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San Francisco with kids – 5 must see attractions

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Looking for a family getaway, but tired of going to the beach or an amusement park? Check out San Francisco! Find plenty to do for every member of the family. See these 5 awesome attractions in San Francisco with kids.

Red steel bridge going from a fog surrounded mountain to water amid bright blue sky
See the Golden Gate Bridge

1. Ride the famous San Francisco cable car

Yes, it’s very touristy, but you have to do it! Be sure to take lots of pictures. I didn’t let Little K hang off the open side, however, that would make a great photo.

Cable car lines can be extremely long. In addition, they are very slow to board. If you are near Ghiradelli Square, don’t take the Powell-Hyde line right at the square. Instead, walk six blocks and use the Powell-Mason line. It will undoubtedly be shorter.

Cost per ride:

  • -Kids under 5 are free
  • -Adults and kids over 5 – $7
Open air trolley car with lettering Powell & Mason Sts on top
Enjoy a cable car ride

2. Walk, ride or bike the Golden Gate bridge

You haven’t ‘done’ San Francisco until you experience the Golden Gate. Fog, high winds and a slight mist in the air greet you as you make your way across the bridge. The temperature drops too – make sure you are prepared.

We sat at the top of a Hop-on, Hop-off bus from Union Square and rode The Golden Gate both ways. My daughter thought it was like a roller-coaster because it was so bumpy.

Purchase activities in advance to bundle them. We used a 3-attraction San Francisco Explorer pass from and saved approximately 40% over gate prices. With this pass, you have 30 days from the date of your first attraction to use the remaining ones.

Girl bundled up in gray sweatshirt with hood and purple sunglasses sitting on a gray seat at the top floor of a bus passing by trees and fog.
It’s chilly over the Golden Gate
Red double decker bus in front of a large sign in the shape of a ships steering wheel that says Fishermans Wharf of San Francisco
See the major sites by bus!

3. Take a bay cruise to Alcatraz or Bridge to Bridge

It doesn’t matter which cruise, just take one. See San Francisco from the water and enjoy the historical and fun commentary.

Fog starts to dissipate around noon, so I suggest booking your cruise for early afternoon. Ours was in the morning and we didn’t get great pictures of the Golden Gate because it was enshrouded with fog.

The Bridge to Bridge cruise takes you to The Golden Gate, then passes by Alcatraz on the way to the Oakland Bay bridge. Sit either outside or inside and enjoy some refreshments or snacks from the bar.

 

Take in the views of the city, the bridges and the gorgeous bay as your visiting San Francisco with kids.

View of run down buildings and a watch tower on a hill surrounded by water
Alcatraz
Girl in pink tank top standing next to a red boat railing with the San Francisco skyline in background.
Beautiful view of San Francisco

4. Fisherman’s Wharf

Enjoy seafood? Walk through the Seafood Stands and buy individual servings of clam chowder in a bread bowl, oysters or shrimp.

Head to Pier 39 for family fun. Whether that’s enjoying the carousel, grabbing a bite to eat, shopping for San Francisco souvenirs or watching the sea lions, this is a definite must-do.

Find something for everyone here.

Large ship steering wheel sign reading Fisherman's Wharf of San Francisco against a blue sky and white clouds.
Enjoy the Wharf
Blue and white sign reading Pier 30 with a bunch of black and tan seals laying on a pier in the water
See the seals at Pier 39

5. Ghiradelli Square

If you love chocolate or ice-cream (or both), make it a point to stop here. Lines form out the door on most days, but don’t give up – they go fast as most people look at the menu before ordering and know what they want.

Don’t want to wait? At least walk inside the chocolate shop for a free sample of one of their mouth-watering chocolate squares.

Other cute shops and restaurants line the square as well. You are sure to find something the whole family will agree on.

Prefer See’s candies? Find it on the north side of Beach Street near the Powell-Hyde cable car line.

Large white lettering reading Ghirardelli on top of brown and glass buildings
Can’t miss the Ghirardelli sign!
Girl in a pink shirt sitting on a step in front of a mermaid water fountain at Ghiradelli square
Relaxing at Ghiradelli Square

While San Francisco has many fun museums such as The Walt Disney Family Museum and The Cable Car Museum, this list presents you with unique ideas specific to only this city. Hope you can take in these must-see attractions next time you visit San Francisco with kids.

I highly suggest buying a Go San Francisco card.  Choose either unlimited attractions or only a certain number. It will definitely save you money versus paying at-the-gate prices. We do this in almost every major city we visit.

What’s your favorite place to see or thing to do in San Francisco with kids? Let me know in the comments!

Read these for other family travel destinations:

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Blue sky, fog over a mountain and a red steel bridge with white lettering saying 5 must see San Francisco attractions with kids

Tall orange steel bridge over a water with mountains in the background and green trees in the foreground with text reading things to do in San Francisco with kids


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