12 Unique Things to Do with Kids in San Francisco

If you’re planning a family trip to San Francisco you’ve probably already added the Exploratorium, Pier 39, Alcatraz, and the Zoo to your list of must-dos. But San Francisco has so many things to offer, many of which you aren’t going to find on a quick list of top San Francisco kid-friendly attractions. I took some lessons from my own experiences, asked friends for advice, and consulted with the experts to put together a list of some top kid activities that you might not have already considered.

So, if you’re headed to San Francisco with your kids in tow, take a look below at my top picks for things to do with kids in the city by the bay. And remember to layer! Because even in July you might find yourself wishing you had a sweatshirt on hand!

  • Camera Obscura, Ocean Beach 1 of 12
    Based on the 15th Century design of Leonardo da Vinci, the giant "camera" produces images of the surrounding bay, including 360-degree views of seal rock.
    Photo credit: Tosh Chiang via Flickr
  • Bison, Golden Gate Park 2 of 12
    Bison living peacefully in the middle of San Francisco? You'll have to stop to see these giant park inhabitants to believe that they actually exist!
    Photo credit: Sylvain Leprovost via Flickr
  • Bay Model, Sausalito 3 of 12
    Located across the bay from San Francisco in the adorable town of Sausalito, the Bay Model is a giant reproduction of San Francisco Bay that was built by the Army Corps of Engineers. This 3-D, hydraulic model is capable of simulating tides, currents and river inflows with amazing detail.
    Photo credit: HairyGrumpy via Flickr
  • Fort Point 4 of 12
    With a stunning location just under the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point will allow kids to marvel at the enormity of the bridge, while taking in a piece of American history. Built just before the Civil War to protect San Francisco from enemy attacks, it is A National Historic Monument, and the view from the top of the fort offers a truly unique perspective of San Francisco.
    Photo credit: Daniel Ramirez via Flickr
  • Golden Gate Park Children’s Quarter 5 of 12
    Located in the city's famous park, Koret Children's Quarter is recognized as the country's oldest playground. Home to a carousel, a giant rope structure, a climbing wall, and historic concrete slides built into the hillside, there's something for every child. And every kid at heart.
    Photo credit: Shearer Family via Flickr
  • Lands End Labyrinth 6 of 12
    Located off the beaten path, a hop, skip and a jump from the Lands End Coastal Trail, is one of San Francisco's most beautiful, but least known labyrinths. Kids will be delighted by the enchanting sculpture, while parents will enjoy the gorgeous bay views.
    Photo credit: Adam Engelhart via Flickr
  • Seward Street Slides 7 of 12
    Almost lost to development in the 1970s, the Corwin Community Garden is now home to a tandem concrete slide and mini-park. Kids will love to zip down the slide side-by-side, with a little friendly competition thrown in for good measure.
    For more information, and a bit of a history lesson, go here.
    Photo credit: Jenn Deering Davis via Flickr
  • Vaillancourt Fountain 8 of 12
    Located in the financial district's Embarcadero Center, this massive fountain offers children the opportunity to walk above, under and through the many waterfalls.
    Photo credit: Adriel Hampton via Flickr
  • Wave Organ 9 of 12
    After your trip to the Exploratorium, make your way down the spit of land from the Golden Gate Yacht Club. At the end, you'll enjoy beautiful views of San Francisco while listening to the sounds of the bay being conveyed by the wave activated organ.
    For more information go here
    Photo credit: Felix Engelhardt via Flickr
  • Winfield Street Slide 10 of 12
    Located in the Mission/Bernal Heights neighborhoods, there is a steep slide nestled in the trees at the top of Winfield Street. Children and adults will enjoy a thrilling ride down the hill towards Mission Street! Bring along your own cardboard or wax paper, or use some of the leftovers that are always available.
    Photo credit: Esther Reyes via Flickr
  • Carousel, Yerba Buena Gardens 11 of 12
    Admittedly, Yerba Buena Gardens is a hot spot destination for childhood fun, and for good reason. The century-old carousel, playground, children's museum, interactive water features, and gardens are not to be missed.
    For more information go here.
    Photo credit: Stephanie via Flickr
  • Angel Island 12 of 12
    Hop on the ferry and make your way to Angel Island, a state park in the middle of the bay. Once there, you can hike, explore the beaches, and enjoy a lunch with a lovely view. Ferry trips are available from San Francisco or Tiburon.
    For more information go here.
    Photo Credit: Franco Folini via Flickr

For even more options, check out this list.

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