The mild-weathered Metropolis by the Bay is a compact place, ranked quantity seven within the US for parks, with tasty meals for even essentially the most finicky eaters and with a dedication to accessibility. San Francisco is a simple and thrilling place for households to go to for a lot of causes – loads of inexperienced house, tons of tradition, by no means too scorching, and comparatively simple to get round, whether or not by public transportation, automobile or stroller.
Is San Francisco good for teenagers?
Brief reply: sure! SF’s public artwork makes for additional colourful neighborhood parks and walks. It’s additionally constantly ranked as a high meals metropolis with loads of inexpensive selections, from road cart bacon-wrapped scorching canines to meals truck parks. Automotive-free weekends on the Nice Freeway and JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park are perfect for toddler trikes and secure city exploration on foot. Public transportation infrastructure has improved and expanded prior to now few years, together with a brand new MUNI metro line extension to Chinatown and bus-only lanes alongside the busy Van Ness Avenue (and don’t overlook about cable automobiles!).
Almost each institution has wheel-friendly ramp entrances and household/accessible restrooms, most of which have altering tables. However relying on how hilly your itinerary is for the day, stashing a travel-friendly child service is all the time a good suggestion.
Whereas it has many inexpensive and free actions, San Francisco can nonetheless get costly for a touring household. Metropolis attraction passes save on admissions charges for museums and different common points of interest. Test on-line without spending a dime admission days to museums and gardens. A number of take part in reciprocal membership applications, so your hometown memberships could get you discounted or free admission to sister establishments in SF.
Youngsters will like to eat their means by way of San Francisco’s scrumptious Chinatown © eddie-hernandez.com / Shutterstock
The place is greatest in SF for teenagers?
The 4,000-plus acres of inexperienced and leisure house in San Francisco make a lot of town kid-friendly – an apparent huge hitter being the sprawling Golden Gate Park with lesser-known pockets that may make every go to really feel new. The previous navy space of The Presidio within the north a part of town has the buzziest new park in Presidio Tunnel Tops. Different enjoyable outside areas embody the foggy Mount Davidson, walkable weekends on the Higher Nice Freeway, the celebratory Stern Grove Pageant, and Ocean Seashore campfires. Add to that quite a few vibrant farmers markets, scrumptious and historic Chinatown, storied and delightful Angel Island, and funky Beatnik historical past round North Seashore’s Metropolis Lights bookstore.
Greatest issues to do in San Francisco with little youngsters, infants and toddlers
Benefit from the view and extra at SF’s new Presidio Tunnel Tops park
With greater than 220 neighborhood parks, San Francisco welcomed a brand new one in 2022. From the identical design agency behind New York Metropolis’s Excessive Line, Tunnel Tops Park is to not be missed, resting on high of the Presidio Parkway Tunnels. Adults and kids alike can admire the gorgeous, up-close views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the domed Palace of Nice Arts.
Totally different zones of Tunnel Tops embody a communal campfire space, picnic tables, a playground constituted of repurposed supplies, an indoor discovery heart and loads of free programming all year long, together with Intertribal Dance Gatherings and academic ranger campfire talks. Meals vehicles abound each day, making low season visits simply as scrumptious. There are many bogs, together with household and accessible restrooms.
In case you’re not completely pooped from exploring Tunnel Tops, the indoor Walt Disney Household Museum lies simply two blocks north of Tunnel Tops, nonetheless on The Presidio grounds.
Get your arms soiled in The Youngsters’s Backyard at SF Botanical Backyard
Whereas almost everything of the 55-acre San Francisco Botanical Backyard in Golden Gate Park is mesmerizing and kid-friendly (try the Flower Piano days when there are real-life mermaids and fairies), The Youngsters’s Backyard calls itself a ‘sure house’ – that means sure to little ones touching issues and digging round for sensory, hands-on exploration.
Only a quick stroller stroll from the primary gate, the backyard provides free Bean Sprouts Household Days a number of occasions every week, the place beekeepers, bug hunts, a planting space and insect-themed arts and crafts await. The Youngsters’s Backyard additionally has a sandbox, mud kitchen, bean tunnel, stump leap and extra. Typically, there are kids’s story occasions within the Nice Meadow by the primary backyard entrance.
Time and vitality allowing, discover different elements of the Botanical Gardens, or stroll three minutes northeast of the primary gate to a GGP traditional youngsters’ favourite: the CalAcademy. For youngsters nonetheless in strollers, the museum’s Steinhart Aquarium is especially stimulating, with tropical-colored fish swimming by in floor-to-ceiling water worlds. And who might overlook to say hello to Claude, the large albino alligator on the primary flooring?
In case you skip the CalAcademy and its respectable (albeit museum-priced) pizzas and sandwiches, seize a traditional scorching canine from one in every of Annie’s Scorching Canines carts parked round GGP. Higher but, stroll 5 minutes south to the food-dense space of ninth Ave and Irving Avenue within the Interior Sundown. The spacious Tartine Manufactory provides artisanal pastries and sandwiches, or refill on “Korean Seoul meals” (get it?), like fried gochujang rooster wings from the favored um.ma, or large and filling burritos from the long-standing Gordo. Automotive-free weekends alongside JFK Drive restrict parking choices however permit more room for little ones to discover safely. Additionally contemplate taking MUNI buses 28, 43 or 44.
Have a weekend stroll on the Nice Freeway
Bordering Ocean Seashore are the Nice Freeway and the parallel Higher Nice Freeway – making for unbelievable dawn and sundown drives towards an ocean backdrop. With a lot much less commuter site visitors throughout the pandemic, town shut down the Higher Nice Freeway to automobiles for pedestrian-only use as a coastal promenade. Residents shortly grew to like strolling, operating, biking and stroller-ing on the vast, easy freeway roads. Submit-pandemic, residents advocated for it to remain car-free, which led to a three-year pilot mission that retains the Higher Nice Freeway car-free from midday on Fridays to 6am on Mondays no less than by way of 2025.
Households can take to the freeway on scooters, bikes, strollers, wagons, tricycles and curler skates, having fun with the impromptu music performances and casual food and drinks distributors that pop up alongside it. Public bogs dot the three.5-mile freeway at Sloat, Taraval and Irving streets. You can begin your freeway stroll wherever alongside the highway, so parking is possible. In any other case, take MUNI metro strains L or N, or MUNI buses 18 or 29.
For a snack, cease at Java Seashore Cafe at Judah or sister location Java Seashore on the Zoo close to Sloat for espresso, sandwiches, salads and Irish soda bread. If you wish to go off-road to the seaside, these ocean waters are for superior surfers and swimmers solely, however the sand remains to be a superb place for lengthy walks, (windy) frisbee, enjoying with canines and people-watching. The San Francisco Zoo can be close to the southern tip of the Nice Freeway at Sloat Boulevard.
The Ferry Plaza Farmers Markets is each stroller and noise-friendly © picture.ua / Shutterstock
Freewheel (your strollers) at a farmers market
Stroller- and noise-friendly farmers markets are a blessing for households. With ready meals distributors promoting alongside produce purveyors from close by Salinas and different elements of Northern California, choosy toddler eaters can discover one thing they’d need to eat, starting from quesadillas to hummus. There’s usually stay music and normally areas with tables and chairs to relaxation and eat.
Whereas town has about 15 farmers markets throughout peak summer season season, a number of are particularly worthwhile for the household. The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market happens thrice every week, however the Saturday market is the crown jewel, with cooking demos, teaching programs, and over 100 distributors. It’s simple to hyperlink a Ferry Plaza Farmers Market go to with a ferry experience – both a fast one to Treasure Island or a half-day affair to Angel Island.
The Sunday Outer Sundown Farmers Market & Mercantile is a pandemic-born mission that’s grown to 100-plus distributors with an enormous youngsters’ play space. Stonestown Farmers Market on Sundays is smaller however plentiful, with free parking and a decently spacious picnic/play space. Simply opened in the summertime of 2023, a brand new farmers market based by the meals justice nonprofit Dragonspunk is open on Thursdays on the Bayview’s also-new Southeast Neighborhood Heart.
Have a household dance get together on the Stern Grove Pageant
Except for internationally well-known headlining acts just like the San Francisco Symphony and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, among the finest issues in regards to the 85-year-old Stern Grove Pageant is the sight of dancing toddlers towards a sea of smiling folks and towering eucalyptus timber – music lovers within the making. The pageant runs each Sunday for 10 weeks in the summertime. You’ll be able to reserve free tickets on-line starting a month earlier than every efficiency.
Youngsters may not have the persistence to attend in line earlier than the 2pm live performance to get optimum first-come, first-served grassy viewing spots. The neighboring West Meadow, nevertheless, is the spillover space with an enormous display live-streaming the live performance, with proximity to the meals vehicles and row of transportable bathrooms.
Carry layers, water, solar safety and a blanket to unfold out. You additionally would possibly want child headphones in case the live performance will get too loud. Picnics listed here are a should, with loads of meals distributors close to the primary entrance and meals vehicles within the meadow: suppose connoisseur corn canines from Batter Up or Argentinian-style empanadas stuffed with beef or Swiss chard from El Sur.
Greatest issues to do with youngsters
The oldsters on the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Manufacturing facility will usually throw in free samples along with your buy © Erin Lenczycki / Lonely Planet
Eat and play your means by way of Chinatown
San Francisco’s Chinatown is a traditional customer vacation spot – one of many greatest Chinatowns exterior of Asia. To keep away from the battle of slim road parking, head straight for Portsmouth Sq. Storage on Kearny Avenue, the place you possibly can linger a bit in Portsmouth Sq. Park to observe folks play chess or apply Tai Chi. Or take MUNI busses 1 California or 8X-Bayshore Specific to Clay and Kearny, or the brand new MUNI metro T line extension to Chinatown – Rose Pak Station.
Make your means a pair blocks northeast to the general public art-covered Ross Alley for the 60-plus-year-old Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Manufacturing facility. If there’s a line, it is going to transfer shortly into the open-plan manufacturing unit the place pleasant employees nonetheless stuff and fold the golden vanilla-scented cookies by hand. Employees members are open to picture ops and are beneficiant with free samples, usually throwing in bonus cookies in the event you make a purchase order. If with mature tweens or teenagers, try the 41 Ross artwork gallery throughout from the manufacturing unit for thought-provoking rotating displays, like work from Chinatown LGBTQIA+ youth or picture essays of disappearing iconic Chinatown eating places.
Head a pair blocks south to the present shop-laden Grant Avenue and pop within the Chinatown Kite Store for an inexpensive fish-shaped kite or a extra severe and detailed dragon. Then head two blocks west to Pagoda Place to go to America’s first dim sum home, the 103-year-old Grasp Ah Tea Room, providing an all-day dim sum menu with dumplings and noodles galore. To burn off extra vitality after the hearty meal, head throughout the alleyway to the Chinese language zodiac animal-themed Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground.
Pace down the unique cement slides in Koret Youngsters’s Quarter
With a lot newness in San Francisco, discovering vestiges of the previous metropolis can really feel like hanging cultural gold. The unique cement slides in Golden Gate Park’s Koret Youngsters’s Quarter (initially inbuilt 1888 as one in every of America’s earliest playgrounds) maintain additional attraction and historic significance, the place signage states that each one adults have to be accompanied by minors. It’s the right excuse for any SF-bred grownup to alleviate childhood recollections and for the subsequent era to kind new recollections of a GGP traditional. It’s advisable to deliver cardboard to slip on, although there are normally a number of items left by different sliders for communal use.
Youngsters will even love using on the neighboring 1914 Herschell-Spillman carousel – one other old-school GGP exercise itinerary. The east space of GGP the place Koret is positioned isn’t close to as many meals choices because the Botanical Backyard, however there’s normally an Annie’s Scorching Canines cart close to the playground. Kezar Pizzetta is a few seven-minute stroll south for connoisseur pizzas – and craft beer and wine for the adults.
The 1-mile loop up Mount Davidson is each stunning and never too strenuous for teenagers © loridambrosio / Getty Photos
See Sutro Tower from the highest of Mount Davidson
To get pleasure from extra of SF’s nice outdoor, look to Mount Davidson Park. Positioned in a residential space on the central west facet, it’s the very best pure peak in San Francisco at 983 ft. There’s road parking by the seven entrances (major ones on Dalewood Manner and Lansdale Ave, and one additional north on Dalewood). In any other case, take MUNI bus 43 Fort Mason to Portola Dr and Del Sur Ave.
Only a 1-mile loop path, the native-plant-filled hike to the highest is satisfying however not too strenuous for teenagers. On the peak, you possibly can spot the spindly red-and-white tri-leg construction of Sutro Tower, nearly as iconic (to locals) because the Golden Gate Bridge or Transamerica Pyramid. There’s additionally a towering 103-ft-high cement cross memorializing the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
Pop right down to the close by family-friendly West Portal neighborhood to get picnic-friendly takeout for the hike or go to afterward. For meals, attempt a comforting toasted sub from neighborhood favourite Submarine Heart. The allergen-friendly Lazy Susan serves a curated tackle Cantonese American classics like broccoli beef, and pizza lovers shall be pleased with native joints Mozzarella di Bufala or Goat Hill Pizza. The West Portal Library and playground throughout the road additionally make a pleasant relaxation cease earlier than the subsequent journey.
Go to the domestically liked Randall Museum up within the hills
Up within the hills of Corona Heights Park sits the Randall Museum. Admission is free to this established however lesser-known kids’s museum run by SF Recs and Parks. Emphasizing pure historical past, science and the humanities, its discovery zones vary from a working mannequin prepare to stay animals in native habitat reproduction areas.
Bonus: there’s a secret cityscape view from the again of the museum. Paired with loads of grassy house and outside sculptures, it makes for a beautiful picnic ambiance. You’ll be able to seize focaccia sandwiches from the small Café Josephine on the grounds, which additionally provides domestically liked Andytown espresso – attempt the signature (fizzy and creamy) Snowy Plover made with espresso, brown sugar syrup, glowing water and housemade vanilla whipped cream.
It’s best to get to the Randall by way of automobile, however you can too take the Ok, L or M MUNI metro strains to Castro Station or MUNI bus 24 Divisadero to sixteenth St and Castro, then do a little bit of uphill city mountain climbing (10-Quarter-hour) to get to the museum. Seize some Marcello’s pizza close to the MUNI station earlier than the stroll if you wish to picnic on the Randall with takeout.
Electrify your senses on the Exploratorium
Whereas each main metropolis has kids’s museums, few are as cool and extensively interesting because the electrifying Exploratorium, with its 600-plus interactive displays, like touching a twister and capturing photos of your personal shadow.
Set by the waterfront alongside the Embarcadero, adjoining itineraries for post-museum exploration will lean traditional vacationer – experience on the F Market a couple of minutes north to get to the ocean lions at Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf. Or stroll/take the F 10 minutes south to connect with the Ferry Constructing actions talked about above.
Greatest issues to do with tweens and teenagers
You possibly can get misplaced within the cabinets of Metropolis Lights Bookstore © Anthony Pidgeon / Lonely Planet
Soak in Beat Technology vibes at Metropolis Lights E-book Sellers
Give your older youngsters a Beatnik historical past lesson in North Seashore at Metropolis Lights bookstore, based by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Open till 10pm, its three flooring of progressive literature can simply entertain e book lovers for hours. A creaky set of stairs results in the poetry room, a serene house with copies of Allen Ginsberg’s controversial “Howl” that additionally homes one of many nation’s largest poetry collections. There are additionally free readings in-store or in Jack Kerouac Alley proper subsequent door. Craving extra hipness? Cross Columbus Ave to the small, privately owned Beat Museum ($5-8 admission), with Beat ephemera corresponding to Allen Ginsberg’s organ.
Whereas too younger to go to neighboring Beat bars, minors can sip on a scorching chocolate or perhaps a subtle espresso on the close by Caffe Trieste, favored prior to now by the likes of Ferlinghetti.
Construct a campfire at Ocean Seashore
Ocean Seashore stretches for 3 miles alongside the westernmost fringe of town. With a powerful, chilly undertow, swimming right here is healthier left to superior surfers. Nonetheless, the flat grounds are excellent for lengthy walks, enjoying with canines, and varied vantage factors to observe an epic sundown (it’s cool even when it’s foggy).
One other draw is the 16 public fireplace rings that open throughout burn season (normally March by way of October) between Stairwells 15-20. There are two close by parking heaps and road parking, or you possibly can take the N Judah MUNI metro line to La Playa St (Ocean Seashore). Public bogs are positioned behind Seashore Chalet throughout the freeway and inside Safeway on La Playa St, a few seven-minute stroll north of the pits, the place you will get firewood and provisions. You may as well seize takeout from close by eating places, like Hakka Restaurant or Seashore Chalet.
Angel Island has a pleasant stability of pure magnificence and historical past © Eloi_Omella / Getty Photos
Journey the ferry to Angel Island for immigration historical past and mountain climbing
Only a 30-minute ferry experience from town, Angel Island encompasses unbelievable pure magnificence whereas offering a historical past lesson about our nation’s immigration historical past – particularly for early Chinese language Individuals in San Francisco. Whereas it’s an indicator subject journey for native elementary college college students, the elective 1.5-mile hike as much as the barracks (there’s a shuttle with restricted run occasions) and the brand new Immigration Museum are appropriate for tweens and teenagers.
The Immigration Station consists of two buildings. The established Barracks Museum is an immersive time capsule of immigration detention on the island within the early nineteenth century – stroll amongst triple-tiered bunk beds coated in clothes and mementos from migrants’ residence nations and see Chinese language poetry carved into the partitions lamenting the loneliness and anger of being detained. The brand new Immigration Museum, housed within the island’s former hospital, additional hyperlinks Angel Island’s immigration historical past to at present’s occasions, like migrant detention on the US border and first-person household immigration tales of Bay Space celebrities like information anchors and authors. Its content material is heavy but additionally hopeful.
The outside recreation obtainable on the island makes for a balanced expertise. You’ll be able to watch deer graze on the paths, gaze out on the water from waterside picnic areas and even lease bikes and e book the campgrounds upfront.
Angel Island Cafe has patio seating overlooking the harbor for an informal al fresco lunch, maybe a hearty chili or bratwurst. You may as well seize connoisseur takeout from the Ferry Constructing earlier than boarding the boat, like boiled, wood-fired bagel sandwiches from Day by day Driver, Jamaican beef patties from Peaches Patties, or a Filipino-Mexican tofu sisig burrito from Señor Sisig.