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10 Inspiring Spots to Keep the Kids Entertained in San Francisco

10 Inspiring Spots to Keep the Kids Entertained in San Francisco


San Francisco is one the most famed and majestic cities in the world. With breathtaking views, vibrant culture, and legendary restaurants, it’s no wonder people leave their hearts here. There are also some amazing, life-enriching places to take the kids. So if you’re planning a visit soon, here are some not-to-be-missed spots.


1.      Exploratorium:  A world-renowned science, art, and human perception museum that will delight children and adults alike. Explore hands-on activities, while you learn about the human body and the world around you. Let your senses guide you through total darkness through the museum’s Tactile Dome. Visitors navigate their way through this unique experience completely by touch. It’s an extra $12 (well-worth it), and reservations are required. In 2013, the museum is slated for a new campus on Piers 15 & 17, on the historic waterfront. 


2.      California Academy of Sciences: This one-of-a-kind museum hosts a planetarium, aquarium, a tropical rainforest and 40,000 live animals and exhibits. Families will enjoy this spectacular journey discovering species from around the world. The kids will be awe-struck when they get a glimpse of the life-size T-Rex model skeleton at the main entrance, and enjoy watching the rays and sharks swim beneath them through the floor windows.


3.      Cable Cars:  No trip to S.F. would be complete without a ride on the historic (and iconic) cable cars! Of the three routes, the Powell-Hyde line is the most fun, going across the infamously crooked Lombard Street and ending within walking distance of Ghirardelli Square, where all can enjoy the best ice cream and sundaes.


4.      Yerba Buena Gardens:  A great spot for everyone. Kids can take a ride on the restored carousel, channel their creativity at the Children’s Creativity Museum (formerly Zeum), go ice skating, bowling, or enjoy some outdoor time. Don’t miss the beautiful fountains and waterfalls that honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is behind the gorgeous 50 foot waterfall, and includes photos from the civil rights movement and his inspiring words.  


5.      AT&T Park:  What could be better than enjoying a ballgame with the family on a beautiful day at the picturesque AT&T Park? Kids can experience unforgettable moments with visits from the San Francisco Giants mascot, speed down the Coca Cola Superslide, or take a swing at Little Giants Park, a replica of AT&T Park designed just for kids.  


6.      Pier 39:  An entire day can easily be spent at the vibrant Pier 39, where dining, shopping, attractions, and beautiful bay views are abundant. The kids will be mesmerized by the world-famous and playful sea lions hanging out on K-Dock, giddy on the carousel, awe-struck at the Aquarium of the Bay, thrilled with the 7D Experience roller coaster, and tickled with the street performers. What more could you ask?


7.      Maritime National Historic Park:  If your kids love pirates, they will get a kick out of walking onto Hyde Street Pier to see floating historic ships, like the Balclutha, which stretches just over 300 feet. They can become Junior Rangers, learn about the many different species of birds that live at the park, and participate in a number of activities, tours, and programs.


8.      Crissy Field:  A former military airfield, this stunning, bayside park in the Presidio is the best place in San Francisco to build sandcastles, fly a kite, picnic, walk, or bike. Adults will enjoy watching the intrepid windsurfers and the views of both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. There are also tasty treats at the Beach Hut Café, by the Crissy Field Center. Be sure to pack coats and blankets, as it can get pretty windy and cold here. 


9.     SF Zoo:  Among animal encounters and feeding attractions, kids can ride a steam train or a carousel, and listen to the interactive talking Storybooks. On exhibit now through January 6 is the engaging “Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats,” sure to be a hit with your kids even past Halloween. 


10.  Go-Car Tours:  Older children will get a kick out of exploring the city with these two-seater GPS-guided talking cars. Although children must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older, everyone will enjoy this unique and informative tour.


—By Rosaline Raj
Rosaline Raj is a freelance writer and founder of Creative Chaos Communications & Design. She writes about family, parenting, travel, as well as business and marketing. 

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