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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Being a Tourist in San Francisco with Kids

A friend from New York recently asked for recommendations on what to do with her kids in San Francisco, while her husband is in meetings. Here’s the quick and dirty list I came up with. What did I miss? Add your comments below!

-Zeum (now known as the Children's Creativity Museum) is a hands-on technology museum in Yerbua Buena where you can make your own stop-action animation movies and more. Outside it is a great carousel. and a playground.

-The Exploratorium is a very well-known hands-on science museum (near Crissy Field and the base of Golden Gate Bridge). 

-The Randall Museum is a city-run environmental kids’ museum – great view of the city. It may be hard to get to without a car, though you can take the bus and walk part way there – it may be a trek but the houses you’ll pass are worth it.

-At Golden Gate Park, there’s the California Academy of Science  with an aquarium, walk-through rain forest dome, and lots more. Across from there is the deYoung Museum (art) which often has kids’ programming. The Japanese Tea Garden is right there too – that would be fun. And there’s a botanical garden you can also walk through near there. If the weather is nice, you can rent a paddle boat in the park.

Touristy, but fun stuff at Fisherman’s Wharf: 

-watch the sea lions on Pier 39

-Ice cream sundaes at Ghirardelli Square. Yummy. 

-Musee Mechanique is fun with old-fashioned quarter-games.

-Boudin’s has fabulous soup in a bread bowl (and sandwiches), and you can watch them make bread from the windows (not just bread, but loaves shaped like crabs, turtles and alligators). See pictures here.

You have to take the cable car with the kids. If the line is too long for the wharf cable cars, there’s a line that goes down California Street that should be less crowded. The Ferry Building is fun for its gourmet food – you can reach it at the end of the California line. There’s a farmer’s market there one or two days a week, outside.

The zoo is good – and Ocean Beach is right there too – if you want to freeze your tush off in the sand there (too cold to swim). Once we were walking around Ocean Beach (after the zoo) and found hundreds of sand dollars on the beach.

Chinatown if fun to walk around – there’s a fortune cookie factory which is overrated but worth walking into if you’re there. The stores in Chinatown have all kinds of chatchkes the kids like this.

And Japantown is great too – some funky stores and good restaurants. 

North Beach for Italian food and coffee drinks is a must. And if you're into the hippie scene, head over to the Haight Ashbury area to walk around. Not my scene. The Mission is great for Mexican food, and a funky kids' store called Paxton Gate's Curiosities for Kids. I love walking on Fillmore Street (between Geary and the top of the hill), and walking down that street to Cow Hollow and the Marina. Great buildings, great views.

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