San Francisco for Families

San Francisco is a fantastic city for families, as there are plenty of activities to keep the young ones occupied, and best of all, many of these adventures are pretty parent friendly too. From the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory to the famous City Lights Bookstore and the Walt Disney Family Museum, families of all ages will find plenty to do while visiting San Francisco.

56 Ross Alley, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
Although most of the manufacturing of fortune cookies is done outside of San Francisco, one factory is still running and is a popular tourist spot in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Of course the smell of the cookies being freshly made will draw you in. You’ll get a free sample and be able to buy then in various-sized packages and flavors. If you can elbow your way in you can observe the making of the cookies, where lots of people fold them by hand. Whatever money they make on cookies probably pales in comparison with the 50 cents they charge per photo—quite entrepreneurial of them!
4519, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
In an age when many independent bookstores have surrendered to the advance of chain stores and Amazon, City Lights is a true survivor. Since it was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, it has served as a gathering place for San Francisco’s literary communities. Everyone from beat poets to left-wing critics of America have found a welcome here. City Lights is also a publishing house, with Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems being perhaps the single most famous book it has put out, though it counts scores of other works by some of America’s leading contemporary literary figures on its list. You can drop in anytime to find an unexpected tome, and the store also has a crowded calendar of readings.

Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
A few blocks east of Goldsworthy’s more prominent Spire is this installation of fallen trees snaking through the still standing ones. Wood Line is located within the cypress grove near the intersection of Presidio Boulevard and West Pacific Avenue, just off Lovers’ Lane. Thousands drive by this spot and never notice it. It’s a beautiful work. View it, walk around it, walk on it, experience how it changes over time.
Lands End Trail, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
Land’s End in San Francisco is an easy hike with huge payoff. This labyrinth sits just below the Legion of Honor parking lot and the Lincoln Park golf course. You can then scramble down to a beautiful rocky beach.
1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
The Ferry Building is open every day of the week, but Saturdays are the most fun to visit thanks to the expansive, weekly farmers’ market (a smaller version happens on Tuesdays and Thursdays). Come here for stalls full of fresh produce, locally made cheeses, meat, fish, and plenty of ready-made food. Roli Roti almost always has the the longest line—and for good reason. Its porchetta sandwiches are crispy, decadent perfection. But be sure to save room for all the delightful eateries inside the building too: Hog Island Oyster Company, Fort Point Beer, Dandelion Chocolate, Humphrey Slocombe ice cream, and Reem’s Arab bakery are several highlights.

This was on our list of The Best Things to Do in San Francisco.
Pier 39
At Pier 39, more than 20,000 sea creatures from the San Francisco Bay and California coastline await your visit. Walking through the aquarium’s transparent tunnels immerses you in the bay’s diverse aquatic life, as you come eye-to-eye with the native sevengill sharks, watch the hypnotic motion of the jellyfish, and even touch a grand bat ray’s wing, if you dare. Four adorable otters live here, too. The aquarium hosts daily naturalist-led animal feedings, and curators give talks about tide pools, octopi, and climate change, interactive experiments. New virtual-reality experiences allow you up-close “access” to whales and polar bears. Otters, considered watershed ambassadors, are indicators of healthy waterways. Splurge on a behind-the-scenes tour and shark-feeding tour in addition to the regular admission ticket, and you’ll have an unforgettable day at this amazing waterside habitat.
2815 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
There’s still a fish market vibe at the Fisherman’s Wharf harbor, packed with stall upon stall of delectable catches. If you’re going to try a local favorite—and you should—try the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Other tasty choices include crab, lobster, and shrimp.
3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Bi-Rite’s flavors are incomparable to anything you’ve ever tasted before. The rich, creamy tastes of Earl Grey, salted caramel, and lavender (just to name a few) are indescribably delicious. Hand-crafted flavors and baked goods set them apart. Go ahead and get as many scoops as your heart desires.

Bi-Rite is known for its ridiculously long line that curves down the entire street—it’s that good. If you can, head over mid-week when kids are at school and unfortunate souls are at work while we travelers bum around the globe. If you’ve never had a scoop from Bi-Rite Creamery, your world is about to change forever.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure