Located in northwestern California, San Francisco is a thriving city with unique neighborhoods and excitement around every corner. Also known as the “City by the Bay,” this iconic destination sits on San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. From cable cars to abandoned island prisons, this city is a great place to explore the rich history. If the weather turns rainy, there are a variety of indoor museums and cultural activities to visit. Book a stay at a San Francisco vacation rental in one of the quaint neighborhoods, or in the heart of the bustling downtown area. Here’s a quick look at the top 10 things to do with kids in San Francisco.
1. Alcatraz Prison
Located on a barren island in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Prison is only accessible by the ferry that takes guests back and forth several times an hour. After a short ride across the bay, get off the boat and step into the visitor’s center. You can watch a film about the island and prison’s history. Walk up the steep hill to the prison that once housed some of America’s worst criminals, including Al Capone and the Birdman of Alcatraz. Wander through the prison’s cell blocks, Infirmary, administration building, and cafeteria while listening to the self-guided audio tour.
2. Cable Cars
From the Wharf to Chinatown, San Francisco is abuzz the sound of the bells and zooming cable cars. Buy tickets to take a ride on one of the cable car lines. Each car offers a section where you can sit inside as well as space outside. Let your ‘tweens and teens hang on the side of the cable car as it whizzes up and down the hills of San Francisco. Stop at Powell and Market Streets, and watch the cable cars make the turnaround to run their routes again.
3. Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf offers a bevy of activity with visitors checking out the shops, from those selling chocolate to others offering the largest selection of socks you’ve ever seen. Stop at one of the restaurants to enjoy a family meal, or bring your fishing gear and teach the kids how to fish. At the end of the pier, make sure you stop to see the colony of sea lions.
4. Golden Gate Bridge
Schedule your visit to the Golden Gate Bridge for a Thursday or Sunday so you and your family can take a tour of the bridge with a knowledgeable guide. Start at the visitors center, which offers exhibits with information on this suspension bridge’s construction as well as other interesting tidbits, including that this seemingly red bridge is actually a shade of orange. Walk or ride bikes across the bridge with your family to enjoy the stunning views.
5. Lombard Street
Take a walk or drive down Lombard Street. This street lies at a 27-degree angle and offers eight hairpin turns, one right after the other. It’s quite breathtaking to experience. This famous street has appeared in several movies and television shows. If you’re in the area over the Easter holidays, be sure to come out for the famous Big Wheels race. Each year, the young and old alike hop on Big Wheels and race down the street. It’s just as fun to watch as it is to participate.
6. Golden Gate Park
Pack a picnic lunch at your vacation rental, and make your way over to Golden Gate Park for a day of outdoor exploration. This city park offers over 1,000 acres to walk or bike. There are lakes, playgrounds, walking paths, and even a windmill. Stop by the Japanese Gardens to see the stunningly manicured plants and flowers, then have authentic Japanese tea at the tea house. Let everyone choose their own animal when they board the Golden Gate Park Carousel.
7. San Francisco Mint
If the weather turns cold and rainy, take the family over to the San Francisco Mint for a tour instead of staying inside at your vacation rental. Opened in the 1850s, this mint helped managed all the gold mined during the California Gold Rush. While taking a tour of the mint, you and your family can learn more about how the mint withstood the 1906 Earthquake and the history of printing money in the United States. After your tour, stop by the gift shop to pick up a specially minted set of coins.
8. Aquarium of the Bay
Located on Pier 39, the Aquarium of the Bay concentrates on its collection of sea animals that live in the waters close to San Francisco. Walk through a tunnel of clear glass, and feel like you glide among the fish as they swim above and beside you. This attraction is the UnderWater World, and a moving sidewalk allows you to look all around you as you ride without fear of falling or bumping into something.
9. San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo sits in the southwestern corner of the city and covers 100 acres. While walking around the zoo, you and the kids can catch sight of the more than 1,000 animals. When you tire of walking, hop on the steam train for a ride around the park. Let the little ones in your group ride on the carousel, while at the petting zoo, everyone in your family can enjoy getting up close and personal with some domesticated animals.
10. USS Pampanito
Take a tour of the USS Pampanito, a retired naval submarine. This submarine served the United States during World War II. Learn more about life on a submarine and the history of these unique sailing crafts during your tour. Information on the history of World War II is sure to excite any history buffs in your family.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing San Francisco vacation rentals on Tripping.com.