San Francisco with Kids: 3 Wonderful Days

San Francisco is such a beautiful and amazing city and with so many wonderful things for the kids to do and experience. We went for a few days at the end of a road trip through California and it was the perfect end to our vacation. This was our 3 days in San Francisco with kids and I hope it serves as a guide for your trip.

Related: How to Plan a Vacation with Kids, Tips for a Multigenerational Family Vacation, Tips for Flying with Kids, and Tips for Traveling with Kids.

Day 1

Chinatown

3 days in San Francisco with kids

Our first morning in San Francisco we went on a walking tour of Chinatown that we booked with All About Chinatown to learn about San Francisco’s Chinese history, architecture, and culture. Our guide was great and she made it fun for the kids. We walked along the streets of Chinatown and went to a traditional Chinese Herbal Pharmacy, a Chinese market, a fortune cookie factory, and even to a Buddhist temple.

After the tour we had lunch at Yank Sing on Stevenson Street for some incredible dim sum. If you aren’t sure what dim sum is, it’s a traditional Chinese meal made up of dumplings and other small plates. The dishes are shared and it’s usually a brunch/lunch kind of meal. Although, in my family, dim sum is always a good idea.

Walk along the pier

In the afternoon we walked along the piers. Starting at the Ferry Building, we passed the Exploratorium (Science Museum) where they had some fun installations outside. We walked by Fisherman’s Wharf and then headed toward Ghirardelli Square, where we got ice cream at the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop. Then we headed to the famous Lombard Street.

We were so exhausted after the long day that we ordered take out somewhere and took it back to our hotel room. So, learn from this and don’t walk all day long!

Day 2

Cable Car

We started early to get the Powell-Mason cable car at Powell & Market Streets. You can purchase tickets here and then get in line to wait your turn to board. But, it really is the only way because you likely won’t be able to get it on any other stop since people usually stay on it until it ends. It ended at Taylor Street & Bay Street near Fisherman’s Wharf. The conductor let us take pictures here before it continued. From there we headed towards the meeting point for the ferry to Alcatraz.

Alcatraz

San Francisco with kids

An extremely popular landmark in San Francisco, Alcatraz has an incredible history and great views. But, it isn’t for everyone. My son, who loves history, was 7 years old at the time and he loved hearing the stories (they give you an audio guide). My daughter, who was almost 5 years old, fell asleep. Entrance to the island is free, but you need to purchase tickets for the ferry to get you there. We purchased tickets months in advance as they sell out, especially on the weekend.

After we returned from Alcatraz we went to Ferry Building Marketplace for lunch. They have various vendors and food sellers. We grab some food and beers and ate at one of the picnic tables outside.

Sausalito

San Francisco with kids

We took a car share and headed to Sausalito and stopped at Golden Gate View Point to see Golden Gate Bridge from that side of the bay. From there we went to Bar Bocce, a restaurant with, you guessed it, a bocce court. It’s right on the water and we had a nice dinner. After dinner, the kids were able to play on the sand and we all played bocce ball.

Day 3

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

We biked through Golden Gate Park and stopped for a break at the playground where they have slides built into the hill. We also packed a snack and beverage so we could enjoy them while the kids played. There are places to rent bikes on the outskirts of the park. Keep in mind that the park has lots of hills, which, as a Miami girl, were very difficult for me, especially pulling a covered wagon with my daughter and the bags in them. I had to walk up a few hills pushing the bike and wagon!

After returning the bikes, we walked (yes, walked after struggling to ride up the hills!) to Burma Superstar for dinner, where we had an amazing meal. They don’t take reservations so we went as soon as it opened for dinner so we could get a table and not have to wait for the next seating.

Those were our 3 days in San Francisco with kids. I hope it helps serve as a starting point for your own trip to San Francisco.

Is San Francisco Child Friendly?

Yes! San Francisco has so many great things for kids to do. And, kids and parents will enjoy them.

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