San Francisco for Families

Last updated 5th June 2017

San Francisco, the cultural hub of north California has as much to keep children entertained as adults.

Why go?

The city by the bay is the international gateway to the wonders of northern California, with plenty to keep children occupied, from getting their hands dirty cracking into fresh crab at Fisherman’s Wharf, to family-friendly museums and parks.  

Who is it good for? As with so many cities, San Francisco’s sites are best seen on foot, so make sure your kids are old enough to appreciate it and don’t mind walking – we suggest seven and over. It’s also worth noting that the steep hills and cable cars aren’t entirely buggy-friendly. 


Children will love riding the cable cars (that’s trams to you and me) over its roller-coaster hills, hop off at Lombard Street to walk the ‘crookedest street in the world’ and enjoy a stroll along the waterfront.

Fisherman’s Wharf is punctuated by the enticing shops of Ghirardelli Square with a chocolate factory at its centre, while the Marina is a great place to join locals flying kites and walking dogs on a weekend morning.

There’s also Golden Gate Park, home to the California Academy of Sciences, the greenest museum in the world. It houses an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest and natural history museum under a 2.5 acre living roof.  

Food: Stop for a dim sum lunch in Chinatown, sample the seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf, or there’s a charming Japanese tea house for refreshments with a Pacific flavour at Golden Gate Park. 

The lowdown

Travel time? Flights from London to San Francisco take 10 hours and 55 minutes, it’s then about 20 minutes to the city centre by taxi or you can take the BART to downtown San Francisco in 30 minutes – it departs every 15 minutes and costs $8.25. 

How to get there? British Airways flies from London Heathrow; from £564 for an adult return. Virgin Atlantic also flies from London Heathrow; from £563 for an adult return. 

Best time to go? The days are warm and sunny in spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November).