San Francisco is an iconic American city, and one of the most popular U.S. tourist destinations. It’s the perfect city to visit if your family craves action, diversity, good food and fun. Here are the top seven to-dos when visiting San Fran with kids.
Hike Over and Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Celebrate the 75th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge by taking Golden Gate Transit across to the Marin Side and hiking the Bay Trail. Follow the route that leads directly under the bridge. For detailed hiking maps, visit http://www.baytrail.org/maps.html.
Step onto the Stern of an 1886 Square-rigger and Visit with the Barnacles and Starfish at the Maritime National Historical Park
The Maritime National Historic Park is home to a storied fleet of picturesque shipping vessels and a fascinating museum of maritime history. If you’re brave and a strong swimmer, you can even go for a swim at the park’s Aquatic Park. Be sure to check out the schedule of events, which details times and dates of guided naturalist led tours that will introduce you to the marine flora and fauna located on and just off the Hyde Street Pier. Don’t forget to pick up a free National Park Junior Ranger Program activity booklet at the ticket booth or in the Visitor Center.
Catch a Trolley
San Francisco is home to the largest and last manually operated cable car system in the United States. Established in 1873, only three of the original lines remain in operation. Your best bet it to catch the Powell/Mason cable car line at historic Union Square and take it towards Fisherman’s Wharf.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in North America. Your kids will enjoy perusing the many souvenir shops for fun gadgets and trinkets. Check out the Chinatown events calendar for upcoming parades and festivals.
Savor a Piece of Chocolate at Ghirardelli
Ghirardelli Square is home to the former Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, which now houses a collection of boutiques and restaurants. This is the best place in San Fran to satisfy your sweet tooth. The Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop is the highlight, but you’ll also find Kara’s Cupcakes, a delightful bakery that keeps the focus on organic and local treats.
Feed the Sharks at the Aquarium of the Bay
The 75-minute behind the scenes tour of the stunning Aquarium of the Bay is a must do. You’ll get up close and personal with the marine life, and have a chance to see what most visitors don’t, including the jelly fish culturing area and the skate egg growing center. You’ll also be given a bucket of seafood treats to feed to the darling sharks. Watch your fingers! Tours are $25. For more info, visit www.aquariumofthebay.org.
Go to Jail
Alcatraz once housed some notorious criminals, and kids will get a kick out of “heading to jail”. Catch your ferry at Pier 33 with www.AlcatrazCruises.com. The Newberry award-winning book Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldlenko, about a young boy who lives on Alcatraz (his father is a prison guard) makes for a great travel-related read.