fun things to do with kids in san francisco california    
  Travel for Kids
  | California

San Francisco

San Francisco
San Francisco is our own "backyard," and we have many favorite things to do with kids. It's an ocean city, and you're never far from the San Francisco Bay. Watch barking sea lions at Pier 39, stroll down the Embarcadero, fly kites at Marina Green, take the cable cars, climb to the top of Coit Tower you'll feel like you're on top of the world.
Tip: Don't miss our top picks for children's books on San Francisco, recommended by the staff of Travel for Kids, see below.
  Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39
Marina and Presidio – Golden Gate Bridge
  Chinatown and North Beach
  City Center Union Square and Nob Hill
  The Embarcadero
  South of Market St. – Yerba Buena Gardens
    Mission District
Golden Gate Park
Greater San Francisco
Marin County - Muir Woods

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: As soon as the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park re-opened, we rushed out to see it, and it's an amazing experience. A museum that celebrates the natural world, it includes a superb aquarium, planetarium, natural history exhibits, live rainforest and living roof. Don't miss it when you come to San Francisco!

(Tip: Use your San Francisco CityPass.)

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, new 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:

San Francisco CityPass
kids books san francisco california
The City by the Bay - kids books san francisco  
The City by the Bay
Elisa Kleven, Tricia Brown, The Junior League of San Francisco

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. Delightfully illustrated. (Picture book)


childrens books san Larry Gets Lost in San Francisco
Al Capone Does My Shirts kids books san francisco

"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 lives 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. Two funny, unforgettable adventures on Alcatraz! (Chapter book)


Maybelle the Cable Car
Virginia Lee Burton

"Maybelle was a cable car, a San Francisco cable car …" Big Bill might be a newer, faster bus, but Maybelle is still the best on the steep hills. Irresistible story of how the people of San Francisco saved their beloved cable cars, Maybelle is a perennial children's favorite. (Picture book)


Maybelle the Cable Car - kids books San Francisco childrens books san francisco
Into the Firestorm kids books san francisco
Into the Firestorm
Deborah Hopkinson

It's 1906, and young 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)


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)


The Earth Dragon Awakes kids books san francisco  

"The Earth Dragon is mad." Gripping story 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)


Exploring Chinatown
Carol Stepanchuk, Leland Wong

A cultural tour of San Francisco's Chinatown. This is a wonderful background for what you'll see – herb shops with unique aromas, stationery stores and calligraphy, the Tin How temple, art galleries with brush paintings, New Year's parades, festivals and dragon lore. (Picture book)


childrens books san francisco Exploring Chinatown
Brothers kids books san francisco  
Yin, Chris Soentpiet

Gorgeously illustrated story that captures the heart of San Francisco. A new imigrant, Ming is left alone to tend store in Chinatown. Befriended by a kind-hearted Irish boy, Ming widens his horizons, and together the boys have a plan to save the store. (Picture book)



Warm, humorous story of Charlie, the cable car who jumps his tracks to see a New Year's parade in Chinatown, and helps out a great Chinese dragon, Chu. "Hey, aren't those WHEELS under the dragon's trail?" (Picture book)


The Cable Car and the Dragon - kids books San Francisco
Humphrey The Lost Whale kids books san francisco  
Humphrey The Lost Whale
Wendy Tokuda, Richard Hall

True story of Humphrey, a humpback whale, who made a wrong turn and wandered into San Francisco Bay. When Humphrey swims up the Sacramento River, he's in big trouble, but there's a plan to save him. (Picture book)

Editor's note: In May 2007, a mom and baby whale made the same wrong turn.


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)


childrens books san francisco The Golden Gate Bridge
City Walks with Kids: San Francisco  
City Walks with Kids: San Francisco
Leslie Crawford, David Needham

50 colorful cards, with fun maps on one side, and information on the other, for walks around Fisherman's Wharf, the Embarcadero, Union Square, Golden Gate Park, and more, plus how to get there with public transportation. Let the kids pick what to see today! (Guide)


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