Family Travel

San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz, lots of shopping

Tags : city family

San Francisco is a compact, vibrant city with lots of beautiful things to see, fun activities, and day trips nearby that make it a top family travel destination. It is also home to the Triporama world-wide, HQ.

The city is easy to explore, as it is only seven miles across, and a cable car ride can get you to some of the most popular attractions easily from the downtown area.

San Francisco's most famous landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge, is an engineering marvel that was built in 1937. The graceful suspension bridge is 1.7 miles long and is free to pedestrians and bicyclists. You don't have to walk far across the bridge to take in extremely memorable views of the city and San Francisco Bay on one side, and rocky cliffs and the ocean to the other. Vista Points on the north side of the bridge provide memorable views and great family photo ops. Bring extra layers of clothing for your Golden Gate visit, as wind and fog often make it quite chilly.

Near the bridge is Crissy Field, once used as a military airstrip and parade ground, which was recently restored by the Parks Department. It's a great area for walking and picnics, with beautiful views of the bridge and the bay, and boasts a nice little beach area and giant sculptures. Right across from the east end is the Palace of Fine Art, the only remaining building from the 1915 World's Fair. You can stoll the grounds and watch the swans through its ponds, knolls, and Art Deco architecture.

Fisherman's Wharf is geared toward tourists, with a myriad of souvenir shops, restaurants, street performers, and even a submarine tour. At Pier 39, you can see a large colony of sea lions bark, roughhouse, and sun themselves on small piers in the water. Visit the Cannery and Ghirardelli Square for San Francisco souvenir shopping. On the main street, local artisans sell jewelry, fine art, and photos alongside entertainers.

San Francisco's legendary cable cars connect Fisherman's Wharf to downtown. Whether sitting inside or hanging on the front steps, you'll get breathtaking views and experience first-hand the unbelievably steep streets of San Francisco. Take care with kids when boarding, as the cars run down the middle of the streets.

Consider buying an all-day pass covering rides on the cable car lines, buses and streetcars from SF Muni.  On the way to Fisherman's Wharf via cable car, you can visit other attractions such as Lombard Street ("The Crookedest Street"). 

From Fisherman's Wharf, you can take a ferry to explore Alcatraz. Booking tickets early is generally a must, as they sometimes sell out months in advance. Alcatraz is the maximum-security prison where notorious criminals such Al Capone, "Machine Gun" Kelly, and Robert "The Birdman" Stroud were kept. The audio tour brings the prison to life with narration from guards and inmates from Alcatraz's heyday. The Parks Service is now renovating an area where visitors will get a feeling of how the jail looked when it was in service. 

San Francisco boasts a very family-friendly baseball park, AT&T Park. Beyond the bleachers, there are slides and play areas for kids, and fans can walk around the perimeter of the stadium and see McCovey Cove, where Barry Bonds has hit numerous home runs out of the park and into the Bay. After Sunday afternoon games, kids are encouraged to come onto the field and run the bases. 

Consider a visit to San Francisco in September, generally the warmest month of the year. July and August have more than their share of chilly, foggy days. Generally, the weather in the city is mild, rarely hot, with crisp sunny days possible any time of year. Regardless of when you come, though, San Francisco will provide a satisfying vacation for the whole family with lots of activities and a spectacular setting.

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