The San Francisco area is rich with activities, including parks, museums, performances, beaches, and eateries. Getting your children to some of these is great for their development. San Francisco natives will know these by heart, yet to those who live outside the City or are looking for kid friendly activities, these will be amazing finds.
Here is a list of what I nominate as the best:
1. The Academy of Sciences – Huge; as good as it was years ago before they put it in the fancy building, but you can’t argue with the beautiful architecture. It’s ripe with opportunities for interaction with your kids, learning, and interfacing with nature. And it still has a planetarium. Admission fees are stiff. Consider a membership if you live nearby and have younger kids. 55 Music Concourse Drive San Francisco. (415) 379-8000. Open Mon – Sat 9:30 am – 5 pm; Sun 11 am – 5 pm.
2. Golden Gate Park – We are so lucky to have this enormous haven nearby. Wander through a woodsy path and get lost, go into the Conservatory of Flowers and see the current exhibit, walk through manucured Rose Garden, or hike around the picturesque Stow Lake. Your children will feel in tune with nature and you will have spent time together as a family exercising your stiff muscles. Too big for an address. Here is a link to its website containing some maps: http://www.golden-gate-park.com/category/maps.
3. The Exploratorium – A San Francisco classic. A massive facility at the Palace of Fine Arts, on two floors with imaginitive, educational, and fun science exhibits throughout. Even older kids love it. Afterwards, walk by the bay at Crissy Field, people-watch, dog-watch, and take in the amazing views. 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco. (415) 561-0399. Open Tues – Sun 10 am – 5pm. Check out this cool video to see inside: http://www.exploratorium.edu/visit/plan_your_visit/.
4. The San Francisco Zoo – Great for kids of all ages. The zoo does a great job providing large natural habitats for the animals and practices animal conservation. So many fun things for kids to see, and a great way to encourage kids to communicate, connect, and learn. Often foggy in the summer being right by Ocean Beach; bring a warm jacket. Sloat Blvd. & the Great Highway, San Francisco. (415) 753-8141. Open every day 10 am – 4 pm in the winter and 10 a.m. – 5 pm in the summer.
5. Yerba Buena Gardens – An oasis in the middle of the City. A lovely park with a large lawn, performance spaces for regular festivals and a unique and wonderful fountain (the Martin Luther King, Jr. fountain). You can walk behind the fountain and read inspirational MLK quotes. Fun for the littles ones. You can climb to the top and get a fantastic view of surrounding buildings, including the SF Museum of Modern Art. Walk over the walkway over Howard Street and you find a block of kid heaven: there’s a merry-go-round, a playground made out of recycled tires, where the kids can run up the walls, a small interactive discovery museum called the Children’s Creativity Museum (formerly Zeum), a bowling alley, and a large ice skating rink. At Fourth and Mission Streets. (415) 820-3550.
This is by no means an exahaustive list. Nonetheless, these San Francisco classics are hard to beat. Honorable mentions go to the Legion of Honor, Land’s End, AT&T Park, the Ferry Building area, and the Presidio of San Francisco.