San Francisco

Archived Q&A and Reviews

For all these places: dress warm for fog. Have fun! -- Andrea

Duck Tours

April 2006

What about a taking a Duck Tour as a cool summer activity for kids? I took my kids on the San Francisco Duck Tours and it was educational and so much fun. Here is their website: Regards, Nicole

Angel Island


there is a little shuttle (check their web site for price) that goes around the island and stops at various points of interest. you can get off and wait for the next shuttle there, or stay on your shuttle. So especially if you don't mind splitting up your group, it will be very easy to accomodate walkers and non-walkers. Be sure to go to the immigration museum (free, but closes around 3). It is so moving. You don't have to spend a long time there, so even with a little one it's feasible. have fun!


1996 From: Andrea

Exploratorium: if you are already a member at the Lawrence Hall of Science, you can get into the Exploratorium free. This is really designed for older kids, but I took my son when he was one and two years old, and he still found lots to do: buttons to push, lights and smoke to look at, etc. They used to have a special toddler area with legos and similar toys, but last time I was there it was temporarily closed. You might call and check.

Ferry Rides

Ride a ferry from Oakland to SF; or SF to Sausalito & visit Bay Area Discovery Museum.


I always mention this to friends who say I never thought of that, so I thought I'd do so here. Taking the ferry from Jack London Square to Pier 39 on a weekend is great fun. My 4 year old and I have done this 3 times already over the past 2 years. The ferry goes under the Bay Bridge and past the sea lions lounging on Pier 39 docks, and only takes about 20-30 minutes for those who get queasy. The Sunday a.m. trip is not crowded (about 9:30 am) and you can be back to Jack London around 1 pm I think. The ferry trip is about $6 round trip- sorry I don't have better info, I lost my brochure-- and Pier 39 has a merry-go-round (and lots of shops of course) The sea lions are a real treat and they have actually built seating now to watch them.


Fort Point

My wife and I went Sunday afternoon to a mushroom festival in SF. It was OK, but the real treat was what happened afterwards. The festival was less than a mile from the Golden Gate Bridge. So we drove as close we could to the bridge. We then discovered Fort Point sitting directly under the SF side of the bridge; the Fort started in the late 1700s. It is now a museum - there are cannons and old uniforms and such. We didn't check out the taped 35-min tour, walkmans were included for $2 or $3. But it's free to go in and walk around. We want to go back and have a picnic there some day soon. Looking up at the Bridge is really awesome! The bonus was a brillant rainbow, and then the start of a second rainbow. The inner rainbow went from SF to Sausalito.


Golden Gate Park

Date: Sun, 14 Jul 1996 15:47:58 -0700 From: Andrea Subject: inexpensive vacationing in SF Golden Gate Park: This is a terrific park, with lots of playscapes all in the area near the carousel. The aquarium there is really fun for toddlers (they can get closer to the fish than they can to zoo animals), and they also have stuffed animals in a big diarama (this is also free to Lawrence Hall of Science members). You can go see the flowers in the Conservatory (call to see if it's open; it was damaged by wind last winter but I think it's OK now) and the model boats. And buffaloes! And a windmill! And go for a walk on the beach (or just drive out the beach and sit on the retaining wall if you don't want to walk far, and watch the sunset).


Subject: Re: Suggestions for 11 yr old birthday?

Last year for my daughter's 11th birthday we held an overnight, with the main attraction being a trip to the 10 pm Laserium show in SF (the particular one was LaserRage, but I don't think they show that any more). We provided the usual cake, ice cream etc (and had a contest to see who could eat their cake most neatly with NO HANDS), as well as breakfast for the kids. We asked the parents to pay for the show itself ($5 each for the kids; $7 for any adults who wanted to go). The kids agreed that this was one of the best birthday parties they'd ever been to.



We take the kids to MOMA regularly. They loved the Calder exhibit - and they liked the Carleton Wilkins (?) stereophonic views of old California. We bring along a small set of colored pencils and a sketchbook, and sit the kids down on a bench in the center of the room while we take turns looking around. The little kids sketching always makes the guards laugh. (MOMA has an excellent gift shop with a good kid's section. They sell a set of tiny colored pencils in a CD case). The food at MOMA is expensive and so-so.
Natasha (7/99)
From: Wendy
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 96 09:28:00 PDT

For those who live in SF or like to go there, here are my suggestions for things to do:

First, many city attractions have free days. For example, the first Wed of the month is free at the SF Zoo, the Exploratorium, the Academy of Sciences, and I believe the de Young art museum. I think Fort Mason, too, but you should call. The Bay Area Discovery Museum (Sausalito) used to be free on the first Thursday; call to verify. It's worth the time to give a call to any place you may be interested in.

My favorite activity is at the Art Museum. At 10:30 at the de Young, and 2:00 at the Legion of Honor, there are free art programs for kids 3-1/2 to 6 and 7 to 12. Art teachers quickly show the kids a room, with very age appropriate information, and then they go back to a central hall and do a related art project. The teachers are absolutely fantastic -- among the best I've seen.

Pier 39 Aquarium

Date: Sun, 14 Jul 1996 15:47:58 -0700
From: Andrea

Underwater World (Aquarium) at Pier 39: Not Worth It. I think it's a tourist trap. It costs about as much as the Monterey Aquarium but it is vastly smaller and has only a few things to see. For my money, the aquarium in Monterey is much much better. Fabulous, in fact.

From: Mary

Had so much fun with my 17-mo. old daughter last week-end at Pier 39 that I thought I would write in about it. Claire has been interested in seals and sea lions, mostly because her uncle has been teaching her to imitate the sounds that they make! So we decided to go see all those sea lions at Pier 39. They were loud and smelly and Claire loved it. She also chased pigeons to her heart's content and road the carousel. The boats were also fascinating to her. For a toddler who loves the noise and hussle-bussle of lots of people and attractions, it's a fun and inexpensive trip to take. Pack for cold wind and fog though... you never know what weather you are going to get!

A great way to see Pier 39 is to take the ferry from Jack London Square. The ride is nice and you go right by the seals. There are fun walks from there, too, for older kids. You can walk to Coit Tower and down through the gardens on the other side, or to the cable cars, and even go back from the other ferry stop at the embarcadero by way of Chinatown.


Stern Grove

Date: Sun, 14 Jul 1996 15:47:58 -0700
From: Andrea

Stern Grove: free concerts Sundays at 2:00 during this part of the summer (thru sometime in August, I think mid-August). Bring a folding chair.

Teddy Bear Factory

From: Wendy Subject: More fun ideas Date: Thu, 18 Jul 96 09:55:00 PDT In SF (Potrero Hill area) , Basic Brown Bears has an $8.00 tour, during which they show you how they make their stuffed animals and let you stuff (and keep) your own bear. They do try to sell you additional bear clothing on your way out, but you don't have to do that.

SF Zoo

From: Allen Subject: The San Francisco Zoo Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 13:08:04 -0700 (PDT) I took my son to the Zoo the other Weekend. It is a fun way to spend the day. Took the BART to SF and the L muni to the Zoo. If you take a bag lunch you can do it all for less than $15.00. The beach is right there also, lots of Sand Dollars, but most were broken. Allen Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 09:08:27 -0700 From: Dianna Subject: Re: The Oakland Zoo Joining either the Oakland Zoo or the SF Zoo gets you into the other, by the way. The $45 includes admission for 2 adults and kids, the adults do not have to be married, related, etc. Another mother and I share a Zoo membership and it works out quite well. Dianna Date: Sun, 14 Jul 1996 15:47:58 -0700 From: Andrea Subject: inexpensive vacationing in SF SF Zoo: This is great. If you are a member at the Oakland Zoo you can get in free. It's much bigger and different from Oakland Zoo, but I like both of them. They have a special white alligator now, and a baby rhino, and about a zillion monkeys who are especially lively at zoo opening time (10:00 am).