Family Activities in San Francisco, CA
Go behind the scenes at the well-known jelly bean factory for a free guided walking tour. Tours being every 10-15 minutes and last 40 minutes, teaching tour-goers about the creation of the famous sweet beans. Weekday visitors can get a peek at a full-functioning factory, but weekend visitors can still see the machines at work via video monitors. However, all tours include samples of Jelly Bellies during different stages of production and each person gets a sample bag to take home at the end of the tour. Avoid peak times like summer weekends and holidays to avoid waiting up to an hour for a tour. Strollers and wheelchairs are permitted.
Any family with young children may find this outdoor wonderland a family favorite. From slides to playhouses to farm animals, there are hands-on activities abound at this bay area amusement park. With about 40 different buildings and attractions, kids can also enjoy a puppet show, ride a train, and unlock storybook themes with a “magic” key you can purchase for a couple of dollars. The playthings are also toddler-safe, so parents can relax and enjoy their time at the park as well. For little ones who hate waiting, you might want to plan on hopping on the train around lunch time, when the four car train is less crowded.
Less than 45 minutes drive from San Francisco lays a hidden gem filled with pony rides, a petting zoo and farm tours year round. They also host birthday parties and offer a summer day camp if your kiddos just can’t get enough of this family-owned farm. Adults and kids alike will love the hay rides, train rides, and feeding the animals, but it’s the seasonal festivities, like a band playing in front of the duck-filled pond, haunted houses and a pumpkin patch, and a Christmas tree farm that make this a must-visit place for families with young children. You can also save a few bucks bringing in your own lunch, but an ATM is onsite if you find yourself short on cash.
Free admission to Pier 39 doesn't mean there isn't plenty to do. Complimentary events take place throughout the year, while more than 100 specialty shops, eateries and attractions offer year round entertainment. It's also a great place to spy Alkatraz in the distance and the sea lion population on the West Marina up close. Although this location is stroller-friendly, weekend trips to the Pier are crowded, so you may want to "wear" your little one if you have the option.
Touch pools, a shark tunnel and exhibits will keep your young kids engaged at the Aquarium of the Bay near Pier 39. The aquarium is not as large as other aquariums in the area, but also offers the comfort of less crowds to fight. Exploring the entire aquarium takes only about two hours, but a craft room with age-appropriate activities offers something to do for everyone in your family.