Fun Places To Go Near San Francisco – There are so many great things to do in San Francisco with kids, including many must-sees just outside of the city. Below we share a list of our top picks for things to do in San Francisco and below we share all the details!
Yes, I’m going to start the post with a place out of town. It is by far our favorite thing we did while there and we highly recommend taking the time to visit.
Fun Places To Go Near San Francisco
**PLEASE NOTE THIS MAP DOES NOT PROVIDE ACCURATE DRIVING TIMES – Be sure to check Google Maps on your phone as San Francisco traffic is known to be bad. Also keep in mind that you will be crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and there will be a single toll.
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You walk through these magical forests filled with giant sequoias and you just feel and feel the power of mother nature and how beautiful she is. Children of all ages will love walking among these magnificent giants.
It was so interesting that this oasis is just a short drive away from the hustle and bustle of the city. When you’re there you feel like you’re hundreds of miles away from everything! It is well worth the drive and time to visit Muir Woods. To this day, it’s one of our top things to do in the entire US!
When to visit: Any time of the year and any time of the day. We went right before they were due to close and it was really cool to watch the sun set through the trees. But I doubt you could pick a bad time of day to go.
How To Visit: You’ll need to plan a little ahead for this trip, as you’ll need to buy your parking spaces online before you show up. We were there off season so we were able to get a time slot for later the same day. But we heard that during high season (summer) or weekends you may need to arrange your timeslot days in advance.
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Or don’t worry about parking and instead take a tour bus from downtown San Francisco that takes care of the driving for you!
Another option for nature lovers or if you want to get out of the city for a while. Please note, with the traffic and distance this could be an all day event to attend. But if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, this is your escape.
The drive out is beautiful and once you get there the views of the Pacific coastline are quite epic. Look ahead and plan to visit on a day when the lighthouse is open. They also have a visitor center with small museums and rangers on duty to make recommendations of what to do while you’re there (based on the weather and what’s open and closed).
When to Visit: The Visitor Center closes at 5 p.m. on some days, so be sure to check opening times because you’ll want to stop and get a map and look around the museum there. Also check which days the lighthouse is open so you can take the walk down
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How to visit: Please note that this drive can take over an hour to get to the visitor center and then another 30+ minutes to drive to another destination lighthouse in the park. You’ll also want to factor in rush hour — and you know, there’s always traffic in San Francisco.
When you visit San Francisco, you’ll want to check out the Golden Gate Bridge, California’s most important landmark! We didn’t stop (parking is virtually impossible there) but instead drove across the bridge to the Bay Area Children’s Museum to see a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We then went to Muir Woods.
It is an iconic place and well worth a visit. If you want to see it from the water, be sure to check out the Golden Gate Bay Cruise! Or hop in a GoCar for a GPS tour!
How To Visit: If you’re driving, be prepared for a steep toll – but you only have to pay it one way, so that’s good!
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Your kids will love the Bay Area Discovery Museum and it’s in a great location. You are right near the Golden Gate Bridge – you can see it as you explore the museum. You can also walk to the parking lot and take nice pictures with the museum in the background.
They also had lots of great activities for the kids and exhibits including indoor and outdoor options. It was a bit on the younger side (our 11 year old was a bit too old but he still found things to do).
When to visit: Check opening times – they normally close at 5pm and also check if there are any events going on and if you can go during an event, there will be more people but also more to do.
How to visit: Use your reciprocal museum membership to get in at a discount! Also note that they have a very cute children’s restaurant on site.
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Lands End is a National Monument that is part of the San Francisco National Parks Division. It is a beautiful waterfront location that used to be a famous bathhouse. The bathhouse is no longer there, but you can walk around the grounds and through some of the ruins.
It’s a beautiful area and a different way to get a little out of town and all the fun and craziness there. They also have a very cute gift shop.
When to visit: A sunny day would be great. But we went when it was cloudy and it was still beautiful.
How to Visit: There is a parking lot on site, so you should be able to snag a spot in the parking lot and then get out to walk around.
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Here’s an activity that’s in the heart of city life! An always busy area that is filled with shopping and entertainment! It has a really cool vibe and vibe to the area and some nice shops and restaurants that you’ll want to visit.
We walked around the Pier area and checked out a few shops before sitting down to eat. . . we stupidly put our backpack on an open chair at our table and someone walked by and stole it! Keep this in mind as it’s an area known for this sort of thing.
You can also look out over San Francisco Bay where you can see Alcatraz or if you plan ahead (I’m so bad at planning ahead) you can take a boat tour to explore Alcatraz! I’m really disappointed we missed it. The next time!
Be sure to see the sea lions sunbathing and if you wish, you can visit the Aquarium On The Bay. And if you want to keep exploring, head to Fisherman Wharf for more dining and shopping.
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How to Visit: There are parking lots and buildings all over downtown, but they are expensive. You could take a bus, the cable car or an Uber and you’ll probably be better off.
If you want to get out into nature without leaving the city, head to Golden Gate Park. The park is home to Stow Lake, Ocean Beach, and the Japanese Tea Garden to name a few. The park is huge!!
We didn’t get to explore all of those places, but we did spend a few hours at the Koret Playground and the kids loved it! They had a slide that you needed a cardboard box to sit on so you could slide down! So San Francisco and so cool!
The San Francisco Zoo is an amazing zoo full of animals that you and your kids will love to see. They also have a great park for the kids to play.
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You could spend a whole day watching the animals and playing in the park. With a short break for a snack.
How To Visit: There is a large parking lot, so you can park near the zoo and walk in.
Located in the center is this great children’s museum! They have so many different activities to do with the kids. We could have stayed all day. When you’re done, you can go outside to play in the park.
This is not a children’s museum full of toy shops and such but instead they have clay animation that you can do (the kids can make their own stop motion), karaoke where the kids can dress up and be recorded with a green screen setup behind them !
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How to visit: You will need to find a parking space. There are parking garages nearby, but be prepared that you may have to
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