6-Day Kid-Friendly Itinerary for San Francisco
San Francisco is a city that's full of excitement, wonder, and endless possibilities - and it's even better when experienced with kids! From exploring world-class museums and zoos to taking in stunning views from iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, there's something for every member of the family to enjoy in this vibrant and diverse city.
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Where to stay
The LINE SF
Trendy boutique hotel with a rooftop bar and beautifully designed rooms.
Hotel Fairmont San Francisco
Stately hotel in San Francisco offering views of the city and the bay with refined rooms and a fine dining restaurant.
Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
Located near Union Square, this luxe hotel in San Fransisco boasts modern rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, a spa and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
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Day 1: Explore Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39
Kick off your trip by checking into your hotel, grabbing a jacket and putting on your walking shoes! San Francisco is known to have many different micro-climates throughout the city, so no matter the time of year (but especially if you're visiting in the summer months) it's best to have a jacket/layers with you at all times. The city is walkable and the bus system is sufficient as well as the taking the cable car lines to get around.
I'd first suggest renting bikes at Fisherman's Wharf and heading over to Golden Gate Bridge. One side of the bridge is for bikes only, so be sure to follow the signs for that. Once there, take pictures and enjoy the view.
Head back to return your bikes then begin exploring the world-famous Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. Here, you'll find a variety of family-friendly activities, including a carousel, an aquarium and a sea lion exhibit. Don't forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the many seafood restaurants in the area, or grab an Irish Coffee at the world-famous Buena Vista Cafe. Don't forget to catch a ride on the cable car over to SF's "Little Italy" neighborhood called North Beach and pop over to Ghirardelli Square for some delectable chocolates!
Day 2: Visit the California Academy of Sciences & Golden Gate Park
Spend a day at the California Academy of Sciences, located inside Golden Gate Park, a world-renowned science museum and research institution. This interactive museum features a planetarium, an aquarium and a natural history museum, making it a great destination for kids of all ages.
Golden Gate Park has a variety of family-friendly attractions, including a children's playground, a carousel and a botanical garden. You can rent bikes here and grab a small snack or bring your own picnic. Be sure to make a day of it!
After the museum and park, you might also consider taking a bus or a walk over to the Haight-Ashbury district. Commonly referred to as The Haight, is a historic and iconic district in San Francisco, known for its bohemian and countercultural history during the 1960's "hippie" movement. The Haight is home to a number of Victorian-style houses, colorful murals, and independent stores, as well as a variety of restaurants, bars and coffee shops that you can explore on foot.
Grab a local beer at Magnolia Brewery & Beer Garden located on Haight St, which serves craft beer and pub fare and a coffee at Coffee to the People, or opt for tapas and sangria at the famed Cha Cha Cha restaurant.
Day 3: Visit the San Francisco Zoo
Spend a day at the San Francisco Zoo, home to more than 1,000 animals from around the world. In addition to seeing exotic animals, kids can participate in educational programs and visit the Children's Zoo, an interactive area designed just for little ones.
Be sure to check out the small choo-choo train that circles the Zoo - kids love to ride this and tickets are easily bought at the train depot. Train departs multiple times a day and lasts around 15 mins.
The playground at the SF zoo is also one of the best in the city! Be sure to allow time to check out the multiple play structures and grab a pretzel or churro from the cafe.
Day 4: Check out the Exploratorium
Spend a day at the Exploratorium, an interactive science museum that's perfect for kids. From hands-on exhibits to live demonstrations, there's something for everyone at this San Francisco institution.
After the museum, take a walk down The Embarcadero and into the Ferry Building where you can find great food coffee, shops and more - I recommend Gott's Roadside Burgers!
Day 5: Take a ferry to Sausalito
Take a ferry from San Francisco to the charming town of Sausalito, located just across the bay. Here, you'll find a variety of kid-friendly activities, including a playground and a number of parks and beaches.
Have lunch at Bar Bocce for sourdough crust pizza in waterside digs complete with a bocce court & a back patio with a fire pit. Fun for the whole family!
Day 6: Explore Chinatown & North Beach
Finish your trip by exploring San Francisco's vibrant Chinatown neighborhood. From the colorful storefronts and street markets to the delicious Asian cuisine, there's something for everyone in this bustling neighborhood.
On the border of Chinatown is North Beach, North Beach is a historic neighborhood known for its Italian heritage and vibrant nightlife. North Beach is home to a number of quaint coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants, as well as iconic landmarks such as Coit Tower and Washington Square Park.
One of the best places to grab a coffee in North Beach is Caffe Trieste, which has been a local favorite since it opened in 1956. This cozy coffee shop is known for its strong espresso and live music, and is a great place to relax and people watch. Another great coffee spot in the neighborhood is Blue Bottle Coffee, which has a reputation for serving some of the best coffee in the city.
For dinner with the family, North Beach has a wide range of dining options to choose from. One of the best places for Italian food is Tony's Pizza Napoletana, which serves authentic Neapolitan-style pizza and pasta dishes. Another great option is Sotto Mare Oysteria & Seafood, which serves fresh seafood and Italian specialties in a casual atmosphere. If you're in the mood for something a little more casual, you can't go wrong with a stop at the iconic City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, which has a small café serving sandwiches, salads and pastries.
After all of this, if the kids still need to burn off more energy, there is a great playground that is large with many options of play structures and a basketball court called Joe Dimaggio Playground.
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