Spending a day in the Bay Area is a must-do! Whether you are wanting to spend a day kayaking, seeing a theater show, visit museums, or riding a trolley, you’ll find it around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bay Area Attractions for Families
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey
Home to over 200 exhibits and 80,000 plants & animals! Located at the edge of the Pacific Ocean on the historic Cannery Row. Not only will you have gorgeous views of the ocean, but an up-close view of all the marine wildlife.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
You can’t visit San Francisco without taking your photo by the Golden Gate Bridge! Besides getting a few snapshots, you can visit the bridge’s outdoor museum where guests can learn how a suspension bridge works.
When you consider taking trips like these it’s also essential to bring items such as refreshments, sunglasses that are popular but classic, and a camera to capture all the breathtaking views and scenery.
If you have time, walk the 1.7-mile bridge or rent a bike at Fishermans’ Wharf.
Pier 39, San Francisco
Home to the famous sea lions and the Aquarium of the Bay. This area has plenty of shops, restaurants, rides and of course a carousel. If you have toddlers, they will certainly enjoy the Mirror Maze and 7D Experience.
Great America, Santa Clara
This amusement park is over 100 acres of fun. They offer everything from daring roller coasters, themed performances, musicals, and of course plenty of food. I love that there are so many fun and exciting places like this to travel with kids.
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Golden Gate Park
It’s no wonder this is the 3rd most visited park in the United States. With over 1,000 acres there is plenty of space to roam and enjoy nature. A few gems you’ll find in the park are Stow Lake, Ocean Beach, and the Japanese Tea Garden to name a few.
Although the park is free to visit there are a few activities that charge admission such as the 150-foot Ferris wheel. The 12-minute ride is a great place to see sweeping views of the park, city, and the Pacific Ocean.
California Academy of Science
Located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it consists of four main parts:
Steinhart Aquarium – Come face-to-fin with nearly 40,000 animals—from deep-sea oddities to Claude, the albino American alligator.
Morrison Planetarium – The 75-foot dome will immerse visitors with hyper-realistic virtual environments. From faraway galaxies to the working of our planet, experience the cosmos like never before.
Osher Rainforest – Explore a living 4-story rainforest, home to free-flying tropical butterflies and birds.
Kimball Natural History Museum – Explore hands-on exhibits, fascinating specimens, and the latest research conducted by Academy scientists.
San Francisco Zoo
Not sure where to take your kid that they are guaranteed to enjoy? The zoo is always a hit! The animals are typically more active when the weather is a bit on the cooler side.
For those with a sweet tooth, be sure to include a visit to Ghirardelli Square and the original home of chocolate manufacturing in San Francisco.
This is an adorable part of town to shop in the city. Wind your way through an assortment of boutiques, ship, cafes, and of course the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop
Walt Disney Family Museum
An American museum that features the life and legacy of Walt Disney. The museum is in chronological order from his childhood, Walt Disney’s big breakthrough with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the exhibit“Disneyland & Beyond.”
Ferry to The Rock and tour one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks. Walk the halls of where some of the most infamous criminals spent their time.
Enjoy the beauty of nature while hiking through the woods of the gigantic Redwoods. Located just a short drive from the city, but you will feel as if you are a world away. Be sure to plan and purchase your parking pass before arriving at the park.
Children’s Creativity Museum
This is a museum that your kids will want to stay at all day! Guests can make their stop motion movie or record themselves with a green screen behind them. Be sure to head outside to let the kids play on the playground.
They have tall skies and a great climbing mountain that is always a big hit.
Encompassing over 2.5 acres in the central shopping, hotel, and theater district that surrounds the plaza for several blocks.
This one-block plaza and surrounding area is one of the largest collections of department stores, upscale boutiques, gift shops, art galleries, and beauty salons in the United States, making Union Square a major tourist destination
Take a walk on the street that is known as the most crooked street. Of course, you can drive down it, but it’s more fun for the kids to zig-zag their way down the street or up the steep hills of the city.
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
This hands-on museum is the perfect place to let kids test, crank, listen, prod, and tinker. With over 150 interactive exhibits, your child will be engaged and learning the entire time.
Ride a Cable Car, San Francisco
Riding on one of the iconic cable cars up and down the streets of San Francisco is a must-do. With 3 lines operating in the city—2 between Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf and 1 on California Street, gives you the perfect way to explore the city. Be sure to visit the free cable car museum to learn about the history.
Sant Cruz Boardwalk
Get your adrenaline rushing on the Big Dipper coaster! This park is located on a mile-long oceanfront property on Beach Street in Santa Cruz.
The Exploratorium, San Francisco
With over 650 interactive art, science, and human perception exhibit, be prepared for your child to be fascinated. Visitors will have the opportunity to build electric circuits, an inside look at how optical illusions work, an inside look at clocks & pinball machines.
Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
The only museum in the country that is located inside a National Park. Located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, this museum offers 6 unique sections: Bay Hall, Discovery Hall, Art Studios, Lookout Cove, Fab Lab, and Tot Spot. Each section features hands-on learning and great for all ages.
Mission Peak, Fremont
The best views of Fremont’s bay are what you’ll find when you hike to the top. Hike the 6-mile hiking trail on a clear day and you’ll be able to see the Sierra Nevada. The hike is steep, so plan accordingly if you bring younger children.
Kids will feel like they are in China and will get a kick out of seeing fish, chicken, and other food hanging in the store windows.
This area has such a fun, energetic vibe. You can watch people making fortune cookies, purchase unique souvenirs and of course grab some tasty Chinese food.
Mission Dolores Park
A fun and unique playground located right in the middle of downtown. The park offers slides, climbing structures, and large grassy areas to play.
Also within walking distance of Pizzeria Delfina and Bi-Right Ice Cream which are popular with the locals.
Point Reyes National Seashore
A natural sanctuary. Here you’ll find massive ocean breaks, sandy beaches. grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges. Point Reyes offers visitors over 1500 species of plants and animals to discover.
Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, San Jose
This is a small 16-acre zoo and amusement park but packs a lot of fun in a small amount of space. Visitors can explore the zoo, nature play area, playgrounds, dino dig, miner maze, and more.
The only hiccup is that when you travel with kids and you plan to spend a day or two here, you are going to be laden down with your luggage. You might not feel comfortable living with it being in the car, but you could find secure luggage storage Los Angeles options when you get off the plane and put all of the paraphernalia, shopping and even your overnight bag in there while you explore and have fun. Why carry everything when you don’t have to?
There is an endless amount of Bay area kids activities to keep you busy for a day, weekend getaway or long vacation.