Fun for Kids in San Francisco
October 3, 2007 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Do you have any suggestions for fun sights/activities for kids in San Francisco?

I have friends from out of town visiting this weekend with their four- and six-year-old kids. I have some ideas (Exploratorium, beach, Blue Angels, Lombard Street, Coit Tower) but I'm looking for more.
posted by kirkaracha to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What about the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito? Not technically in the City, but just over the bridge!
posted by radioamy at 4:38 PM on October 3, 2007

This thread recommended the Bay Model. I remember loving the Cable Car Barn and Ghirardelli Chocolate as a kid.
posted by djb at 4:50 PM on October 3, 2007

I loved Chinatown as a kid, and the cable cars. Maybe the Conservatory of Flowers, if they're patient enough, though it takes only a half hour or an hour to do the whole thing. There's a cool Tiki Bar/Restaurant in the Fairmont, but it ain't cheap. And the view from Twin Peaks is cool at any age.
(The Exploratorium is the BEST!)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:03 PM on October 3, 2007

One weekend? Easy. Children's Playground in Golden Gate Park and the Musee Mechanique. They are slightly young for the Exploratorium, I'd say, but since it's one of my favorite places I'm always supportive of giving it a shot..

The rest you can fill with walking and random tourism as needed.
posted by rhizome at 5:31 PM on October 3, 2007

The Exploratorium is the coolest place on earth. The six year old is surely old enough to appreciate some things there. The four year old, maybe, maybe not. Give it a shot.

I loved running around the ferry as a kid. If the family brought warm enough jackets, do the Angel Island or Alcatraz trip. The destination is incidental; it's being on the ferry that's kid-sized fun.

Seconding the Children's Playground.

The zoo also works for all ages. Kid-appeal includes: chasing peacocks, riding the train, meal time at the big cats exhibit, and a decent playground. If they're hyper kids, it offers a lot of opportunity to run down their batteries.

Be prepared to possibly make Lombard a short visit. Walking it can be hard on little legs, so they might whine pretty quick, even if they think it's a neat sight.

Kite flying at the beach, or up by Twin Towers.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:01 PM on October 3, 2007

Cable cars are a necessity--on the outside, baby, even if the parents get a little nervous. That's what makes it awesome.

Get a snack at the Tonga Room. It's really expensive, but it's amazing for kids (unless they're afraid of loud noises). It's such a theme park in itself.

The Zeum is a blast and you have to ride the Merry-Go-Round. Walking through the MLK fountain at Yerba Buena is fun too. The Academy of Sciences is only meh right now, but just down the street from there. There's a huge playground there that's free and ice skating and bowling that are very expensive, but still fun.

The Pirate Store (826 Valencia) has been my daughter's favorite spot since she was about 4, followed by a "Woah, look at that" at Paxton Gate next door. (We always do Ti Couz with her when we hit the mission, because Nutella crepes=kid heaven).

The Conservatory of Flowers, especially if they have the butterfly or carnivorous plants exhibit. Having tea in the Japanese tea garden was a treat on high order.

My daughter very much enjoys the fun of dim sum, Khan Toke where you take your shoes off, Rainforest Cafe (even though it's so touristy it hurts).

Kids love the beach if they come from somewhere there is no beach. Taking the BART or MUNI anywhere is a treat if they like trains and the like. And of course, the zoo right by the beach is double cool like that.

Outside of SF, but close, there's of course Children's Fairyland which is creepy/tacky/awesome. The Oakland Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA) and the Chabot Space museum thing, depending on what's exciting the kids right now.
posted by Gucky at 9:47 PM on October 3, 2007 just published guides to 25 major cities: "101 Best Things to Do With Your Grandkids." These are NOT old-folks guides -- the only thing that makes them a bit different are references to "your grandkids" instead of "your kids." The guides are searchable by type of event, age of kid, etc...

Here is the link to the SF guide (the guides are on the home page or crosslisted under Activities and Events).

Full disclosure: I wrote the Atlanta one, making sure to include plenty of low-cost or free activities in addition to the usual big events and attractions. I'm sure the other guide-writers did the same.
posted by mdiskin at 3:27 AM on October 4, 2007

Gucky's got it - the Pirate store is awesome! And Ti Couz's crepes are awesome.

Rhizome also mentioned the playground in GGP. Oh man, that might be the best playground ever! Bring some pieces of cardboard from an old box - go to the slide and you'll see why!
posted by radioamy at 7:40 AM on October 4, 2007

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