Most people would think San Francisco isn’t really a place for a baby, but I would have to disagree!! Just over the course of a few months, I have found SO many fun things to do with little Lucy! This city is so diverse and offers so much culture and so many different fun experiences. Where do I even begin?!
If you’re the kind of person who loves the outdoors and exploring all the different parks, you can find a list of all the major parks in SF here. Depending on what part of the city you’re in, there’s always something within walking distance to do. This city is filled with countless beautiful parks, walking paths and stunning art installations you can visit and explore. Some of my favorites are:
The 16th Ave Tile Stair Project is one of my favorite places in the city. Located between 16th and Moraga in the Inner Sunset, these stairs have been a work in progress for almost 15 years. Whether you’re going to just admire or to make the hike to the top, you won’t be disappointed.
The Seward Street Slides in the Castro are always fun, but make sure to bring your own sliding material, such as burlap sack or a big piece of cardboard. Get creative with it. They have a 5pm stop time (and they are very serious about it) and are strict with their “adult with children only” rule. Giving into your inner child has never been so much fun!
San Francisco has an endless amount of playgrounds for kids of all ages. The Helen Dillard Playground is located at the Mission Dolores Park at 16th & Dolores. This park is a mecca for children! With a giant play area for kids and a huge super slide, kids can run around and play together for hours. Another favorite is the Mission Playground located in the heart of the Mission District. This park has water installations on one side of the park and a bunch of climbing installations on the other. This park even has a public pool for those sunny days. Each neighborhood has at least one or two big playgrounds, I could go on for days. But I’ve got better things to do right now, so here’s a good list of the top 25 playgrounds in the city from Red Tricycle.
Golden Gate Park alone has days of entertainment in itself. With equestrian trails for horse rides, an archery field, tons of streams and lakes and even live bison; you can always find something exciting in the park. You could seriously spend a few days walking around and wandering this park. With trails going in every direction and all different types of parks and gardens, you’re always stumbling onto something. Golden Gate Park really does offer something for everyone. It’s also a great place to meet with other moms for a group walk or picnic with all the sprawling grass fields and picnic areas.
And you can always get out and hike with your little one. Believe it or not, this city actually offers several areas with great hiking. The most northwestern part of the city has Lands End Park, which has great views of the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. It has numerous little trails, of all skill levels, and can be a really fun thing to do with your little one, no matter what the age. The Batteries to Buffs Trail in the Presidio are a great trail, but are much more advanced, so make sure you’re experienced, educated on the hike/area and are properly prepared for you and your little one. Mount Davidson and Twin Peaks both offer astounding views of the city and are both one of the highest points in SF. It can be tough to make it all the way to top, but if you do, it’s one of the most stunning views of the city. Just remember when hiking, always make sure you have a good, sturdy carrier for your little one and always use sunscreen and sun hats, even when it’s foggy! The sun rays can still effect your baby’s skin. (Applying a little sunscreen to your face isn’t a bad idea either.)
And for those mama’s out there who like to work out and stay fit, I’ve got a post for you, coming soon! Get the inside scoop on all the best mommy and me walking groups, workout groups (everything from yoga to pilates and even a zumba class!) and learn all about the different places that are designed with moms in mind.
If you’re looking for things to do with other moms & babies during the day, there are endless amounts of possibilities.
MOMMY & ME MOVIE SHOWTIMES:
YES!! You can still go the movies, even with your baby. Both the Presidio Movie Theater and Vogue Theater offer Mommy and Baby show times. You can see more info on these two theaters and more places that offer baby friendly showtimes here. It’s nice to know you don’t always have to miss out on all the new movies, just because you have a baby.
MOMMY & ME CLASSES:
This city has an abundance of mommy and me classes. Swim classes, yoga classes, baby sign language, music play and messy play, there’s never a shortage of classes to attend here. But more about that soon! (Keep an eye out for my “Classes With Baby” post coming soon!)
STORY TIME & RHYME TIME:
There are several places in the city that offer story times and rhyme times. Most libraries will offer free story reading times, but the best place in the city is Charlie’s Corner, hands down. This place is dedicated towards creating a magical story time for kids of all ages. With multiple reading times a day, they give you plenty of chances to drop in and see what it’s all about. These guys really know how to put on a good show! They get all dressed up, use fun voices and really get into it, making it so much for everyone.
If you’re a foodie like we are, this is the city for you! Aside from the hundreds of restaurants through out the city, there’s so many fun little food areas to find and explore.
Off The Grid is one of our favorite things to do. They have several different locations through out the city running on different days, so there are plenty of opportunities to get out and try all the delicious food trucks. You can even follow them on Twitter or Facebook and keep up with individual trucks to see exactly where they will be throughout the week. We love grubbing on some food, drinking some yummy wine and listening to some live music while hanging out outside somewhere cool in the city.
If you can’t make it to any Off The Grid events you can also check out some of the food truck parks in the city. Spark Social SF and Soma Streat Food are two of our favorites. These areas are designated as a food truck park, so you always have a good chance of finding something good. Some trucks are there weekly, others show up randomly. They’re usually pretty kid friendly, so it’s a great thing to do with the whole family. It can also be a great place to meet other families with kids around the same age as yours. (Score!)
Farmers Markets are also a good place to find food trucks and stands. San Francisco offers many different farmers markets through out the week, all over the city. You can see a full list of all the farmers markets SF offers here. Yelp is also a good place to start. We always love going to the Fort Mason Farmers Market on Sundays for dumplings and fresh produce.
San Francisco is known for it’s high end restaurants and fine dining. But what people don’t know, it’s also filled with all kinds of kid-friendly restaurants. Some of my own, and other moms I know, favorites are: Za Pizza, Park Chalet/Garden Chalet, Park Chow, Pacific Catch, Belga, Squat & Gobble, Ace Wasabi, Biergarten, Sai Walk, Nectar, Sessions, and Arelquin.
San Francisco has plenty of public museums and attractions for locals and tourists alike. Most places are very family/kid friendly and are affordable and easy to get to. We have memberships as several of these places and enjoy leisurely trips throughout the week when we’re looking for something to do. And having a membership is always a great way to meet new moms and offer fun things to do together. Most memberships will let you bring along one adult and 1-2 kids for free, which is always a great way to trade off “treating” each other.
The Zoo was always (and still is) one of my favorite places. (The San Diego Wild Life Park and Zoo is by far the best in the country. If you haven’t been, you are truly missing out!) But if you can’t make it to San Diego all the time, your local zoo will have to do.
The Bay Area has several zoos. We’ve only been to the San Francisco one so far, but we hope to make it out to the Oakland Zoo soon too! I personally love the San Francisco zoo. It is a bit on the smaller side, but it doesn’t lack on things to do. I love being able to show Lucy all the different animals and read all about them to her. Riding the train around the grounds, going to the petting zoo and seeing all the special feeding times and “talk with animal” times has really become one of our favorite things to do. Lucy loves exploring and seeing everything around her.
Daily admission for adults is just $20 and kids are only $14 (free if under 3 years of age). They also offer free admission to all SF residents (with a valid ID) every first Wednesday of the month.
Lucy and I in front of the carousal at the Zoo.
THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES:
The Academy of Sciences is such a great place. Living so close to it, we go all the time. We love going in the Rain Forest dome to see all the birds singing to each other and watch all the beautiful butterflies float around. The aquarium and swamp lands downstairs are always so much fun. You can see all kinds of fish, jellyfish, octopus and even see a real albino alligator. And my favorite part, during the Christmas season, you can even see real live Reindeer outside.
Daily admissions run for $34.95 – Adult, $29.95 – Youth (ages 12–17), $24.95 – Child (ages 4–11) and children 3 and under are free. Also be sure to check out their adults only Thursday nights. It’s a great way to get out, have a few drinks and explore the museum without the kids following you around the whole time.
These two pictures are two of my favorites. The one on the left is Lucy and I watching the fish in the aquarium section downstairs and the one on the right is with her daddy in the Rainforest Dome playing with all the butterflies. She always has so much fun there!!
The Exploratorium is such a wonderful, magical place. You can learn all about how everything works and get a hands on experience for hundreds of exhibits. Whether you have a baby who’s just worn around taking in all the noises and movements or a toddler who’s running around and playing with everything; it’s a great place to spend a few hours and just tinker with random things.
If you haven’t heard, the San Francisco Exploratorium offers six FREE DAYS through out the year. Two days I never miss are Pi Day and Mother’s Day! The other free days for 2017 are:
- Free Community Day (Sunday, January 22, 2017)
- Pi Day (Tuesday, March 14, 2017)
- Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 14, 2017)
- Free Community Night (after 5:00 p.m., Friday, June 23, 2017)
- Free Community Day (Saturday, September 23, 2017)
- Free Community Day (Sunday, October 22, 2017)With this many free days, it really does make the Exploratorium available to everyone. And if you can’t make one of those free days, the daily admission is really reasonable at just $29.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids.
YERBA BUENA GARDENS:
Surrounded by world-renowned museums, hotels and shopping, Yerba Buena Gardens has dozens of attractions that the whole family can explore. This area has so much to offer. Not only is there a great carousel and beautiful park with water fountains and art installations, but there are numerous other museums and shops surrounding it.
CHILDREN’S CREATIVITY MUSEUM:
The Children’s Creativity Museum is a great place to bring kids for an interactive art and technology experience. It’s a fun place to explore and get those creative juices flowing. With tons of things to play with and build, your little one’s mind will be filled with creativity off all kinds. It’s so important to fuel your children’s imagination and creativity. This specific museum may be a bit better for older kids, but I’m sure younger babies could have fun too. I know Lucy always just loves watching the other kids, if nothing else.
General Admission for adults is just $12.95 and kids under 2 years of age are free. Carousel rides are $4 per person and they’re good for 2 consecutive rides.
SKATE & BOWL CENTER:
Yerba Buena Gardens even offers ice skating and bowling! Both are permanent installations and open every day of the year! The ice skating rink offers public skate time, personal trainers and will even accommodate large parties and groups. The bowling lanes offer great food and drinks and multiple bowling lanes for groups of all sizes, making this place perfect for parties or group gatherings!
The San Francisco Arboretum is such a beautiful place. Learn all about our native plants and get a chance to see rare flowers and trees up close and personal. I could spend hours walking around the Arboretum and just looking at all the beauty around me. Lucy loves seeing and touching everything around her and I can’t wait to get books about all the different wild life and pick out our favorite plants and flowers together.
The best part, it’s always free for SF residents and super cheap for non-residents. Just $8/adult, $6/12-17 year old kids, $2/5-11 year old kids, and free for kids under the age of 4.
THE JAPANESE TEA GARDEN:
The Japanese Tea Gardens is one of my favorite places to explore with little Lucy. All the different flowers and plants are extraordinary and being able to see the traditional style Japanese buildings is amazing. With Lucy being a quarter Japanese, I can’t wait to teach her all about her heritage and background. I look forward to showing her all around the park and explaining to her where it all comes from.
Another great thing about this park, it’s free every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for those who make it there before 10am. Otherwise it’s very reasonable at only $6 for residents and $8 for non-resident adults and anywhere from free to $4 for kids. Make sure to double check their open times too, as they have different hours depending on the time of year.
THE AQUARIUM :
Aquariums are always endless fun! Especially for babies of any age. With all the lights and exotic fish everywhere, your little one will never run out of things to look at and explore.
Learn all about the sea life living right in The Bay Area and get the chance to see and learn more about sea life all over the world. With an emphasis on Bay Area sea life, you can teach your little one all about the different fish and animals living right in our backyard.
Daily admissions for adult go for $24.95 and kids are just $14.95. Be sure to ask about the family rates too!
The YMCA offers a variety of things to do with the whole family. They have all types of sports games and teams, outdoor adventure groups, swimming and even horse rides. They do all kind of social events and even offer kids summer camp. Check out the website to see everything the YMCA offers.
You all know how much I love the library. With one located in every neighborhood, there’s sure to be a library close by. And what’s not to love? Free book and movie rentals, organized groups (such as rhyme time and group reading) and if you have a library card, you even have access to one Discover and Go pass per year. This lets you get one free admission (per year) to a museum/park of your pick. It’s just another cool perk to a simple library card. And libraries and memberships are always free! (Learn more about the Discover & Go pass in my previous post here.)
If you’re a shopper, San Francisco has tons of adorable baby stores. Find anything from clothing to sleepwear, meal time essentials and always be the first to see the newest, coolest toys. Some also offer classes, workshops and play times for you and your little one. Some of my favorite stores in the city are:
Carmel Blue in North Beach
Fiddlesticks in Hayes Valley
Sprout in Cow Hollow
Chloe’s Closet in Bernal Heights
Tantrum in the Inner Richmond
And there are SO many more around the city, just look on Yelp and find one close to you!
I also look forward to yearly events the city puts on annually. It’s always fun to mark your calendar and anticipate the events with your friends and family.
FORT MASON CRAFT FAIR:
Fort Mason offers an annual craft fair. This place is like a real life Etsy and it’s glorious. You can find anything from hand made dishes, to cute llama pillows, to adorable matching earring and necklace. I had such a good time walking around with my girlfriends and seeing all the beautiful stuff everyone made. And the amount of cat stuff was amazing. If you like cats, you must be here.
Park(ing) Day is an annual event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. It’s always great seeing what everyone puts together. I haven’t had a chance to go with Lucy yet, but I can only imagine it’s going to be a blast.
NEIGHBORHOOD STREET FAIRS:
San Francisco has so many different, unique neighborhoods. And to celebrate that, they do annual street fairs. We never miss the Union Street Fair, Fillmore Street Fair or the Japan Town Cherry Blossom Festival. They’re all similar to each other, but all are so much fun. It’s great to see the neighborhood streets and stores, all the vendors are local and the food is out of this world. See the full list of Street Fairs in San Francisco here and find one close to you!
Another great place to look for fun, cheap things to do in the city is the Fun & Cheap SF blog and Kid Friendly SF site. Both are great resources when finding things to do in SF. Groupon is also always a great way to get awesome discounts for activities in the city.
Be on the look out for future blog posts of more things to do in San Francisco and the Bay Area in the near future! Hopefully you get the chance to check out a few of these places with your little one. (If you have any suggestions of places or activities to add, please let me know!)