This innovative and outlandish city is home to a little bit of everything. The arching Golden Gates welcome all. California adventures await on Broadway to the arts districts, cable cars to Alcatraz, and from winding streets to wharfs. Experience the array of culture, shopping, sights, and foods in the city by the bay.
Meet the local parents who are here to help plan your family vacation.
I love exploring with my husband and 4 little kids (ages 7 years down to 8 months). We love adventuring at home in the SF Bay Area as well as on our travels. We’ve traveled extensively through the US (we especially love road tripping through national parks!) and abroad, and are currently preparing for two months in Europe this summer. We feel passionately about exploring to learn and broaden our minds, and we hope to help you do the same!Book this Guide
What to know before you travel to San Francisco with Kids
San Francisco is perhaps most well-known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, shining on the bay in its California Poppy-colored towers and steel suspension. A feat of engineering, it's beauty graces the entrance to the city and makes it's skyline what it is.
Boasting a diverse and liberal community, hilly terrain, Victorian architecture, scenic beauty, summer fog, and great ethnic and cultural diversity. These are only a few of the aspects of the city that make San Francisco one of the most visited cities in the world.
Although huge in terms of offerings, San Francisco is physically quite compact. It is located on a seven-by-seven mile (11 x 11km) square of land at the tip of a peninsula between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific coast.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the most convenient airport with direct access into the city. Located just south of the city, you will find BART, CalTrain, Taxis, Rental Cars and Uber a convenient way to journey from your arrival gate into San Francisco.
If you are driving in for a visit, you will come across on one of many bridges to enter the city by the bay. Both the Bay Bridge and, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge offer magnificent views across the Bay and city as you drive over the water. Alternately, you can always hop aboard one of the ferries crossing over from Marin and the East Bay.
Buses and cable cars will take you most places you'd like to go downtown. For the days you'd like to explore areas farther out, such as Golden Gate Park, Land's End, the Mission, and other areas in the western part of the city, using a car would be the best option. Just be aware parking is at a premium in a major city like San Francisco!
Plus, a car is helpful to visit any areas outside the city, such as Marin County, which has fantastic hiking and gorgeous views. I'd recommend using the car for the days when you're exploring those areas, and parking it and taking public transportation when going to more crowded tourist areas (e.g., Fisherman's WharfPier 39, Chinatown). Uber is definitely an option if your family can fit, but it will get pricey, especially with peak pricing (and San Francisco ALWAYS has traffic!).
Fisherman's Wharf and North Beach are super convenient and make it easy to walk or take a bus/cable car when exploring the crowded tourist areas. It's so great to be able to walk to all the fun sites - just prepare for a workout with San Francisco's hills! Union Square is close to lots of shopping and several museums/theaters, so if those things are on your radar, this is a great location, and still convenient to the other sites.
Russian Hill and Nob Hill are also fairly close, but it will be more of a trek to get up to them. Still, they're beautiful and more residential and will give you a feel for the wealthy old parts of San Francisco. The Mission is further out, but has lots of interesting murals and fantastic food. The Sunset will have you closer to Golden Gate Park, and tends to be very pretty and residential.
You can't go wrong eating your way around San Francisco! Bi-Rite Ice Cream in the Mission and you won't be disappointed by getting a big scoop of the salted caramel. Tartine Bakery is also in the Mission and just down the street from Bi-Rite. Pick it up to go and eat in close-by Dolores Park. Ghirardelli Square's sundaes are sure are iconic! Boudin is another SF icon where you can enjoy soup in a sourdough bread bowl. Molinari Deli in North Beach offers fantastic sandwiches. Golden Boy Pizza is known for their thick cut focaccia pizza. If you have time to get out to Berkeley, Chez Panisse and Cheese Board pizza are great stops
San Francisco is a wonderful destination to visit year-round. The weather's never terrible, although the summer does ironically tend to get chilly and windy with all the fog. Regardless of the time of year, dress in layers!
The weather doesn't vary seasonally all that much. Summer and Winter both tend to be chilly and foggy, but not freezing. Spring and fall tend to be beautiful with very little precipitation, and lovely, sunny days. Anytime is a good time to visit San Francisco!
Experience frustration-free planning and travel like an insider to the best family-friendly hotels, restaurants and places to visit in San Francisco