Whether or not you hail from big city, any parent will know that taking the whole family sight-seeing in a big city can be a make or break experience. Between keeping the whole party together on public transportation, finding suitable entertainment and getting the group fed it might begin to seem a lot like work. But while cosmopolitan San Francisco, California, certainly qualifies as big city, it can be surprisingly fun, even when traveling with a troupe of young ones in tow. Sure, getting everyone on the cable cars can take a little finagling, but for your efforts you’ll (hopefully) make (good) lasting memories.
Some of the best places to while away the day? Everyone will enjoy a trip to the Aquarium of the Bay, at the edge of the popular tourist area, Fisherman’s Wharf. Get a fine and educational introduction to what lies beneath (like sharks and jellyfish) and finish strategically placed for further sight-related activity. Check out Pier 39 street performers, sea lions and the San Francisco Carousel when you’re done at the aquarium, then consider either a spin through the National Liberty Ship Memorial, sure to please the boat-lovers in your clan, or a leisurely wander along the streets of Fisherman’s Wharf. Boats to Alcatraz Island also leave from nearby, departing Pier 33.
From here it’s a short cab ride or drive west to the Exploratorium, a great hands-on science facility a stone’s throw from the eastern edge of the Presidio, an expansive park area capping the northwestern end of the city. It’s at the tip of the Presidio, of course, that you’ll find that famous landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge, which links the city with Marin County across the bay. Alternatively, try the California Academy of Sciences in “The Park”, aka Golden Gate Park. You’d also be remiss to neglect Zeum, the San Francisco Children’s Museum. Packed with hands-on activities this one is sure to keep little fingers occupied and minds stimulated.
And if all that doesn’t keep you busy for the better part of one very long day, then be sure to add in a cable car ride up and down some of San Francisco’s infamous hills, with a stop off to see the famous switchbacks of Lombard Street.
For a half-day of Sunday viewing pleasure, head for the San Francisco Zoo. It’s not overwhelmingly large but it’s got the lions, bears, monkeys and giraffes you need to keep everyone happy. San Francisco, California just might wind up one of your favorite family cities yet.