Planning a vacation to San Francisco? The City by the Bay is a marvelous town, combining historic charm and modern vibes.
Some of the highlights include prestigious and quirky art museums, historic architecture, and bustling waterfront neighborhoods, all of which are welcoming and exciting for visitors.
If you’re looking for things to do in San Francisco with kids, check out this list of our favorite kid-friendly activities, including…
- California Academy of Sciences
- Madame Tussauds San Francisco
- Aquarium of the Bay
- AT&T Park Tour
- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
- San Francisco Dungeon
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
- and more…
Consider adding a few of these kid friendly attractions to your vacation itinerary.
Save on Admission to Kid Friendly Attractions
Many of these great kid friendly attractions are available on the Go San Francisco® Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of top San Francisco attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs paying at the gate. Or, build your own pass and save 20% off.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
California Academy of Sciences
This marvelous institution is hands-down the most exciting scientific center around. Combining the best parts of multiple different venues, this aquarium/natural history museum/rainforest/digital planetarium has literally everything under one very green “living” roof.
In addition to offering numerous interactive exhibits and educational programs, the California Academy of Sciences is also at the cutting edge of conservation and ecological research in the science world, making it an excellent place for aspiring young scientists to explore their interests.
Plus, you get to meet a lot of really cool animals like Claude the albino alligator!
Getting In: California Academy of Sciences tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
This is truly the most experimental museum in the world! Touch, explore, play, and create through more than 600 exciting, interactive exhibits. With exhibits geared towards children of different ages, it’s an ideal attraction for the whole family.
Exhibit and demonstration topics cover practically everything under the sun: from robotics to gardening to human anatomy – whatever you’re interested in, the Exploratorium has something for you! Be prepared to dedicate an entire day to this engaging attraction.
Getting In: Exploratorium tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
Madame Tussauds San Francisco
The whole family will enjoy this classic Fisherman’s Wharf attraction. It’s the only place where you can actually “meet” your favorite celebrities – from decades past, or from the top of the pop charts! It’s a little slice of Hollywood right in San Francisco.
Featured actors include the likes of George Clooney, Anne Hathaway, Leonardo DiCaprio and many more. If you’ve got sports fans in the family, check out the exhibit starring famous San Francisco 49ers and Wimbledon legends.
Our favorite is the “Sprit of San Francisco” exhibit, which showcases local legends from the arts and culture scene, from art to music to literature.
Getting In: Madame Tussauds San Francisco tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
Aquarium of the Bay
Discover the fascinating marine life of the San Francisco Bay at this fun and educational institution.
Kids will love the interactive exhibits and hands-on displays, plus the ability to see exciting demonstrations like animal feedings and naturalist presentations. They’ll also love exploring touch pools filled with rays, sea stars, and sharks.
One of our favorite parts of the Aquarium of the Bay is the clear crystal tunnel system that allows you to actually walk through aquatic exhibits and observe the various inhabitants from all angles. Expect to see creatures such as sevengill sharks, moon jellies, giant octopi, and more!
It’s the perfect opportunity for some amazing nature photographs, too — your kids will definitely get those most-liked Instagram shots here!
Getting In: Aquarium of the Bay tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
Go for a Bike Ride
Biking is one of the most fun and most rewarding ways to explore San Francisco.
Rent bikes for a full day and take the family on a tour of the city by the bay. San Francisco has lots of popular bike trails that make it a safe city for biking.
Choose from a variety of sightseeing routes, including the most popular, Bridge to Sausalito and Tiburon route or, for a more urban adventure, start at Union Square, head down Market Street and take “the Wiggle” bike route to Alamo Square Park, Height-Ashbury, and Golden Gate Park.
It’s the perfect way for kids to work off that excess energy and you’ll love that they’re still getting exercise on vacation. Keep in mind that many routes will include hills due to San Francisco’s unique geography, so you’ll want to consider that when deciding what’s best for your family.
Insider tip: Download Blazing Saddles’ free app for helpful tips, sightseeing suggestions, and self-guided tour maps that make following along a breeze.
Getting In: San Francisco bike rentals by Blazing Saddles are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
This fantastic park is unique among its franchise brethren for combining the fun of an amusement park with the educational elements of a zoo/aquarium.
135 acres filled with thrilling roller coaster rides and refreshing water slides is complemented by exciting marine and wildlife exhibits – you’re guaranteed to never be bored!
Kids will especially enjoy the three specifically-designed play areas geared towards younger children. If you’re interested, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom also boasts the only opportunity to swim with dolphins in Northern California!
A visit to this distinctive Six Flags is the perfect way to spend an entire day.
Getting In: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
AT&T Park Tour
Even if you’re not a sports fan, you won’t want to miss out on a chance to see the beautiful views of this stadium by the bay. Located right on the waterfront, AT&T Park is one of the newer stadiums in Major League Baseball and is well worth a visit just to enjoy the architecture.
Of course, it’s also home to the recent World Champion San Francisco Giants, pennant winners in 2014, 2012, and 2010.
Take your kids and enjoy a tour of this park and get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes life of a championship ball club.
Stroll through the visitor’s clubhouse, walk around the Giants’ dugout, and even take a jaunt out onto the field.
Getting In: AT&T Park Tour tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
With over 70 exhibits celebrating the weird and the wonderful, the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium is an absolutely delightful way to spend an afternoon.
Considered the most interactive of any museum in the Ripley’s franchise, this institution boasts over 400 quirky and unusual exhibits scattered throughout 18 different galleries.
Some highlights of the collection include the Marvelous Mirror Maze, the tasty Candy and Toy Factory, the Impossible LaseRace, and many more!
Best of all, Ripley’s is located in the heart of the trendy Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, so there are plenty of places to eat and explore when you’re finished.
Getting In: Ripley’s Believe it or Not! San Francisco tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
California’s Great America
This is another exciting theme park attraction of the more traditional variety. Technically located in Santa Clara, just a moderate drive south of San Francisco, this fun-filled park is an adventure waiting to happen. Expect all the usual rides and slides, plus some great extras!
Highlights of the park include the Boomerang Bay Water Park, Planet Snoopy, and the ever-popular Kidzville. Plus, you’ll also find plenty of dining and entertainment options to round out an enjoyable day spent with family.
Be sure to reserve most of a day to enjoy at this fun park.
Getting In: California’s Great America tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
GoCar San Francisco Tours
These exciting tours may just be your favorite 30 minutes out of the entire day. Explore the windy, hilly streets of San Francisco behind the wheel of this self-guided little yellow car. It’s the first ever Storytelling Car!
Your GoCar will provide detailed commentary and background information as it helps you navigate past the most important and interesting landmarks in San Francisco.
It can even take you to places tour buses skip and only locals know about – a real insider’s look at the city! Keep in mind that children can only ride with adults, so you’ll need to use two passes to rent one of these GoCars.
Getting In: GoCar Tours San Francisco tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
San Francisco Dungeon
This attraction is perhaps best for the older kids, as it can get a bit scary. Modeled after the wildly successful London Dungeon attraction, this creepy thriller is an underground tour guided by costumed theatrical performers. They’ll regale you with tales of San Francisco’s sordid past and recreate authentic historical events.
Some legends you’ll learn about include the Gold Miner’s Greed, the Gangs of Old San Francisco, and the Ghosts of Alcatraz – all very spooky stuff! The San Francisco Dungeon is definitely worth its label as the “hottest new attraction in town.” Of course, it’s also an educational attraction in disguise – both you and the kids will learn a whole lot.
Getting In: San Francisco Dungeon tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
Escape from the Rock Cruise
Experience the world’s most famous penitentiary, Alcatraz, on a 90-minute narrated cruise around the island and under the Golden Gate Bridge and listen to haunting tales of Alcatraz’s most notorious inhabitants, including Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, Clyde Johnson and his escape attempt, many more.
It’s an exciting excursion for kids on a number of fronts. You’ll be regaled with engaging stories, and it’s always fun to be on a boat!
Getting In: Escape From the Rock Cruise tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus San Francisco Tour
San Francisco is a densely populated city, with many attractions and things to do clustered in a number of popular neighborhoods. While it may be easy for locals to navigate, however, it can be a challenge for first time visitors.
If you want to take the kids to see the highlights of the city without wearing them out, why not try a Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus San Francisco sightseeing tour?
Check out a hop-on hop-off tour that gives you the flexibility to decide how much of the route you want to see. Tickets are good for 48 hours, so there’s no pressure to stay on the tour for the entire time.
The flexibility is also really important with small children, because it allows you to hop off when they get antsy and hop back on when they’re done exploring.
Getting In: Big Bus San Francisco tickets are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
There you have it. Our list of some of the top things to do in San Francisco with kids during your vacation.
From museums and cultural institutions to cruises and tours, there is a diverse array of kid-friendly attractions to choose from that everyone is sure to love.
Whether you’re spending the day at festive Fisherman’s Wharf, hopping aboard a historic cable car, or exploring the Mission District, you’ll find plenty to do in this cultural mecca.
Remember, many of these great ideas are included on the Go San Francisco Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Consider adding a few of these kid friendly options to your upcoming itinerary. Enjoy!