San Francisco is a hip, cool destination that has something for the whole family. Expedia.com asked me to share a guide to experiencing San Francisco with tweens. We have two tweens in our family, one likes all things adventurous and exciting while the other likes museums and educational attractions. Add some cultural experiences and you have the perfect destination
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let’s explore some things to do in San Francisco with kids.
Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is the most iconic 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. Tweens and teens are at a great age to take part in such outdoor activity.
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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 fishermen wharf and cruise across the bridge. You can catch the ferry from Sausalito to fisherman’s wharf to return your bike. Its a great activity for kids in San Francisco
Locals Tip: Our Friend Sally from Little Hiccups is an expat living In San Francisco. We asked her for some do’s and donts’s 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 run away cars should the hand brake not work.
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. 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 legends achievements.
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 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.
Looking for a fun spot to eat in San Francisco with kids
Urban Putt had a dream indoor miniature-golf in San Francisco. Throw in awesome food and drink, a great Mission location, and an unswerving commitment to fun and you’ve got a formula for something unique and wonderful. Urban Spoon is located at 1096 South Van Ness Avenue (at 22nd Street, in the Mission) and we’d love to see you here. You can have a drink and a snack while playing mini golf on the high tech 14 hole course. Dinner is served in our restaurant nightly beginning at 5 p.m. seven days a week. Bar Bites and snacks are available any time mini-golf is open. Mini golf and food surely make for fun activities in San Francisco with kids
Ripleys Believe it or Not
The Ripleys 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 Ripleys 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.
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 tourist 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.
The two main lines, 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. The cable cars are the number 1 thing to do in San Francisco with kids.
Locals 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!
Boomerang Bay Water Park
Now, do tell, 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. Boomerang Bay borrows its name from all things Australian.
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. 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
Locals Tip from Sally .My top tip for what to avoid would be the Tenderloin! It’s such a central location and looks good on maps as it’s so close to a lot of touristy stuff, but it’s really seedy with a lot of homeless people and drug crimes. A lot of tourists make the mistake of staying there because it looks good on paper, there are lots of hotels and it’s cheaper than other touristy areas, but it’s not the safest area to walk around in at night.
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. A bigger plus is fewer crowds than summer.
- 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.
- The wettest month that will have you running for your raincoat and umbrella is January with an average of 119mm of rain.
- The best month put on the boardshorts and bikinis to swim in the bay area and all its amazing beaches are in August. You will find the average sea temperature is 15°C (59°F).
Don’t forget to check out our other travel with Teenagers destination guides
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About the Author
Mark Wyld is a father, Husband and traveller. Having been to over 30 countries worldwide I think I know a thing or 2 about travelling with kids. I have been writing about travel on our website for the last 4 years and have featured on numerous other websites. When I am not talking, dreaming and planning travel I can be found working in disability support