Great Places For Kids In San Francisco

Child Blowing Bubbles © Steve Ford Elliott/Wikipedia
Child Blowing Bubbles © Steve Ford Elliott/Wikipedia
Photo of Aviva Schmitz
9 February 2017

San Francisco may seem to have fewer children’s activities than most other major cities, but it actually has many great spots where adults and kids alike will enjoy themselves. Whether you’re looking to relax while the kids play or dive into an activity with them, check out our top ten places for kids in San Francisco.

Peek-a-Boo Factory

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Child in Ball Pit
Child in Ball Pit | © Karl Jorgensen/Wikipedia
If you’re in charge of a child or two who have a lot of energy to work off, take them to Peek-a-Boo Factory. This safe, supervised indoor playground offers a large jungle gym, inflatable slides, and classes like Parent & Tot Music & Movement and Story Time Art. This space has a Wi-Fi enabled area just for parents to relax or work while kids have the time of their lives. If the kids fall in love, you can rent out the space for birthday parties!

The Butterfly Joint

Natural Feature
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Butterfly | © Conal Gallagher/Flickr
If you or your kids have ever wanted to try your hand at woodworking, head to The Butterfly Joint, a woodworking studio located in the Mission district! Named after a popular carpentry item used to join two pieces of wood, this studio offers classes for children ages 18 months and over as well as classes for adults. From flower vases and candleholders to sets of dice and blocks, you’re guaranteed to leave with a beautiful and functional keepsake, no matter your age.

California Academy of Sciences

Museum, Park
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At the California Academy of Sciences, both kids and adults are sure to learn something new and interesting. Despite its educational value, this museum certainly doesn’t feel like school! From hands on exhibits like gardens and tidepools to a kinesthetic experience of seismic activity, your senses will be stimulated at every turn. The museum also boasts one of the most interactive and biologically diverse aquariums in the world, as well as a 75-foot planetarium screen. If you bring children ages three and under, their tickets are completely free!

Terra Mia Decorative Art Studio

Museum, Art Gallery
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Painted Pottery
Painted Pottery | © Brooklyn Museum/Wikipedia
Engage your artistic side with a trip to Terra Mia Decorative Art Studio! This pottery studio, located in Noe Valley, allows visitors to select a piece of handmade pottery to personalize and decorate. When you’re done painting, the piece gets fired in a professional kiln. Ten dollars gets you unlimited studio time, and you’ll leave with a unique souvenir, along with some new painting skills! If you’re coming with a large group, consider renting a party room to get your own private space.

Play Haven

Amusement Park
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Child Blowing Bubbles
Child Blowing Bubbles | © Steve Ford Elliott/Wikipedia
“Play with purpose” is the motto of Play Haven, an indoor play center created by a preschool teacher of 12 years that houses more than 4000 square feet of space. Here in the heart of San Francisco, you’ll find activities like a rock climbing wall and an art studio, and all intended to promote essential early childhood skills such as social interaction, emotional development, and motor coordination. Perks for adults include free parking and free Wi-Fi in the parent lounge, as well as a room set aside for nursing mothers.

Yerba Buena Gardens

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Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens | © Jamie McCaffrey/Flickr

It’s actually possible to spend an entire day at Yerba Buena Gardens without running out of things to do. If you need to relax, head to the Esplanade, a five-acre lawn dotted with public art installations, fountains, trees, and small cafes. Check out the Cho-En Butterfly Garden, where you’ll find several varieties of native San Francisco butterflies, including the Monarch. If you’re in the mood for something a little more active, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Yerba Buena Ice Skating & Bowling Center, which is the city’s only year round, full service ice skating rink.

Stow Lake Boathouse

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Stow Lake
Stow Lake | © Brocken Inaglory/Wikipedia
Stow Lake Boathouse, located in the middle of San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park, offers year round boat rentals starting at $20 per hour. Children are welcome as long as they are accompanied at all times by an adult, and there are boats that can accommodate up to six people. From rowboats and pedal boats to electric and motorboats, there’s something here for every kind of boater. Safety is paramount at Stow Lake, and all the boats are reportedly non-tipping, self-bailing, and unsinkable, allowing you to glide serenely across the water without fear.

Mission Dolores Park

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This famous San Francisco park spans nearly 16 acres and features a huge lawn space perfect for picnicking as well as a soccer field, six tennis courts, a basketball court, two off-leash dog areas, and stunning views of the city. Mission Dolores Park also frequently plays host to a variety of cultural festivals and events, like a celebration of Black History Month and a Green Eggs and Ham themed egg hunt, which honors legendary author Dr. Seuss and includes face painting, live music and more.

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