Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fun Things To Do With Children In San Francisco

There are so many wonderful places and fun things to do with children in San Francisco.  Even after living here for six years, we're still discovering new and exciting places with our little one.  So, it was time for me to update my post, 10 Fun Things To Do With Children In San Francisco to include all the places and things we love, and here’s a more comprehensive list of all the great things to do in and around San Francisco … enjoy!
the seals at Pier 39
1. Awesome Playgrounds
In San Francisco, playgrounds are not just for children; it’s outdoor recreational area for the entire family … and their pets.  Not only do playgrounds have everything that children dream of, but  they also happen be situated in some of the most idyllic and stunning spots in the city. 

  • Koret Children's Quarter: Golden Gate Park, 320 Bowling Green Dr
  • Helen Diller Playground (Delores Park): Church St & Dolores St
  • Lafayette Park & Playground: Gough & Sacramento Street
  • West Sunset Playground: 3223 Ortega St (between 39th & 40th Ave)
  • Yerba Buena Gardens Children's Playground: 750 Mission Street
Helen Diller Playground
2. Golden Gate Park
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 here are some of our favorite spots.

3. Koret Carousel
The carrousel (the oldest carrousel in the US) next to the playground is absolutely gorgeous.  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 a wonderful experience that will create a last memory for you and your child(ren).

4. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps (Moraga Street btw 15th & 16th Avenue)

Tucked away in the quiet neighborhood between Inner and Outer Sunset, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps are among the hidden treasures of San Francisco. Standing at the bottom of the stairs, it will take your breath away to see all of the small, beautifully placed handmade tiles forming a wave of amazing sea life and various celestial shapes extending all the way up 163 stairs, and once you hike to the top … on a clear day … you are rewarded with the most spectacular view of the city from Ocean Beach to downtown.
6. Palace of Fine Arts
7. F-line Street Car is a great way to get around San Francisco and to see most of the major sites.  It’s not the fastest mode of transportation, but this collection of beautifully restored streetcars from all over the world is definitely a fun way to see the city! 
8. 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.

9. Aquarium of the Bay & watching the seals at Pier 39
10. San Francisco Zoo, especially the petting zoo
11. Festivals & Farmer’s Markets 
Fort Mason Farmer’s Market
Cherry Blossom Festival
12. Hiking in the midst of spectacular nature
13. Point Bonita Lighthouse
14. Off the beaten path, uniquely San Francisco experience:
  • Seward Street Slide – These cement slides on Seward Street (cross street Douglass) are a blast for kids and adults alike!  Truly a one of kind experience!  
  • Yoda Fountain – I … ahem, our son loves seeing this full-size replica of Yoda.  The statue of the Jedi Master is located in a galaxy far far away … or aka. Lucasfilm HQ in Presidio.
  • May the force be with you.
  • Wave Organ The Wave Organ is a wave-activated acoustic sculpture located on a jetty in the San Francisco Bay.  The installation includes 25 organ pipes made of PVC and concrete located at various elevations within the site, allowing for the rise and fall of the tides. Sound is created by the impact of waves against the pipe ends and the subsequent movement of the water in and out of the pipes.  However, what I enjoyed more was the phenomenal view of the Bay and watching our little boy running from one pipe to another carefully listening for "toilet flushing sound", as he likes to call it.
15. And last but certainly not least, the gorgeous beaches!
  • China Beach
  • Crissy Field Marsh and Beach
  • Ocean Beach
More fun places around the Bay Area:
Chabot Space & Science Center

Fun things to do with children during the holidays:
Clancy's Pumpkin Patch
  • Picking pumkins, maze and hayrides at Clancy's Pumpkin Patch (October before Halloween)
  • Scrumptious gingerbread houses and castles tempting children of all ages: 400-pound “Gingerbread Chateau” @ The Palace Hotel (2 New Montgomery St.), 22-feet-high and 23-feet-wide gingerbread house @ The Fairmont Hotel (959 Mason St.), fairytale –like sugar castle @ The Westin St. Francis Hotel (Union Square)
  • Watching the lighting of the Christmas tree at Pier 39 (Fisherman's Wharf) & Union Square
  • Christmas village and trains at the Main Library
  • Reindeers at the Zoo


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