‘Discover the Bay’ Gallery is a great starting point. Meet the California State Marine Fish, i.e., the orange Garibaldi and see newly born fishies hatching.

Become enthralled with different jellyfish species at the ‘Go With The Flow’ exhibit; uncover life ‘Under the Bay’ by walking through acrylic tunnels; visit the Bay Lab and Touchpools at the hands-on ‘Touch the Bay’ gallery, and say hello to the four adorable North American mammals at the River Otters gallery.

For children of the ocean, it’s one of the best places to visit in San Francisco.

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2 –Marvel at the famous Golden Gate Bridge

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Connecting the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean is the Golden Gate Strait. Crossing the strait is the iconic Golden Gate Bridge — one of the most photographed bridges anywhere in the world — considered a symbol of the City by the Bay.

You would never think that the general public first considered the structure an eyesore when its construction began in 1933. Designed as an Art Deco-style suspension bridge (by engineer Joseph Baermann Strauss) in the color International Orange, the overpass is 2.7 kilometers long.

Opening to public traffic flow in 1937, it remained the world’s tallest bridge until 1993.

Start at the Welcome Center and get acquainted with the structure, exploring a few exhibits here. Outside the center are more exhibitions housed in an old bunker.

Join free walking tours to learn more of its history, or veer past the legendary bridge during bike tours in San Francisco. Kids are always taken aback by its color and length, and they especially love driving over the bridge!

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3 –Explore the California Academy of Sciences

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Whether you’ve got a budding scientist or a child wanting to be an astronomer when they grow up, the captivating California Academy of Sciences is an all-round crowd-pleaser.

Founded in 1853, it swiftly became one of the first scientific academies west of the Atlantic Seaboard.

Expanding its collection of research specimens over the centuries and decades; following an earthquake in 1989, the institute was reenvisioned as the grand-scale museum center we see today.

Undoubtedly one of the best museums in San Francisco, easily spend the whole day here, and various institutions are inside the center.

Marvel at the stars and skies at the Morrison Planetarium, flit amongst butterflies, birds and exotic reptiles under the Osher Rainforest’s dome (containing 1,600 plant and animal species), meet over 60,000 water species at the Steinhart Aquarium (established in 1923) and explore fossils and earthly scientific collections at the Kimball Natural History Museum.

Parents and kids; spend a night at the museum with Penguins+Pajamas Sleepovers, and the institution offers a bunch of workshops and lectures to join.

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4 –Check out the San Francisco Botanical Garden

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Growing in size and beauty since 1870, enjoy time outdoors amid blooming magnolias and tall towering trees at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, where the kids can play among 25 types of gardens!

Spaced between 22 hectares of land, there’s also a botanical library (The Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture), book store and on-site plant shop to browse through.

The gardens are outlined by three prominent themes: geographic, taxonomic and thematic.

Meander past species hailing from Australia, South Africa, Chile, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and California within the Geographic zones.

Stop to smell the camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons from the Taxonomic sections.

The Thematic areas include a Moon Viewing Garden, Children’s Garden (with crafts and story time), Celebration Garden, Succulent Garden, Zellerbach Garden, Ancient Plants section and Garden of Fragrance.

Pack a picnic and chill out on the Conifer Lawn, around the Fountain Plaza or the Great Meadow.

5 –Have fun at the Children’s Creativity Museum

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Unleash your imaginations at the Children’s Creativity Museum decked with endless hands-on multimedia arts and technology experiences.

Designed for little ones between the ages of two and 12, the museum’s philosophy of ‘imagine, create, and share’ is brought to life through its exhibits across two floors.

The first floor is dedicated to art and design intertwined, with four areas to discover.

Jump into a world of color at the ArtLab, — with its Still Life, Mural and Messy Art Stations — the DesignIt! Studio (with sandboxes, magnetic walls and more), the Community Garden and the Storybook Park.

Find the museum’s signature CCM experiences on the second floor, comprising two main exhibits. Create universes made from mini-figurines, Lego and DUPLO blocks, and then project them onto a screen.

Record a song at the Making Music Studio and shake it off on the Dancing Dots carpet.

6 – Join boat tours on the Bay

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There’s no better way to experience the city’s gem in all of her glory than from out on the waters made possible with boat tours.

Let the kids find their sea legs during a one-hour cruise around the San Francisco Bay, chugging beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and past Alcatraz Island.

Journeying at sunset hour, opt for a 1.5 cruise onboard a luxury catamaran, including extra sightseeing opportunities, for example, past Sausalito and Pier 39.

Some boat tours also sail by bay areas where you can see Coit Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid and the Palace of Fine Arts in the distance.

During the expeditions, learn firsthand facts about the Bay from the captain and crew.

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Read more: San Francisco boat tours – which one is best?

7 –Meet celebs at Madame Tussauds

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Taylor Swift, Tiger Woods, Jimi Hendrix, Zendaya, Steve Jobs, Joe Montana, Jackie Chan and others; come and greet your favorite celebrities, A-listers and VIPs, posing for a selfie with the realistic wax figurines at the famous Madame Tussauds.

Opening in San Francisco in 2014, it became this well-known museum’s seventh global institute.

Make your way through the six zones: Music, Leaders and Entrepreneurs, Sports, Film, A-List and the Spirit of San Francisco.

One of the museum’s latest features is the replica of President Biden and Vice President Harris. A tradition of the USA counterpart when a new president is elected, it’s on display until the following newly elected leader.

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8 –Spot sea lions lazing in the sun

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Swimming around the bay surrounding Pier 39 is a colony of sea lions you can spot from the center.

Built on a pier, this complex contains shops, restaurants, the Aquarium of the Bay, 3D rides and a video arcade, deeming it one of the top tourist attractions in San Francisco — especially for young ones.

Usually perched on the marina’s K-Dock catching some rays, the Californian sea lions have called this part of the bay home since 1989.

Multiplying in numbers over the years and cared for and looked after by the Marina Staff and the city’s Marine Mammal Center organization, there are now over 1,500 sea lions roaming these waters.

Migrating from the Pacific Coastline, new pups are born in June. The best time to spot sea lions here is in the mornings, but using Pier 39’s handy webcam, you can check before arriving if the mammals are out to play.

Please, no feeding the intelligent marine species, and if one does come up to say hello, refrain from touching it.

9 – Fly over San Fran during airplane tours

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The idea of flying (usually) excites most youngsters. Soaring over the Bay Area, treat the fam damily to one of the epic airplane tours in San Fran.

Ranging between 30 to 45 minutes, decide what type of flight you’d prefer, piloted by an experienced pro.

Flying over the Golden Gate Bridge in a seaplane, photograph the icon from a bird’s eye view, passing over Angel Island and Alcatraz. Swoop by Tiburon, Belvedere and Sausalito towns before returning to base in Mill Valley.

Longer flights include sightseeing Stinson Beach, the Golden Gate National Reserve, Muir Woods, downtown and Oracle Park.

Moms and dads, enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne (limited to specific flights), and you also have the option to embark on a flight at sunset for an extra dreamy moment.

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10 –Learn and play at Bay Area Discovery Museum

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Who said learning had to be boring? One of the reasons we love to travel is to learn new things. Cleverly designing the Bay Area Discovery Museum for children, the museum enraptures children’s minds up to the age of eight years old.

Paint My Ride, Cardboard City, Mud Kitchen … As the name suggests, the museum aims to spark ‘a passion for discovery’ by utilizing playful learning experiences via its interactive exhibits and fun educational programs.

Other inventive exhibitions are the Sea Cycle, How Things Work and the Bay Hall (children go gaga for the vintage train sets here).

Immersive zones are spread throughout the museum’s three-hectare grounds, both indoors and outside. Hands-on outdoor areas include Gumnut Grove playground, Lookout Cove and BADM Beach.

California’s only museum-based preschool, The Discovery School (TDS), is here where you can check in the kiddies for an hour or two.

11 – Show the animals love at the San Francisco Zoo

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Come and meet furry friends like African lions, feathered kinds such as Chilean flamingos, and cold-blooded creatures, from boas to Komodo dragons, at the San Francisco Zoo.

Deepen your kids’ connection with animals during a trip here, and visitors from countries and cities where there aren’t many animals in plain sight especially find the zoo remarkable.

Learn about the mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and invertebrates you see at the park through interactive animal connection experiences and feedings. Examples are Penguins Feeding at Penguin Island and the Savanna Aviary Keeper Talk.

Navigate the ins and outs of the outdoor park during a one-hour BikeAbouts tour via bicycle. Be on the lookout for Storybook sites with their auditory guide and recordings of animal stories.

Apart from the animal zones, there are kid-friendly rides (the Little Puffer Miniature Steam Train and a 1920s Dentzel Carousel), and the Elinor Friend Playground boasts three spaces for varying ages, from six months to 15 years old.

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12 –Find famous paintings at the Museum of Modern Art

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Some kids love science while the arts enthrall others. Step inside a world of color and mastery at the Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

Plus, anyone under 18 years old can enter and visit the museum completely free of charge!

Discover seven galleries — if you have time to see them all — housing its collections comprising painting, sculpture, photography, design, media arts and architecture.

From the likes of Henri Matisse to Frida Kahlo to Georgia O’Keeffe to Andy Warhol, the artworks to scope out will give you the goosies as you get to see them in person!

Celebrating local and international artists, the museum hosts rotating exhibitions here too.

Three times a year, families can join SFMOMA’s Free Family Days at the museum’s Koret Education Center, including art-making activities.

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13 –Walk up (or down) the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps

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Starting as a community grassroots project to spruce up the area, 163 steps of sea-to-stars-themed mosaics make up the ornate 16th Avenue Tiled Steps.

Nicknamed the Moraga Steps by the locals, the staircase displays more than 2,000 decorated mosaic tile creations brought to life by artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher.

Like other public mosaic artworks, such as the Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural in Hanoi, Vietnam, the local communities sponsored the tiles.

Flowing upward (or down, depending on which angle you trek), the stairway veers to an elevation of 27 meters.

Wear comfortable walking shoes to tackle this one, but you don’t have to walk all 163 steps if young legs tire quickly, and it’s entirely free to visit.

Count how many pictures you can decipher from animals to shells in the steps.

14 – Go wild at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

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What’s better than a regular theme park? How about one that is animal-inspired? That’s precisely what you’re in store for at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

Equipped with rides, animal encounters, restaurants and live show arenas, you could spend an entire day here if you wanted to.

Feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins on the superhero-themed thrill rides, like onboard the Kong roller coaster, THE FLASH Vertical Velocity or WONDER WOMAN Lasso of Truth.

Attractions such as White Water Safari, Boardwalk Bumper Buggies, Monsoon Falls and the Rock Wall Climbing Challenge encompass the park’s family-friendly section.

Following a cartoon theme, Air Penguins, Nairobi’s Look Out Balloons, Road Runner Express, Yosemite Sam’s Flight School and Bugs’ Buccaneer are examples of the kids’ rides.

Not only themed around animals, come face to face with creatures big and small at Alligator Aisle or Cain’s Lion Encounter.

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15 –Hang out at Mission Dolores Park

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Crowds gather on the banks of Mission Dolores Park; appreciating the Californian sunshine, playing soccer amongst friends or hanging out with their brood at the park’s playgrounds under giant conifers and tall swaying palms.

Open to the public in 1906, the six-hectare grounds is one of the city’s top parks, often hosting a soirée of events, music festivals and cultural shows.

It’s equipped with six tennis courts, a basketball court, a soccer field and a multi-use court. Pack the necessary equipment if the children want to utilize these.

If you need time out from the little ones, book a babysitter and pack a picnic basket and visit the park during your date day, it’s one of the lovely romantic things to do in San Francisco for couples.

16 – Sightsee the city on the bus tours

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Little ones can exhaust themselves quickly, especially when you’re constantly on the move. This is when bus tours come in handy, saving you time on your feet and offering a convenient way to sightsee the city and surrounding areas.

Does your family enjoy visiting museums, cultural institutions and historical landmarks when traveling? Join a hop-on hop-off bus around San Francisco. Offered as a one or two-day pass, enjoy the freedom of jumping off the bus at any designated stops en route and reboarding when ready.

Examples of pit stops include the Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, the Civic Center, the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf.

There are regular bus tours, too, spanning a few hours. In 3.5 hours, tour Muir Woods, or kids of the Digital Age will love bus tours to the Silicon Valley Campus — home of the Google and Facebook campuses.

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17 –Catch a boat over to Alcatraz

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From a lone-island bird sanctum to a state prison holding some of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century, if you’re wondering if Alcatraz is kid-friendly, the correct answer is yes!

Walk in the footsteps of the likes of Al Capone and enlighten yourselves on the Indians of All Tribes Occupation event that took place in 1964, and then again from 1969 to 1971.

Spot the flocks of seabirds — the island’s first inhabitants — and the island has Junior Ranger programs for young explorers. Check out the costs for Alcatraz Island tickets price.

Located off of the coast of San Francisco, the only way to reach the former federal prison-turned-birthing place of the American Indian Red Power movement is via boat.

Boating excursions pass by the island, but the only way to disembark on the isle is by a ferry operated by Alcatraz City Cruises, LLC. Here are the best Alcatraz Island tours departing from Pier 33.

Don’t miss out on visiting one of the most infamous sites in San Francisco. You can book your ferry and admission tickets from Pier 33 or organize Alcatraz last-minute tickets beforehand to avoid disappointment.

18 –Deep dive into the Exploratorium

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If the Exploratorium’s founder, Frank Oppenheimer, could only see his creation today, he’d be a very proud man. Born out of the professor’s “library of experiments” (which he incorporated into his classroom and lectures) when the science and art museum opened, there were no other public learning laboratories like it until then.

Founded in 1969, the institute broke the traditional science museum mold, showing visitors that science can be fun and easy to understand if explained in the right way, even for right-brainers.

Covering subjects of the arts, astronomy, biology, chemistry, data, earth science, engineering, environmental science, history, mathematics, perception, physics and social science; there are countless enthralling interactive exhibits.

Too many to list; its most iconic displays include Cafe Wall Illusion, Giant Mirror, Sun Painting, the Pixel Table, Watch Water Freeze, Aurora, the Monochromatic Room, Icy Bodies, Magnetic Fluid Patterns and plenty more riveting features.

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19 –Put your mind to the test with escape rooms

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Requiring teamwork and a bit of brainpower, escape rooms present unique family things to do in San Francisco with kids, lasting around one hour.

With plenty of options on the table, opt for an escape room best to your liking — and most suitable for the ages of your team members.

How does it work? Pick your themed adventure (there are indoor and outdoor arenas to play). Working as a team, solve a set of clues in order to make your grand escape. Only be given the next puzzle once you’ve cracked the prior one. Each time, a key unlocks it.

Hunt down hidden treasure during the Gold Rush, complete a Prison Break, go undercover as a special agent, recover art stolen during The Heist or ease into summer break by completing your report card.

Outdoor escape adventures center around a specific neighborhood or landmark. Uncover the history of the Haight Ashbury area during the Summer of Love in 1967, for example.

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20 – See the famous twisty Lombard Street

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A quick Google search proves that Lombard Street is one of the USA’s most beautiful, often listed as one of the prettiest in the country! It’s given the nickname of ‘Crookedest Street in the World.’

Curious to know more? Made up of eight sharp hairpin bends, catching sight of the road from a drone’s perspective, you can see the street in all its glory.

Not everyone has this advantage, but you can still appreciate the perspective of this picturesque setting from different angles on the ground.

Lombard Street was constructed in 1922, curving eight times up a hill (or down, depending on the angle). The chunk on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets is gorgeous.

Residential homes, manicured hedges and cute flower gardens line the sides of the one-way road. A section is open to vehicles, but beware, it booms around rush hour, and you can expect a queue of cars waiting for their turn to drive the tourist-happy street.

21 – Eat and shop at the oldest Chinatown in North America

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Taste the yummiest dim sum, stock up on all sorts of traditional herbs and spices, let your kids choose a favorite anime figurine and lap up the authenticity of San Fran’s Chinatown, the largest Chinatown outside of Asia — fact!

The best way to experience the neighborhood is on foot, and as a popular city district for holiday-makers, it’s never missed during walking tours in San Francisco.

Tracing back its history to 1848, the first Chinese immigrants settled in the area, growing in size and landmarks over the following decades, including the construction of the first Asian church in North America (Old St. Mary’s Church) and the Oriental Public School (originally called The Chinese School).

Other attractions and landmarks in Chinatown are the Great Star Theater, Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, the Nam Kue School, the Chinese Historical Society of America, Cameron House and more.

Grab breakfast, lunch or dinner from one of the dozens of restaurants and shop till you drop. Get involved in local culture, like enjoying a traditional tea ceremony or visiting during Chinese New Year or one of the other colorful festivals.

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22 –Discover the magic of Enchanted Fairy Garden

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Do you believe in fairies? Mention to any little girl you’re taking her to a fairy garden and see the reactions! Located within the Gregangelo Museum, all your wildest whimsical fantasies become a reality at the Enchanted Fairy Garden.

Featured in television series, documentaries and articles dozens of times, from Netflix to BBC, the museum is the brainchild of local artist Gregangelo Herrera. His personal home is now open to the public, acting as a living museum — and the most fantastical and magical experience inside!

Unearth artworks from around the globe, join a Teddy Bear Tea Party and meet the magical fae (staff dressed up in full fairy attire) inside the immersive enchanted fairy grove.

Cast spells, chat with the fairies, make a wish and get Mom and Dad to take pictures of you and the whimsical creatures to show your friends back home that fairies do exist!

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23 –Learn how to ride the waves with surf lessons

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Groms, surfs up in the Bay Area! End the nagging requests to learn how and bring the kids down to the beach for beginner’s surf lessons.

There are a handful of options, lessons differing in class duration, group size and location.

At Pacifica Beach, learn the basics 101 over the course of three hours, including practical theory, hands-on demonstrations and surf time in the water. Guided by a pro, pick a morning or mid-day session.

Be shown how to paddle, stand up on the board from a lying down position, duck-diving techniques and maneuver your board against the waves.

Choose a one-on-one 1.5-hour lesson at the same beach, with all equipment included, suitable for children older than ten years old.

Surf lessons are also available at Stinson Beach — an hour drive from San Francisco.

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24 –Uncover the life of the iconic storyteller at the Walt Disney Family Museum

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No matter your age, feel all the nostalgia or show your kids your favorite childhood characters at the Walt Disney Family Museum.

Dedicated to honoring and celebrating the man that is Walt Disney, the museum was founded by the visionary’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, and opened in 2009.

Deep dive into the mind of the creator of Mickey Mouse, get acquainted with his personal life, become clued up on his cinematic achievements and explore Disney’s contributions to the film industry, pioneering the way for advanced cinematography involving color, sound and storytelling.

The museum is spaced into ten galleries chronicling the life and times of Walt Disney. These spaces center on Early Beginnings, The Move to Hollywood, Exploring New Horizons, The Transition into Features, New Success & Greater Ambitions, Patriotic Contributions, Postwar Rebuilding, Walt & the Natural World, Disneyland & Beyond and Remembering Walt Disney.

Located within The Presidio park, these are all housed in the Main Museum Building.

Showcasing within the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall is its leading exhibition, running for a year before being swapped out for another.

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25 –Get lost inside Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze

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Mirrored illusions, passageways decked from floor to ceiling in reflections and halls changing a flurry of neon colors, come and get lost inside Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze — which is the whole aim of this attraction.

Designed for all ages, anyone under five years old can play inside free of charge, and the attraction is open daily until 8 PM. As the name hints, this is a maze of mirrors set up at Pier 39.

There’s no time limit, so you can wander the trippy labyrinths for as long as you like.

Almost looking like a kaleidoscope effect, snap hundreds of cool pics inside the unfolding layers, and you could make a pretty cool TikTok dance inside the mirror maze with the most epic background!

26 – Eat like a local during a food tour

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Thanks to the Bay Area’s melting pot of cultures, the food scene here is next level! Sample all sorts of dishes and local cuisines during a mouth-smacking food tour.

Taste classic San Franciscan dishes like clam chowder, Dungeness crab and Pacific oysters during three-hour walking tours, exposed to local foodie secrets.

Center your food tour around a specific area.

Learn the art of fortune cookie making and the art of tea during food adventures in Chinatown.

Sample the famous Mission burrito when traversing the Mission District, home of the city’s vibrant and colorful Latino community.

Head to North Beach, also known as Little Italy, and feel transported to Italia on the food front. Pop into local bakeries, butcheries and fresh food markets, knock back a proper espresso (and babyccinos for the kids), and taste authentic Italian food from the restaurants with Nonna running the kitchen.

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27 –Make a splash at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

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Calling all water babies! Pack your bathing suits and head to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor for a fun day in the sun, swooshing down water slides and hanging out on the (artificial) beach.

Out of the ten attractions at the water park, the tropical-themed Caribbean Cove is specifically for youngsters only, with no height limit. Play under spray jets, in the water geysers, through fountains or in the shallow pool. From here, hop into a tube and onto the Kaanapali Kooler Lazy River.

Older kids and teens go mad on the steep, speedy water slides and rides, giving you all the thrills. Swoosh down the 82-meter-long Break Point Plunge, be spat out of the Tornado after swirling 22 meters high, tube down the Honolulu Halfpipe and race your siblings at the Hurricane Slide Complex.

The whole family can enjoy playing together at attractions like the Breaker Beach Wave Pool, Splashwater Island and The Big Kahuna.

28 – Check out Fisherman’s Wharf

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When you’re searching for things to do in Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll be met with a mix of historical sites, culinary adventures, and scenic views.

Taste the yummiest Dungeness crab or bowls of clam chowder served inside sourdough, watch fishermen go about their daily business, see the neighborhood cruising on a cable car ride and even join a pier party in Fisherman’s Wharf.

Situated on the northern waterfront, there are many shops, restaurants and things to do with kids in this area.

Forming part of the 49-Mile Scenic Drive (starting at City Hall and ending at Treasure Island), the stretch that veers through Fisherman’s Wharf includes nearby attractions such as Pier 39, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and its iconic Ghirardelli Square.

Visit the famous chocolatier at the square, and don’t leave without ordering a chocolate sundae!

Hyde Street Pier is a four-minute drive from Fisherman’s Wharf, where you’ll discover the USS Pampanito submarine and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien.

Join segway tours in San Francisco along the waterfront for a proper exploration; this way, you’ll cover more ground in a shorter time. Alternatively, there are guided bayside history walks presented by the Wharf.

A seafood paradise; top restaurants here include Fog Harbor Fish House, Pier Market, The Buena Vista (the oldest standing joint), Sabella & La Torre and Scoma’s.

  • Fisherman’s Wharf tours

29 –Eat gelato from Little Italy

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Feel the authentic, proud spirit of Italia at the city’s Little Italy, a North Beach neighborhood donned in culture, heritage and, of course, all things Italy.

Circa the start of the 20th century and this is when the area really began to boom, shaping itself as the Little Italy we love today.

Making a name for itself, a few famous personalities grew up or lived in the ‘hood, like baseball player Joe DiMaggio, as well as Marilyn Monroe when the two were married.

Dine at traditional trattorias, pizzerias, cafes and coffee shops for a taste of the European country, headed up by Italian families and individuals.

Visit the gelaterias, espresso bars (the most famous is Caffè Trieste established in the 50s), and bakeries — treat the kids to a cannoli filled with Nutella or pistachio cream.

Stock up on imported Italian pasta, meats, cheeses, biscuits, tinned tomatoes and other ingredients from the Italian shops, and many shopfronts retain their original 20th-century charm.

  • Little Italy tours

30 – Treat your kids to the ice cream shops

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Get your fix of delicious, mouth-watering scoops in all dizzying flavors from the yummiest ice cream shops around town.

For something a little different, appreciate the Japanese fusion creams from Uji Time Dessert. Try their Taiyaki cone filled with red bean (or Nutella), then topped with a choice of traditional matcha, black sesame or ube ice cream.

Smitten Ice Cream wins hearts with its ever-changing seasonal menu. Order sundaes, floats or add the cherry to your scoops with extras like cookie dough chunks.

Local favorite San Francisco’s Hometown Creamery has the most mouth-watering toppings and flavors! Inquire about flavors of the day, for example, Blueberry Lemon Bar Ice Cream or Crescent City Bread Pudding Ice Cream.

Looking for vegan and non-dairy alternatives? Visit Garden Creamery.

Known for its unique flavor offerings, gluten-free options as well vegan selection, lick your lips to the likes of Creme Fraiche & Strawberry Balsamic or Brown Butter & Chocolate Honeycomb from Lush Gelato.

31 – Spin around on the Skystar Wheel

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Don’t miss out on the chance to ride the Skystar Wheel while you can … Circling 45 meters into the air is the Skystar Wheel, situated within the Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse.

Set up in celebration of 150 years of the Golden Gate Park, the ferris wheel will remain here until 2025. It’s then taken down and off to the next city.

Boasting 36 gondolas, board an ordinary cabin or book one of the VIP gondolas decked out in comfy leather seats and hardwood floors. It has a maximum capacity for five guests, ideal for families.

It includes a skip-the-line pass, and instead of the usual 12-minute ride, you swing around for 20 minutes.

Lap up the views of the Pacific and downtown.

  • Skystar Wheel tickets

32 –Defy gravity and try indoor skydiving

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Feel like a bird and experience the adrenaline rush of free falling in the air when you try out indoor skydiving.

Without having to jump out of any airplanes, iFly San Francisco is set up inside and is completely safe even for young children. The minimum age required here to fly is three years old!

Plus, you don’t need even an ounce of prior experience as iFly’s professional instructors are there to lead the way, AND, the detailed orientation before flying is mandatory.

Once you’re all kitted in your fly suit and helmet, enter the tunnel and observe the forces of gravity as you fly inside a specially designed, tech-driven recirculating wind tunnel.

Return home from vacation and tell all your friends at school that you’ve been skydiving!

  • indoor skydiving in San Francisco

33 –Be fooled at the Museum of 3D Illusions

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Gripped between the jaws of a shark … Floating in the sky of a whimsical land hanging onto an umbrella … Escaping to safety as the ground opens up and lava rumbles around you …

The optical Museum of 3D Illusions captures youngsters’ imaginations, making it one of the best family things to do in San Francisco with kids.

Aiming to promote expression, fun and imagination, get lost amongst more than 40 fantastical 3D artworks cleverly designed to trick the mind’s eye.

Wandering through the different rooms, this isn’t an ordinary gallery, and the whole point is for visitors to become part of the artwork itself. So stop at your favorite — or all of them — and get involved, posing for a picture within each.

On that note, make sure your smartphones or cameras are fully charged!

Also at the Museum of 3D Illusions is Smash it! Release any pent-up stress or just join for the fun of it. Grab your plates and dishes and throw and smash them!

  • Museum of 3D Illusions tickets

34 – Zoot around the city with cute GoCar tours

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Have you ever heard of or seen a GoCar before? These super cute three-wheelers look like a fusion of a go-kart and a mini. Technically classified as a scooter, it’s designed with a 49cc scooter engine, but they seat two people side by side.

GoCar Tours offers an alternative way to sightsee the city, instead of regular walking or bus tours, and are self-guided.

Equipped with a talking GPS, this device leads the way to the landmarks and monuments covered in your route.

The maximum speed you can reach is approximately 50 kilometers per hour, deeming them family-friendly.

There are various tours navigating differing roads, so check prior to ensure you see the sites you want to the most.

For example, there are GoCar excursions around Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street and the Presidio, ones that focus on the parks and beaches, and others that veer along 49 Mile.

  • GoCar tours

35 –Relive story tales at Children’s Fairyland

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Some fairytales have outlived the most historical events of our time, and the whimsical storylines continue to spellbind the imaginations of our littlest generations.

Children’s Fairyland proves that magic is real — if you believe hard enough — and reminds us that life is a playful dance. Designed specifically for young minds, this fairytale-themed park has been delighting small souls since 1950!

Discover nearly 60 storybook sets in the park, a handful of themed rides and attractions, pretty gardens and a small petting zoo.

An Alice in Wonderland tunnel, Peter Pan’s Jolly Roger Pirate Ship, The Old Lady in the Shoe greeting, Talking Storybook Boxes with magic keys, Jack & Jill Hill, Peter Rabbit’s Garden … Spend hours getting lost in the fairytale sets…

Situated in Oakland, it’s a 15-minute drive from San Francisco.

36 – Ride The Flyer simulator

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Glide above the tall buildings and historical landmarks, soaring with the birds and above the San Francisco clouds during a ride on The Flyer.

Okay, technically, you never truly leave Ground Zero, or take off, but this flight simulator experience down at Pier 39 really tricks you into believing you are flying!

Incorporating immersive technologies, special effects and computer-generated imagery, it replicates the experience of being in a plane in mid-air.

Stepping inside the two-level theater, the 15-meter wrap-around screen, motion seats and features like the floor dropping beneath your feet all authenticate the feelings.

There are two options. Veer through San Francisco’s monuments, like Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Chinatown and Coit Tower on the “The San Francisco Flyer.” Or, fly across the country on “Wings Across America.”

  • The Flyer tickets

37 –Exercise with an urban hike

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Fun fact: San Fran is the hilliest city in the USA. Devoid of natural mountain ranges, the funky metro city boasts plenty of parks and other man-made greenery. Combining its hills and parks, enjoy an urban hike through the Bay Area.

There are officially 48 named hills, so visitors can still get in their fix of walks and hikes through its suburban areas, with plenty of trekking (if not using the city’s cable cars).

Tackling all the hillsides in one day is pretty impossible. Urban hikes range from 1.5 hours to three, focusing on specific areas.

Clocking in eight kilometers, tackle hundreds of stairs and many elevations over the course of three hours, like Coit Tower, Russian Hill, Jack Early Park, Telegraph Hill and the Filbert Steps.

Shorter expeditions venture up toward St. Anne of the Sunset, Turtle Hill, Hidden Garden Steps and the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps.

  • hiking in San Francisco

38 –Buy chocolate from Ghirardelli Chocolate Company

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Let the smells of rich cacao lead the way to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company — a famous chocolatier at Ghirardelli Square, down at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Established in 1966, the original crowds flocked here for the shop’s special sundaes and, of course, its chocolate!

Today, there are three locations within Ghirardelli Square dedicated to the Chocolate Company, as well as a pop-up kiosk at the main plaza.

Treat the kids to a famous hot fudge sundae (or one of the other 15 delicious options) and other yummy delights, from scoops of ice cream to milkshakes to scrumptious baked goods like choc chip cookies at the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop.

The second location is the Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience — a massive pick-and-mix concept.

If time is of the essence, stop by Ghirardelli On-The-Go and grab a takeaway hot chocolate, sundae or bar.

39 – Watch a show at the Palace of Fine Arts

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Don’t be fooled by its name; while the Palace of Fine Arts is undoubtedly no royal residence, nor a museum for fine arts, it’s an iconic space and an outstanding work of architecture.

Built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition by Californian architect Bernard Maybeck, the building is rented for private events and hosts a load of theatrical productions.

From comedy gigs to roasts to Dungeons & Dragons role-playing shows to live sketches, something happens on stage every other week, and you can have an online squizz to see who’s performing that month.

Arrive for the show, visit its on-site cafe, or simply take a self-guided walking tour around the property and admire its engineering.

Apart from private events, the exhibition center is favored for galas, trade shows and conferences.

40 –Observe people body-bending at Circus Bella

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Aerialists flinging through the air, jugglers showing off fancy footwork and acrobats bending their bodies into the craziest shapes; let the Circus Bella blow your minds with their artistic tricks and treats, showing you what the human body is capable of.

No traditional circus here (outdated circuses of the past didn’t always employ the best practices when it came to their animals); get ready for the show of a lifetime!

The modern circus group was founded back in 2008. Accompanying every performance is a live six-piece band.

Catch Circus Bella performing (for free) at different parks around the city in summer (the events are called Circus in the Parks). If here at the right time of year, keep your eyes open for the annual Circus Supper Club.

The group offers hands-on workshops — which kids especially adore — for example, clowning workshops.

41 – Visit City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, the first all-paperback bookstore in the USA

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One for our booming bookworms; get lost inside worlds of words and literature at City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

If there’s a particular paperback you’ve been searching for, or trying to hunt down for your child, chances are this bookshop stocks it. It prides itself on its broad collections of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, philosophy, cultural studies, translations, film, music and history books.

Employing highly knowledgeable bibliophiles and with a range of rare books and novels released by specialty publishers, the store has been around since 1953.

Geared up by the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, it’s been a gathering space for literary nerds and aficionados since its first days.

Spend hours browsing the shelves, spread out across three levels.

42 – Grab an espresso from Pinhole Coffee

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Moms and Dads, do you need a caffeine fix? Keep the kids amused by the impressive art at Pinhole Coffee, coloring the walls and ceiling while you enjoy a quick cuppa.

What’s in the name? Inspired by pinhole photography (made popular in the late 19th century), this nifty little cafe sees its patrons each as a “light source.” How sweet is that?

Explain the concept to your kids as you knock back a delicious brew from the artisanal coffee shop. Order a pour-over, slow drip, sparkling iced americano or cold brew made by professional baristas. Guest roasters make an appearance a couple of times a year.

Not a coffee drinker? The menu offers an array of teas, including a blend of matcha imported from Japan. Feeling peckish? Fill the hole with freshly baked pastries, including vegan and gluten-free options.

43 – Tackle the scavenger games

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Think you have what it takes to be the next Detective Conan or Enola Holmes? Ditch the solo online screen time and get the whole family’s brains involved instead in these epic scavenger games!

What’s the deal? Provided a set of clues revolving around city facts and history (powered by a mobile app), your job is to solve each individual riddle. As you decipher the clue, you unlock the next one.

You’ll travel around landmarks and monuments as you advance through the game until you reach the final destination. You can think of it like a cross between The Amazing Race and a treasure hunt!

The Golden Gate, Chinatown, Jack Kerouac Alley and North Beach are examples of some of the sites to see, and certain scavenger games include prizes at the end!

Rounds last anywhere between 1.5 to four hours, depending on the pace you move or the type of game you pick.

  • scavenger games in San Francisco

44 –House of Air Trampoline Park and Café

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Jump, bounce, spring, somersault and exert all of that boundless energy that kids contain at the House of Air Trampoline Park and Café.

Decked out in an arena of connected trampolines and trampoline walls, enjoy a round of open jump or trampoline dodgeball against your siblings.

The Junior Kids Zone is designed for children between the ages of three and six years old, and the activity zone comprises mini-bouncing facilities.

Locate the indoor trampoline park inside of an old hangar at The Presidio.

If you take your jump-time seriously, the recreational facility offers training lessons with certified trampoline instructors.

45 – Spend the afternoon at Presidio of San Francisco

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Go hiking, for walks amidst Mother Nature, enjoy a round of golf, pack a picnic and build sandcastles … There are plenty of great family-friendly activities inside Presidio of San Francisco.

Colloquially referred to as ‘The Presidio,’ this national park sits on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula. It was actually a military base up until 1994, and so there is still plenty to do and see here relating to the U.S. Army, for example, the Battery Bluff.

Start at the Presidio Visitor Center on the Main Post featuring interactive historical exhibits and a large model of the Presidio. There are a few restaurants and cafes within this space too, as well as art installations by Andy Goldsworthy.

The entire area of the park spans approximately 600 hectares and includes the Main Post,Crissy Field, Golden Gate and the Southern Wilds areas.

Top attractions are the Presidio Golf Course, Baker Beach, Crissy Marsh, Mountain Lake, House of Air and Café, Presidio Bowl, The Walt Disney Family Museum and Café and the Presidio Wall Playground.

Picnic at the Presidio Tunnel Tops, spend the night camping in the woods at the Rob Hill Campground, and take advantage of park events such as Science Saturdays and the Presidio Stargazing Parties.

46 – Marvel at the acrobats from Dear San Francisco

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If your child’s favorite after-school activity is gymnastics — whether it’s rhythmic, tumbling, acrobatic and even parkour – they’ll go giddy at Dear San Francisco.

Over the next 90 minutes, witness incredible acts like hoop diving, Korean plank, hand-balancing, Chinese pole, “hand-to-trap” and juggling acts.

Incorporating mind-bending acrobatics with choreography, spoken word, video projections, shadow play and an original music score, it’s an entirely unique experience.

The Dear San Francisco production is an evolving showcase, retelling the myths, legends and important events that have shaped this city through performance arts.

The iconic Club Fugazi hosts the shows, and this building has been a heart of cultural escapades since it opened in the 20th century as a small theater and nightclub.

47 – Feel like a bird during exciting helicopter tours

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Families with limited time for sightseeing or parents hunting down a special surprise to treat the children to, you can’t go wrong with helicopter tours!

All flights take off from the Sausalito heliport in Mill Valley (Commodore Center Heliport), approximately a 20-minute drive from the city. Next, decide on how much air time you’d like.

Standard 15 to 20-minute flights veer over picturesque Sausalito Bay, above the Golden Gate Bridge and toward Crissy Field. Passing over the green, continue overhead, swooping past the downtown area, Alcatraz and Oracle Park stadium.

Longer flights extend between 25 and 30 minutes and include sightseeing opportunities over Angel Island, Golden Gate National Park, Baker Beach, Point Bonita Lighthouse and Ocean Beach.

Kids under two years old fly for free, and helicopter adventures end back where they began in Sausalito.

  • helicopter tours in San Francisco

48 –Go boating at Stow Lake

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Feel worlds away from the city hustle at Stow Lake, engulfed by nature inside the Golden Gate Park.

Would you believe that the lake is artificial and was man-made back in 1893? Its mossy green-colored waters, stone bridges crossing the pond, waterfalls and an ornamental Chinese pavilion perched on the banks create the most magical setting.

It’s a popular recreational spot for outdoor activities, particularly water ones. Rent out pedal boats or row boats at the Stow Lake Boathouse. Also at the boathouse is a quaint café with a small breakfast menu.

On land, traverse the surroundings on foot, following the trail around Strawberry Hill Island, or go biking.

49 – Visit the best beaches

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Pretend to be mermaids, build sandcastles, learn how to surf and beat the summer heat down at the best beaches around San Francisco.

There are a few locations within the city perimeters, like the beaches underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, for example, Baker Beach. However, these aren’t the safest swimming beaches because of strong currents, nor the most child-friendly.

Instead, venture just outside the town center, and you’ll find the perfect family spots.

Straddling the West Coast is a five-kilometer stretch of soft sandy shores known as Ocean Beach.

Crissy Field East Beach is ideal for beach-day picnics and is a popular kite surfing hotspot.

The next few are a bit further out of the city but are great beaches for swimming and hanging out. These include Stinson Beach, Muir Beach and the bay down at Cull Canyon Lagoon.

50 – Explore Yerba Buena Gardens

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Home to the Children’s Creativity Museum, the Yerba Buena Ice Skating & Bowling Center, the SOMACC, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Yerba Buena Gardens Child Development Center; consider staying close by to Yerba Buena Gardens in downtown San Fran for your holiday.

Occupying two blocks between Third and Fourth, Mission and Folsom Streets, the garden area encompasses two hectares. Its on-site facilities are spread out around the garden complex.

Discover the Butterfly Garden, Children’s Garden, Playground and Tot Lot, the Reflection Garden, Sister City Gardens, East Garden and the Upper Terrace.

Play a round of frisbee on the main lawns, get some Vitamin D and look out for the public artworks decorating the park.

51 – Uncover an Egyptian scribe at the Legion of Honor

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From a cemetery to an art institution, the Legion of Honor museum (formerly known as the California Palace of the Legion of Honor) is steeped in local history.

Falling under the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, it’s situated inside Lincoln Park, spanning two floors of art, but you can start to see the works from the moment you step onto the grounds. The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, sculpted in bronze in 1904, greets visitors at the inner courtyard.

Galleries one to 19 are allocated to the Upper Level.

These spaces include Medieval, Renaissance and Mannerist Art; French and Italian Baroque; Rococo Art; Auguste Rodin Sculptures; 17th and 18th-Century Decorative Arts; The Spreckels Organ; 17th-Century European Art; 18th-Century British Art; Neoclassicism; 19th-Century European Art; and Impressionism and Post-Impressionism galleries.

Investigate the Special Exhibition Galleries, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, the Bowles Porcelain Gallery and the Ancient Art hall on the museum’s Lower Level.

  • Legion of Honor tickets

52 –Play games at the arcades

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Enjoy some good ol’ fashioned fun at the arcades around town.

Since 1933, the family-run Musée Mécanique has continuously built its collections of arcade games and machines. Its original owner began his personal assemblage when he was 11 years old, and some of these items are at the arcade.

Around for nearly 100 years, find the best old-school games and antiquities, with over 300 machines to play amongst, from video arcade games to hand-cranked music boxes.

Sporting a bowling alley, billiards hall, ping pong tables, dart boards, arcade games, karaoke, a Kids Play Zone and an indoor sports complex, enjoy hours of endless joy at Round 1. They have a few locations around San Francisco.

At Dave & Buster’s, you can enter virtual realities, beat the high score playing arcade games like Halo, show off your aim at the pool hall, and reveal a D&B mini-world via the Roblox online game platform.

53 – Snap pics in front of the Painted Ladies

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Have you ever heard of the term ‘painted ladies?’ In the world of architecture, it refers to subdued Victorian and Edwardian-style houses repainted in three colors, sometimes even more, and was extremely popular in America circa the 1960s.

The phrase ‘Painted Ladies’ was coined for the San Francisco counterparts in 1978 after the release of Painted Ladies: San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians book by authors Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen.

To marvel at the OG Painted Ladies, make your way to Steiner Street (on the eastern side of Alamo Square Park), where the pastel versions stand side by side on a small rise.

These seven houses (still occupied by residents) have also appeared in many films and television series, like Full House, The Five-Year Engagement and Dirty Harry.

  • Painted Ladies tours

54 –Buy goods from local farmers and artisans at The Ferry

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Shopaholics and foodies, you’ll appreciate The Ferry Building, which has been servicing locals and boat rides into the San Francisco Bay since 1898.

Still operational, the San Francisco Ferry runs from here to Oakland, Harbor Bay, Richmond and Vallejo and Mare Island.

After the rise of motorized vehicles, ferry services began to dwindle in general, and by the 1950s, locals hardly visited the once booming Ferry Building.

In efforts to preserve the historical landmark, this problem was solved in 1993, with a new idea of setting up a farmer’s market, as well as a handful of restaurants and other eateries.

Saturdays are the most popular for the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, with over 100 vendors setting up stalls of local produce, food products and freshly made food to go.

Tuesdays and Thursdays see a smaller version of the market, and Thursdays are when the street food stalls tantalize taste buds.

55 – Shop the 826 Valencia Pirate Supply Store

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Sing aye aye captain at the 826 Valencia Pirate Supply Store as you sail through shelves and shelves of all sorts of pirate-themed goods.

Take advantage of this novelty store whilst you can – because not many cities have an entire shop dedicated to all things pirates!

Run by 826 Valencia (a non-profit organization supporting writers and students), the supply store is located in the Mission District.

Stock up on unique goods, like captain’s log books, pirate-themed tattoos, clothing, eye patches, toy hook hands, and plenty more!

56 – Play rounds of mini golf

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Thinking back to our childhood, mini golf was mega-popular, but it’s one of those pastimes that never dates, even with the move to an online-centric world. Here are the top places to enjoy a couple of rounds in San Francisco.

Introducing the Bay Area’s first indoor miniature golf course, equipped with 14 holes to play, it’s Urban Putt. You can also book dinner here too for after the game.

Themed after historical events in American history, the 18 holes at Stagecoach Greens are captivating and imaginative — and kids especially love this one!

Tee off at Subpar Miniature Golf and get acquainted with San Fran landmarks at the same time. Replicating monuments in mini size, the holes are a mixture of easy and challenging targets.

57 – Relive movie moments with Movie Sights tours

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Mrs. Doubtfire, The Princess Diaries, Dr. Doolittle, George of the Jungle, Hulk, X-Men 3 … Apart from the obvious like LA and NYC, San Francisco is one of the most popular cities for filming on location, or chosen for a movie storyline setting.

Traverse in the footsteps of famous actors, actresses and directors during Movie Sights Tours!

There are so many films shot in San Fran, so this tour is pretty extensive — helpful to know prior, especially if you’re considering it with teeny tots.

What to expect? Over three hours be shown over 55 of the most iconic locales where movies were filmed, visiting the exact destinations or landmarks as seen in the blockbusters.

Leading the tours are actors themselves, who love to share their personal insider stories, behind-the-scenes knowledge and anecdotes.

  • Movie Sights tours in San Francisco

58 –Join the Agents of Discovery mission

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Kids these days live in a time of the Digital Age, integrated into their lives since they were young. Children love any new app or game, like the Agents of Discovery.

Powered by an app, the campaign runs annually from certain months in the year, and players are given a mission to complete.

The assignments involve interactive challenges, and there are prizes up for grabs, offering a fun and unique way to explore the city of San Francisco.

Unlock challenges using your secret agent tools until the final one is complete. Plus, you don’t need wifi or data to play the game, deeming it one of the top affordable family things to do in San Francisco with kids.

59 – Enjoy two activities in one spot at SkateBowl

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Lace up your bowling shoes or swap them out for skates instead, and show off your skills at SkateBowl.

Officially known as the Yerba Buena Ice Skating & Bowling Center, locals have shortened its name, still hinting at what’s in store for you.

Equipped with a bowling alley and an ice rink, enjoy two activities in one afternoon and the center is at Yerba Buena Gardens.

Vacationing in San Francisco in the summer? If your children’s hobbies include one of the above activities, or they are keen on learning new (fun) skills, SkateBowl runs a Summer Day Camp.

Your kids don’t need any previous experience in either field, and this is a superb chance to meet and make new friends — imagine having a pen pal from across the globe!

Public skating is open daily; there’s a skate school and pickup hockey games, or you can enjoy a freestyle session.

60 – Ride the famous San Francisco Cable Car

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In the 21st century, when we hear the term “cable car,” we automatically think of gondolas in the air.

However, the first cable car systems were designed on the ground, and the San Francisco Cable Car remains the world’s last manually-operated cable car system, running up and down the city’s hilly roads.

The cable cars have become a San Francisco icon, featuring in dozens of movies over the decades. Designed as a public mode of transport chugging along the streets since the 1870s, it’s often one of the first things tourists want to do when they arrive in the Bay Area!

San Fran was the USA’s first city to employ the pulley-car system by running cables underneath the roads, and three of the original carts are still in use.

The streetcars run along three dedicated routes: the California Line, the Powell-Mason and the Powell-Hyde Line. Amble through the North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Nob Hill, Chinatown and Embarcadero neighborhoods, and there are designated cable car stops en route.

  • Cable Car tours

61 – Watch a movie at the outdoor cinemas

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As youngsters, we had drive-ins; in today’s age, it’s outdoor cinemas.

Featuring old and new favorites, The Cut Outdoor Cinema is one of the only outdoor cinemas that stays open year-round. The line-up comprises the cult classics, fan faves and iconic films of the last few decades, like Fantastic Mr. Fox and Spiderman.

Set up annually at seven parks around the city in the warmer months (between June and September), join Sundown Cinema for their film nights in the park.

Viewers sit in front of the big screen on the grass greens, and each destination has a particular movie that they showcase for the free event, for example, Mamma Mia or Ghostbusters.

62 – See three historical cable cars at the San Francisco Cable Car Museum

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A critical part of children’s development is learning new things. After you’ve all ridden the Cable Car together, head to the San Francisco Cable Car Museum for an insightful hour or so.

Uncover facts about its inventor, the builders and the technologies wielded — which, back in the day, were pioneering for the times.

The museum was founded in 1874, one year after the first cable car started operating.

Investigate collections comprising antiquated cable cars, photographs and mechanical displays filed with cable car devices like old tracks, tools, grips, cables and brake mechanisms.

Run as a non-profit organization, locate the museum inside the historic Washington and Mason Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse. From its museum deck, witness the winding wheels that pull the cables!

63 – Dive into American art at De Young Museum

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Along with the Legion of Honor museum, De Young Museum is located within the Golden State Park, also forming part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Its building surprises visitors, appearing almost like a ship from outer space, with its flat roof and an oasis of palm trees framing the block.

In contrast to the Legion, the De Young shines a light on work and art styles by American artists, and masterpieces hailing from surrounding regions.

The museum is divided into three floors: the Main Level, Upper Level and Lower Level.

Housed on the Main Level are Galleries one to 17. Rooms one to four are delegated to Arts of the Americas, and galleries five, and ten through to 17, display Modern and Contemporary Art.

Investigate Costume and Textile Arts; the Special Exhibition Galleries; American Art from the 18th to 20th centuries; Art of Africa and Art of Oceania on the Upper Level. The Lower Level contains its other Special Exhibition Galleries.

  • De Young Museum tickets

64 – Go roller skating at the Church of 8 Wheels

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Show your little ones what Mom and Dad did for fun in the 70s at the Church of 8 Wheels, an old-school roller disco set up inside of a 125-year-old church.

With no services in session, the building was repurposed for those wanting to celebrate and worship the old-school recreational activity.

Not to fear if you’ve never roller-skated on a rink, as the Church of 8 Wheels offers 60-minute skating lessons on Saturdays.

Be shown how to pick out proper skates, wheels, bearings and pads for your age and size, and learn skating techniques such as how to balance, stop and turn.

Or, skip the classes and simply join the Sunday Skate Roll sessions.

65 – Have fun at California’s Great America

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A water and theme park in one? It doesn’t get better than California’s Great America, providing the thrills and joys since 1976!

For young travelers, a gem of this 45-hectare amusem*nt park is Planet Snoopy, playing on rides centered on the Peanuts gang.

Planet Snoopy Construction Zone, Sally’s Love Buggies, Snoopy’s Space Buggies and PEANUTS Pirates are examples of these fun, themed attractions.

There are nine roller coasters and other heart-pounding attractions for older kids and teens.

Swapping land for water, hit up South Bay Shore Waterpark. Feel your tummies drop on Mission Falls, or splish and splash about at child-friendly zones like Otter Trotter, Pup’s Pier and the Tide Pool.

66 – Go horse riding

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Wondering where it’s possible to go horse riding in the urban city? Trotting along the beach or trekking through a dense forest, enjoy a one-hour horseback adventure.

After a private pick-up in San Francisco, head over to Olema Valley near Stinson Beach where your trek begins — suitable for both beginner and experienced riders.

Choose if you’d prefer to horseback on soft sandy shores or through forestry of tall trees. Afterward, you’ll be dropped off back in the city.

P.s. Horses are highly sentient beings, often working hand in hand with children with special needs.

  • horse riding in San Francisco

67 – Shop, eat and play at The Crossing at East Cut

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Catch a movie, take the kids shopping, rid some energy at the soccer playing fields and grab a bite to eat at The Crossing at East Cut.

Very near to districts like SOMA, South Park, South Beach and the Financial District, it was only in 2017 that East Cut officially became a neighborhood of its own and is considered an affluent and up-and-coming area.

The modern shopping center opened a year later in 2018, decked with entertainment and sporting facilities, food trucks and vendors, a beer garden, a cinema and outdoor community spaces.

There are two soccer fields, pickleball courts and the LuxFit SF outdoor training grounds (furnished with gym equipment).

68 – Ride and sing on the San Francisco Carousel

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There’s something about a carousel that fascinates children — perhaps it’s the dancing horses, lights and songs that charm them.

Manufactured in Italy, the San Francisco Carousel has been delighting children at Pier 39 since 2008.

Hand-painted; decorating the children’s ride are iconic San Francisco landmarks like twisty Lombard Street and the famous Golden Gate Bridge … It even features a scene of the sea lions who swim around the bay at Pier 39.

Sparkling in 1,800 LED lights, there are over 30 mounted moving animal seats to take your pick.

The carousel operates daily from 11 AM until 8 PM.

69 – Take in the views from Coit Tower

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Snap cool pictures from the top of Coit Tower, then take a guided tour to explore its art project!

From a distance, the tower appears like a columned structure you’d stumble upon somewhere in Europe.

Erected in 1933 in honor of the firemen who lost their lives in tragic city fires in the years before, its funds were donated by Lillie Hitchco*ck Coit (a volunteer firefighter), after whom the tower is named.

To reach the observation deck, ride the nearly 90-year-old elevator. At the top, drink in the panoramic views above Telegraph Hill (where the structure is located), sweeping over the city and its bay.

Dating back to 1934, visit the tower base to see the original murals painted just after the Great Depression by 26 local artists. Parts of these panels were repainted a few years later as residents felt the artworks were a touch controversial — or a reminder of events we try to forget, like wartime.

Guided tower tours are available, and there is an on-site cafe.

70 – Lunch or book dinner at the best restaurants for kids

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Enjoy a meal where everyone is happy at the best restaurants for kids.

A mini golf course and a restaurant in one? Yes, please! Order plates of American classics and let the children have fun around the indoor putt-putt course at Urban Putt.

Inspired by the 1994 blockbuster, Forrest Gump, feast on seafood in a fishing-boat setting at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, and yes, they are famous for their shrimp (i.e., prawns).

An entire restaurant dedicated to spaghetti? You can’t go wrong with the food from Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack.

Different from the traditional dining locales, play in the park and satisfy everyone’s food cravings from the medleys of food trucks part of Spark Social.

Burgers, steaks and milkshakes; Orphan Andy’s is a classic all-American diner.

How to get to San Francisco?

San Francisco has three international airports: San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (KSJC) and Oakland International Airport (KOAK). Of the three, SFO is the most frequented and is California’s second busiest.

Consider booking airport transfers for when you touch down in the city, including a private comfortable pick-up and drop-off directly at your accommodation.

Your personal driver awaits you, holding a placard with your name. When you’re ready to exit the airport, hop into your private, comfortably-sized vehicle, and off you go. This is super convenient when traveling with young kids, not worrying about organizing taxis with overly-tired tots nagging you.

Where to stay in San Francisco with kids?

Make sure everyone falls asleep sweetly at night with these fabulous family-friendly hotels in San Francisco.

Greeted with milk and cookies and a whole Kids Concierge service, the luxurious 5-star Four Seasons San Francisco leaves all ages satisfied.

Boasting a heated outdoor pool and connecting rooms, check into the funky Hotel del Sol where kids under eight stay for free.

Favored for its location close to Fisherman’s Wharf, Omni San Francisco is another great option.

Argonaut Hotel boasts a nautical theme, adding extra ambiance to its waterside positioning.

If you can’t be without your comforts, check into iconic five-star stays that naturally ensure every guest is cared for no matter their age, like The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco or The St. Regis San Francisco.

Visiting San Francisco on a budget?

With children in the picture, travel can become expensive. Save a few ways where you can, like with free walking tours in San Francisco.

Ranging between two and three hours, join a walking tour around the city’s historical monuments, one that ventures around specific areas like Chinatown, or an expedition that focuses on the most famous landmarks and monuments.

Alternatively, purchase a Go San Francisco Card, offered as a one, two, three, four, or even five-day pass. It’s a clever way to save your pennies if planning a vacation filled to the brim with sightseeing, including entrance into museums, attractions and landmarks at a discounted rate (and included in the overall cost).

Looking for the best tours in San Francisco?

If you’re the type of family that prefers to take a fully-organized holiday tour, check out these best San Francisco tours.

Set sail on the bay at sunset on a luxury catamaran and let the kids pretend to be pirates.

Breathe in the fresh air of Muir Woods or salty breezes in Sausalito.

Join a segway tour around the city, or book a once-in-a-lifetime whale-watching excursion around San Francisco Bay.

Suppose it’s not your first time in the Bay Area, or you’re here with some time to kill, venture off on the best day trips from San Francisco. Explore the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Big Sur, Silicon Valley or Santa Cruz, and many other extraordinary destinations nearby.

Final thoughts

When the children are happy, parents are too, and with all the fantastic family things to do in San Francisco with kids, it’s hard not to wipe the smile off everyone’s faces.

If the Bay Area is one of your top destinations to visit in the USA, tell us what draws you to this city in the comments, we love to hear from our readers.

As always, happy travels!

70 Best Family Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids - TourScanner (2024)
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