San Francisco caters to a wide variety of people, and that includes kids and teenagers. The city is full of family-friendly activities and museums ready to explore. From bison in Golden Gate Park to an earthquake exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences to a Team Pac-Man game at the Exploratorium, the kids will never get bored, and parents will be just as enthralled with the creative exhibits on display. Check out these five family friendly attractions that offer such a variety they will leave the whole family wanting to explore more on a second, third or even fourth visit.
Spanning 1,017 acres, Golden Gate Park is one of San Francisco’s most active places. Nature lovers can take a walk through a rose garden, visit the botanical garden or walk through a grove of redwood trees, while sports enthusiasts can check out the archery fields, baseball fields or 18-hole disc golf course. Kids will want to play at Koret Playground or catch a ride on the nearby Herschell-Spillman Carousel. But perhaps the most unexpected thing guests might stumble upon is the Bison Paddock, where a small herd of buffalo roams. Whatever your reason to visit, make sure to check the Golden Gate Park events calendar for some of the city’s big-name events and festivals. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, for example, is held every year in October and is completely free.
Located in Golden Gate Park is the California Academy of Sciences — a must-visit for families. The science museum features an aquarium, rainforest, planetarium and living roof, and houses 40,000 live animals. Plus, it always has rotating exhibits such as the recent earthquake exhibit, which featured an interactive building that shook participants the way an actual earthquake might. The museum also practices what it preaches by helping the environment. It is the largest public, LEED Platinum-rated building in the world and the world’s greenest museum.
For those Batman and Superman fanatics, San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum will be a sure hit. The museum houses more than 6,000 pieces of original cartoon and animation art, featuring everything from editorial cartoons to graphic novels to the Sunday funnies. This summer, guests can take a trip back to the 80s by checking out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle exhibit on display. The iconic franchise started with a comic book in 1984 and has since grown to include a toy line, television series and several feature films. Cowabunga!
A long-time San Francisco institution, the Exploratorium attracts visitors from its new location on Pier 15 along the city’s Embarcadero. It still features hands-on science exhibits such as the tactile dome, where visitors can crawl, slide and bump through an interactive, dark chamber of amazes. Guests can also play Team Pac-Man, which requires four people to move Pac-Man one of the four directions throughout the classic video game. While the exhibit is fun for the whole family, it also features a balcony view of the Bay Bridge unlike any other in the city.
San Francisco’s cultural hub, Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the Children’s Creativity Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum and Museum of the African Diaspora, to name a few. Plus, it hosts weekly public events such as the children’s learning garden, where the kiddos will get to participate in gardening, crafts and tours of the garden. A weekly farmer’s market also attracts Bay Area locals, as well as live dancing and music on any given day. Several sculptures throughout the gardens also entertain guests. Urge, for example, is an androgynous bronze sculpture that interacts with whoever is sitting on the bench in front of the statue. If you’re sitting on the bench, the skeletal figure sits and then stands if you decide to stand, all while being situated on top of a sculpture of the world.