San Francisco With Kids: Top Kid Friendly Activities
San Francisco is an oasis of fun for kids of all ages. With lots to do whatever the weather, San Francisco is truly a family friendly destination. Check out the Go Pass and Muni cityPASS for discounts on some of the attractions and rides.
Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument is an ancient Redwood forest, just 12 miles away from the Golden Gate Bridge. The magnificent remnants (some over 600 years old) provide a magical and diverse setting to visit. We wondered around on a mild Winter’s January afternoon and found it very quiet and atmospheric. Star Wars fans will be pleased to know this was the setting for Endor, the home of the Ewoks and the famous speeder bike chase. Equally, you can imagine elves and fairies hiding amongst undergrowth or dancing around the trickling streams. For kids it is a great opportunity to let them burn off some energy, and there are many paved routes within the park which are stroller friendly.
Muir Woods entrance information:
Muir Woods is open every day of the year, including all holidays. The park is open 8:00 a.m. to sunset. The entrance fee is $10.00 for people 16 years and older. Parking is free at Muir Woods and Muir Beach.
Baby changes facilities and a cafe are available.
The boardwalk hike is toddler friendly with rails, and shaded.
USS Pampanito is a World War II submarine museum and memorial. A wonderful experience for big and little kids to explore a key part of WW2 history. Although it is clearly not stroller friendly, it is just along the wharf which is very accessible and where many other attractions lie. The Pampanito is open for visitors daily at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
USS Pampanito Entrance Information:
The Pampanito is open for visitors daily at 9:00 am year round.
(Pier 45, at the corner of Taylor Street and the Embarcadero)
Senior (62 and over) $12
Junior (6-12) $10
Children (5 and under free)
Family (2 adults and 4 Juniors) $45
Student (with ID) $12
California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park
The Academy consists of an aquarium, a planetarium and a natural history museum. The vast, colourful displays really do have something for everyone and are easily accessible. Younger children will enjoy the sensory experience of the brightly coloured fish and lights, whilst older children can admire the awe- inspiring planets and solar system. There is also a rainforest to explore too!
California Academy Of Sciences Entrance Information:
Monday–Saturday: 9:30 am – 5 pm
Sunday: 11 am–5 pm
General Admission tickets include access to all museum and aquarium exhibits—including the rainforest, planetarium, living roof, and a wide range of daily programs.
$34.95 – Adult
$29.95 – Senior (ages 65+)
$29.95 – Student
$29.95 – Youth (ages 12–17)
$24.95 – Child (ages 4–11)
Children ages 3 and under are free
Open every day of the year.
Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf is famous for one thing in particular – the sea lions.We visited in January and there were so many basking in the warm sun! You are most likely to see them during the Winter, where there can be up to 900 sea lions! During the Summer, most migrate South for breeding but a small group has been to stay all year round. Another popular attraction is Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze. Aquarium of the Bay is also here- more detailed information below!
Pier 39 Entrance Information
It’s simple to reach the sea lions at K dock from either side of Fisherman’s Wharf or straight through all the shops and restaurants.
Aquarium of the Bay
Aquarium of the Bay is also located near Pier 39 and aims to inspire wonder and conservation. It features touch pools with sharks, rays and starfish. A highlight are the clear tunnels featuring over 20,000 marine animals from San Francisco Bay.
Adults $24.95, child (4-12)$14.95, family rate (2+2) $70
Fisherman’s Wharf is a ‘typical’ tourist area with souvenirs galore, many cafes and restaurants, home to Pier 39 and the sea lions. It’s a popular spot, especially in the Summer and a place where you can easily while away some time. There are lifts and ramps to make it wheelchair and stroller accessible. A bit further along by Pier 45 is Musee Mecanique – antique coin operated race games from the past. games only cost a penny.
There are several of these cafes dotted over the world and one is situated right by Fisherman’s Wharf. From the moment you walk in, you are greeted by animal sounds, waterfalls, life size animals and immersed into the rainforest. The displays move at times, which generates great excitement for the kids. The menu features pastas, burgers, salads etc and includes healthy side dishes too. Even if you don’t want to eat there, it’s worth a look around if you are in the area – just be aware of the very kid tempting gift shop!
145 Jefferson Street
Exploratorium Pier 15
The Exploratorium is perfect for inquisitive minds of all ages- with practical science activities to engage in.For younger children many exhibits involve colour, light, bubbles. There are also strollers available for use on a first come first served basis.
Exploratorium Entrance Information
Tickets are $29.95 for adults, $24.95 for kids between 13-17 and $19.95 for children aged between 4-12. Its open from Tuesday – Sunday and on selected Monday holidays.
Cruise Around The Bay
There are many companies offering a cruise around the bay. It’s a perfect opportunity to get closer to the famous Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. You may even spot some sea lions too! Head to Fisherman’s Wharf to view lots of various companies and book your tour.
Explore San Francisco In A Fire Engine
Visit San Francisco Fire Engine Tours for a 75 minute experience which includes driving over the Golden Gate bridge, a visit to Sausalito and back to Fisherman’s Wharf. Kids will love the authentic fire gear too.
Fire Engine Tour Entrance Information
Tours leave daily at 09.00, 11,00, 13.00 and 15.00.
Prices Adults $55.00, Teens $45.00 12 & Under $35.00.
Golden Gate Bridge
A visit to San Francisco is not quite complete without a visit to see this iconic bridge up close and personal. A visit to the Marin Headlands can get you very close to take some great photos. Be very aware of car break-ins though. There are warning signs and sadly on our visit, we witnessed the aftermath of a smash and grab.
If you are driving around the City, have a little stop at the very colourful and windy Lombard street.
Cable Car Ride
Another iconic symbol of San Francisco are the cable cars hauling up and down Powell and Hyde Street and Powell and Mason. There are often long queues at Powell and Market where the cable car turns around, but if you walk a few stops up, you can often jump on a lot quicker. There is obviously not a lot of room for a stroller, but you can can squeeze one on. The journey takes you to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Cable Car Information :
Fare is $7 for a single ride.
Hyde Street Pier
Hyde Street Pier is little gem, with a small beach to the left before the main attractions at Fisherman’s Wharf. Hyde Street Pier is home to the fleet of historic landmark vessels in the collection of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. You can board all of these for a set fee. The Park offers educational, music and craft programs for all ages, and provides unique opportunities for learning more about our nation’s maritime heritage. Enjoy hands-on exhibits, waysides, videos and Ranger-led tours.
Madame Tussauds is of course widely known. here you can get up close and personal with Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Jennifer Aniston, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams and many many more.
Prices vary depending if you book with other attractions or buy a saver ticket. prices range for adults (age 13+ from $14.99 to $27 for a walk -in price.
Ripley Believe It or Not
Ripleys Believe It or Not is another popular chain attraction. Inside you can discover shrunken heads, Egyptian muffled remains, a two trunk elephant and other weird and strange oddities.
Tickets are often a better deal if you buy a combo ticket
San Francisco Dungeon
The San Francisco Dungeon is certainly not for younger children or the faint hearted. With boat trip and a drop ride and the gore, it is not recommended for children younger than 10. The Dungeon says “think of the dungeon as PG13” The journey lasts about 60 minutes and takes you through San Francisco’s dark and sinful past. There is nowhere to store a stroller, and all belonging must be taken with you- including up the two flights of stairs.
Big Bus Tour
The San Francisco Big Bus Tour is a hop on, hop off flexible way of seeing the city. the journey explores the Golden Gate bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf, Haight Asbury to Chinatown.
Child tickets are available for those aged 5-15 and children under 4 travel free.Strollers and pushchairs must be folded and stowed on the lower deck.
Alcatraz was once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals including Al Capone. It also hosts a wealth of flora and boasts an amazing view at sunset. The tour is stroller friendly but young children may find the tour a bit tiresome and not of great interest to them. However, older children will love the audio and hearing about the attempted escapes and prison riots. There is only one official tour which takes you actually on to Alcatraz Island which is Alcatraz Cruises. It is definitely best to book with them and not through a tout.
San Francisco Zoo
San Francisco Zoo has all the big animals plus a children’s zoo. At the Cafe Playfield kid-friendly meals are offered but there are also several other restaurants to choose from too. Strollers can be hired at the zoo for $10 for a single and $12 for a double.
Children under 3 are free, aged 4-14 are charged $13 and adults $19.00
Looking for some more USA inspiration? – Have a look at Travel Mad Mum’s Road Trip on Highway 101, USA
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Which attractions have you been to or do you recommend?