San Francisco Family-friendly activities

Our most recommended San Francisco Family-friendly activities

San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

1. San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

Enjoy a 1-hour journey along San Francisco's historic waterfront and experience the thrilling history of the San Francisco Bay, with all the sound and glory it deserves. The 1-hour non-stop Bay Cruise takes you past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Francisco’s historic waterfront, revealing the city’s fascinating skyline. Relax in comfort, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and enjoy a full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by. See sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the iconic San Francisco skyline as you go. Whether it’s your first time to San Francisco, or your 10th visit, the Bay Cruise is something you should experience at least once in your life. You will get a complimentary souvenir map, which is available in nine languages, and if you get hungry, there’s a full-service snack bar on board with food and drink available to purchase.

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

2. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

3. San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

Visit the world’s only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-living museum at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The superb complex incorporates all 4 attractions under one living roof, with exhibits and shows that explain the universe! Don’t miss the African penguins – and 38,000 other live animals – at the California Academy of Sciences in the heart of Golden Gate Park, a must-see attraction in San Francisco. Rocket through the galaxy at the speed of light or journey deep into the oceans of the world as the Academy boldly brings life to life. Come face-to-face with snakes and piranhas, meet Claude the American alligator with albinism, and hang out with Pierre, Howard, Ocio, and the rest of the South African penguin colony. Stroll through the rainforest dome with its free-flying birds and butterflies and become immersed in the rainforests of Borneo, Madagascar, Costa Rica, and the flooded Amazon. Discover Borneo bats, chameleons, poison dart frogs, leaf cutter ants, gliders, snakes, and so much more. Catch the latest amazing digital planetarium show, taking you on a spectacular journey to the far reaches of the universe, held 7-10 times a day. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum housed under a living roof will inspire lifelong curiosity for the natural world as you experience the depths of a Philippine coral reef, climb into the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest, and fly to the outer reaches of the universe.

San Francisco Zoo Admission Ticket

4. San Francisco Zoo Admission Ticket

Visit the San Francisco Zoo, home to over 2,000 animals and 250 species of plants. Your full-day admission ticket includes access to the Leanne Roberts African Region and the Valentine Family Savanna. Both zones offer multi-species landscapes with giraffes, zebras, kudu, ostriches, storks, and more. At Hearst Grizzly Gulch, get nose-to-nose with rescued grizzly bear sisters Kachina and Kiona. See how lemurs leap through the Lipman Lemur Forest, the largest outdoor lemur habitat in the country. Marvel at Penguin Island, home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins outside of the wild. Admire the Zoo's gorillas in the Jones Family Gorilla Preserve. Feed and pet the farm animals in the Fisher Family Children's Zoo. Find the historic 1921 Dentzel Carousel and 1904 miniature Little Puffer Steam Train. Learn about the fun rides, educational programs, and exciting events for children.

San Francisco: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

5. San Francisco: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

Hop aboard a sightseeing bus for a tour of the City by the Bay and delve into the fascinating history of San Francisco and its legendary landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf. The hop-on-hop-off route stops at the main points of interest all around San Francisco.  Experience the diverse culture, beautiful parks, stunning architecture, and picturesque views from the top of an open-air sightseeing bus. Hop off anytime and create your customized itinerary at your leisure. Explore 3 routes depending on your ticket purchase and enjoy photo stops at the Golden Gate Bridge on each route. With the Classic (24-hour) ticket, enjoy the Hop-on Hop-off service at your leisure for a full day and try the bike rental offer and ride along San Francisco's stunning waterfront. The Premium (24-Hour) and Deluxe (48-hour) tickets allow you to venture out to see the daytime and evening views of San Francisco with the panoramic Night Tour. Additionally, the Deluxe (48-hour) ticket includes the option to choose from either a bike rental, or admission to the USS Pampanito. Take a deep dive into the history of a World War WWII submarine or cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. San Francisco City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Sit back and enjoy the ride as you cruise through the city on an open-top bus. Learn about the unique history of San Fransisco while passing through Chinatown, Union Square, Civic Center, and the Alamo Square.  Panoramic Night Tour Board the night bus to explore the dazzling city of San Francisco at nighttime. Climb the historic Nob Hill for a stunning close-up view of the magnificent Grace Cathedral. The Night Tour is included in the Premium (24-Hour) and Deluxe (48-Hour) Tickets. Then, make your way across the grand Bay Bridge for picturesque views of the city skyline from Treasure Island, the World Fair site in 1939. After heading back to the city, continue along the Embarcadero to view the glittering lights of the Port of San Francisco.

From San Francisco: Muir Woods National Monument Guided Tour

6. From San Francisco: Muir Woods National Monument Guided Tour

Discover the coastal redwood forest at Muir Woods National Monument on a guided tour from San Francisco, with entry tickets included. Cross the famous Golden Gate Bridge, marvel at California’s wildlife, and enjoy a sightseeing bus tour of Sausalito. Meet your guide in San Francisco to start your experience. Board the bus and drive towards Muir Woods National Monument, where you’ll enjoy 1.5 hours inside the forest. Admire the towering sequoia trees as you wander along hiking trails through the forest. Learn about the region from your guide as you appreciate the surrounding nature. Continue to Sausalito, a coastal city with sweeping views over the bay. Pass the main sights as you drive through the town on your return to San Francisco. If you want to explore Sausalito on foot, you can choose to get off the bus and see the city at your own pace. Afterwards, you'll make your own way back to San Francisco by ferry (tickets not included).

San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

7. San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

See both the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on a single boat tour with personal headphone audio included. Explore San Francisco's famous landmarks, history, natural history, architecture, and Native American culture on board this unique bay cruise. During the 90-minute round trip cruise you'll depart from Fisherman's Wharf, one of the city's busiest tourist attractions. From there, sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate is one of the world's most famous and beautiful bridges, and was at one point the largest suspension bridge in the world. Cruise past Alcatraz Island, once home of one of the world's most infamous prisons, and take the chance to enjoy the stunning San Francisco waterfront. The boat will pass along the harbor before heading under the colossal San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Then it's time to head back to the charming city of San Francisco by the sea.

From San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Day Tour

8. From San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Day Tour

Discover the scenic coastline of California on a day trip by air-conditioned bus from San Francisco. Visit the Monterey Peninsula, Cannery Row, and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Travel scenic California’s Pacific Coast Highway 1 to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, famous for its spectacular ocean views, abundant wildlife, and historical past. Stop at Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck, where there are great shops and restaurants overlooking the Pacific. Next, travel through the famous 17-Mile Drive and see Pebble Beach Golf Course. Photo stops will be made along this gorgeous drive.  Your tour continues to Carmel by the sea where ample time is given to walk through this charming town dotted with lovely shops, and beautiful architecture.

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge Catamaran Cruise

9. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge Catamaran Cruise

Experience the beauty of San Francisco Bay on a round-trip catamaran cruise. Take in San Francisco's breathtaking skyline as you sail by Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Feel the breeze and keep a look out for sea lions. Admire your surroundings from a protected viewing area, or live on the edge and stand on the canvas trampoline nets with the waves beneath your feet. Pick up a helpful navigation guide providing information about San Francisco's landmarks as you sail past many of them. Make this experience complete by taking the helm from the captain and steering the catamaran yourself. This sail is the perfect activity for kids as well as kids at heart. The captain and crew are always there, happy to snap a photo or answer your questions about the sights of San Francisco. If all this excitement makes you hungry or thirsty, you’ll find snacks, soda, beer, and wine available at the cabin's snack bar.

San Francisco: Exploratorium Daytime Admission

10. San Francisco: Exploratorium Daytime Admission

Discover a world of adventure with a full-day ticket to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the only place in the city where you can touch, tinker and play with hundreds of interactive exhibits. The museum is conveniently located at Pier 15 between the historic Ferry Building and Pier 39 on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Perhaps the most experimental museum in the world, the Exploratorium explores the world via large-scale art installations, studies of microscopic life, motion, color and light installations, and much more. Spread across six expansive galleries, you can embrace the wild wonders of the world and beyond with exhibits that you can feel, play with, and manipulate. A learning lab for all ages, it’s the best place to immerse yourself in San Francisco’s innovative culture.

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Frequently asked questions about San Francisco

What top attractions are a must-see in San Francisco?

What are the best day trips and excursions from San Francisco?

The best day trips and excursions from San Francisco are:

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Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco

Want to discover all there is to do in San Francisco? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about San Francisco

Very nice tour and had perfect weather for it! Only downside is the boat goes around Alcatraz in one direction (both times) instead of letting both sides of the boat get a good view for pictures. Definitely want to sit on the right side of the boat!

It was such a nice way to get a flavor for the city and decide which spots you wanted to investigate more fully.

Great ride! Perfect way to view the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz not to mention stunning view of the city.

We went with our two children age 11 and 8. Was a great trip. Fantastic views.

Great experience, recommend everyone to at least one time.