11 Fun San Francisco Attractions That Your Family Will Love

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We’ve spent a total of three weeks in the San Francisco area during 2013 and came back again in 2015. We did a lot of sightseeing and ended up with a list of fun San Francisco attractions which we enjoyed as a family. If you’re traveling with kids, check this out, I bet they’re going to really enjoy these as well.

11 San Francisco Attractions that your family will love

Our List Of Fun San Francisco Attractions

Pier 29

I wish this picture could have a soundtrack. It would be one of sea lions’ barks and growls and our kids joyfully screaming and laughing –

11 Fun San Francisco Attractions: Pier 39

Pier 39 is a fun place all in all. The kids loved the colorful promenade, street performers, quirky shops and their all-time favorite: the mirror maze.

The U.S.S. Pampanito

Permanently docked at Fisherman’s Wharf, near Pier 39, this World War II submarine is great for a spontaneous self-guided tour.

11 Fun San Francisco Attractions: Inside the Pampanito submarine 11 Fun San Francisco Attractions: The Pampanito submarine

The Cable Cars and the Cable Car Museum

Free and perfect for a short visit. What we did was climb uphill to the museum, visit and then drive back down on the cable cars, all the way to Market Street.

11 Fun San Francisco Attractions: The Cable Car museum

Our Ron traveling on the cable cars. Definitely one of his  Fun San Francisco Attractions.
Don’t worry, the picture was taken when the cable car was parked.

Market Street

Market Street is fun to stroll through when the weather is nice. We enjoyed watching the city folk and visiting the Apple store nearby.

Our top Fun San Francisco Attractions: strolling down Market street was fun and free!

Justin Herman Plaza

As Market Street reaches the docks, there’s a huge plaza that’s fun to hang around. At lunch time it fills up with business people from the nearby streets, enjoying the sun and a sandwich. We visited multiple times for the atmosphere, food carts, street performers and overall positive vibe. My kids absolutely adored the huge Valliancourt fountain which you can actually walk through (and they have, many times!) –

The Valliantcourt fountain was a hit with our kids! One of their top Fun San Francisco Attractions. Yerba Buena Gardens

We didn’t go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, seen here in the background, but we went to the Yerba Buena Gardens several times. The kids absolutely loved them –

Fun San Francisco Attractions: The Yerba Buena gardens (not the museum of modern art!)The gardens themselves are spacious and filled with fountains and sculptures. The highlight – for the kids – was the well-maintained playground –

The kids' favorite playground at Yerba Buena gardens - Fun San Francisco Attractions.

The California Academy of Sciences

One of the highlights of our visit to San Francisco and one of our favorite science museums ever. We spent an entire day here had a blast at the natural history section, the (really awesome!) planetarium, the aquarium and everything else the places had to offer. All of these were of superb quality. I think this is probably the most expensive item on our Fun San Francisco Attractions list but it’s well worth the cost.

Enjoying the aquarium in the Academy of Sciences. One of the best Fun San Francisco Attractions, even if somewhat expensive.

Chinatown

Quite different from anything else we’ve ever seen. This is a really nice area where we could get lost and wander around between some weird (to us) shops and restaurants.Fun San Francisco Attractions.: Chinatown can be fun for everyone! My kids enjoyed the exotic shops and we enjoyed the Chinese food.

We even tried some sweet black bean cakes, and yellow bean cakes too.  We were told one is for the husband and the other for the wife but I can’t recall which was which. We tried both and they were really good and quite filling.Black bean cake at Chinatown: Fun San Francisco Attractions

The Marine Mammals Rescue Center

We love seeing animals and prefer rescue centers over commercial shows. We adored the Marine Mammals Rescue Center, located in Marin County, north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a short visit – about an hour long – but the docent was very friendly and we learned a lot about the center’s work and got to see some seal pups in the “fishing school” –

The Marine Mammal Rescue Center near San Francisco. Loved this San Francisco Attraction!

Lombard Street

Our hotel was on Lombard street so we hiked the length of the street three times. When you get to the Russian Hill the street becomes very steep. A refreshing physical challenge and some real “city hiking” –

Fun San Francisco Attractions: Lombard streetAnd then you get to the famous curved bit of road which offers some great views from the top.

Fun San Francisco Attractions: Lombard street

Alcatraz

We actually avoided Alcatraz on our first visit in San Francisco. We figured it would be too scary for the kids. When we discovered this was actually a National Historic Site with a Junior Ranger program, we decided to give it a try.

We were surprised at how much the tour engaged the kids. They were only 7 and 9 and their English wasn’t that good but it didn’t stop them from following the audio tour and learning all they could about the prison’s history. An educational experience which earned them one more Jr Ranger badge for their growing collection. And so, despite it being a prison and all, it still makes it into our list of Fun San Francisco Attractions.

Fun San Francisco Attractions: Alcatraz

That’s it!

San Francisco has tons more to offer, of course, but these were our own top 11 fun San Francisco attractions. Have you ever visited San Fran? Care to share your own favorites in the comments section?

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