43 things to do in San Francisco with teenagers

San Francisco is a city filled with history and surprises. Founded in 1776 by Spanish settlers, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful and intriguing cities in America today.

San Francisco, California has become so popular with travellers that it is now one of the most visited cities in the United States.

From Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge, there are sights to behold and things to do for everyone, especially if you are travelling to San Francisco with teenagers.

Table Of Contents
  1. Know before you go! Our top San Francisco travel tips
  2. Let's explore some things to do in San Francisco with teenagers
  3. Free things to do in San Francisco with teens
  4. Day trips from San Francisco with teens
  5. Fun restaurants in San Francisco for teenagers
  6. Frequently asked questions about San Francisco
  7. Where to stay in San Francisco with teenagers

Travelers visiting San Francisco will find it a hip, cool destination that has something for the whole family. San Francisco is often overlooked in favour of Los Angeles, but you will find plenty of things to do in San Francisco with teenagers.

Know before you go! Our top San Francisco travel tips

Travelling to San Francisco can be such an enriching experience for the whole family. There are so many things to do in San Francisco and having the best place to stay in San Francisco and wander is extremely important.

Here we’ve got some information to get you planning your family vacation to San Francisco to make it completely hassle-free.

Vibrant atmosphere at San Francisco Pier with a teenager walking on the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, capturing the essence of San Francisco's lively waterfront

Where to stay in San Francisco California with teenagers

You’ll never be short of options for family accommodation in San Francisco. In San Francisco, you find a range of hotels, apartments and hostels. You will be sure to be able to find something to fit singles, couples, families and groups on every budget.

If you’re not keen on any of our picks below or have specific needs, we recommend using Hotellook and Trivago to find the best prices in San Francisco.

Budget: HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel features rooms for 4 with a private ensuite. The accommodation features fast free Wi-Fi, a fully equipped guest kitchen, and lots of free or cheap activities and tours.

Mid-priced: Nob Hill Motor Inn offers spacious guest rooms equipped with a satellite TV, a refrigerator and a microwave. Located in the popular Nob Hill neighbourhood, this hotel places guests within walking distance of Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street and a number of restaurants and shops

Luxury: A full-service gym and spa and 3 unique dining experiences and the only hotel in the city where all 3 cable car lines meet. Fairmont San Francisco is 5 minutes cab ride to the Ferry Building and is 6 km from the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco International Airport is a 20-minute drive away.

San Francisco apartment alternative for your stay

If you prefer a home away from home-style accommodation when on your USA trip with teenagers in San Francisco, then an apartment is the best choice for you on your family vacation.

There are so many options for singles, families, and budget-friendly options in San Fran as well. You can search VRBO or if you’re looking for a luxury apartment then Plum Guide will help you find the perfect apartment in San Francisco for teens on your United States trip with family.

How to get to San Francisco

  • San Francisco Airport is located 21 kilometres south of the downtown area. In 2017, it was the seventh busiest airport in the United States and the 24th-busiest in the world by passenger count. You can book your flights to San Francisco with Momondo
    • Book your airport transfers with Kiwi taxi
      • If your flights have a long stopover, or you just want to relax before your trip you should consider getting a lounge pass with Priority Pass. Priority Pass has access to airport lounges all over the world. Search now for your lounge pass
  • You can travel to San Francisco by train. The busiest train stations in San Francisco are 425 Mission St, Beach St and The Embarcadero Pier 39 – Fisherman’s Wharf. You can book your train tickets to San Francisco with Omio
  • Buses arrive in San Francisco every few minutes of the day. The Townsend bus station is located in the downtown area of San Francisco. Flixbus has 14 direct buses daily arriving in San Francisco. Book your bus tickets today
  • You can reserve a rental car and have it waiting for you at San Francisco Airports if you decide to road trip with teens in San Francisco.

How to get around San Francisco

  • Muni is San Francisco’s bus and metro system. The San Francisco public transit runs throughout the city, operating buses, trains, cable cars and heritage streetcars. You can use taxis and ride-sharing cars to get around San Francisco bays.
  • The San Francisco Hop on hop off bus is another excellent option for seeing the sites of the city and surrounding area. Check the current prices HERE

Weather in San Francisco

The best time to visit San Francisco is from September to November. Autumn or the fall period provides San Francisco’s warmest temperatures during the year.

September is the hottest month in San Francisco with an average temperature of 21 and the coldest is January at 10°C (50°F).

Looking for those long sunny Californian days, well, July is your month. The most daily sunshine hours at 14 in July.

Seasonal essentials for travel to San Francisco

San Francisco for international visitors

International travel to the USA requires a bit more thought. You will need travel insurance in San Francisco. Medical care is not cheap and if you want good quality care it will cost you a fortune if you don’t have travel insurance.

The official currency of the USA is the United States Dollar. If you use your bank account from home you will be stung with high transaction fees, while your mobile phone calls will all be charged at an international rate. These are just some of the things you need to think about.

  • For International travellers, travel insurance is a must get a quote through Insurance Masters and don’t go home with a huge bill for medical expenses
  • Do you need a visa to visit San Francisco? The country of The United States may require you to have a visa or an ETA (Electronic travel authorisation) to enter the country. You can check and buy these documents at iVisa
  • Load a Revolut Travel Money card with US dollars for your visit and save on transaction fees
  • Make phone calls with an international sim card that you can buy before leaving home or buy a voucher for a virtual e-sim for your mobile phone
  • A 4G pocket Wi-Fi modem is essential for accessing the internet. You can rent a pocket modem that you can pick up at the airport or your hotel, alternatively buy a pocket modem that you can use on all future trips with your phone, tablet or computer.

Travel accessories for teenagers

For teenagers, travelling can be a fun and exciting experience. However, there are a few things that they need to take into account in order to make the trip as comfortable and safe as possible. One of these is ensuring that they have the necessary travel accessories.

Get the Go San Francisco Pass

Get digital delivery of the Go San Francisco Pass to your device for easy use when you visit San Francisco with teens. The Go San Francisco Pass offers the best choice for maximum savings and flexibility which is brilliant when you are vacationing with teens.

There are so many things to do in San Francisco for families and you can save up to 60% off retail prices on admission to 28 top San Francisco attractions and tours including Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus San Francisco Tour. Multi-entry passes such as this are great for families visiting San Francisco. Buy your Go San Francisco Pass today.

Let’s explore some things to do in San Francisco with teenagers

A great destination for travelling with teenagers is somewhere that has a great mix of culture, history, fun and adventure for the whole family.

Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is the most iconic San Francisco attraction in the city and one of the most recognisable in the USA. Renting a bike and riding across the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the best outings when visiting San Francisco with teenagers. Tweens and teens are at a great age to take part in such outdoor activities.

Kids at the Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco for teenagers must Golden Gate Bridge biking

There are great views the entire way across the bridge taking in the harbour and the bay area. It’s an opportunity to see one of the world’s most iconic landmarks up close bolts and all!

Rent a bike at the Fishermen’s Wharf and cruise across the bridge. You can catch the ferry from Sausalito to the Fisherman’s Wharf to return your bike. It is a great activity for kids in San Francisco. For those with a larger budget, a helicopter ride in San Francisco is amazing.

Locals Tip:

Our Friend Sally from Little Hiccups is an ex-pat living in San Francisco. We asked her for some dos and don’t of her new home town.

Avoid driving in San Francisco. SF is not an easy city for parking and the hills can make it trickier – not that I’ve ever driven here! There are rules about which way to leave the steering wheel turned when parking on hills to avoid runaway cars should the hand brake not work. If you are not familiar with driving in a city like SF then this may not for you.

The Walt Disney Museum SF

The museum bearing the famous Disney name displays the life and legacy of the man who created the empire, Mr Walt Disney. The Walt Disney Museum SF was set up by the descendants of Walt Disney. The museum is housed in a 40,000-square-foot space across three buildings.

Walt Disney at his museum in SF
Teens and tweens in San Francisco will love the Walt Disney family museum

As you enter the lobby you will see the 248 awards that Disney won for his movies, tv and animations. This main building showcases the man behind the legend. This must be on top of your list of things to do in San Francisco with teenagers.

You will experience interactive galleries, early drawings and animation, movies, music, and audio stations. You will wander through ten galleries, starting with Walt Disney’s early days and inspirations, through to his death on December 15th, 1966.

The Walt Disney family museum is located in The Presidio of San Francisco, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A great add-on to your bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Fun things to do in San Francisco with teenagers – Kayak the Bay area   

San Francisco’s Bay is a beautiful sight to see from afar, but it gets even better if you hop in and explore from the water. On a tour with San Francisco Kayak and Adventures, you can see the city from the water and even paddle to McCovey Cove where home runs from the Giants Oracle Park are known to splash down in the water!

Things to do in California with teenagers – learn to surf

San Francisco is a city known for its surf culture and the surfers that inhabit it. It’s not easy getting started in surfing, but with an experienced surf instructor, the process can be made much easier.

A 3 hours lesson will have you reading the ocean, paddling out, popping up, balancing and riding the waves. This will be one of the most fun things for teens to do in San Francisco. Book your surf lesson today.

Surfers catching waves on a beautiful sunny day, with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in the background
Learning to surf in California

Teen activities San Francisco – Bay Voyager

Things to do in the Bay Area for teenagers include a ride on a high-powered RIB (rigid inflatable boat) with San Francisco’s favourite family-friendly adventure tour.

View some of the city’s most iconic sights while listening to engaging stories about the city’s history from the boat’s captain.

Touring in the RIB allows you to travel faster, farther, and closer to the sights than any of the other Bay tour boats. Consider a twilight tour to see the city lights from the water, or charter your own private family tour for a custom experience you’ll never forget.  

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San Francisco hop-on hop-off bus

The Hop on hop off bus tour allows you to explore San Francisco’s most iconic attractions in a comfortable and hassle-free way. Your double-decker coach will inform you with live commentary on passing highlights and city history.

There are 24 different stops, including Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Haight-Ashbury and North Beach. Much more than just a bus tour there are options for a cruise across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and trips to Alcatraz. Choose from several 1- or 2-day pass options.

The San Francisco Dungeons

The San Francisco Dungeons follows the successful formula of the other Dungeon sites across the world. The concept is half history and half horror as you are taken through the gory history of San Francisco on a 1-hour experience with actors, lighting displays, props and much more.

If your teenagers like a bit of horror, shock and awe then the Dungeons in San Francisco is just the attraction for them.

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum San Francisco

The Madame Tussaud franchise is a great San Francisco activity with teenagers. There are so many around the world and having some pictures taken with celebs even if they aren’t quite the real deal is a fun way to spend an afternoon in San Fransisco with tweens.

Many have a local aspect with people that lived in the area before they became famous. You can save time and book your Madame Tussaud’s wax museum tickets here now!

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Food tours of Chinatown, North Beach or the Mission District

Sometimes the best way to get to know a city is through your stomach. If you’re travelling with a family of foodies, San Francisco is a perfect destination. Consider a walking food tour with Local Tastes of the City.

San Francisco’s Chinatown

Chinatown in San Francisco is an iconic and vibrant neighbourhood filled with culture, shopping, and food. It’s the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest outside of Asia, making it a major tourist stop for those wanting to explore Chinese culture.

a teenage boy in Chinatown San Francisco exploring
Chinatown is one of the famous landmarks in the city

With over 25 square blocks of shops, restaurants, temples and more, Chinatown has something for everyone. Visitors can find everything from souvenirs to traditional Chinese medicine at the many stores throughout this unique area.

Food lovers will also find plenty of options, from dim sum restaurants to bubble tea stands that offer a variety of delectable dishes.

Beyond shopping and eating experiences, visitors can explore traditional Chinese temples like Tin How Temple which was built in 1852 by some of the first immigrants from China who settled in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

You’ll be introduced to new flavours and restaurants that might not have been in any other travel book or map – all while getting some fresh air!

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory has been making custom fortune cookies by hand since 1962. Today they make up to 10,000 cookies a day, baked fresh on a griddle wheel.

See (and smell!) the delicious process in person, and even get the chance to taste their many fortune cookie flavours. This unique San Francisco experience you don’t want to miss!

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Golden Gate Park

At only 47 square miles, San Francisco is one of the geographically smallest cities in the United States. And yet it is still home to one of the country’s largest city parks: Golden Gate Park. The park is home to some of San Francisco’s most popular family-friendly attractions.

Stroll through the Japanese Tea Garden with a stop for tea at the Tea House. Experience what it felt like to live through the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes at the California Academy of Sciences and enjoy a paddleboard ride on Stow Lake.

Make sure to make a stop at the Buffalo Paddock, where you can catch a glimpse of the park’s famous American Bison or laze on the beach in the shadows of the famous bridge.

Visiting Alcatraz Island

A visit to Alcatraz or the Rock as it is called is always on the top of many things to do in San Francisco lists. This former prison was once home to many of the worst criminals in the United States Penial System. The most famous being Al Capone, the notorious gangster.

Prison cell doors open at Alcatraz
San Francisco with teens should include a visit to Alcatraz

A visit to Alcatraz these days includes a ferry ride to the island and an audio guide that lets you explore the cell house. The audio tour will guide you through the Alcatraz Prison and tell you all its history.

Once the audio tour is over, you can finish taking pictures and exploring the Island at your own pace. You will find Alcatraz cruises leave from the Alcatraz ferry terminal near Pier 27.

Angel Island in San Francisco Bay

Angel Island, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, has been a popular destination for teens and families visiting San Francisco. Located within easy reach of the mainland by boat or ferry, it offers a wealth of attractions to explore.

A picturesque view of Angel Island, surrounded by sparkling blue waters offering a peaceful retreat and stunning natural beauty in the heart of San Francisco Bay
Learn about the immigration history

From its towering peak that offers stunning views of the bay and downtown skyline, Angel Island has miles of hiking and biking trails that traverse the island. Angel Island is an adventure paradise for those seeking outdoor recreation.

The island’s rich history adds another layer to its allure, it was once used as a US immigration station from 1910-1940 where over one million immigrants were processed before moving on to other parts of the country.

Today visitors can tour Immigration Station buildings at Angel Island as well as explore historical sites such as Fort McDowell and Camp Reynolds which are both parts of Angel Island State Park.

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Ripleys Believe it or Not

The Ripley’s Museum in San Francisco occupies over 10,000 square feet across 2 floors and features over 400 exhibits.

For those who don’t know Robert Ripley or Ripley’s, Believe It or Not, it was a travelling show and later a TV show that displayed oddities and things of amazement.

Shrunken heads, machines of medieval torture, illusions, wax figures and much more. Things that you will find unbelievable!

The kids will love the laser race and Mirror Maze attraction at Ripley’s. In the Laser Race, you must navigate through the web of lasers. Going over and under lasers as quickly as possible to reach the end of the Maze.

Think mission impossible here! The Mirror Maze will have you searching in all directions trying to find your way out. Buy tickets for Ripley’s today or combine an entry ticket with the Hop on hop-off bus for a discount.

Segway tours in San Francisco

There is nothing more fun than zipping around a city on a segway and for teens, this has to be one of the best things to do in San Francisco with kids. A San Francisco Segway tour is a great opportunity to have fun and learn about the city.

Segway tours are for the whole family, you will be given instructions and a short amount of practice time before you set off on your adventure. A segway ride is one of the cool things to do in San Francisco. Book your Segway Tour in San Francisco

What to do in San Francisco – Ride the Cable Cars

San Francisco is known for its cable cars, they are iconic. They are used in tourism pictures, movies, tv shows…you name they have appeared.

Don’t be fooled though, they are not just for tourists, they do actually move locals up and down the hills every day.

They head out at 6 am every morning and run until midnight. For the best views make sure you are on the side that faces the bay area. There are 3 different routes the San Francisco cable cars run on.

ridning a San francisco cable car
Enjoy the only moving national monuments, in San Francisco with teenagers

The two main lines for cable car rides are Powell/Hyde and Powell/Mason leave from the intersection of Powell and Market and head towards the popular destination of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

California/Van Ness line, which starts at California and Market and continues on until Van Ness. Don’t miss the great shots of Alcatraz on the Powell/Hyde line. Cable cars are the number 1 thing to do in San Francisco with kids.

Did you know that cable cars are the only moving national monuments in the USA? The cable cars are one of the 129 federally designated National Monuments in the United States

Local San Francisco tip from Sally

My favorite tip for tourists wanting to ride the cable car is to skip the busy Powell Street line and take the California line instead. It rarely has a queue and we’re always able to get a seat outside or standing on the side.

The views down California Street towards the Bay are pretty spectacular. It doesn’t go to the same touristy spots (the Powell line ends near Fisherman’s Wharf) but for tourists just wanting to ride a cable car it’s a much better option, as you avoid the really long queue for the Powell line. At busy times the queue for the Powell line can be at least 40 minutes to an hour!

Teenager activities bay area – The Aquarium

While visiting Pier 39, the Aquarium of the Bay is a worthwhile stop the whole family will enjoy. The largest and most popular exhibit area is Under the Bay, with 300 feet of tunnels that allow you to view the Bay’s native sharks, rays, and octopuses as they swim all around you.

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Hike the Lands End Trail 

The Lands End Trail is a spectacular hike that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Follow the Coastal Trail for a fairly easy 2.8-mile out-and-back trail with about 500 feet of elevation change. You’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge at almost every turn. 

Photo opportunities are everywhere with the Sutro Bath Ruins at the start of the trail, the Lands End Labyrinth approximately midway and Eagle Point overlook at the turnaround.

Try to time your hike so that you can return to the Sutro Baths just as the sun is going down. It’s one of the best places to watch the sunset in the city. 

Haunted after-dark tours

A family-friendly after-dark activity that squeezes in just enough history to be educational.

Teenager exploring San Francisco's vibrant streets
Fun stuff to do in San Francisco at night

San Francisco’s ghost tours are the perfect way to explore San Francisco when travelling with teens. Wild SF Walking Tours offers the Ghosts, Murder, and Mystery tour that shows you the Union Square you’d never know if you only shopped there during the day.  

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The Exploratorium is not your average museum. It describes itself as a public learning laboratory that supports visitors in exploring the world through science, art, and human perception.

Hundreds of hands-on experiences like immersive colour exhibits and a bicycle wheel gyro encourage visitors to become active explorers of the world around them. You won’t come across any do not touch signs here! 

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Natural History Museum of San Francisco

The Natural History Museum San Francisco is a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike. Located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, it’s the perfect vacation spot for those looking to explore history while learning something new.

The museum showcases several permanent exhibitions featuring various aspects of natural history including plants, minerals, fossils, mammals, insects and more.

With interactive displays and knowledgeable staff members who are eager to answer questions, visitors can easily immerse themselves in science and culture at this one-stop shop for educational entertainment.

Whether you’re visiting with friends or family, there’s plenty to do at the Natural History Museum, in San Francisco.

From hands-on activities like guided tours and discovery labs to educational exhibits such as Kids Corner where children can explore their creative skills, everyone can enjoy a unique experience tailored to their interests.

Things to do in SF with teenagers – Salesforce Park

You’ll find San Francisco’s newest urban park connected to the cityscape’s newest skyscraper. Located between Union Square and The Embarcadero, this 5.4-acre rooftop park stretches over 4 city blocks.

Visitors enjoy thousands of trees and plants and a linear fountain that stretches down the middle. Get to the park via a free oneway gondola ride. After the sun goes down, join San Franciscans for special events like silent disco nights and swing dancing. 

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Pier 39

Pier 39 in San Francisco is an iconic destination known for its breathtaking views, lively entertainment and a wide variety of shops.

Located along the waterfront of San Francisco Bay, Pier 39 offers something for everyone in the family including a classic San Francisco carousel, an arcade, restaurants and even a 7D Experience.

panoramic views of the bay and the famous sea lions basking in the sun at the iconic Pier 39 in San Francisco
The barking sea lions at Pier 39

The carousel at Pier 39 is a favourite among families and kids alike. With old-time music playing in the background riders can enjoy all kinds of colourful characters as they spin around on handcrafted wooden horses.

There’s also a nearby arcade with classic games like skeeball to keep teens entertained for hours. The Bay Plunge rotates skywards, shooting you 40 feet up a spire, and providing wonderful Bay Bridge views.

Other attractions include escape rooms, musical stairs, Magowan’s infinite maze, the Aquarium of the Bay and the Sea Lion Centre are highly recommended. You will probably hear the barking sea lions before you see them.

You can also find a whale-watching tour that leaves the pier during whale migration season.

Giants Game and Stadium Tour 

San Franciscans love the Giants. Catching a game is a great way to enjoy a day like a local while visiting town.

If you don’t want to spend all day at Oracle Park but are curious to see what it’s all about, consider a budget-friendly standing-room-only ticket or a behind-the-scenes stadium tour.

No San Francisco itinerary is complete for sports lovers without a visit to the Giants stadium.

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Visit Fisherman’s Wharf area for families

The Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco is a must-visit for any tourist. With so many amazing sights and attractions to see, it’s the perfect place to spend your vacation.

From historical ships and museums to bustling seafood restaurants, there is something for everyone here when you visit Fisherman’s Wharf. Teens can take a ride on a cable car, explore The Cannery shopping mall or take a ferry boat tour around the bay.

They can also visit Pier 39 and watch local street performers while grabbing some snacks at one of the many foods stands nearby.

There are plenty of things to do like sea lion watching, shopping at unique stores or enjoying views from an observation tower that will make this vacation unforgettable!

San Francisco teenagers love Baker Beach

Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this popular spot offers wide sandy beaches with one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the city. It’s a great place for families to picnic and explore a uniquely California beach. 

teens in San Francisco enjoying the sun
San Francisco with teens

If you want to check out the areas closer to the bridge, be aware that North Baker Beach is clothing optional. As with many Northern California beaches, it’s better for splashing near the shore than swimming due to the cold water and frequent rip currents.  

Teens in San Francisco will love Musée Mécanique

For teenagers who are into video games, this San Francisco museum might be interesting. The Musée Mécanique San Francisco is an amazing museum that showcases antique arcade machines and other mechanical devices.

It’s definitely worth going to if you’re in the San Francisco area or have a free afternoon to spare. The museum has about 200 of the machines in the collection on display at Pier 45 and is one of the largest privately-owned collections of mechanically-operated machines in the world.

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Fun things to do in San Francisco for teenagers – Boomerang Bay Water Park

Now, do tell me, who doesn’t love a good water park, especially in the summer months? Water parks these days are fun and comfortable. Yes comfortable! At Boomerang Bay you can hire a cabana and relax while the kids splash, slip and slide their way to happiness. The Boomerang Bay location in California borrows its name from all things Australian.

Having fun on the water slide
San Francisco fun stuff to do includes water parks

Some of the rides include the Digeridoo falls, the Down Under Thunder, the Tasmanian Typhoon and the Screaming Wombat. The park includes 6 water slides and 3 pool areas and a true family favourite the lazy river. Boomerang Bay is one of the best things to do with kids in San Francisco.

Everyone enjoys the lazy river as the current helps you drift around the river course. The great thing about Boomerang Bay is that it’s attached to the Great America Theme Ark. Entry ticket includes access to both areas.

A bay cruise with teens in San Francisco

A bay cruise in San Francisco is a popular activity that allows visitors to experience the city’s stunning natural beauty and iconic landmarks from a different perspective.

The San Francisco Bay is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including seals, sea lions, and a variety of bird species, and a bay cruise is a great way to observe these animals in their natural habitat. During a bay cruise, you’ll also be able to see some of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the Bay Bridge, up close and in all their glory.

Many bay cruises also offer informative commentary from knowledgeable guides who can provide insight into the history and culture of the city.

Things to do in San Francisco with teens – Muir Woods

If you’re ready for a day trip from the city, head to Muir Woods National Monument to immerse yourself in the groves of California’s famous old-growth coastal redwoods.

This protected primeval forest is a popular place, so you need a timed permit to park. Consider taking the 20-30 minute ferry ride to Sausalito from Fisherman’s Wharf or the Ferry Building and then catching the seasonal shuttle bus to Muir Woods instead.

Each phase of your journey will be a memorable one! If you want to leave the transportation logistics to someone else, consider a guided tour. Tower Tours leads a popular Muir Woods half-day trip that leaves from Fisherman’s Wharf.

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Catch a Broadway Show 

The Golden Gate and Orpheum Theaters regularly feature the most popular Broadway musicals touring the country. Check Broadway SF to see what is playing during your visit.

For one of a kind San Francisco musical experience, check out Mountain Play at the Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre. Mountain Play brings Broadway musicals to an outdoor theatre in the woods on Mount Tamalpais for an incredible theatre adventure.

famous neighbourhoods in SF
Activities for teenagers in San Francisco include exploring notable neighbourhoods

Cartoon Art Museum

The San Francisco cartoon art museum has been attracting people since 1984. This unique museum will specialize in artwork featuring cartoons and comic book characters. It promises to be a great vacation destination for teens who have a passion for art, cartoons, and comics.

The museum aims to provide an interactive experience that blends the worlds of classic cartoons with modern-day technology. Visitors can explore permanent collections of beloved characters from iconic television shows, as well as explore rotating exhibits highlighting lesser-known works from independent creators.

The cartoon art museum isn’t just about entertainment—it’s also educational. The facility’s goal is to spark creativity in young people by introducing them to different animation styles and techniques used in creating cartoons over the years.

The cartoon art museum is located near Hyde Street Pier and the Cable Car turnaround.

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The most Instagrammable spots in San Francisco

With Instagram and social media playing an important part in the lives of teenagers, we have some great places for Instagram photos in the great city of San Francisco. We recommend visiting Baker Beach, Fort Point, Bernal Heights Swing, and Lombard Street for the best Instagram shots in San Francisco.

Alternatively, book yourself, an Instagram tour with a guide who will take you to all the hotspots in the city. Check prices on the best Instagram tours in San Fran.

San Francisco TikTok inspiration

If you’re in need of some inspiration, look no further than TikTok. TikTok is today’s app of choice for teens around the globe. This app is full of creative content and talented people from San Francisco.

From fashion to beauty to DIY, there’s something for everyone on TikTok. Here are just a few of our favourite San Francisco TikTok accounts to help inspire you and plan for your vacation.

Professional photo shoot in San Francisco

As our kids get older, we spend less and less time with them making family memories. One excellent way to capture some of these important family vacation moments is to hire a professional photographer for a few hours to make some lifelong memories for you.

The photographer will supply everything, your family just needs to provide the smiles for your SF photoshoot. Book your memory-making shoot today.

Street Art in San Francisco

Street art is found throughout the world, but it is especially prevalent in major cities. Cities are home to a wealth of street art, from graffiti on building walls to pieces painted on lanes and bridges.

Street art provides a unique aesthetic for these places, with topics including current events, pop culture, portraits and more. Street art is a very popular free thing to do in San Francisco and attracts tourists and teenagers alike.

Abundant street art in San Francisco is found at the 24th Street Corridor in the Mission District, Clarion Alley Street Art and street murals in Cypress Street.

Shopping in San Francisco with teens

Downtown encompasses two shopping hot spots, including San Francisco’s iconic plaza Union Square and Market Street. Union Square features an electric mix of luxury stores, local boutiques, and major department stores. Market Street encompasses The Embarcadero District, which has been famous since the gold rush days.

No shopping experience in San Fransisco is complete without a visit to Westfield San Francisco Centre. Westfield San Francisco Centre is a place to lose yourself in an epic shopping experience with its hundreds of stores.

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Things to do for teens in San Francisco – Go to the gym

Fitness is very important to a lot of teenagers these days. Working out is a big part of a healthy lifestyle. Lifting weights, using the treadmill, cardio and muscle workouts. Just because one is travelling does not mean one needs to stop working out.

In San Francisco, you can go to a number of Gyms that sell passes ranging from a day to a week and a month. Day passes start at $16 a day while a week pass costs $45. You can find a list of Gyms in San Francisco on the Trainaway fit website

Axe Throwing in San Francisco

Axe Throwing is a new phenomenon that is sweeping around the world. San Francisco is home to Bad Axe Throwing. Bad Axe Throwing in Daly City, serves residents and tourists in the San Francisco and Bay Area.

No experience is required, and participants learn how to throw an axe at a target from expert coaches in a safe environment. Axe throwing might be just the family competition that will last in the memories forever. Axe Throwing is one of the awesome things to do in San Francisco.

World travel with teens: 10 amazing cities for multigenerational travel with teens

Things to do in San Francisco for young adults – Escape rooms

For those new to Escape rooms, this is a quick run down. An escape room, also known as an escape game, is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategies to complete the objectives at hand.

Escape rooms may consist of a large, single room, or span multiple rooms. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms.

If your teen likes this stuff, it is definitely one of the top fun things to do with teenagers in San Francisco

You will have 60 minutes to solve the puzzle and find the truth. Below you will find a map with the locations of San Francisco Escape rooms.

San Francisco teenage activities – Cinema

A perennial favourite with teenagers in San Francisco whether visiting or residents is the cinema. San Francisco like any major city in the USA has a wide range of cinemas for you to attend.

Some of the best-rated cinemas in San Francisco for teenagers are as follows

  • AMC Metreon 16, Address: 135 4th St Suite 3000, San Francisco, CA 94103, United States. Home of the latest blockbusters in 3D and Imax
  • Grand Lake Theatre, Address 3200 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610, United States. Named one of the top ten vintage theatres in the USA
  • Alamo Draft House Cinema, Address 2550 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, United States. Small-sized theatres that have direct-to-seat food and beverage service

Read more: All the very best things to do in Los Angeles

10-pin bowling in San Francisco with kids

Why not get a bit of family competition going with a game of 10-pin bowling? Bowling is a great evening or rainy day activity. Teenagers vs adults is always a fun competition.

The best things to do with family in San Francisco include bowling

You can find some of San Francisco’s best bowling alleys below

  • Lucky Strike Bowling, Address 200 King St, San Francisco, CA 94107, United States. More like a nightclub than a bowling alley with stylish booths, food and drinks.
  • Albany Bowl, address 40 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706, United States. A very cool modern feel filled with local college students

Travel with teens budget tip: Read why we love staying in hostels with our teens

Bike riding in San Francisco

Bike riding in San Francisco is a popular family activity when travelling with teenagers. Bike riding allows you to experience your location either in town or out in the surrounding areas.

You will find bike tours are the best way to go if you want to get an up-close and personal experience of the city.

You will either have a guide to point out all the important attractions or a map to follow. The bike tours will take you on a San Fransisco family vacation 2-wheeled adventure. Alternatively, you can find locations that hire bikes and let you explore on your own.

Book all your San Francisco bike tours today

Free things to do in San Francisco with teens

San Francisco offers some of the best free things to do with your teenage family members. These free city activities are perfect for keeping everyone happy and entertained without having to spend any money.

There are also plenty of affordable restaurants and shops where you can shop for souvenirs without breaking the bank. Some of our recommendations for free family activities in San Francisco are as follows.

See more of the world: Visit Montreal with teens for an epic vacation

Day trips from San Francisco with teens

While staying in the city with teenagers may be the easiest option on your family vacation to San Francisco, there are some fun trips for teenagers to make out of the city too. The best vacations for teenagers usually include at least one day trip.

Below we have a couple of day trip recommendations for families travelling with teenagers. There are also so many more things to do on your vacation with teenagers when you add a day trip from San Francisco.

Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias day trip from San Francisco

Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited parks in the United States. The park has a reputation for its wildlife and nature. On the way to Yosemite, you will stop at Sequoia National Park and see the giant trees at Tuolumne Grove.

a teenager at a lookout in Yosemite National Park. Day trips for San Francisco with teenagers include Yosemite
Day trips from San Francisco with teenagers to Yosemite

These neck-stretching trees are some of the oldest and largest in the world, especially the General Sherman Tree located in Sequoia National Park. This trip is best done with a tour from San Francisco, where your guide and transport will take you to the best spots in Yosemite National Park. You even have some free time at Yosemite with teenagers to explore and make memories. Book your day trip to Yosemite today

Santa Cruz California

Most parents of teenagers will likely remember Santa Cruz as the setting for the massive 80s movie Lost Boys. Santa Cruz is one of the most popular destinations on the west coast.

And it’s not just because of its beautiful scenery and beaches it also has a lot of attractions and fun things to do for people of all ages.

The most famous of these would be the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It’s an amusement park with carnival rides, food stands, and other attractions to check out.

Don’t forget to spend some time on one of the many beaches, Santa Cruz has to offer! The fastest way to get there is by car, but it can be reached by train in a little over 2 hours.

Want to make your vacations with teens a breeze? This is the best guide to epic vacations with teens and how you can do it too!

Fun restaurants in San Francisco for teenagers

Traveling teens are known to get hungry when they are on a family vacation. Picking a place to eat in San Francisco with teenagers is easy with our top picks below.

The Historic Ferry Building

The Ferry Building Marketplace is a fun gathering of the region’s best farmers and artisan producers, it is kinda like a waterfront farmers market.

Wander through, and you’ll find delicious cheesecakes (a uniquely San Francisco cheesecake), Napa’s famous Gott’s Roadside burgers, Hog Island Oysters fresh from the ocean of West Marin, and one of the country’s best Farmers Markets frequented by local chefs.

Everyone in your family will find something they love at this gourmet food hall at the historic ferry building.  

For parents with older teenage kids, maybe take a trip to the Glen Ellen wineries north of the city, after all, holidays are for parents as well.

San Francisco’s Burritos 

San Francisco’s Mission District is home to some of the country’s best taquerias. You can’t leave the city without trying one of the neighbourhood’s famous burritos. La Cumbre and El Faro battle over who invented the first Mission-style super burrito, but El Farolito is known to have perfected it.

Grab some burritos to go (with extra napkins) and head over to enjoy them in Dolores Park. Best of all for parents, they will keep hungry teens full for most of the day! 


If you want some fresh San Francisco seafood, head to iconic Scoma’s on Fisherman’s Wharf for a classic San Francisco dining experience. It’s the only restaurant on the wharf where you can watch fishermen working on the restaurant’s own fishing boat as you sample some of the freshest seafood in the city.

Savour the views and the pier-to-plate menu that has made Scoma’s so successful over the last 50 years.  

Mel’s Drive-In 

San Francisco’s three Mel’s Drive-In locations may have opened in the mid-’80s, but their success was built on nostalgia for traditional 1950s diners with bright neon and classic rock. Serving traditional American diner food, many tables have their own jukeboxes so customers can choose what plays next.   

Tonga Room 

A classic San Francisco tradition in an unlikely location, the Fairmont’s Tonga Room was created in 1945 by an MGM set director who was inspired by the country’s obsession with Tiki culture.

Today you’ll find a Polynesian-themed restaurant with a lagoon and floating stage used for live entertainment. An indoor tropical rainstorm completes the experience.  


Nothing beats San Francisco’s sourdough bread, and Boudin is one of its most well-known brands! At the Boudin flagship store and bakery near Fisherman’s Wharf, you can watch bakers crafting and shaping batches of bread by hand through 30-foot observation windows.

You can also sample the bread with a view at the casual cafe and grab a loaf to go from the Boudin Marketplace. 

Search here for all the very best travel products for your family vacation to San Francisco and beyond!

Frequently asked questions about San Francisco

When you are planning your family vacation with teens to San Francisco, there are always some things you love to know before your family holiday. These top travel tips for families on holiday in San Francisco will make sure you are fully prepared.

Can you drink tap water in San Francisco?

Yes, tap water is drinkable. If you are unsure we suggest you buy a drink bottle with a water filter on it for travelling with family. You can buy your water bottle here before you leave

How do I call the Police in San Francisco?

Call 911 when in the USA

What type of power plug is used in the USA?

For the USA there are two associated plug types, types A and B. Plug type A is the plug that has two flat parallel pins and plug type B is the plug that has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin. The USA operates on a 120V supply voltage and 60Hz. Buy your A-Type adaptor today before you travel

Is tipping required in San Francisco?

A general rule for waiters is to tip 15 to 20 per cent of the pre-tax bill

Where to stay in San Francisco with teenagers

At the top of the article, we suggested some accommodation choices for your family vacation with teenagers. If you are looking for a wider variety of choices please find below an interactive map from Booking.com for you to find your perfect stay in San Francisco with family.


Some of the areas worth considering staying in with teenagers are as follows

  • Fishermen’s Wharf – A popular area for tourists, where you can walk along the beach area, see wildlife and have the most amazing seafood. in town
  • Union Square – Most of the hotels are located in this area. You will find great transport options and the best retail shopping in the city.
  • Embarcadero – A great location for those who like to get up early for a walk or a run. Fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge await

Are you looking to book flights, hotels, apartments, tours, airport transfers, travel insurance and more? Are you just not sure what companies you can trust to book your travel online? We have a resource page that is full of companies that we personally use and book through for all trips from a weekend away to long term travel around the world. Click here to search our travel resources page.

This article was written in conjunction with Kristy from the jjandthebug.com website for us here at Wyld Family Travel. We hope this article helps you with San Francisco attractions for you and your teenager.

San Francisco with teenagers has many attractions and activities for you and your teen to do, see, try and taste. Your teenager in San Fransico will be entertained and educated by this amazing city.

Travel with teenagers and tweens. Travelling with young adults has just as many issues as travelling with young kids. Choosing the best places to vacation with teenagers can be so time-consuming. 

Use our Travel with Teenagers Destination Guides from all over the world for your next family vacation inspiration to make your family vacations with teens epic.

For more amazing ideas on where to holiday in the USA click through to our USA Destination Page for more brilliant inspiration.

More family travel inspiration for your family vacation with teens

Rebecca Wyld


Content Creator/SEO Editor

Co-founder and SEO editor here at Wyld Family Travel. Bec has travelled to over 45 countries across 3 continents and is a journey with kids advocate. When Bec is not planning travel, she is creating content for our family travel blog or doing local community services work. You can find all of Bec’s detailed travel guides here on Wyld Family Travel and on other popular websites such as Lonely Planet.

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12 thoughts on “43 things to do in San Francisco with teenagers”

  1. I have been to this amazing city 3 times, such a great destination. I have done it all except the waterpark and the Walt Disney museum SF which I am pretty sure did not exist back then lol. I do remember accidentally walking into the tenderloin…insterresting is all I have to say.

    • Hi Evelyne! Wow three times…you must love it there. I love a city you can return to and keep seeing more and experiencing new things. Thanks so much for leaving a comment and we hope you have a brilliant day.

  2. San Fran has been on my family travel list for years! Loving all of these fun things to do with kids in the city. 🙂

    • Hi Carrie! Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Finding things to do in a city that are great for the whole family can be really hard at times. I hope you are able to get some of these done when you visit. Have a great day!

  3. I’ve been to San Francisco several times, even once with teenagers. There really are a lot of fun activities to keep teenagers happy. We also enjoyed the Musee de Mechanique right on the waterfront – lots of vintage arcade games! I loved Sally’s tips that you added; great insights!

    • Hi Tami! Yes, I loved Sally’s insider tips too. I love it when you can get the right advice from a person who has lived there for a little while. Nothing like local knowledge. Mark would go crazy over the arcade games…will take him back to his younger days! Thanks so much for leaving a comment and we hope you have an amazing day!

  4. I visited Walt Disney Museum and it was just mind blowing. Do you know any good events happening in San Francisco in the month of May as i am planning to visit once again.

    • Hi!
      Our friend Sally from little hiccups will have all you will need to know about San Francisco events as she lives there. Try her blog of the same name and I am sure she will have a list of awesome things you can do there.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave an awesome comment and we hope you have a fantastic day.
      Bec and family

  5. Gosh. I haven’t been in years. I was in San Francisco for a conference before my kids were born. Loved Chinatown. And took a wine train. The things you listed look like so much fun for kids and families. Thank you for so much great information. Now I am ready to go again.

  6. I haven’t been to San Fran is a long time but it was such a cool place to visit in my early 20’s. I loved Alcatraz but it was kind of eerie really. I really preferred visiting this area over the LA area.

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