Family-Friendly Things to Do in San Francisco: A Comprehensive Guide
California - February 10, 2024

San Fransisco Golden Gate Bridge

Are you looking for family-friendly things to do in San Fransisco? The San Fransisco Bay Area has some great things to do with kids. Whether it’s for a day trip or your family is just passing through while on a road trip to San Diego, there are so many of my favorite things to do on this list.

San Francisco is a vibrant city teeming with family-friendly activities that cater to visitors of all ages. From landmarks like the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to interactive museums, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in the City by the Bay. Whether you’re exploring Golden Gate Park or soaking in the sights at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco offers an array of experiences that are sure to create lasting memories for the entire family.

Traveling with Kids and Airport Amenities: Family-friendly Things to Do

Traveling with the little ones can be fun but challenging for most parents. It can be an exciting part of building their core memories to last a lifetime. With amenities that offer convenience and activities to keep them busy, you can still travel stress-free. It’s great that airports such as San Francisco Airport offer kid-friendly facilities. In terminal 2, you can already find the Kid’s spot located near Gates 7 and D15. This is a perfect place to let your kids burn that energy. 

The interactive artwork and playstations will keep them occupied for hours. If you’re near Terminal 1, there’s another Kid’s Spot depicting a forest ambiance. Your kids could also explore the SFO Museum exhibits, the Aviation Museum & Library, and the Video Arts Room. But if you want to explore San Francisco city with your kids, it’s better to rent a car. It’s more practical and offers great convenience. Take a rental car from San Francisco airport to some of these kid-friendly tourist spots. 

Exploring Golden Gate Park: Nature, Culture, and Fun

Temple Gate
Temple Gate located near the pagoda The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is the type of Japanese garden known as a wet walking garden although it has a Zen garden or dry garden area as well.

Golden Gate Park:

Golden Gate Park is not only one of the largest urban parks in the world but also one of the best places for family-friendly adventures in San Francisco. Here are some of the best things to do in this sprawling oasis:

Koret Children’s Quarter:

  • This section of the park features a playground, carousel, and plenty of open space for kids to run and play. It’s the perfect spot for young kids to burn off some energy while parents relax nearby.

Botanical Gardens:

  • Take a stroll through the Botanical Gardens and discover a diverse collection of plants from around the world. It’s a great way to introduce children to the wonders of nature.

California Academy of Sciences:

  • Located within Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is a must-visit for families. Explore interactive exhibits, a planetarium, and even a living roof featuring native California plants.

Japanese Tea Garden:

  • Transport yourself to Japan as you wander through the serene Japanese Tea Garden. Kids will love exploring the winding pathways, bridges, and koi ponds.

Stow Lake:

  • Rent a paddleboat and enjoy a relaxing ride around Stow Lake. Watch for turtles, ducks, and other wildlife as you navigate the tranquil waters.

Conservatory of Flowers:

  • Marvel at the stunning array of exotic plants and flowers housed within the historic Conservatory of Flowers. It’s a feast for the senses and a great educational experience for kids of all ages.

Fun and Adventure at Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf:

Fisherman’s Wharf is one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason. Here are some of the best family-friendly activities to enjoy in this bustling waterfront area:

Aquarium of the Bay:

  • Dive into the underwater world at the Aquarium of the Bay, where you can get up close and personal with sharks, sea stars, and other fascinating marine creatures.

Sea Lions at Pier 39:

  • Watch as playful sea lions bask in the sun and frolic on the docks at Pier 39. It’s a sight that never fails to delight visitors of all ages.

Ghirardelli Square:

  • Indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to Ghirardelli Square, home to the world-famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Treat the whole family to delicious ice cream sundaes or sample some gourmet chocolates.

Hyde Street Pier:

  • Step back in time at Hyde Street Pier, where you can explore historic ships and learn about San Francisco’s maritime heritage. Kids will love climbing aboard the ships and imagining life on the high seas.

Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze:

  • Get lost in a maze of mirrors at Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, located at Pier 39. It’s a fun and immersive experience that’s sure to delight kids of all ages.

Cultural Delights in the Mission District

Mission District:

The Mission District is known for its vibrant culture, delicious food, and colorful street art. Here are some family-friendly activities to enjoy in this eclectic neighborhood:

Mission Dolores Park:

  • Spend a sunny afternoon at Mission Dolores Park, where you can picnic, play frisbee, or simply relax and soak in the atmosphere. The park offers stunning views of the city skyline and plenty of space for kids to run and play.

Children’s Creativity Museum:

  • Spark your child’s imagination at the Children’s Creativity Museum, where they can explore hands-on exhibits, create their artwork, and even star in their animated movie.

Street Murals:

  • Take a self-guided tour of the Mission District’s vibrant street art scene and discover colorful murals by local artists. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the rich cultural heritage of the neighborhood.

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts:

  • Learn about Latino culture and heritage at the Mission Cultural Center, which offers exhibitions, performances, and educational programs for the whole family.

Riding the Cable Cars and Exploring Union Square

Union Square:

Union Square is the heart of San Francisco, bustling with shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. Here are some family-friendly activities to enjoy in this vibrant neighborhood:

Cable Car Museum:

  • Learn about the history of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars at the Cable Car Museum, where you can see antique cable cars and learn how they operate.

Big Bus Tour:

  • Hop aboard a Big Bus Tour and explore San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks, including Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a fun way to see the city and learn about its history and culture.

Live Music in the Park:

  • During the summer months, Union Square hosts free concerts and live music performances that are perfect for the whole family. Bring a blanket and enjoy an evening of music under the stars.

Shopping and Dining:

  • Union Square is home to some of the city’s best shopping and dining destinations, including upscale boutiques, department stores, and gourmet restaurants. Take a stroll around the square and indulge in some retail therapy or sample delicious cuisine from around the world.

Exploring San Francisco’s Natural Beauty

Outdoor Adventures:

San Francisco is surrounded by natural beauty, from a rugged coastline to lush forests. Here are some family-friendly outdoor activities to enjoy in and around the city:

Lands End Trail:

  • Hike the scenic Lands End Trail and enjoy breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean, and the rugged coastline. It’s a relatively easy hike that’s suitable for families with kids of all ages.

Baker Beach:

  • Spend a day at Baker Beach, where you can build sandcastles, fly kites, or take a refreshing dip in the Pacific Ocean. It’s a great spot for picnics and beachcombing, with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

Tide Pools at Ocean Beach:

  • Explore the tide pools at Ocean Beach and discover an array of marine life, including sea stars, crabs, and anemones. It’s a fun and educational experience for kids who love to explore the natural world.

Twin Peaks:

  • Hike or drive to the top of Twin Peaks and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Bay Area. It’s a great spot for family photos and a memorable way to experience San Francisco’s skyline.

Cultural and Educational Attractions

Museums and Attractions:

San Francisco is home to a wealth of museums and cultural attractions that are perfect for families. Here are some must-visit destinations:

Walt Disney Family Museum:

  • Learn about the life and legacy of Walt Disney at this interactive museum, which features exhibits, artifacts, and multimedia presentations that celebrate the life of the visionary animator and entrepreneur.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA):

  • Explore a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art at SFMOMA, where you can see works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, and Jackson Pollock. The museum also offers family-friendly programs and activities designed to inspire creativity and curiosity.


  • Spark your child’s curiosity at the Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum where kids can engage with interactive exhibits, experiments, and demonstrations. It’s a fun and educational experience for kids of all ages.

Bay Area Discovery Museum:

  • Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, the Bay Area Discovery Museum offers interactive exhibits and outdoor play areas that are perfect for young children. Explore the museum’s indoor and outdoor spaces and unleash your child’s creativity and imagination.

Transportation and Logistics

Getting Around:

Navigating San Francisco with kids is easy thanks to the city’s efficient public transportation system and family-friendly amenities. Here are some tips for getting around:

Public Transportation:

  • San Francisco’s Muni system offers convenient and affordable transportation options for families, including buses, streetcars, and cable cars. Purchase a Muni Passport for unlimited rides on all Muni vehicles for a set period.

Street Parking:

  • If you’re driving to San Francisco, be aware that street parking can be limited and expensive. Consider using a parking app or parking in a garage to save time and hassle.

Bike Rentals:

  • Explore the city on two wheels with a bike rental from one of San Francisco’s many bike shops. Ride along the city’s scenic waterfront paths or explore Golden Gate Park on a family bike ride.

Big Bus Tour:

  • Hop aboard a Big Bus Tour for a fun and convenient way to see the city’s most iconic landmarks. Choose from a variety of tour options and enjoy informative commentary as you explore San Francisco with the whole family.

From exploring Golden Gate Park to riding cable cars and soaking in the sights at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco offers a wealth of family-friendly activities and attractions. Whether you’re exploring the city’s natural beauty, immersing yourself in its rich cultural heritage, or indulging in delicious cuisine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the City by the Bay. So pack your bags, gather the family, and prepare for an unforgettable San Francisco adventure!

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