fun to do kids union square san francisco   Travel for Kids
  | California | San Francisco

San Francisco - City Center

  Cable cars – Cable cars were invented in San Francisco in 1873, and taking the kids for a ride on the cable cars is a "must do." It's an exhilarating sensation as the cable car grinds up the steep hills, reaches the top, then slowly descends. If you really listen, you can hear the cables "humming" under the streets of San Francisco.
      There are two cable car lines from Powell St. – Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason. Both lines start at Powell and Market (near Union Square), and end up at Fisherman's Wharf.
      There are usually long waiting lines at the cable car turntable on Powell St. To avoid the crowds, walk north up Powell St. and hop on in front of the Westin St. Francis. Or, take one of the historic streetcars to Fisherman's Wharf, and return on the cable car.
      Tip: Use your San Francisco CityPass for the cable cars.
cable car museum
    Cable Car Barn and Museum – If you're riding the cable cars to Fisherman's Wharf, be sure to stop off en route at the Cable Car Museum, where kids can see the winding machinery for the "endless" cables in action! Watch the huge wheels turn the cables that the move under the street (the cars grip the cable to go, let go to stop).
      This free museum also has cable car models, vintage cable cars, tokens, and a gift shop (good selection of cable car souvenirs).
  Union Square – Union Square started out as a sand dune, was dedicated a public park in 1850, and named "Union Square" on the eve of the Civil War. The square, with tables, chairs and cafes, is perfect place to take a break, sit and relax.
      Ice rinkIn December, look for a large Christmas tree and ice skating rink, kids skates are available for rent.
      Westin St. FrancisEvery year in the hotel lobby, Westin St. Francis has a sugar Christmas tree, with elves, presents and toy trains.
Nob Hill – In the 19th century, railroads and mining were big money makers. Wealthy businessmen built fancy mansions on Nob Hill. The mansions were incredible to behold, but most of them burned in the 1906 earthquake. Only the big chunky brown Flood mansion still stands today – you can't miss it.
      Huntington Park Ride the California St. cable car or hike up to Nob Hill – it's good exercise. At the top, there's stately Huntington Park, with a charming fountain, playground with swings, play structure and sandbox.
fairmont christmas
    December at Fairmont Hotel San Francisco The Fairmont Hotel has a lovely Christmas display in the lobby, with large decorated Christmas tree and gingerbread house, snowmen and fluffy white bears, toy trains running round and round.
      Grace Cathedral – Step into Grace Cathedral, a Gothic-style church. The bronze doors to the cathedral are replicas of the "Gate of Paradise" doors at the Baptistery in Florence. Near the entrance is an outdoor labyrinth (there's also one inside the church). Like the labyrinth at Chartres, people traverse the labyrinth as a spiritual walk. The church nave has lovely stained glass windows, murals depicting scenes from San Francisco's history and an altar made from Sierra Nevada granite and California redwood. Ask at the cathedral about schedule of music events.
Asian Art Museum – San Francisco has always had a vibrant Asian community, and this museum is a super introduction to the arts and cultures of Asia.
    Check out Japanese suits of armor, swords and masks, guardian lions squishing their enemies, Chinese ceramic horses and camels, Bronze Age daggers and bells, Javanese puppets and krises, sculptures from Hindu temples in India (especially Shiva the destroyer, waving his many arms and surrounded by a lots of demons). And don't miss one of our favorites, a 3,000 year old bronze rhinoceros!
      Across from the Asian Art Museum, is a charming playground with fun climbing structures. After the museum, go out and play.
      Tip: Asian Art Museum is located some blocks from Union Square. You can take Bart from Powell St. to Civic Center stop, then walk to the museum.
kids books san francisco
Adventures in Asian Art  
Adventures in Asian Art
Sue DiCicco, Deborah Clearwaters

Take a trip through the Asian Art Museum to see Indian sculpture, Korean clothing, Indonesian puppets, ancient bronze rhino from China, dragon vases, Japanese samurai armor and more. The perfect introduction to the museum, before you visit! (Picture book)


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