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  • Writer's pictureKwincy Smith

Ultimate Guide to Exploring San Francisco with Kids: Top Attractions and Family-Friendly Activities

We recently went on a road trip with our family of 6, 3 kids ages 5-2, my husband and mother-in-law. We drove from Temecula, California to Lake Tahoe, with stops in Central California as well as 3 nights in San Francisco. There is so much to do in San Fransisco. But with that said there is still much to know to make the most of your trip. Here is everything you should know about spending 3 days in San Fransisco with 3 kids 5 to 2!


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Crime and Violence in San Francisco:

I was skeptical of going to San Francisco based on recent videos I have seen. They weren’t lying. There are blocks where there was only one business open on a block. 9 times out of 10 the businesses that were open were liquor stores.

The tourist destinations are not “AS” bad. You don't see many homeless or drug activity when in tourist destinations. However, tourist destinations are a hot spot for car break-ins. You will notice broken glass on the street as well as signs warning you to take all of your valuable items with you.

The Hotel:

We stayed at Hotel Adagio. The hotel itself was very nice and clean. It was in a very central location to everything. We found ourselves driving past it often when exploring. But it was about 2 blocks away from a lot of homeless activity.

Another note the room did not come with a fridge it was something you had to request.

Parking was expensive we parked in the parking garage right next to the hotel and paid about $300 for the 3 nights we were there. And yes that was a discount. The parking garage did close at 10 so you have to make sure you are back before then.


The hotel did give a lot of freebies. We had a $20 food credit each day which was perfect for the late-night treat and breakfast when checking out. They offered a complimentary glass of champagne and 2 tickets for the trolley.

Where we ate:

Breakfasts in hotel! When it comes to traveling with the family it is important for me to keep our spending in mind. One way to keep the spending down is by eating breakfast at the hotel. If the hotel offers complimentary breakfast we do that and often times we will have a few things left over for snacks throughout the day.

Our hotel did not have complementary breakfast so instead I decided to make our own. I bought a small toaster to use in hotels. When buying this I thought I was either crazy or a genius. But it was perfect! It is small enough to travel with and perfect for a quick breakfast.

For breakfasts, we had:

Spark Social:

I love food truck markets and food courts. They are so great because there are so many options to choose from. We can pick a few things from different places to mix and match.

Spark Social has two separate areas of food trucks so there is a lot to choose from. They have mini golf on the eastern side as well which is really cute.

We loved the old double bus that they had with tables. You can go all the way up and sit outside on the top of the bus as well. Our kids love playing in the driver's seat.

It was a little hard to find a place to sit because a lot of the tables are reservations only.

The cod mother fish and chips

I recommend getting fish and chips here. It looks so underrated but it's amazing. The plates were jam-packed, the price was great compared to other fish and chip places at the pier and they tasted better. That was one of our best meals in San Francisco.


If you are a Starbucks drinker you have to know that they close early in San Fransico. I also could not find any drive-through Starbucks locations either. The only open coffee shops that stay open late are Arabic coffee shops.

We went to Sana'a Cafe the coffee was great it was like something we had never tried before which was exciting. We also tried the desserts, which were amazing.

Things to do:


This park was huge! It is so beautiful and just a great escape from the city. We could have spent even more time exploring here.

The playground is awesome our kids had a blast here. Before you get to the playground there is an old carousel the kids went on there multiple times because it was so affordable.

Adults, $2; children ages 6 to 12 years, $1 per ride; children 5 and under free if accompanied by a paying adult. Children under 40? in height must be accompanied by a paying adult.


Since our hotel gave us some free trolley passes we decided to give it a try. I am glad we did! The kids absolutely loved it.

There are multiple places you can get on the cable cars. There are 2 cable car lines. We rode in the car that goes from Fisherman's Wharf to Union Square. The line at Fisherman's Wharf is pretty long but it is the best way to get seats together. You can get on at any point between the two.

When you get to Union Square you do have to get off of the cable cars. On the way back I would recomend not waiting at Union Square. We were told it would be at least an hour in line. On the way back they do leave more space on the cable car to fit people coming back along the way. So we walked up to the next stop about 4 blocks away at Powell and Sutter st. there we had to wait about 10 minutes.

Sites and views:

We drove up to Hoit Tower to see some amazing views. Make sure to bring quarters to be able to use the lookout machines.

Russian Hill

We accidentally ended up on Russian Hill. Glad we did because the views were amazing. There is a small grass hill that is perfect for a picnic. There is not a lot of parking there but when we went there was only one other group at a time.

Fisherman's Wharf

We have gone to San Francisco multiple times in the last couple of years. Fisherman's Wharf has changed a lot when it comes to the street vendors. The walk to Pier 39 is absolutely full of vendors (mostly cheap products). There are multiple food vendors like hot dogs and Mexican fruit cups. I was shocked to see many of the fruit cup vendors sold alcohol. Hard to believe that's legal.

If you eat at Boudin you can have your parking validated which was perfect for us.

One of our favorite things to do in Fershmans Wharf is the arcade. It is so cool to see all of the very old games that they have there.

At the end of the shops we always stop and spend time at the water. It is so relaxing! There were so many seals to see from the pier as well which the kids loved.

Ghiradelli Square is also within walking distance from the Boudin parking lot. Sadly they don't do tours anymore but it is still worth the visit.

San Francisco offers so many activities for families with children. We were in San Francisco for a short time and did not get anywhere near seeing all of the things there are to do with kids. So, pack your bags, hit the streets, and get ready for an adventure-filled journey through the heart of the Golden City!


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