San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park & Maritime Museum
Located near Fishermans Wharf, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park immerses visitors in Pacific Coast maritime history. The Park includes a magnificent fleet of historic ships, a Visitor Center, Maritime Museum, Maritime Research Center, and Aquatic Park Historic District.
The park includes a fleet of six National Historic Landmark vessels, all moored at Hyde Street Pier, an extension of Hyde Street. The ships are open to visitors year-round, and a Visitors Center is located across the street.
The Maritime Museum is located in the nearby Aquatic Park Bathhouse building. Built in 1939, this unique structure was designed in the Streamline Moderne style, a late offshoot of the Art Deco period, and mimics the lines of an ocean liner.
There are approximately 35,000 items on display at the museum dedicated to local maritime history.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park & Maritime Museum Hours:
- Hyde Street Pier is open daily from 10am to 4pm
- The Maritime Museum is currently closed.
- Website: nps.gov/safr/
Let The Kids Play At Pier 39
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
If your kids would like to take home something with San Francisco written all over it, Pier 39’s souvenir and specialty shops will tempt them to spend . There’s also a double-decker Venetian carousel in the center of the complex, frequent free performances that kids love on the stage near the end of the pier and the Aquarium of the Bay, a unique, walk-through underwater attraction. On the west side of the complex, you’ll find where the California sea lions hang out.
San Francisco has great street performers, and most kids love to watch them. You’ll find some of the best of them between Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Children enjoy watching the sea lions who have taken over the small marina beside the pier. It’s a good place to get a bite to eat and when the kids are ready to “go,” Pier 39 has free public restrooms.
On the downside, Pier 39 gets very crowded and noisy, especially during the summer, making it hard to navigate with active kids and strollers. Some people think Pier 39 is a tourist trap and according to the official definition, it probably is, created with the aim of attracting tourists and offering overpriced goods and services. This may be more of a turn-off to adults than to the kids, who tend to care less about such things than they do about having fun.
Visit San Francisco’s Exploratorium
These places are so much fun to visit that if you don’t tell the kids they’re museums, they’ll have such a good time that they won’t realize they’re learning something.
Some museums are fun, while others are educational the Exploratorium is the best of both worlds. Its a hands-on science museum thats sure to keep kids of all ages engaged and teach them something, too.
Don’t Miss: American Folk Art Museum Collection
Playground At Dolores Park
If your kids love to play at the playground, then head over to Dolores Park for an hour or two. You will find it in the Mission Dolores district.
This newly added playground offers your kids a space to run around and play for an hour or two. You will find swings, slides, and climbing equipment.
It’s also a wonderful place to have a picnic with the family. This spacious park sits at an angle with views of downtown San Francisco and is a popular spot with locals. It’s a fun way to spend some time in San Francisco with kids.
Helen Diller Playground At Dolores Park
Dolores Park 831-2700
Why youve got to go: This is in between the Castro theatre and the Mission and has a loyal following among families. The sunny weather of California makes this playground a favorite among children and their parents.
What to do: Theres a 38-foot mega-slide which is just the beginning of the entertainment here. The place is filled with swings and bouldering rocks. Theres also wooden boats and a view to die for. Its perfect for some light action followed by a great meal.
For: All ages.
San Francisco, CA 94110 554-9600
Why youve got to go: This museum went through a $9-million renovation and has come back with a bang. It has hands-on exhibits, live animals and art experiences that will entertain and educate visitors of all ages.
What to do: The remodeled Randall Museum has a new STEM lab lab. Theres an extended ceramics studio for art lovers and a sculptural tree that is home to raptors.
Theres also an old playground at the foot of the hill which is perfect if you want a view.
For: All ages.
30 Seward StSan Francisco, CA 94114
Why youve got to go: This is a mini-park built near the Castro theater and it was built in 1973. So it packs quite the historical punch.
What to do: True to its name, the main attraction are two concrete slides which have proven to be a thrilling ride for teenagers and adults. If you wear sturdy pants and get a piece of cardboard, the slides will turn into wonderland.
1096 S Van Ness AveSan Francisco, CA 94110 341-1080
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San Francisco History Museum And Bakery Tour
San Francisco is famous for its sourdough bread, so its not surprising there is a whole museum dedicated to it!
Located above the Boudin Bakery Café inside Boudins two-story flagship building near Fishermans Wharf is the Museum and Bakery Tour. The San Francisco History Museum and Bakery Tour showcases the history of Boudin, along with exhibits on the history of San Francisco.
This one-of-a-kind San Francisco history museum also provides cool views of Boudins legendary bakers at work in the bakery. Watch as bakers craft batches of bread by hand through a 30-foot observation window.
Have a question? Ask it directly through a two-way intercom system and a baker will give you the answer.
San Francisco History Museum Hours:
- Open daily from 8am to 8pm
- Admission is free with food purchase.
Location & Contact Information:
- Website: boudinbakery.com/
Curiodyssey At Coyote Point
Since the 1950s, this hands-on science and wildlife museum on San Francisco Bay in San Mateo has been delighting Bay Area families. Exhibits include Backyard Science, Forces, Flying Magnets, Wind Tubes, and more. You can also visit CuriOdyssey’s resident animals, including river otters, bobcats, burrowing owls, a great blue heron, and other birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Take time to explore the 13 acres of gardens, which feature California native plants as well as butterfly and hummingbird gardens. Daily animal shows are free after museum admission. Location: 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo 94401. Hours: TuesdaySunday, 10 am5 pm. More info: www.curiodyssey.org 342-7755
Don’t Miss: Museum Of Western Art Kerrville
Education Households And Income
Of all major cities in the United States, San Francisco has the second-highest percentage of residents with a college degree, second only to Seattle. Over 44% of adults have a bachelor’s or higher degree.San Francisco had the highest rate at 7,031 per square mile, or over 344,000 total graduates in the city’s 46.7 square miles .
San Francisco has the highest estimated percentage of gay and lesbian individuals of any of the 50 largest U.S. cities, at 15%.San Francisco also has the highest percentage of same-sex households of any American county, with the Bay Area having a higher concentration than any other metropolitan area.
|Income in 2011|
|Median family income||$87,329|
San Francisco ranks third of American cities in median household income with a 2007 value of $65,519. Median family income is $81,136.An emigration of middle-class families has left the city with a lower proportion of children than any other large American city, with the dog population cited as exceeding the child population of 115,000, in 2018.The city’s poverty rate is 12%, lower than the national average.Homelessness has been a chronic problem for San Francisco since the early 1970s.The city is believed to have the highest number of homeless inhabitants per capita of any major U.S. city.
Homelessness, historically, has been a major problem in the city and remains a growing problem in modern times.
|: FBI 2019 UCR data|
Disney Movie At The Disney Museum
Every day of the week , the Walt Disney Museum shows a classic Disney movie in their Fantasia Theater. These films range from Bambi to Mary Poppins.
Although the schedule varies slightly, you will usually find at least one show in the morning and a couple showings in the afternoon. Tickets are free with admission into the museum.
The museum itself is also interesting. It walks you through the life of Walt Disney. It shows you all about how he got started, some early versions of his cartoons, the process to create those cartoons and so much more.
Status: The Disney Museum is open, but their theater is still closed.
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Family Friendly Activities At Pier 39
In addition to the Aquarium of the Bay , you will also find several other family friendly activities on Pier 39. You can ride the carousel or walk through the Mirror Maze.
You can even go on a 7D Experience that includes a roller coaster type ride that moves in sync with the activities on the large, movie screen in front of you.
Another favorite here are the sea lions. You can watch them on their platforms as they jump in and out of the water from time to time and work to reclaim their spot when they return.
More: Pier 39 in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf
Visit One Of San Francisco’s Unique Museums
In San Francisco, there’s a museum for almost every interest. Museums cater to people of all ages, so there’s little chance that anyone will get bored, and they’re a great option when weather drives you indoors.
California Academy of Sciences may sound like a school, but it’s actually a state-of-the-art natural history museum, with a garden on the roof, a colony of penguins, dinosaur skeletons, and a white alligator, along with other stuff that kids like to see.
It’s a little outside the standard tourist circuit, but the Randall Museum is popular with local families, with lots of fun, interactive exhibits – and it’s easily accessible by public transportation.
The Fire Department Museum is a hit with all ages. It’s jam-packed with firefighting memorabilia, and they have six antique fire engines on display.
Kids may also enjoy the Wells Fargo Museum, where they can see a real stagecoach, get their picture put on money and even get a souvenir token to take home. Admission and several little mementos are all free.
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California Academy Of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences gives your kids the chance to experience different types of museums all in one–an aquarium, a four-story rainforest, a planetarium, and a living eco-roof.
You’ll find that each part of this museum is thorough and engaging, so it really can entertain the whole family for the entire day. Kids will also enjoy the interactive earthquake exhibit and Claude, a rare white alligator. Visit this museum in the heart of Golden Gate Park.
Stairways Around San Francisco
Another fun thing to do in San Francisco with kids is to check out our colorful stairways. You will find them all around the city and they are a fun way to work off some energy.
Some of the most popular are the mosaic stairs including the 16th Avenue and Hidden Garden Stairs. If you plan to visit Coit Tower, you can also climb either the Filbert Street Stairs or the Greenwich Stairs to the top for your visit.
You will also find other interesting stairways in some of SF’s other top districts and near some of our best attractions.
> > Find a list of my favorites around SF
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Walt Disney Family Museum
If you cant go to Disneyland, head to San Franciscos Presidio to visit the next best thing.
While it focuses on the life of Walt Disney, it gives you the chance to explore stunning interactive displays, videos, and animations of your favorite Disney characters.
Lose yourself in 40,000 square foot space of Disney history.
Watching original Mickey Mouse drawings, and artifacts from Disney classics like Snow White and Pinocchio.
Dont miss the 12-foot diameter model of Disneyland, as Walt initially imagined it.
This one-of-a-kind exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum gives visitors a chance to glimpse into Walt Disneys mind.
There are ten permanent galleries, and the lobby displays all the awards Disney won during his career.
Make sure to watch a Disney classic at the Fantasia-themed theatre.
- Opening Hours: Thursday to Sunday 10am-5pm
- Prices: Adults $25 Students $20 Youth $15 Children under 5 Free
- Address: 104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States
Yerba Buena Center For The Arts
701 Mission St.Located in the heart of Yerba Buena Gardens, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents cutting-edge, contemporary visual art, performances, film/video and community engagement programs that celebrate innovation and experimentation by local, national and international artists working today. Distinguished by its support for contemporary artists from around the world, YBCA is also recognized for the important role the organization plays in the San Francisco Bay Area arts ecology and in the community at large. Artistically, YBCA is decidedly cutting edge, presenting and exhibiting work by artists who are pushing the boundaries of their art in form and/or content.
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Can I Get One Of Those
Located next to the museum, the Childrens Creativity Store carries a wide selection of toys, games, books, and other items to spark the imagination. Offerings include marionettes, masks, stuffed creatures, and arts and crafts projects from around the world. The Store also carries goods that feature the Creativity Critters. T-shirts, tote bags, and stickers are just a few of the items starring Zump, the Birdles, and the rest of the gang, allowing you to continue to create with the Critters from the comfort of your own home!
Randall: Kids Museums In San Francisco
The Randall Museum is one of the most interactive kids’ museums in San Francisco. They encourage creativity in and exploration of the local environment by offering a hands-on live animal exhibit, art and ceramics studios, science lab, woodshop, and greenhouse and gardens.
They also have a 188-seat theater and a toddler playroom. Through kids’ fun, educational experiences here, Randall hopes to foster a greater appreciation for the world we live in.
> > Visit their website for more details
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Julius Kahn Playground And Clubhouse
West Pacific Avenue & Spruce StSan Francisco, CA 94118 713-4997
Why youve got to go: For a long time this has been the place where families come for a good day out. There are a lot of family-friendly activities here which will keep you coming for more.
In 2003, it was remodeled into a Parisian playground which has since fascinated kids too.
Children will love the interactive wet sand play sculpture and climbing equipment, while adults can relax to views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Tamalpais.
What to do: This is the local version of the Luxembourg Gardens. Theres interactive sculptures for the children to play with and mom and dad can relax while enjoying a lovely view of Mount Tamalpais or the Golden Gate Bridge. Its a great place to go to if you are moving around with a baby.
For: All ages.
Pin These San Francisco Kids Museums For Later
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Ride The Seward Street Slides
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
Head to the bustling Castro neighborhood for this easy, yet entertaining, outing. This postage-stamp of a park was built in 1973 and is home to a beautiful community garden, filled with native plants, but kids will love the unique concrete slides that provide hours of endless entertainment. Afterward, adults can enjoy a cocktail in one of the Castro’s many bars.
Museum Of Craft & Design
2569 3rd St.A non-collecting institution, the Museum of Craft and Design is one of North Americas few institutions dedicated to contemporary practices in craft and design. The museums mission is to explore the active roles craft and design play in everyday life through original and traveling exhibitions, collaborations with museums from around the world, and hands-on opportunities to learn how to make your own crafts.
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Spend A Day At Golden Gate Park
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
Whoever coined the term its a walk in the park to imply something is simple or easy hasnt been to Golden Gate Park. With so many activities and places to see, its anything but easy to decide what to do. The park is so big that it’s best to plan ahead.
Golden Gate Park is home to the California Academy of Sciences, one of our top-rated family museums, but that’s only a starter. The children’s playground on the Lincoln Avenue side of the park has a slide rumored to have the fastest ride in the west, the 1912 carousel has no less than 62 menagerie animals, and the Japanese Tea Garden is especially popular for a tea-and-cookie break.
Other fun family activities include renting a boat on Stow Lake or watching the radio-controlled boats on Spreckels Lake. You can even see a real live buffalo while you’re there.