Top 9 Destinations in San Francisco to Take Your Grandkids

When it comes to family-friendly outings, San Francisco is rich in fun, educational, and engaging destinations perfect for grandkids and grandparents alike.

Here are our top 10 recommendations for places to take your grandkids in the city and nearby.

1. Golden Gate Park

This sprawling urban park boasts numerous attractions, making it an all-day adventure:

  • California Academy of Sciences: Houses an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum.
  • Japanese Tea Garden: A tranquil setting perfect for a peaceful stroll.
  • Children’s Playground: One of the country’s oldest public playgrounds, featuring a beautiful carousel.

2. Exploratorium

This hands-on science museum features hundreds of interactive exhibits. Kids can learn about physics, biology, and much more in a fun, interactive environment.

You can either join in or find a pleasant place to sit and watch. The museum has big, open rooms that make it easy to supervise kids without having to constantly chase them around.

3. Pier 39

This bustling bayside pier offers myriad attractions:

  • Aquarium of the Bay: Get up close with local marine life.
  • Sea Lion Center: Watch the famous Pier 39 sea lions. This one is free and kids will find the sea lions hilarious (if a bit smelly).

4. San Francisco Zoo

With over 2,000 exotic, endangered, and rescued animals from 250 species, the zoo is a great educational experience.

Keep in mind, though, that the San Francisco Zoo is almost 100 acres. There’s a lot of walking involved with this one. If you have mobility challenges, it can be a difficult outing. Parking can be a challenge, too, so plan ahead and arrive early.

5. Ghirardelli Square

After a long day of sightseeing, unwind with the world-renowned Ghirardelli ice cream and chocolate shop.

Think of the look on your grandkids’ faces when you bring out a massive brownie sundae dripping with chocolate sauce.

6. Walt Disney Family Museum

This interactive museum presents the story of Walt Disney, the man behind the mouse. Features include early drawings, cartoons, movies, music, and a miniature Disneyland model.

The museum is best for slightly older kids. We recommend it for ages 6 and up. But it’s a great opportunity to bond over a character that your grandkids will know, and you’ll remember from growing up, too.

7. Alcatraz Island

For older kids, a ferry ride to Alcatraz Island is an exciting adventure. It offers a glimpse into the notorious former prison and its history.

This one is a little scary for smaller kids. It can be a difficult tour for people with any mobility challenges, too.

8. Randall Museum

A hidden gem in the heart of the city, this museum offers art and science classes, live animal exhibits, and a spectacular view of the city.

9. Cable Car Museum

A museum dedicated to the city’s iconic cable cars. Kids can see the massive wheels that pull the cables, and they can climb aboard a historic cable car.

10. Children’s Creativity Museum

A multimedia art and technology experience designed to build creative confidence in children. Includes a music studio, animation studio, and a DIY maker space.

In San Francisco, there’s something to delight every grandchild and create unforgettable memories together. Explore these spots, and you’ll see why it’s known as a city that caters to all ages.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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