San Francisco is a beautiful city with a ton of fun activities to do with your kids.
Whether it is exploring the city, partaking in local cuisine, enjoying a day at the beach, or participating in one of the many attractions in the area, you will be sure to have a great time with the whole family in California.
Best Time to Visit San Francisco
Many believe that because San Francisco is located in California, that it is sunny skies and warm weather all year round, and that is simply not the case.
A surprise to many, the best time to visit San Francisco is usually the Fall season. The months of September-November are typically when San Francisco has the most stable weather and mild temperatures, making it an excellent time to have a vacation with your family.
The summer months are a popular tourist time because people are expecting to have a fun California summer. Still, the summer months are very unpredictable weather-wise and can result in your plans being foiled due to rain or cooler than expected temperatures.
Where to Stay in San Francisco with Kids
Choosing the right place to stay is so important because you want to make sure that you pick somewhere safe and family-friendly while making sure that you receive the best deal financially.
If you will be visiting San Francisco, we recommend staying in the city to make for easy travel to local attractions and activities, a couple of great family-friendly neighborhoods include Noe Valley.
Noe is a great place for families as it is a high residential area; meaning the neighborhoods tend to be quieter, and there are a lot of sidewalks, making it a great area for walking around with the family.
If your family are big foodies, another great neighborhood to check out is SoMa.
SoMa is a shortened name for the area known as South of Market, and it is known for its dining scene. Here you will find a number of excellent eateries at an affordable rate.
Check out current deals on San Francisco accommodation for your travel dates here
Getting Around San Francisco
There are a number of ways to get around the San Francisco area with your kids. A few transportation options include walking, public transportation, and taxis/rideshare services.
Walking is a popular way to travel around the San Francisco area. Depending on where you are staying, we always recommend looking up local attractions and dining establishments that are within walking distance of your hotel. Another option if you choose to walk is to find transport to a specific area or neighborhood and then walk from attraction to attraction.
The San Francisco Muni system is a fast and affordable way to get around the San Francisco area. You can travel to nearly anywhere within the city using one of the Muni system vehicles. The great thing about the Muni System is that anyone 18 years or under and Senior Citizens 65 years and older are able to ride for FREE!
This is great if you are traveling with the kids, as you are only responsible for paying for yourselves and any adult children you may have. Adults ages 19-64 can ride for up to 120 minutes of travel for just $2.50-$3.00 depending on the way in which you purchase your fare.
If you prefer to have a private vehicle, you can travel by taxi and/or rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft. Fare for these services will vary depending on the distance traveled, the number of people in your party, and the time of day that you choose to use this service.
If you are traveling by Camper/RV and are concerned about finding a spot for parking, don’t be. In fact, there are a number of places to park your RV/Camper in San Francisco.
While you may find parking keep in mind that you may need to pay for parking and there is a number of parking rules and regulations you must abide by. Find all parking rules for San Francisco here.
Finally, if you would rather drive yourself around or if you plan to travel outside the city, you can choose to get a rental car. There are a number of rental car agencies around the city that will make getting a car a breeze.
We recommend checking out discovercars.com to find the best deal for car hire options in San Francisco (though with the cost of parking we’d recommend only picking up your hire car when you’re ready to take a road trip out of the city!)
15 Best Attractions to Experience With Kids in San Francisco
There are so many amazing attractions throughout the city of San Francisco, so we have narrowed it down to the best 15 attractions that your family will love. Let’s take a closer look at each:
1. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark in San Francisco and one that you must visit if you are in the area. Simply seeing the bridge in person is worth the visit, but if you prefer to get up close and personal, you can travel across the bridge by car or you can cross the trails by either walking or biking.
The Golden Gate is a free attraction. However, you may find yourself paying for parking in the area if you have chosen to drive.
2. Ride on a Cable Car
Nothing says a visit to San Francisco quite like a ride on a cable car. After all, the cable car system was invented and launched in the city almost 150 years ago and is still up and operating today.
There are three cable car lines that run in San Francisco today, and it is a breeze to catch a ride. The cost to ride the cable car is going to be the same as if you were riding the Muni System. As a reminder, children 18 and under, as well as seniors 65+ ride for free, and adults ages 19-64 pay just $2.50-$3.00 for up to 120 minutes of ride time.
3. Oracle Park
Oracle Park is a beautiful stadium, and if you are visiting San Francisco during baseball season, you don’t want to miss the chance to see a San Francisco Giants game. Not only will you have the chance to see a great baseball game, but the view of San Francisco from the stadium is a beautiful sight to see. The game can be affordable, with tickets as low as $20, depending on when you visit.
4. Fisherman’s Wharf
Does your family enjoy seafood? A visit to Fisherman’s Wharf is a can’t-miss stop for you! In the are,a you will find a number of incredible seafood-focused restaurants such as the Blue Mermaid, The Codmother Fish & Chips, and the Fog Harbor Fish House.
In addition to great eats, you will also find a number of fun activities and attractions in the area, such as Madame Tussauds, the Aquarium of the Bay, and Escapology.
The Exploratorium is a museum that features hundreds of exhibits that focus on science, arts, and technology. Exhibits offer opportunities to see how electricity is created or see how animation comes to life. Some popular exhibits include the Anti-Gravity Mirror, the Bay Bridge Model, and the Big Tuning Fork.
6. San Francisco Cable Car Museum
In conjunction with your ride on San Francisco’s cable car system, a visit to the Cable Car Museum to see the history of the cable car system and how they have evolved over time is a great addition to your itinerary. The museum is open daily, except Mondays and admission to the exhibit is free.
7. Twin Peaks
San Francisco is a beautiful city, and if you are looking for the perfect spot to see a view of the entire city, the view from Twin Peaks is the best place to do so. The trail is approximately 0.7 miles and is a great way to spend the day outdoors, taking in the sights. If you’re really looking to ramp up your experience, we highly recommend visiting Twin Peaks at sunset.
8. Walt Disney Family Museum
Calling all Disney lovers! If you are a fan of Disney movies and parks, this is an attraction you will not want to miss. You will have the chance to learn all about Walt Disney himself and how he created the world of Disney that we know and love today. You can even have the chance to see a Disney movie at the museum. The museum operates Thursday-Sunday from 10:00 am – 5:30 pm each day.
You can purchase tickets at https://www.waltdisney.org/visit/admission.
9. San Francisco Zoo
One of our family’s favorite things to do when visiting a new city is make a visit to their local zoo. The San Francisco Zoo is home to over 2,000 unique and exotic species. In addition to seeing all of the animals you also have a number of opportunities to get up close and personal by attending an animal talk or feeding session. The zoo is a great attraction as it is open 365 days a year and is affordable for the family. Ticket prices are as follows:
- Children (under 2): Free
- Children (2-11 years): $18.00
- Seniors (65+): $20.00
- Adults (12-64 years): $25.00
In Chinatown San Francisco, you can enjoy Asian culture and see the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. Throughout the area, you will find authentic Chinese buildings and décor, restaurants featuring classic Asian dishes, and Chinese traditions such as herbal remedies and medicines shops.
It is free to walk around Chinatown and take in the sights. Any money you spend will be dependent on if you choose to enjoy meals or purchase any items from any of the shops in the area.
11. Children’s Creativity Museum
If you are looking for somewhere for your kids to channel their creative energy a trip the Children’s Creativity Museum should certainly be on the agenda. The museum is designed to promote invention and creativity amongst children in particular. There are a number of stations throughout that will allow kids to learn a number of skills and enjoy fun activities.
Popular labs include the Animation lab, the Tech lab, and the Music Studio. The museum is open Thursday-Sunday. Ticket prices are as follows:
- Thursday and Friday: $15 for anyone over the age of 1
- Saturday and Sunday: $20 for anyone over the age of 1
12. Koret Children’s Quarter Playground
The Koret Children’s Quarter Playground is the perfect spot to take the kids to have a great time and release some energy. The main focal point of the park is the carousel. It was originally built in 1914 and is still going strong to this day. In addition to the carousel, there are a number of other fun activities including slides, a playground, and climbing walls. This attraction is a part of Golden Gate Park and is free for families to attend.
13. Urban Putt
Another popular activity that we always seem to find ourselves doing on vacation is mini golf. Urban Putt is an indoor mini golf course that showcases San Francisco. Urban Putt was actually San Francisco’s first indoor mini golf course. The course is 14 holes and many of the holes are modeled after significant pieces of San Francisco history. In addition to the mini golf course, you can also enjoy a delicious meal at the full-service restaurant on site. Mini Golf pricing is as follows:
- Ages 5 and under: FREE
- Ages 6-12 Years: $10.00
- Ages 13+: $14.00
14. The California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is an amazing one stop shop for all things science including Space, wildlife, and natural history. There are a number of attractions at the academy including the Steinhart Aquarium, the Morrison Planetarium, the Osher Rainforest, and the Kimball Natural History Museum.
The Osher Rainforest is a personal favorite, this is a four-story indoor rainforest filled with over 1,600 live plants and animal species. This is an incredible, can’t miss experience and a great way to spend a day. Pricing for a visit varies dependent on age and when you choose to visit.
15. Lands End Trail Hike
If you’re looking for a great way to spend a day outdoors, the Lands End Trail Hike is an excellent trail for people of all ages. The hiking trail is nearly 3 miles long but it is a fairly flat trail and has been deemed a beginner’s trail, making it the perfect course for people of all ages.
You can pack a picnic and make a day of your visit. Find a nice spot to stop on the trail or wait until you make it to the end for a great spot to sit and enjoy the views as you enjoy a meal with your family in one of the best places to connect with nature close to the city.
More On Visiting Northern California
San Francisco is just the start of your Northern California adventure with your family. If you’re planning to continue your journey after a stop in The Golden City, you may like to check out next:
- The most unforgettably scenic drives in Northern California – from towering redwoods to volcanoes and hot springs, you’re in for a real treat road tripping around the state’s north.
- Head north of the city to explore California’s famous wine country – we share all our top tips for tackling Napa Valley with kids
- Continuing north, here are all our favorite stops between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon
- Heading south next? Don’t just drive through Big Sur, experience it! See our detailed itinerary for Big Sur and the Pacific Highway
- Coming soon! We have detailed guides to continuing your road trip to Seattle, heading west to Yosemite and south to San Diego!
San Francisco and the Bay Area is undoubtedly a hub of activity and an unmissable stopping point for families undertaking a west coast USA road trip.
© Family Road Trip