Toddlers, Tweens & Teens: Tips & Tricks For San Fran With The Family

19 September 2016

From wildlife to Walt Disney, hiking to hanging out with the locals, San Francisco offers a buffet of family-friendly activities. Take a look at the toddler-friendly attractions, enjoy the best sightseeing with your teenagers, and drink in the stunning nature and wildlife of the area. This city is certainly a great destination for your next family holiday.

Travelling With Toddlers

Pier 39

Pier 39 is one of San Francisco’s most famous family destinations, and you’ll soon see why. With views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay and Alcatraz, this area is filled with family-friendly restaurants and eateries. When you’ve finished lunch, head to the waters’ edge to see the local sea lions chatting away and playing.

sea lions at pier 39 san francisco Sea lions almost outnumber people at Pier 39! Image: Getty.

Battery Spencer Views of the Golden Gate

One of the best views in San Francisco, Battery Spencer is perched on a bluff at the north end of the bridge. For little kids, or if you’re short on time, there is a car park you can drive to for a short walk to the view. Or, if cycling across the bridge, the lookout adds about 10 minutes onto your ride.

Golden Gate Bridge at dusk with flowers in foreground The Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer. Image: Getty

Cruise Around On A Cable Car

Humming along the streets of San Fran since 1878, cable cars are a novel way to see the city sights, and perfect for the kids. Save money with a ride passport, which gives you unlimited rides for the time you’re in the city.

 San Francisco tram going down a hill A San Francisco cable car. Image: Getty.

Animals Everywhere!

The San Francisco Zoo is the perfect place for a fun, educational family day in the city. Filled with animals from around the world, you can pick up a zoo key at the entrance to unlock interactive stories and learn about the species around the zoo. There’s also a children’s zoo, where kids can experience close encounters with some animals.

A group of flamingos at san francisco zoo Flamingos at the San Francisco zoo. Image: Getty

Alamo Park And The Painted Ladies

This iconic row of pastel Victorian houses is a postcard San Francisco photo. Head to Alamo Park across the street for the spectacular views downtown. Take a picnic or just let the kids play in the landscaped gardens.

painted ladies houses in san francisco with city skyline behind The painted ladies at dusk. Image: Getty

Travelling With Tweens

Ride Around San Francisco

Bike riding is an excellent way to discover San Francisco with the family. You can ride to sites around much of the city centre, but be sure to cycle all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge. Iconic and exciting, the bridge ride is flat and fairly easy, but beware the winds can get cold.

family riding bikes with golden gate bridge and san francisco in background Why not cycle across the bridge to Battery Spencer for a spectacular view of the bridge and city skyline. Image: Getty.

Drive Through The Chandelier Tree

This one is pretty exciting for both kids and parents alike. A four-hour drive north of San Francisco, Chandelier Tree is large enough to drive a car through! Take a picnic lunch and explore the surrounding parkland with a hike, or visit for a few days to take in the picturesque local area.

chandelier tree california is large enough for a car to drive through Will your car fit through? Image: Getty

Exploratorium and Tactile Dome

The perfect rainy day activity, the Exploratorium is an excellent science museum. The highlight is certainly the Tactile Dome, an interactive tour in complete darkness, where you must you your sense of touch to guide you through – fun for all the family!

 san francisco exploratorium building The Exploratorium building. Image: Getty.

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Alcatraz

Arguably the world’s most famous former prison, Alcatraz is a great day out for families, with kids as young as six able to follow along on the audio tour. The ferry across also happens to provide an excellent photo op of the city skyline. We recommend planning for about four hours on the island. But be sure to eat before you go, as no food is allowed on the island, only water.

 alcatraz island birds eye view Alcatraz island is in the middle of San Francisco harbour. Image: Getty.

Walt Disney Family Museum

From Walt Disney history to watching Disney classics, a learning centre and gallery exhibits, this interactive museum will impress everyone in the family!

Travelling With Teens

Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest in North America, and the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Here the streets are a maze of delicious restaurants and quirky, unique stores teens will love to explore.

san fancisco china town street Chinatown is a vibrant, interesting place for both teens and adults to explore. Image: Getty.

Off The Grid Events

Do like a true local and suss out an Off The Grid pop up event. From public picnics to live music and market style events, Off The Grid combines local food vendors, musicians and entertainment to get the family outdoors and give you a taste of living in San Francisco. Not strictly for teens, this could satisfy the whole family. Check out the Off The Grid website for upcoming events.

Dolores park san francisco with people have pic nics Join the locals for a party in the park with Off The Grid events. Image: Getty.

Lands’ End hike

Lands’ End is a rugged park along the coastline at the entrance of San Francisco Bay. The walk to Eagle’s Point is a short, level round trip of about three miles, ideal for smaller kids. If you’re travelling with older children however, there are multiple tracks winding around this beautiful headland.

view of the golden gate bridge from lands end san francisco The Golden Gate Bridge is visible from Lands End. Image: Getty

For more information or to book a family holiday to San Francisco, speak to a Flight Centre Travel Expert today. Call 131 600 or visit your local Flight Centre store.

Vicki Fletcher

A writer and photographer for Flight Centre, Vicki loves road trips down unknown tracks, hiking into mountain ranges, following locals to the best food in town, and spending long afternoons people watching in city squares. She's written for publications across Australia and Europe. Top travel tip: always look up. Follow Vicki on Instagram @vickijanefletcher.