Monday, October 24, 2011

10 Fun Things To Do With Children In San Francisco

San Francisco is a great city for people of all ages, but it is especially a wonderful place for children. Mainly because throughout the years, San Francisco has managed to hold on to its small town atmosphere, and unlike other larger cities, there are relatively few tall buildings and vast number of recreation areas and parks.

Also, there are tons of activities and things to do with children, so much so that if you spent a month in San Francisco, there are enough activities to fill up each day with different things. It's a place where you can linger for hours in a quaint neighborhood cafe surrounded by breathtaking views, kick back on one of the many picturesque parks, or hangout in a children’s museum which happens to have the best view of the city, and unlike many metropolises where children are treated like nuisance, in San Francisco, almost every activity, restaurants and even cafes are catered to the needs of families; hence, they’re oriented to make children feel as comfortable as the adults.

And here are my and my boy's favorite places and things to do in San Francisco.

Koret Children’s Quarter (Playground)
First and foremost, it is worth noting that Koret Children’s Quarter (formerly known as Sharon Quarters for Children in 1888) was the 1st public playground to be built in the US.

The playground has everything that a child can dream of, and it is situated in one of the most idyllic places in Golden Gate Park across from the Sharon Meadows. There are several different play structures that are designed to entertain children of all ages, and you can spend literally a whole day there.

Koret Carousel
The carrousel next to the playground is absolutely gorgeous and an wonderful experience that you and your child(ren) will never forget.

It contains more than 60 colorfully painted menagerie animals including a dragon, camel, and goat as well as horses, frogs, dogs, roosters, and pigs, and the painted panels inside the carrousel depict Bay Area landscapes. It’s only $2 for adults and free for kids 5 and under, and except during the summer months (Memorial Day to Labor Day), it’s open Fri-Sun only.

Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden is a wonderful place for adults, but for a child(ren), it’s a place of an endless possibilities for learning and discovering.
Stow Lake 
Golden Gate Park is the city's largest, and in my opinion, the most beautiful outdoor spot in San Francisco, where one can find everything from Dutch windmills, a buffalo herd, remote-controlled boats to museums and gardens … a true oasis in the middle of a bustling city. And Stow Lake is right in the middle of it with the Strawberry Hill in the center of the lake, and scenic bridges, where children walk free of cars, where there are plenty of flora and fauna to discover, and frequently see ducks & geese being fed by the locals and turtles resting on a log.

Aside from the usual activities like bike rental and boats (canoes and paddle boats), relax as you admire the trees and revel in the laughter of the kids as they attempt to keep the craft from bumping into other boats or landing on the bank.

Japanese Tea Garden
Most San Franciscans will tell you that their favorite part of the Golden Gate Park is the Japanese Tea Garden, and it’s easy to see why. This intricate five acre complex is filled with picturesque juxtaposition of bridges, paths and ponds that offers children of all ages an idyllic place to discover beautiful nature ... and play.
Randall Museum
Randall Museum is a wonderful space for children. Although the museum is a little worn out and tattered, it has its own charm and most importantly, kids love it. As parents, sometimes we forget that children don't need fancy toys or high-tech gadgets. What’s more important and most often more enjoyable are the interaction they have with their environment and the discoveries, and Randall Museum is a perfect place that allows children to do just that.

F-line Street Car & Railway Museum 
A great way to get around San Francisco to see most of the major sites is riding the F-line Muni, a collection of beautifully restored streetcars from all over the world. It’s not the fastest way to get around … more of a joy ride than a mode of transportation, but it definitely a fun way to see the city!

Also, the Railway Museum (77 Steuart St btw Market St & Mission St) located across from the Ferry Building is a fun place to stop. It’s a one-room museum, more of a gift shop, but admission is free (donations are welcome), and there is a full-sized replica of a streetcar driver’s cabin in the back where kids of all ages will surely have a blast experiencing what it's like to be at the controls and playing with all the horns and bells.

The Children’s Creativity Museum (Zeum)
Conveniently situated downtown, the Children's Creativity Museum is a cutting-edge museum for kids and a terrific place to spend an hour or two with the family. There’s also a delightful merry-go-round and a wonderful playground outside, and in the summer, there are free concerts and performances for kids in the Children’s Garden.
Maritime National Historical Park
Shaped like an Art Deco ship, the Maritime Museum is filled with sailing, whaling, and fishing lore. Remarkably good exhibits include intricate model craft and scrimshaw, and a collection of shipwreck photographs and historic marine scenes.

Two blocks east, at the park's Hyde Street Pier, are several beautifully restored historic ships (the Balclutha, the Eureka, the Hercules, and two-masted Alma), and the best part of it is that visitors can actually climb into the bunking quarters, investigate the galley, and read the sea chanteys that decorate the walls. Especially for children who love to fit themselves into the teeny tiny places all over the ships, it really is one of the best hidden gems in San Francisco.

Discovery Museum (Sausalito)
What a wonderful place for both children and parents alike! Discovery Museum is a fantastic space for children to play, learn and discover in the midst of gorgeous surrounding.

Also, great thing about this place is that it caters to children of all ages, and it’s an ideal place for parents as well, as the location offers the most spectacular view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, and as the drive and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous, it's a real treat to make a day trip out there!
More fun places & things to do:


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