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San Francisco with Kids

Posted on Jan 22, 2016 in San Francisco
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San Francisco, affectionately nicknamed the City by the Bay, in Northern California boosts numerous museums, outdoor parks, and diverse cultures that will entertain children of all ages.

5 Reasons Why to Take the Kids With You to San Francisco:

  1. San Francisco is home to the most photographed span bridge in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge. It ranks in the top 10 of longest span bridges in the world.
  2. Museums for kids ranging from oceanic aquariums, the California Academy of Science, a zoo, and other hands-on children museums to historic national parks, many places of those are free.
  3. Dozens of parks offer scenic vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean, beaches, and the mountains.
  4. Besides the Iconic Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco other signature feature is a large network of street cars.
  5. Diverse culture communities to experience the food, languages and the arts of world.

Things You Need to Know When Getting Ready to Travel to San Francisco:

  • Transportation: San Francisco International Airport is located 13 miles south of city. Use the numerous airport shuttles available to reach the city. Walking is a popular option. The water front areas, Fisherman’s Wharf, and many parks are flat. Use the cable car and bus system to cover the hills. Be sure to get unlimited ride passports good for 1-7 days.
  • Accommodations: The Bay City is known for high end hotels and chic boutique accommodations that would not be as kid friendly. Use common on-line hotel searches for the area to select one of the hundreds of rooms that will be just right for your family.
  • Weather: The city’s climate is known to be consistently moderate temperatures ranging from low 70’s to upper 40’s. The fact that the city is surrounded by water on 3 sides and has varied hilly topography accounts for why the weather can be different in separate areas of the city at the same time.
  • The best time to visit is from April to October when the weather is apt to be warmer and drier.
  • Dress in layers for the ocean breezes and notorious famous fog banks that roll off the cooler Pacific Ocean waters.

 

Our 8 Top Recommendations:

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is over 130 years old. Influential businessmen knew the importance of keeping a natural area for a sprawling urban city. Today the park is over 1000 acres maintained to substantiate native plants, wildlife, and aquatic life. Exciting sites to visit include a plant conservatory with a natural butterfly habitat, a combination of natural and man-made lakes, picnic areas, and a dozen playgrounds for the kids to enjoy until their heart’s content. Look for how many times you can see the Golden Gate Bridge. Take an extra trolley ride to the bridge to get the real feel of how large and impressive it really is when you walk out onto the bridge even if it is only for a little ways and look up at the suspension spans above your heads. The park connects to over 30 miles of hiking trails. Stow Lake one of the man-made dammed berms includes paddle boats for rent to enjoy the waterfalls and view aquatic life.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Unpleasant as it is it is important to understand that some homeless camps do exist in the park. Park and city officials work together to keep the area safe for visitors.
  • On the upside, you can take the opportunity to have age appropriate discussions about the plight of those less fortunate.
  • When considering the natural trails for entertainment it is important to note that many are high rugged vistas that may not be suitable for very young children.
  • Visit the Koret’s Children’s corner of the Golden Gate Playground to ride a restored wood-carved carousel. For a small fee adults and children can ride the elaborately Spanish-influenced painted horses. Children must be 41” tall to ride alone.
  • If traveling with your pets, remember no pets are allowed on the natural trails but feel free to let your children with their dogs romp in the dog park within the park.
  • Do not approach or feed the wild life.

 

San Francisco Zoo

The Zoo offers over 250 species and exhibits. A newly renovated exciting interactive Children’s’ Playground named Elinor Friend Playground is now open. Be sure to visit the petting zoo and ride the miniature railroad.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Check out their website for animal feeding times for your kids to get the whole zoo experience.
  • Take your visit and step further and look for the enrichment tools that are in each of the animal’s habitats. Since the animals have everything provided for them, the zoo keepers care for the animals so much they provide extra sensory items each day. There are boomer balls that provide treats when they are tossed about. Watch for chimp Tallulah flipping through a magazine for sensory enrichment. They work hard to keep the animals from getting bored and to keep them interested in their environment. They come up with new ideas for every day or week on detailed schedules.
  • Elinor Friend Playground consists of 3 bio-regions for age appropriate play and exploration in a fully ADA compliant atmosphere.
  • The textures and materials in each area such as the River Play area for children 6 months to two years provide them with things that mimic the wild. The polar zone is for exploring toddlers 2 to 5 years old.
  • Banyan Tree climbing structure is for the 5 to 12 year old children.
  • A must see for your younger children is the Meer Kat and Prairie Dog Exhibit. The low glass wall permits even the smallest of guests the opportunity to get up close and personal. Older children will see how two species from opposite sides of the earth are brought together in a natural habitat for both. See how they have managed to get along with each other. Humans can learn a lot from the animal world.
  • The smaller child will enjoy searching for Meer Kat treats in a “sandbox”. They will be able to view and climb through tunnels like the prairie dogs do.
  • During the summer in the children’s zoon on the Nature Trail, youth volunteers are positioned throughout the trail with interactive talks and opportunities for your children to touch small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
  • Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult the entire time on zoo grounds.
  • Strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs available for rent on a first come basis.

 

Cable Car Rides

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The Cable Cars are a national landmark still in existence as viable transit in San Francisco. Enjoy the thrills of the San Francisco hills holding while riding the cars instead of walking. Take a ride to China Town for souvenirs and fun street sites. Hop back on to find the original Swenson’s Ice Crème Shop.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Ride the cars and get off at Lombard to avoid a steep walk when visiting the “crookedest” street.
  • Cable car lines can be long. Have something on hand to entertain the small ones.
  • Strollers can be hard to manage on the cars. Consider a small trip without the strollers.

 

Fisherman’s Wharf

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No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a trip to this iconic attraction. The kid will love Musee Mecahnique that has a collection of old-fashioned mechanical arcade games. It will give today’s kids a look at things before digital games. A child interested in maritime history will be at home at the wharf seeing all the various boats docked nearby. The street performers will delight all ages.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Be wary that the wharf is a pier with no railings in places. Keep a keen eye on your children.
  • The wharf is always busy.
  • The weather conditions can be very sunny, use sunscreen. Also, plan for the famous fog to roll in at any time.
  • Ripley’s Believe it or not museum is here for the touristy fare.

 

San Francisco Bay’s Aquarium

San Francisco Bay’s Aquarium

Kids are most certainly attracted to the sea world. If in San Francisco, take them to the Aquarium of the Bay, a 50,000 square foot building, exhibiting almost 20,000 marine specimens, all originating in the L.A. Bay and nearby areas. The declared purpose of the Aquarium is to sustain conservation of local species, through intensive learning and experiences programs.

Children of all ages can “meet” with local shark species, the Giant Pacific octopus, jelly-fish, anchovies, sea stars, etc. 3D movies and special interactive programs will help the kids get a deeper perspective on the enormous diversity of sea life around L.A.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Tickets are available online and include some discounts; also, it is easier to check the various options from the comfort of your home, instead of staying in line with some anxious children;
  • A daily timetable is available with the schedule for the entire year;
  • A new exhibitions is now available – Otters: Watershed Ambassadors, an amazing foray into their world and life.

http://aquariumofthebay.org/

 

Exploratorium

If your kid is a little pathfinder, then the San Francisco Exploratorium is the right spot. You might call it a museum, a laboratory, an exhibition hall; and you would be right in any case and all together.

Exploratorium provokes children of all ages to see themselves and the surrounding world in a deeper way, challenges their curiosity, abilities, imagination. 600 exhibits and experiments, covering all science areas, invite children (and their parents equally) to explore space, the human body and mind, culture and many others, in new, unthinkable ways. For example, you probably haven’t analyzed yourself with 3D glasses, not have you tried (and succeeded) in making a rainbow or catching a shadow, have you?

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Experience the Tactile Dom, an itinerary built in full darkness, challenging you to visit just by using your sense of touch;
  • If you get hungry wondering around the nature’s miracles, the family-friendly restaurant there is a good option;
  • All places are accessible for strollers and you have plenty restrooms and kids’ facilities, but the experience might not amaze a baby or infant.

 

San Francisco Botanical Garden

Opened 365 days a year, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is one of the greatest such places throughout the United States, exhibiting 8,000 plant species all around the world. Children will have a nice opportunity to explore one of the most complex botanical gardens and get in contact with rare plants, some of them remaining unique in the world (although not in their natural climate!).

You will enjoy an extended collection of Magnolias, rare high elevation palms, the Ancient Plants area, the Southeast Asian and Andean Cloud Forests or the “Garden of Fragrance”.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Mainly during summer months, different outdoor, interactive classes and workshops are organized for children 3-14, so you can visit the website for details;
  • The place has easy accesible paths, so you can visit even if you are with a stroller. Maybe you will be lucky to catch the baby’s afternoon nap to enjoy the floral exhibitions;
  • Don’t forget the camera, you will capture some of the most colorful and live pictures in the entire city;
  • For plants protection reasons, there are some strict regulations that you should worn your children about.

http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org/

 

Walt Disney Family Museum

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Walt Disney’s characters have been a constant presence in our childhood, as well as in our children’s. We all love them and dream at them! So why not take advantage of this trip to San Francisco for a stop at the Museum dedicated to this great cartoons creator? Located in two historical buildings, of around 40,000 square feet, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Museum offers visitors a foray into the life and work of Walt Disney.

The exhibits, both permanent as well as occasional ones, magnificently blend classical displays with most modern tools, for an unforgettable experience.

Important to Know When You Are Taking the Kids:

  • Strollers access is allowed into the galleries;
  • You can check the website for the updated schedule for the period you will be visiting;
  • The museum includes a café, where you can have a snack for the kids.

http://www.waltdisney.org/

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