Things to Do in the Bay Area with Kids

by Amanda Svachula
Originally Published: 
things to do in the bay area with kids

The San Francisco Bay Area is a huge region in North California. It’s known for its iconic attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and its unique style— made up of cable cars, Victorian houses and hilly roads. Here are a few things to do in the Bay Area with kids.

Kid-Friendly Attractions in the Bay Area

You will not run out of fun attractions to visit in the Bay Area, given its a huge vacation destination.

1. Golden Gate Bridge

Above all, if you’re in the Bay Area, the top attraction you have to see is the Golden Gate Bridge. Your kids will love walking on the bridge and taking in the daytime (or nighttime views) of the city. There’s also a nice visitors center, and of course, Golden Gate Open daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission free (if you drive across there is a toll.) Read reviews of the Golden Gate Bridge.

2. Aquarium of the Bay

Secondly, you should check out this huge aquarium to introduce the family to San Francisco Marine life. See the exhibition of hatched baby wolf eels or watch river otters play around. Open daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Read reviews of Aquarium of the Bay.

3. Fisherman’s Wharf

This is one of the most touristy neighborhoods, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Your family will love walking around Pier 39, which has fantastic seafood restaurants, shopping, and gorgeous views of the bay. Hours vary. Read reviews of Fisherman’s Wharf.

4. Alcatraz Island

You’ll regret leaving the Bay Area without a visit to Alcatraz, a small island that was once a for, military prison, and later, a maximum security federal penitentiary. To get there, you’ll want to book a trip through Alcatraz Cruises. Hours vary based on season. Admission: free. Read reviews of Alcatraz Island.

5. California Academy of Sciences

Looking for an attraction that will keep you occupied for a while? You absolutely have to go here. Located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is the only place in the world that has an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest and natural history museum—all together. Open Monday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Open Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission prices vary daily. Read reviews of the California Academy of Sciences.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants in the Bay Area

San Francisco is known for having some of the best food in the country, and kids can eat well there too. Check out our list of the best kid-friendly restaurants (most with diverse cuisine) in the Bay Area.

6. Yummy Yummy

True to its name, this Vietnamese restaurant serves fresh dishes in a casual setting. Its also in a great location, right near Golden Gate State Park. Your kids will love slurping on pho. Open daily (except for Thursday), 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-8:45 p.m. Read reviews of Yummy Yummy.

7. Giorgio’s Pizzeria

Craving a classic pizza pie? Giorgio’s has been in the Bay Area for over 40 years. It’s a true family-style pizza joint, with red and white checkered tables and vinyl booths. It also has a kid’s happy hour on Wednesdays from 4 p.m.-6 p.m., where kids can make their own mini pizzas. Open Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Open Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Read reviews of Giorgio’s Pizzeria.

8. Ice Cream Bar Soda Fountain

This restaurant gives you exactly what you would assume—a full service lunch counter and soda fountain. Your kids will love the vintage vibe of the spot. You have to try the pulled pork sandwich or one of its elaborate floats or malts, like the L-O-L-A, made with Cole St. Cola syrup, tart cherry syrup, Morello cherry and crème fraîche ice creams, acid phosphate and soda. Open Sunday-Thursday, noon-10 p.m. Open Friday-Saturday, noon-11 p.m. Read reviews of the Ice Cream Bar Soda Fountain.

9. SOMA StrEat Food Park

This is a food park filled with a variety of food truck vendors. It’s fun option if your family wants to meander around and each order something different. There’s a delicious mac-n-cheese stand, along with other options. Open Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Read reviews of SOMA StrEat Food Park.

10. Straw

This is a great option for brunch. It’s also great for kids because of its whimsical vibe— it is known for serving carnival-themed food like a donut breakfast sandwich and a nice and for offering a nice, simple children’s menu. Open Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Read reviews of Straw.

Family-Friendly Hotels in the Bay Area

11. Hotel Del Sol

This is a 1950s motor lounge turned hotel in the Marina District. It has a funky vibe and is decorated with bright colors, perfect for a stay with family. At check-in, kids receive sunglasses and beach balls. Read reviews of Hotel Del Sol.

12. Omni San Francisco

Located in downtown San Francisco, this is an elegant hotel with luxurious amenities. But it’s also fairly kid-friendly. It has a kids crew program, which gives children a backpack with fun toys among arrival and also allows for the delivery of milk and cookies on the first night. Read reviews of Omni San Francisco.

13. Argonaut Hotel

If you want to stay in Fisherman’s Wharf, this is the place for you. Its located in the historic Haslett Warehouse in Fisherman’s Wharf. It has a laidback, seaside vibe, with plenty of comforting exposed brick. Read reviews of the Argonaut Hotel.

Kid-Friendly Outdoor Activities in the Bay Area

14. Tilden Nature Area

Located in Berkeley, this is a 740-acre preserve with streams, eucalyptus forests and other natural elements. Bring a picnic or take a hike around its trails. Its lakes are perfect spots to bring toddlers. Open daily, 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission: free. Read reviews of Tilden Nature Area.

15. Randall Museum

You should definitely take your family to this museum, run by the San Francisco Parks & Recreation Department. Its home to more than 100 animals that can’t survive in the wild anymore and has a plethora of kid-friendly exhibitions and activities. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Closed on Sundays and Mondays. Admission: free. Read reviews of the Randall Museum.

16. Oakland Zoo

This zoo is huge, and has plenty of animals and attractions. You’ll want to visit its great children’s zoo, along with the California trail and African Savannah. Your kids will love watching the pink birds in the Flamingo Plaza. Open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission: Free, ages under 2 and over 75. $20, ages 2-14 and 65-75. $24, ages 15-64. Read reviews of the Oakland Zoo.

17. Conservatory of Flowers

Located in Golden Gate Park, your family will love wandering around this beautiful botanic garden with views of the bay. It has an especially large selection of rare and endangered plants you probably have never seen before. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Admission: Free, ages four and under. $3, ages 5-11. $6, ages 12-17. $9, adults. Read reviews of the Conservatory of Flowers.

Best Parks in the Bay Area

18. Golden Gate Park

As the third most visited park in the United States, Golden Gate Park is a sprawling park you must visit in the Bay Area. It has plenty of fun activities and attractions including Segway tours, a Japanese Tea House and Garden, and is also home to a few museums. Open daily, 24 hours. Read reviews of Golden Gate Park.

19. Point Reyes National Seashore

If you have time for a day trip, you should definitely visit the seashore because it is teeming with wildlife. It also has several hikes that are below an hour, perfect for kids. Open daily, 24 hours. Admission: free. Read reviews of Point Reyes National Seashore.

20. Rotary Peace Grove Lookout

Located in Berkeley, you can visit this area on bikes or take a leisurely walk. The park has an absolutely stunning, sweeping view of the bay. Open daily, 24 hours. Admission: free. Read reviews of the Rotary Peace Grove Lookout.

In case you’re going to be flying with kids, we’ve got some advice on traveling with kids by plane.

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