fun to do kids san francisco california   Travel for Kids
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San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco with kids is a wonderful adventure, and it’s in Travel For Kids’ own "backyard." It's an ocean city, and you're never far from the San Francisco Bay. Just a few of our favorite things to do with kids in San Francisco are watching the sea lions back on the docks at Pier 39, stroll down the Embarcadero, go fly a kite with kids at Marina Green, take a ride on the cable cars. And a climb to the top of Coit Tower in San Francisco with kids makes them feel like they’re on the top of the world.

San Francisco Photo Album
  Fisherman's Wharf
Golden Gate Bridge & Marina
    North Beach
    City Center – Union Square and Nob Hill
    The Embarcadero
    South of Market St. – Yerba Buena Gardens
    Mission District
Golden Gate Park
Lands End
Greater San Francisco
Marin County - Muir Woods

Read our blog post "World of Ice Cream: San Francisco" – Travel for Kids list of favorite ice cream shops throughout the city.

exploratorium san francisco

Tip: A visit to the Exploratorium on the Embarcadero is a "must see" with kids. Our short video is just a preview of tons of hands-on activities everyone in the family will enjoy:

(Tip: Use your San Francisco CityPass.)


San Francisco is famous for its cable cars, but it also has historic streetcars, the F line. From the city center, pick up the streetcars on Market Street, ride down Market to the Ferry Building, along the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf.


Tip: In summer, pack some warm clothes since the weather can be chilly and foggy in San Francisco, particularly down at the Marina and around the Golden Gate Bridge.

family hotels san francisco california

Travel for Kids has so many fun things to do with kids in San Francisco, but you'll need a fun place to stay.

Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels in San Francisco, all styles and price ranges, in neighborhoods that are comfortable for families, and near to places you'll want to explore:

San Francisco family hotels
travel tools san francisco

Buy a San Francisco CityPass for discounts on museums, the Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, Aquarium of the Bay, plus Blue and Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, and 7 day unlimited trips on cable cars and buses. Savings for the whole family and no waiting in lines:

San Francisco CityPass

Buy a Go San Francisco Card for 1, 2, 3, or 5 day pass for savings and no waiting in ticket lines for California Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium, bike rental, bay cruises, and more. Also, customize the pass to select which attractions to see:

Go San Francisco Card
kids books san francisco california
The City by the Bay childrens books san francisco  
The City by the Bay
Elisa Kleven, Tricia Brown

Charming tour of San Francisco neighborhoods, plus fun facts about the city. Intricate collage illustrations – look for a dog, a cat and a baby in every scene. (Picture book)


Larry Gets Lost in San Francisco
John Skewes, Michael Mullin

Take a trip around San Francisco with Pete and his dog, Larry. After Larry takes a wrong turn on Lombard Street, he runs up Coit Tower, down to Fisherman's Wharf, past the stone lions in Chinatown, through Golden Gate Park, all the way to the ocean at Seal Rock. (Picture book)

Also, San Francisco ABC, Larry and Pete in San Franciso from A to Z.


Larry Gets Lost in San Francisco
Al Capone Does My Shirts alcatraz kids books adventure

"Today I moved to a twelve acre rock covered with cement." Moose Flanagan was an ordinary 7th grader until his dad takes a job on Alcatraz. Now Moose and his family live on an island where Al Capone works in the laundry, J. Edgar Hoover gets his pocket picked, and a bunch of kids foil an attempted escape. Three funny, unforgettable adventures on Alcatraz! (Chapter book)

Also, non-fiction history of Alcatraz: Where is Alcatraz?


The Alcatraz Escape (Book Scavenger)
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

A secretive mystery writer Errol Roy and book publisher Griswold have created a game "Unlock the Rock." Kids enter to play the game on Alcatraz, follow clues through the cellhouse, dining hall, administrative wing, dungeon, to solve puzzles, which lead to a surprise ending. (Chapter book)


the alcatraz escape

It's 1849, the gold rush is in full swing when teenage Victoria and her family arrive in San Francisco. After her father leaves for the gold fields, Tory is left to look after her younger brother Jacob, who vanishes. It's up to Tory to find Jacob, probably kidnapped and hidden amidst hundreds of deserted sailing ships in the bay. (Chapter book)


What Was the San Francisco Earthquake?
Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

The earthquake lasted only about a minute, but fires burned for three days and night, and much of the city was destroyed. Read about April 18, 1906, and the aftermath, with crumbled buildings, fires caused by leaking gas lines, people escaping the city, excellent historical photos. (Chapter book)


san francisco earthquake kids The Earth Dragon Awakes  

"The Earth Dragon is mad." Gripping novel of two families during the San Francisco earthquake, and the aftermath, the Great Fire. Wonderful local color – people setting up households on the sidewalk, pumping water from underground cisterns to fight the fire, escaping the city on ferries across the bay. (Chapter book)


Into the Firestorm
Deborah Hopkinson

It's 1906, and Nick has recently arrived in San Francisco. On the night of the earthquake, Nick leads a little girl and her injured mother to safety, and risks his own life to save his employer's golden dog. A fabulous story that conveys the experience of devastation and heroic efforts after the earthquake. (Chapter book)


Into the Firestorm kids books san francisco earthquake
Earthquake in the Early Morning (Magic Tree House)
Mary Pope Osborne

The magic tree house has spun Jack and Annie back to San Francisco on April 18, 1906. In just minutes, the whole city begins to shake and roll – it's the big earthquake. Will they get out of San Francisco before the fires spread? (Easy reader)



Young Jack Fair teams up with Alfred Hitchcock to find out who kidnapped his awful Aunt Edith, and left a chocolate ransom note. Suspense and adventure, sinister criminals and cryptic codes, all the sights of San Francisco. (Chapter book)


Adventures in Asian Art  
Adventures in Asian Art
Sue DiCicco, Deborah Clearwaters

Take a trip through the Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco 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)


Boats on the Bay
Jeanne Walker Harvey, Grady McFerrin

"Boats on the bay get ready for the day." Perfect book to read about all the different boats on San Francisco Bay – fishing boats, ferries, sailboats, tugboats, tall ships, water taxis, fireboats, houseboats, container ships. And you can see these boats when you visit. (Picture book)


The Golden Gate Bridge kids books  
The Golden Gate Bridge
Jeffrey Zuehlke

Read about the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world – how it was built, how the bridge works, and what is the exact color of the bridge. (Picture book)


This Bridge Will Not Be Gray
Dave Eggers, Tucker Nichols

Delightful true story of why the Golden Gate Bridge is bright-orange. The bridge could have been red and white stripes, or yellow and black, or all gray ... Full two page cut paper illustrations. (Picture book)


this bridge will not be gray
San Francisco, Baby! books  
San Francisco, Baby!
Ward Jenkins

Exciting sights of San Francisco in rhymes and pictures. "Let's sail across the bay and see Alcatraz along the way." Full two-page illustrations, delightful for little ones. (Picture book)



Count your way through San Francisco – one cable car rolls down the hill, two dragons guard Chinatown gate, four picnic loaves of sourdough bread, six sail boats out in the bay, “Bark, bark! eight sea lions at Pier 39 say hello.” (Board book)


this is san francisco  

Take a trip through San Francisco – drive down crooked Lombard St., panoramic views from Telegraph Hill, boats and crabs at Fisherman's Wharf, tasty food in Chinatown, boating in Golden Gate park. Whimsical retro illustrations, this is a classic! (Picture book)


(More children's books on other San Francisco pages)
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