San Francisco’s attractions are iconic and kid-friendly – whether it’s walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, or the tasting fresh clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl on Fisherman’s Wharf. There’s plenty for families to see and do:
Aquarium of the Bay
Meet 20,000 sharks, octopuses, jellies, skates and other amazing marine animals from the San Francisco Bay and neighboring waters as you walk through 300 feet of crystal clear tunnels. Take a Behind-the-Scenes tour or enjoy special free-with-admission presentations by the Aquarium’s naturalists and biologists, including sevengill shark feedings, bat ray feedings and more. Touch leopard sharks, bat rays and sea stars. Explore the all new PG&E Bay Lab (opening April 4, 2009) with land-dwelling animals as nature’s ambassadors, promoting energy conservation to protect their habitats from the potential impact of climate change. Open daily except Dec. 25. Summer hours 9 a.m-8 p.m. Most other times Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri.-Sun. until 7 p.m. Admission $15.95 adults; $8 seniors (age 65+) and children (ages 3-11); $39.95 family (2 adults, 2 children). Children under 3 free. Prices and hours subject to change.
Tour San Francisco neighborhoods or the Golden Gate Bridge by bicycle. The City has several tour companies where families can rent everything they need for a two-wheeled outing (including kid’s bikes).
• Avenue Cyclery
756 Stanyan St.
• Bay City Bike Rentals and Tours
2661 Taylor St.
1325 Columbus Ave.
• Golden Gate Park Skate & Bike
3038 Fulton St.
Ride the Cable Cars – there are three lines for this famous transportation system, Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason and the California St. Line. For more information contact the San Francisco Municipal Railway at 415-673-MUNI (6864).
While more than 7,000 carousels once existed in the world, just 300 remain, with four unique carousels residing in San Francisco. The four carousels located in San Francisco include:
• Golden Gate Park
Martin Luther King Dr. and Bowling Green Dr.
Hours: Fri. –Sun., 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cost: Adults $1.50, children $.50 per ride
• PIER 39
PIER 39, First Level at the North end Pier 39 is also the place to see the famous California Sea Lions basking in the sun from August to May.
Hours: Sun. –Thurs., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Cost: $3 per ride
• San Francisco Zoo
1 Zoo Rd.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Cost: General Admission is $11 adults, $5 children; San Francisco residents $9 adults, $2.50 children
• Yerba Buena Gardens
Corner of Fourth and Howard streets, on the Rooftop at Yerba Buena Gardens
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Cost: $3 for two rides
Although its oldest building – the Woolen Mill – dates back to 1864, Ghirardelli Square is most famous for its years as a chocolate factory, from 1893 until the 1960s. In 1964 Ghirardelli Square became the country’s first manufacturing complex renovated into a festival marketplace. In addition to fabulous views of the bay, landscaped gardens and a self-guided historic walking tour, it boasts more than 50 shops and award-winning restaurants. Families may enjoy a Ghirardelli chocolate hot fudge ice cream on the plaza. Entrance is free.
Golden Gate Bridge
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge – explore on foot or by car, bicycle, or tour bus. Travel under the bridge on a bay cruise or soar over it by helicopter or seaplane. For more information about the bridge call 415-921-5858 or visit www.goldengate.org.
Yerba Buena Ice Skating
750 Folsom St.
San Francisco’s only year-round ice skating center at Yerba Buena offers a variety of programs – public skating, skating school for figure and hockey skating, instruction and more. Figure and hockey skates are available for rental. For more information, call 415- 820-3527, or visit www.skatebowl.com.
From November through January, seasonal ice rinks entertain thousands of holiday shoppers at the Embarcadero Center, the San Francisco Zoo and Union Square.
San Francisco is the perfect place for kids to learn about food – where it comes from, the variety of tastes and how it’s prepared. Families can take children to the Ferry Building’s famous Sat. and Tues. markets to learn about seasonal produce, ask farmers questions and even participate in a Farmers’ Market scavenger hunt or Ferry Building bingo. Visit http://www.cuesa.org/events/teacher_resources/ to download the forms.
For a list of San Francisco kid friendly restaurants with special children’s menus, visit the SFCVB’s TasteSF site.
San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo, home to exotic and rescued animals from all over the world, is located across from the Pacific Ocean. The African Savanna offers a multi-species landscape with giraffes, zebras, kudu, ostriches and more. Go nose to nose with famed grizzly sisters Kachina and Kiona at Grizzly Gulch; watch lemurs leap through the largest outdoor lemur habitat in the country; visit Penguin Island; marvel at the troop of gorillas; and feed farm animals in the popular Children’s Zoo. Take rides on one of the world’s only old-fashioned miniature steam trains and the historic Dentzel Carousel. Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission for San Francisco residents $12 adults ages 15-64; $5.50 children ages 4-14; seniors 65 and over $7.50; children age 3 and under free. Non-residents $15 for adults 15-64; $9 children ages 4-14; seniors 65 and over $12; children age 3 and under free.
The Yerba Buena Gardens feature more than 100 free performances and events annually, May-October. These include classical, jazz, world and operatic music, theater, spoken word, traditional and contemporary dance, visual arts and children’s programming. In the unique upstairs park, families will find an indoor ice skating rink; a playground; a carousel; and bowling alley.
This list was generously provided by OnlyInSanFrancisco.com, the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau
There are so many great kid friendly activities in San Francisco, please share your favorites in the comments below.
Ciao Bambino recommended kid-friendly places to stay in San Francisco:
Hotel Del Sol
St. Regis San Francisco