What are the five best things to do with kids in San Francisco?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Alcatraz Prison and Lighthouse©iStock/nstanev

San Francisco boasts some of the best activities for kids of all ages. Whether your youngster is into science or chocolate, this bayside city has something to offer. We’ve come up with a list of our five favorite things to do with kids in San Francisco:

1. California Academy of Sciences. The California Academy of Sciences brims with life — wander through the rainforest dome, take a trip below the flooded forest, embark on a virtual space odyssey, see rare animals and so much more. No matter the climate, you and your kids will have a blast at this museum.

2. The Exploratorium. With more than 600 exhibits that illuminate the mysteries of visual perception, sound and touch — including a station where you can turn your hands into batteries — this is one of the most entertaining science museums in the country. Check out Mind, a collection of more than 40 interactive displays that show how your brain works. One of our favorites is See Yourself Sweat, which magnifies a patch of your skin as you think about ideas or images. Your thoughts trigger immediate sweating, which shows a physiological reaction to a cognitive event.

3. Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf is always mobbed, but you’re bound to have at least a couple of hours of fun playing the antique arcade games and seeing the barking and brawling sea lions (which can number up to 900 in the winter) that have set up camp on Pier 39’s floating docks.

4. Ghirardelli Square. Ghirardelli Square has remained true to its sweet-tooth roots. Hit the original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop for a traditional hot fudge sundae (you’ll need a partner and two spoons to finish one), and a look at manufacturing equipment from the 1852 factory. Of course, your little ones will get quite the sugar high, but it’s totally worth it when they crash into bed that night.

5. Alcatraz Island. Scare your youngsters into behaving by showing them “The Rock.” Explore the prison cells that once held some of America’s most notorious criminals, including Al “Scarface” Capone, kidnapper George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Robert “Birdman” Stroud. Among Alcatraz’s more interesting artifacts are the dummy heads created by three would-be escapees. Made from toilet paper, cardboard, cement chips, soap, cotton sheets and hair scraps from the barbershop floor, they’re a testament to captive creativity.

Kimberley Lovato

San Francisco is a favorite destination for families for good reason---there's tons to do!  Let them run, play, discover and squeal in the playground that is San Francisco. It's hard to pick just five---so I tried to sneaka little extra into each category.  Have fun!

1. Golden Gate Park is a 1,00 acre sanctuary in the center of the city and stretches to the Pacific Ocean. and once in the park, the options are endless. Rent a paddle boat on Stow Lake; enjoy the myriad playgrounds and a carrousel; stop into the Japanese Tea Garden. The California Academy of Sciences will intrigue kids of all ages, as will The Koret Children’s Quarter, with its carrousel and playground.

2. TheMusée Mecanique is one museum kids won't wine about going to, and adults can relive their 80s arcade glory days. THe warehouse behind Fisherman's Wharf consists of one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines, as well as some recent generation favorites too, like Atari and Air Hockey.

3. Take a ride on one of the city's iconic cable cars. The kids, and you, will enjoy the views as you ride up and down the city's famous hills, clang clang clanging all the way. Take the Powell-Hyde Line, which connects the Financial District to Aquatic Park, where you can watch brave swimmers do laps in the cove, and check out some historic ship. A short stroll from here are two yummy stops: Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf.

4. What kid wouldn't love a trip to "The Rock?"  Alcatraz Island, the former federal penitentiary is accessd by gorgeous boat ride and a tour includes an eerie walk through the ghostly cell block, with tales of notorious inmates like Machine Gun Kelly and the Birdman whispering in your ear.

5.  The newly renovated and relocated Exploratorium is bigger and better than ever. A 45-year-old favorie, the hands on museum now on Pier 15 invites kids and adults to touch, explore and learn in a brand new, modern facility that jets out into the bay.  Read more about the new museum here.

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