Family-Friendly Things to do with Kids in San Francisco
San Francisco is a wonderful, family-friendly city with plenty of fun activities that everyone can enjoy. From a diversity of kid's museums, to outdoor parks and playgrounds, this city has many attractions that are great for anyone traveling with kids.
Lands End Park
Lands End is a park that's located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It runs along the beautiful rocky shoreline and offers stunning views out over the water. It's located between the Sutro District and Lincoln Park and has a number of hiking trails that follow the coast. You'll also find a few small beaches such as Mile Rock Beach and Sea Rocks Beach. Also inside the park is the Legion of Honor art gallery, Holocaust Memorial, a golf course, the USS San Francisco WW2 Memorial, the Sutro Baths, and more. It's a nice place to explore, or find a space to yourself and enjoy reading or simply relaxing.
Seacliff, SF, California, 94121-1545
The Presidio historically served as a U.S. Army base but today it is a large green space and a public park. It's situated in the northwestern corner of the city at the gateway to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio is a national park that is controlled by the National Park Service and it runs between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, ending at Baker Beach. Within the park there are stunning views of Marin County and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as a number of biking, hiking and walking paths. There are also plenty of places to enjoy a picnic or rest with a good book. The Walt Disney Family Museum as well as a golf course and several cafes are also found within the park.
The Presidio, San Francisco, CA
Ocean Beach is located on the West Coast of San Francisco by the Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by the Golden Gate Park, the Richmond District, and the Sunset District.
1506 Great Highway, Sunset District, SF, California, 94122
Angel Island State Park
Catch a ferry from Pier 41 to explore this beautiful state park. Nature lovers will enjoy the peaceful setting and photography enthusiasts will appreciate the views looking back at the city. This is the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay and it has a number of great biking, hiking, and running trails. There are five different picnic areas, eleven campsites, and several nice beaches as well. There's also a casual restaurant on the island.
San Francisco, CA
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Alcatraz Island, located in the San Francisco Bay, once served as a federal prison from 1934 to 1963. Today it is a National Historic Landmark that offers tours that cover the island's history, the former prison, and the many famous prisoners that were held here. To get here, you need to take a scenic ferry ride from Fisherman's Wharf, and it's best to book ahead, especially on weekends.
West Road, SF, California, 94133-1312
Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument is one of the closest places to San Francisco where you can enjoy a forest of redwood trees. The park spans 554 acres, with 240 acres filled with redwoods. The park is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Center and it's a popular day trip from the city. Plan to arrive early if you're visiting on a weekend.
Mill Valley, CA 94941, CA, 94941
Fort Funston Beach
Located at the southern end of the city limits of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast, here visitors will find an old fort along with a nice stretch of beach. This section of land is now part of the Golden Gate National Rec Area. On the beach itself and the surrounding hills, you'll find some ruins of a WWII gun battery and fort, much of which can be climbed around and through if you're looking to explore. This is also a popular spot for hang-gliding and a gathering place for people with dogs. Public restrooms and picnic areas area also provided.
Skyline Boulevard, San Francisco, California, 94166
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Named after the famous chocolate maker and constructed from a historic chocolate factory, this shopping center and public square has a number of boutique shops, ice cream, cafes, and nearby restaurants. Naturally, the most visited shop is the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop and ice cream cafe where you can get all sorts of yummy treats. Visitors can also find some fun activities such as mini-golf, a public fountain with outdoor seating, and great views looking out to the bay.
871 Beach Street, Marina District, San Francisco, California, 94109
Fisherman's Wharf is a classic tourist's neighborhood in San Francisco. It's filled with souvenir shops where you can by t-shirts and other nick nacks. This is also where you'll find the famous Pier 39 with its many attractions including San Francisco's famous sea lions. Also in the area are a couple of museums, the famous sourdough and clam chowder restaurant, Boudin, and ferries to Alcatraz. Fisherman's Wharf is also the turn around point for one of the cable car lines.
San Francisco, CA
Pier 39 is the most popular pier in Fisherman's Wharf. It's a touristy area with a number of shops and restaurants, but people also head to the pier to see San Francisco's famous sea lions. They hang out on the nearby docks and entertain the crowds. The pier is also lined with seafood vendors and a couple of tourist museums.
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA
Walt Disney Family Museum
This museum is dedicated to the life and work of Walt Disney. It was founded by the Walt Disney Family Foundation and is overseen by Diane Disney Miller. The museum features historic photographs and other paraphernalia from Walt Disney's life as well as rotating exhibits on various animators and stylists who have worked on the Disney movies.
104 Montgomery Street, Presidio, San Francisco, CA, 94129
Sue Bierman Playground
Sue Beirman Playground, in the Financial District, is in a good location for families who need a break from sightseeing in San Francisco. It's near a couple of coffee shops, so parents can refuel while kids get their energy out. This playground is gated with slides and activities for young kids and slightly older children.
253 Washington St., Financial District, San Francisco, CA, 94133
The Steinhart Aquarium is part of the California Academy of Sciences. It's a diverse aquarium with almost 40,000 live animals from over 900 different species. There are unique and beautiful exhibits as well as interactive programs that everyone can enjoy.
55 Music Concourse Drive , Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 94118
San Francisco Railway Museum
Located by the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero, this fun and family-friendly railroad museum focuses on the history of railroading in San Francisco with a special focus on the historic street cars. After all, the city is not just home to the cable cars, but also street cars and a subway system. Visitors can get into the driver's seat of a replica street car and view a variety of exhibits about local history as it relates to transportation in the region.
77 Steuart Street, Embarcadero and Financial District, San Francisco, California
This family-friendly museum offers a number of interesting exhibits including a STEM lab, science and ceramics studios, and several exhibit spaces. This museum is all about the kids, and there's plenty of space for the young ones to play. There's a toddler treehouse and a large electric model railroad that even has replicas of Bay Aria trains. Animal lovers will enjoy the animal exhibit which features live coyotes, foxes, reptiles and sea creatures.
199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA, 94114
Located in the California Academy of Sciences, this domed rainforest climbs 90 feet high. It's home to more than 1,600 different plants and animals and offers a unique experience for visitors of all ages. Nature lovers will love this unique perspective on a rainforest.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
Oakland Aviation Museum
This large aircraft museums offers plenty to see and do for aviation lovers. Featuring a huge hangar full of historic and modern aircraft, visitors can see items from the early days of flight (Wright Brothers models), to World War II aircraft to Vietnam and modern era aircraft. Also on display are exhibits about women in aviation, Black Americans in aviation, aircraft engines, historic airlines, and more.
8252 Earhart Rd, Oakland, California, 94621
This museum was created by local celebrity Edward Galland Zelinsky in 1933. It features his unique collection of antique mechanical creations including coin-operated musical instruments, antique arcade machines, and other unusual contraptions. If you bring your own coins, you can try out many of the machines as they still work.
Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA, 94133
This Pacific Heights playground is really pretty with its nice green space and beautiful trees. There are a lot of things for kids to climb and play on, as well as a water feature and picnic areas.
Clay St. & Laguna St., Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA, 94115
Kimball Natural History Museum
The Kimball Natural History Museum is a fun and educational museum for kids and adults alike. It's located in the California Academy of Sciences, and it has exhibits on fossils, natural history, and our planet.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
Julius Kahn Park
This playground offers impressive city views in a gated setting where the kids can play. There are two areas, one for older kids and another for the younger kids and there are places where kids can climb, spin, or swing.
West Pacific Ave & Spruce St, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA
Joe Dimaggio Playground
This North Beach playground has two metal slides and a climbing spider web. It's a pretty nice park with swings, a seesaw, and a spinning merry-go-round as well. It's a gated playground that is right by the city's public library. There are also a number of good restaurants in the area.
651 Lombard St., North Beach, San Francisco, CA, 94133
Helen Diller Playground
Helen Diller Playground is in Dolores Park, and it's a huge area with plenty of room for the kids to run around. Do note that it's not gated, but there are slides, bridges, swings, and a separate area for small kids. Since it's in Dolores Park, it's fun for the family to bring a picnic and enjoy a meal while the kids play.
Church St. & Dolores St., Castro / Mission District, San Francisco, CA, 94114
The Exploratorium will entertain and engage kids and adults of all ages. It has a wide variety of kid-friendly, hands on exhibits that include science experiments, as well as interactive zones that incorporate touch, sight, memory, and perception. The museum is found at Pier 15 and it features exhibits that serve to educate and inform on all types of science including physics, biology, engineering and sound.
Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green Street), San Francisco, CA, 94111
Children's Creativity Museum
This kid's museum is all about using your imagination and creativity. There's a play space where kids can just be kids. There are also labs, workshops, and studios where kids can experiment, explore, and learn. The Animation Lab lets kids create their own characters who then come to life through stop-motion filming. The Tech Lab teaches kids to program robots, and the Music Studio lets kids dress up and create their own music videos.
221 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA, 94103
Chabot Space & Science Center
Located in Oakland, this science museum and planetarium focuses on space exploration, astronomy, rocketry, and other space-related sciences. After undergoing a large renovation in 2021, the museum has a number of hands-on science exhibits which are great for children and adults. They also have an engaging planetarium, an outdoor deck space with more exhibits, and large telescope observatories.
10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, California, 94619
California Academy of Sciences & Morrison Planetarium
The California Academy of Sciences is both a natural history museum and a research institute. It has more than 26 million specimens, making it one of the largest museums of natural history in the world. It's also California's oldest museum, dating back to 1853.
The adjoining Morrison Planetarium hosts a variety of shows and events centering around astronomy and the stars. The 75-foot dome and large theatre make for an engaging and enjoyable experience for kids and adults alike.
55 Music Concourse Drive, Inner Sunset, SF, California, 94118
Cable Car Museum
This free museum is all about the history of the cable car system in San Francisco, and is also home to the actual machinery that powers the cable cars themselves! Visitors can see historical exhibits about how the cable cars were once used much more frequently in the city, what they looked like, and how they work. It's also possible to go down under the street level to see the gear machinery, and gaze upon the large engines and wheels that move the cables.
1201 Mason Street, Nob Hill, SF, California, 94133
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Aquarium of the Bay
Located at The Embarcadero and Beach Street, near Pier 39, Aquarium of the Bay has a number of local aquatic animals. It's an affiliate of the Smithsonian and works to promote ocean conservation.
SF, California, 94133
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San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo is an impressive zoo that sits on about 100 acres in the southwestern corner of the city. The zoo has more than 1000 individual animals and 250 species. It's also the birthplace of the well known gorilla, Koko.
To Little Puffer Steam Train, SF, California, 94166
The Marine Mammal Center
Created in 1975, the Marine Mammal Center, focuses on rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing injured marine mammals. It's also a research and educational center.
2000 Bunker Road, San Francisco, California, 94965
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