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Free Things To Do In San Francisco With Kids

Inside The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company

Things To Do in San Francisco with Kids

For your children, is one of the best parts about going out for Chinese food the individually wrapped fortune cookies at the end of the meal? Take them to see how these little treats are made, from the baking and folding of the golden discs to the insertion of the tiny paper fortunes.

This is a delightful place to stop for a few minutes as you wander around Chinatown and learn about the Chinese American culture in San Francisco.

> > Pictures and details on what it’s like to visit

Master Some Swing Dancing Moves

If youve seen the free swing dancing lessons in Golden Gate Park and felt intimidated but secretly wanted to join in on the fun, youre not alone. I can personally attest to the welcoming nature of co-founder Ken Watanabe and longtime instructor Hep Jen Holland, who did not laugh at me when I went last year, despite my two left feet. If youre willing to put yourself out there, its fun and freeing and a great way to meet new people. As Watanabe puts it: Its like being a kid again. Enter Golden Gate Park at 8th Avenue and Fulton Street. Free half hour lessons offered every Sunday at noon events run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Presidio pet cemetery, in San Francisco.

Awesome Things To In San Francisco With Toddlers

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San Francisco is an awesome location for a family vacation and we loved the variety of things to do in San Francisco with toddlers. From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to living the toddler dream in a vintage red fire truck, our kids love spending time in the city.

For those of you planning your own visit, weve put together this list of our favorite things to do in San Francisco with toddlers!

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Visit San Francisco Zoo

A photo posted by Réne Rivers on Sat Aug 11 2018 01:40:28 GMT+0100

The 100-acre San Francisco Zoo near Ocean Beach is home to over 2,000 animals and one of the most popular things to do in San Francisco with kids. Animals include a snow leopard, gorillas, koalas and giraffes. And theres also a dedicated childrens zoo, a tropical rainforest and aviary, and a cute miniature steam train that does rides around the zoo. Its a classic San Francisco kids attraction.

Ride Bikes Over Golden Gate Bridge

24 Free Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids

Nothing says San Francisco quite like crossing the Golden Gate Bridge! But, instead of walking, families can mix up their adventure by riding a bike. Not only is this a great way to get active and see San Francisco with kids, but the views from the bridge are amazing! Kids will love this fun and engaging way to explore the city, whether you do it solo or with an official tour. For families who want to skip an official tour, there are plenty of places to rent bikes in San Francisco. This includes companies such as Golden Gate Bridge Bike Rentals and San Francisco Bicycle Rentals.

Travel with Baby? Make your life easier and check BabyQuip for local stroller and car seat rentals.

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Walk Down Our Most Crooked Street

One of my favorite free things to do in San Francisco with kids is taking a stroll down crooked Lombard Street. The young ones really enjoy watching the cars zigzag down the steep hill, following the curves of the red brick road between the beautiful green gardens.

This is a quick, but memorable activity, as they’ve surely never seen another street like this one. From here, you can easily head to other attractions.

> > Tips to visit this popular attraction

Playground At Dolores Park

If your kids love to play at the playground, then head over to Dolores Park for an hour or two. You will find it in the Mission Dolores district.

This newly added playground offers your kids a space to run around and play for an hour or two. You will find swings, slides, and climbing equipment.

It’s also a wonderful place to have a picnic with the family. This spacious park sits at an angle with views of downtown San Francisco and is a popular spot with locals. It’s a fun way to spend some time in San Francisco with kids.

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See The Asian Art Museum

If you feel like seeing something beautiful for free on a Sunday in San Francisco, head to the Asian Art Museum. Located across the plaza from City Hall, the museum is home to over 18,000 Asian artworks and artefacts.

The museum was created with the hope of educating the public on the ideas and cultures that make up Asia. The art here spans over 6,000 years of history and is also home to the oldest known Chinese Buddha.

Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month.

Visit One Of The San Franciscos Amazing Playgrounds

24 Things to Do in San Francisco

San Francisco playgrounds are some of the best youll ever find and certainly top the list of things to do in San Francisco for kids. Favourites include:

  • Koret Childrens Quarter the childrens playground at Golden Gate Park, complete with concrete slides, climbing walls, and a vintage carousel.
  • Helen Diller Playground at Dolores Park one of our favourite spots in San Francisco for the views and location in the creative Mission area. Playground highlights include a 38-ft slide, wooden boats and bouldering rocks.
  • Seward Street Slides steep concrete slides designed by a 14-year-old. Bring some cardboard to slide on!
  • Eureka Valley Recreation Center cute playground if youre in the Castro.
  • South Park featuring an interesting undulating play structure for all ages.
  • In Chan Kaajal Park- another park in the Mission with a fun childrens play area and water play feature where you can cool down on hot days.
  • Bernal Heights Park- theres only a rope swing but the view means its the best swing in the city. Its a 30-minute walk to the top.

All of these are really fun free things to do in San Francisco with kids.

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Go On A Mission Mural Walk

San Franciscos Mission District is one of the most vibrant artistic centers of the city, with an amazing collection of murals dotting the urban landscape. Balmy Alley is the neighborhoods most famous, but also consider a walking tour of others in the neighborhood like Clarion Alley and the recently-restored Carnaval Mural .

Seasonal Activities With Sf Rec & Parks

San Francisco is full of amazing activities and resources for just about any hobby you can think of and SF Rec & Parks knows it! If youre looking to try a new sport or learn a new skill, they have excellent programming every season. Most of the activities require a course fee, but there are always some free ones sprinkled in for group dance classes, drop-in workouts, and more for all ages.

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Soak Up The Sun At Baker Beach

Baker Beach is one of the best beaches in San Francisco to visit with kids this summer! Once a Spanish military base, this breathtaking stretch of shoreline is the second biggest in the city, providing stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. This is a wonderful place for kids to swim, sunbathe, or put their toes in the sand as they listen to the calm ocean breeze and occasionally spot wildlife. Since there are plenty of picnic tables and BBQ pits, its easy to make a day out of it too. However, Baker Beach is super popular, so we suggest getting there in the morning to grab a good spot. Plus, its also dog-friendly, so your furry friend can come along too!

Pose With The Murals In The Mission District

24 Free Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids

The interesting Mission Districtcould be called a virtual outdoor art gallery full of vibrant murals and street art.

There are hundreds of walls and fences throughout the neighborhood showcasing colorful works of art featuring various themes.

Best viewed on foot, we took a stroll along Clarion Alley, between 17th and 18th streets, and Mission and Valencia streets. Clarion Alley is known for community and arts activities and often depicts themes of social inclusiveness.

More than 700 murals have been created since 1992, speaking to community concerns of social, economic, and environmental justice.

Our girls enjoyed posing in front of the colorful murals and also learned some important life messages.

Balmy

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Go Jumping At House Of Air Trampoline Park

If youre looking for a totally fun activity to do with your kids this summer, look no further than the House of Air Trampoline Park in San Francisco! With over 8,000 square feet of trampolines, this place is packed with adrenaline-pumping activities to keep the whole family entertained. Kids three and older will be able to jump here, but theyll be separated from the older kids. The park has two sections: The Fort for children three to six years old and The Matrix and The Colosseum for those seven and older. In addition to jumping, theres also a foam pit, a dodgeball court, and zip lines! Then, when you want to take a break, visit the on-site cafe for a coffee or snack. Remember to arrive a little early when you want to jump, since youll have to sign a liability waiver.

Eat Delicious Ice Cream From Bi

There are several places to get ice cream in San Francisco with kids of all ages that adults will love too, but many Bay Area locals will agree that you cant beat a cup of Bi-Rite Creamery.

Youll find them down in the Mission District, or if you see the ice cream truck go by be sure to wave it down.

Our friend Michael took us there on his private driving tour. You cannot beat local tips and being driven straight there.

He recommends the salted caramel and honey lavender. I thought my coffee toffee was the ultimate.

Hot Tip:

If youre checking out the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square, go to the Bi-Rite location on Divisadero and Hayes street where theres typically less of a wait.

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Tour The Sutro Baths & Lands End

The San Francisco Bay Area was once home to several seaside recreational areas and the Sutro Baths were some of the most famous. Now only ruins remain of this once family-friendly swimming establishment near Lands End and the former Cliff House. Kids will enjoy exploring the ruins and learning about the baths rich history.

Take A Ride On The Cable Cars

What To Do In San Francisco | Top Things To Do With Kids

The San Francisco cable cars are one of the most well-known sights in the city and the city is actually home to the very first cable car system in the United States.

Technically, this isn’t a free activity, but it’s cheap and it’s a great way to see sites such as Alcatraz Island, Coit Tower, and .

For more details, please read our post about how to use the San Francisco Cable Car.

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Enjoy Free Entertainment On Pier 39

Pier 39 is the epicenter of tourist action in San Francisco. It’s location and layout make for a fun hangout spot on the water, close to the many small museums, restaurants, and shops of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Right next to the historic carousel, you’ll find a stage with daily free entertainment for the whole family, including magic, acrobatics, juggling, and more. While there, I’m sure you’ll notice some strange barking noises in the background. Head to the western side of the pier to watch the sea lions sleep, play, and splash.

> > More tips to entertain your toddlers in SF

Free Chocolate At Ghirardelli

To satisfy your sweet-tooth head to Ghirardelli Square.

Home to the original factory and chocolate shop, the store will offer free chocolate sample to those who inquire. Whats not to like about that?!

After enjoying your samples, consider a hot chocolate or ice cream sundae.

For even more free activities, be sure to check out our Guide to Free Things to Do in San Francisco.

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The Museum Of The African Diaspora

The Museum of the African Diaspora is a cultural museum within San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens, showcasing artworks and artifacts created by African people around the diaspora from prehistoric times through the present day. It was established in 2005 after city initiatives to create an African-American cultural presence within the gardens’ museum and arts collective, housed within a space within the St. Regis Museum Tower designed by the Freelon Group. Visitors are challenged to think about their role in African history and its ties to modern-day culture, chronicling the movement of Homo sapiens out of Africa to all inhabited regions of the world. Exhibits examine cultural topics from the Transatlantic Slave Trade to modern-day sociopolitical discussions involving the diaspora.

685 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: 415-358-7200

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Play A Game At Yerba Buena Ice Skating And Bowling Center

Free Things to do in San Francisco

One of the most fun things to do in San Francisco with kids this summer is to visit the Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center!This two-for-one excursion is open year-round, but is especially popular during the summer. Kids can skate, bowl, and cool off at the same time! Firstly, little ones will love the ice skating rink, which opens in the morning and often has a schedule of daily activities.

Then, kids can make their way to the bowling alley to play a friendly game! Theres also an arcade for little ones to enjoy, plus a cafe for adults. On weekends, the alley is transformed into an Ultra Bowl party, featuring enhanced music and glittering lights!

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Top 23 Free Things To Do In San Francisco

Top 23 free things to do in San Francisco

Contrary to what you might expect from such a well known, tourist-heavy city, San Francisco quietly delivers a lot for the money. And so much of the fun in San Francisco is free.

From free museums to public art and architectural highlights, here’s a list of the best options for travelers on a budget.

Make your travel budget go a little farther with insider tips from our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Attend A New Street Festival

This is one of the best ways to experience San Franciscos vibrant culture and discover what makes it truly unique. From Festa Coloniale Italiana, the citys only Italian street festival located in North Beach to Up Your Alley, a leather, fetish and BDSM festival in SoMa , theres something for everyone. Various locations, dates.

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Visit A Museum For Free

With a San Francisco Public Library card, residents can visit a number of museums for free. Simply log into Discover & Go, choose a date and an available attraction, and youre on your way.

However, this isnt the only way to get into a museum at no cost Bank of America sponsors free visits for cardholders to the Legion of Honor, the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the de Young Museum on the first weekend of every month. And residents can go to the Legion of Honor and the de Young every Saturday at no cost, with the latter institution offering free sketching and art materials on select dates from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Conservatory of Flowers also extends free general admission to residents every day, and to all visitors on the first Tuesday of every month. Various locations, dates.

Visitors enter the entrance of the Sutro Cave past the Sutro Baths in San Francisco on Mar. 11, 2022.

Take A Cruise/ Visit Alcatraz

Top 12 Best Things to do in San Francisco

Our toddlers love some water time and a Bay Cruise is a great opportunity to take a boat ride and check out some of the famous San Francisco sights from the water.

We loved our Escape from the Rock cruise which circled around Alcatraz and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge check tour prices here!

If Alcatraz is on your San Francisco bucket list, toddlers can happily accompany adults on the day tours of the island. Alcatraz is located on Alcatraz Island, 1.25 miles off the shore of San Francisco and the island was once the setting for a maximum-security federal prison that housed some of the most notorious prisoners in the USA. The content of the tour is not likely to be of interest to a toddler but our 2 year old loved the boat ride, wandering around the island, and imagining a cops/robbers/jail scenario in the cells.

We did a combo tour which included a morning city bus tour and an afternoon Alcatraz tour check ticket prices here!

You can also book the Alcatraz tour separately as a standalone tour.

Remember to book your Alcatraz tickets in advanceas they tend to sell out. Kids aged 4 and under are free, adult tickets are $41.

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