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Top 5 Things to Do in San Francisco With a Toddler

My husband, daughter, and dog at Crissy Field.

My husband, daughter, and dog at Crissy Field.

Visiting the Beautiful Bay Area With Kids

We have a 3½-year-old and 6-month-old. Here is a list of our top five things to do in the city when traveling with children:

  1. Crissy Field
  2. Golden Gate Park and Carousel
  3. California Academy of Sciences
  4. Cable Cars
  5. The Exploratorium

1. Crissy Field Under the Golden Gate Bridge

We love Crissy Field! On a sunny day in SF, I can't think of a prettier place to go. Views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the city abound. Our daughter loves to play in the sand and walk down to "The Warming Hut" for hot cocoa and a cookie.

On the weekend we like to go as a family and bring our dog. Park in the lot closest to the Marina and dogs can play off-leash. We then walk down the flat path to "The Warming Hut" and back. This is a great place to appreciate SF.

Golden Gate Park Carousel

Golden Gate Park Carousel

What toddler doesn't love a carousel? We went to the carousel in Golden Gate Park this weekend and our daughter loved it. It's a really nice carousel and we went on a great walk in the park afterward. A beautiful park is adjacent to the carousel, so bring a picnic and enjoy the day. The Academy of Sciences is a short walk away as well if you are up for more adventure!

California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

3. California Academy of Sciences

Our daughter loved the aquarium especially the African Penguin feeding. The feeding happens daily at 11 am and 3:30 pm with a biologist giving information. The Academy of Sciences is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Check out the Academy of Science website for more info.

Academy of Sciences Hours

  • Monday through Saturday 9:30–5:00
  • Sunday 11:00–5:00
Ride a cable car with Alcatraz in the background.

Ride a cable car with Alcatraz in the background.

4. Ride a Cable Car

What toddler doesn't love transportation? Whether it's riding the muni train, a ferry, or a cable car, they are having fun. Our toddler loves just driving down Lombard St, the most crooked street in the world. The cable cars, although touristy, are fun. Kids love to look around, wave at the other passing cable cars, and feel the wind.

As of our family visit, the Exploratorium was located at the Palace of Fine Arts near Crissy Field, SF. It has since moved to Pier 15.

As of our family visit, the Exploratorium was located at the Palace of Fine Arts near Crissy Field, SF. It has since moved to Pier 15.

5. San Francisco Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is an amazing hands-on museum for kids and adults. This science, art, and human perception museum is great for all ages. For older kids, the Texture Dome leads you through a dark room where only touch guides you. (Advanced tickets and reservations are recommended for the Texture Dome; the price of admission is an additional fee.) Bubbles, mirrors, water features, this museum has it all. I highly recommend it.

Note: The Exploratorium has relocated to Piers 15 and 17 on the SF Bay waterfront.

Top Spots for Toddlers in San Francisco

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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Emma from Houston TX on March 17, 2011:

I actually notice that the San Francisco has a lot of interesting and befitting places for kids relaxation.

Carey on October 09, 2010:

Bring your toddler & their favorite bear and join us for a Teddy Bear Picnic tomorrow 10/8 at 11am at Seesaw in Hayes Valley. Music, games, stories & all the Bear-essentials!

Monique on September 02, 2007:

love the info on the SF Discovery museum. We have to find a time to take the kids. We also love the San Jose Discovery Museum..great for younger than 2 and older too!

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on July 23, 2007:

Hi asapilot,

I've been to a few other aquariums, Monterey Bay Aquarium was the best. I think the new location of the aquarium in Golden Gate Park will be amazing. The current location downtown is a bit small, but I think it's well done. Thanks for the comment!

asapilot on July 23, 2007:


Have you been to any other of the major metropolitan aquariums and if so, how you rate the Steinhart in comparison? I love all aquariums, so I'd love to see. I'm just curious about the experience in relation to others. I live in Long Beach right behind the Aquarium of the Pacific, so I'm a big fan!

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on July 23, 2006:

We recently went to the zoo and enjoyed it as well. The African safari was really nice and two giraffes were just born. The lion, tiger and hippo exhibits need major renovation though.

Tom on June 29, 2006:

The San Francisco zoo has a wonderful exhibit that kids really enjoy.

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