Visiting San Francisco can be as much fun for the kids as it is for the grown-ups. From wild animals roaming free, family-friendly attractions and world-famous landmarks, there’s a little something for everyone.

Here are our favourite things to do in San Francisco with kids…

Visit the world-famous Alcatraz

Teach your kids the ultimate lesson in behaving themselves…by showing them what might happen if they don’t! Despite being closed since 1963 and, only operating as a penitentiary for 29 years, this is still probably the most famous prison in the world. Believed to be inescapable, although rumors persist about one successful attempt, it’s a fascinating place to visit for the whole family. Discover Alcatraz aboard our Big Bus Tour, it’s one of the most popular San Francisco family activities so we recommend booking early.

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Alcatraz Package Tickets

Meet the sea lions at Pier 39

The shopping center, carousel and street performers down at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 are enough to keep the whole family happy. But what makes this a must-visit San Francisco attraction is the colony of cheeky sea lions that call it home. Your little ones will love watching them play around, pushing each other off the docks – although they do give off a bit of a fishy pong.

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Red Route, Stop: Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf

Have fun in the park

Golden Gate Park is not just any open space. This legendary slice of green covers around 1,017 acres (4 square kilometers) in the center of the city. Visit the California Academy of Sciences to spark their imaginations or meet the bison that have roamed freely in the enclosure since 1891. You can even take a rowing boat out on Stow Lake and there’s a vintage children’s playground where they can work off some energy on the slides and 1912 carousel.

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Red Route, Stop: Golden Gate Park

Take a winding walk

You might notice that some of the city is a little on the steep side, and it feels like nowhere more so than Lombard Street. With a 27% gradient, it’s far too steep for cars to drive straight up, so the road was designed with 8 switchbacks along its 600-foot (180-meter) length. The street has featured in numerous feature films and colorful flowerbeds complete its distinctive look. Walk up and down, although we’re guessing that little legs won’t get quite as tired as the grown-ups.

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Red Route, Stop: Lombard Street

Feed young minds at the museums

Get the kids’ hair standing on end at the Exploratorium's 'static exhibition'. All the experiments are hands on so, kids can learn about the fog that covers the city as well as feeling their way through the pitch-black Tactile Dome. The Children’s Creativity Museum gives little minds the chance to explore music production, stop motion animation and even invent video games. If you’re in the city with children it’s one of the most fun things to do in San Francisco so, we suggest booking your tickets to the attraction with us ahead of time.

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Red Route, Stop: Embarcadero Center
Exploratorium Tickets

Ride the cable cars

Hop on board the city’s ancient cable car system at the Powell Street Turnaround. From here you’ll rattle your way over Nob Hill and down towards Fisherman’s Wharf. You will have to hold on tight though, as it’s a bumpy ride and the carriages were designed and built long before safety belts were invented. Queues can get long for spaces, so try to arrive early for the best chance of getting on board. This is the perfect backdrop for a beautiful family photo to commemorate your trip.

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Red Route, Stop: Hilton Hotel

Come face to face with a shark

As you wander through the glass tubes of the Aquarium of the Bay, you’ll be just a few feet from real live sharks. Enchanting but dangerous jellyfish will float by and there’s even the chance to pet the rays and sea stars at the touch tanks. If you plan on visiting this San Francisco attraction, be sure to take a look at the tickets we offer and enjoy this great way of introducing kids to the wonders of the oceans up close.

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Red Route, Stop: Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf
Aquarium of the Bay Tickets

Use our guide to find the best things to do in San Francisco with kids that will actually appeal to all the family too. And once you’re done working your way through this list, you can find even more inspiration of places to visit on our list of the Top 10 Things to do in San Fran.