San Francisco with Babies and Toddlers: Where to Go and What to Do

Planning a family vacation to the City by the Bay? Looking forward to Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Union Square, and Chinatown? Or are you daydreaming of adventures with your little ones, exploring “off-the-beaten-path” San Francisco?

We love the iconic attractions of San Francisco and we definitely add them to our San Fran bucket list. But we also love the non-traditional, unique parts of the city that you wouldn’t necessarily know about unless you’re a local! Not only do grown-ups enjoy our list of SF local pit stops and things to do, but they are perfect for mini San Francisco tourists as well!

family eating a picnic lunch in san francisco
Find your favorite park

Like any big city, San Francisco has parks aplenty! @bayarea.moms (experts at #momlife in the Bay says Golden Gate is a must see: “Golden Gate Park is so big and so beautiful! Some hidden gems in the park are the bison paddock & Dutch windmill. They are within walking distance of each other. You can bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the tulip garden near the windmill as well! These are located right on the edge of the west side of the park. So weather permitting, you can walk straight to Ocean Beach after and play in the sand. Little ones of all ages will love this outing! The Park Chalet Beer Garden is also nearby and has super yummy food with gorgeous ocean views.”

park in san francisco
Don’t forget about all the other parks too!

Claudya Martinez, the hilarious San Francisco mommy blogger of ByClaudya.com, reminds us that there are so many more parks to explore! And to top it off; she recommends a post-park chocolate snack. “Sure, go to Golden Gate Park and enjoy all of the wonderful things it has to offer. But if you’ve got kids don’t overlook Dolores Park in the Mission. Speaking of an overlook it has a great view of the city that is not to be missed. Also, the playground is superb, there are bathrooms aplenty. When you’re done you can stroll on over to Dandelion Chocolate and enjoy some of the best chocolate in the WORLD. Yes, the entire WORLD!”

ocean beach in san francisco
Be a kid again.

Your little ones will love exploring the city with you and we encourage you to have just as much fun as they do! Thanks to @frenchmomsf, here’s a list of ways you and your kiddos can enjoy the city. “Dance with your little ones among the redwoods at a free summer outdoor concert at the Stern Grove Festival. Or head to the curviest road (hint… it’s not Lombard Street!) and watch grown-ups be kids again riding on plastic toys at Bring Your Own Big Wheel.”

You can also, “Picnic on the grass and do some people watching while the kiddos go down a giant slide (or slide with them!) in Dolores Park. Check out the beautiful and surreal Mission Bay Children’s Park. Or let your kiddos run wild and free while you stroll at the Botanical Garden. Finally, watch the sunset and dip your toes in the ocean at Ocean Beach.”

PS: did you notice that @frenchmomsf mentioned Dolores Park and Ocean Beach too? That’s a great sign that neither of these San Francisco attractions should be missed!)

mom walking with stroller in san francisco
Put on your walkin’ shoes…(and rent a stroller for the toddler!)

Sally Mason, of @littlehiccups, shares her SF go-to’s, which include hiking up and down the hilly terrain. “San Francisco is a city of hills. At first glance, those hills may seem like a burden to walk up and down, but like most good hills, they come with one definite upside: the views!

One of my favorite things to do in San Francisco is take city hikes up some of the more stunning hills with the kids. Bernal Heights is a great choice. Winding paths lead to the top of the grassy hill where 360 degree views over the city can be found. The park at the top provides plenty of space for kids to run around and explore as adults take in the views over San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay, Oakland and even the South Bay on a clear day. A rope swing at the top is popular with both kids and adults alike.

We like to hike up Bernal Heights from the Mission District, and always make sure to stop at Esmeralda Slide Park along the way. This hidden gem features slides built into the steep hillside and is the perfect pit stop for kids. For a hike of a different type, head to the Sunset District and take a walk up the famous 16th Avenue Tiled Steps and the Hidden Garden Steps. These two mosaic staircases are located just a few blocks from each other and are absolutely stunning. While the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps are popular with tourists and locals alike, the Hidden Garden Steps are not as well known. There’s a good chance you’ll have them to yourself.

Both staircases feature designs with natural elements including animals, plants, and the seasons. The tiny details are sure to captivate kids. Most people visiting the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps stop at the top and head back down, however a short walk just a little further up the hill will bring you to Grand View Park. As the name suggests, it’s a park with grand views over the city. The 360 degree views from the top are stunning and definitely worth the extra effort.”

san francisco legion of honor
image provided by Maria Vakhterova
Go to “museum school”

San Francisco is known for its culture, history, and art. What better way to learn about the city than to soak up all it has to offer by visiting the museums. Also, museums are a great way to be indoors during a foggy day on the bay!

Maria Vakhterova, the @funmommysf, shares her love of SF museums. “My favorite thing to do with kids in San Francisco is to visit the museums. One of the special things about museums in the city is that they not only have some unique collections but they are also all located in very picturesque locations. Take Legion of Honor, for example; it is situated in a beautiful park with amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Or if you are in the mood for the bay views and the piers, then you are minutes away from the Exploratorium. If you find yourself strolling through the Golden Gate Park you must visit the de Young and the California Academy of Sciences. And for a great lunch location and some modern art, there is the newly renovated MOMA located right in the downtown area of San Francisco.”

So there you have it! A full list of places to visit in San Francisco with babies and kiddos; you’ll feel like a Bay Area local in no time. If you visit one of the places mentioned in this blog, take a picture of you and your little ones. Then post it to your social media and tag @babyquip. We might just showcase your snapshot on our social too!

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