San Francisco is an excellent family vacation destination for children of any age — toddlers included! The famous cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, museums and more make the City by the Bay a great place to visit with toddlers.
Written by Courtney Elko
Cable Cars and Cable Car Museum
If Thomas the Train is a hit in your house, then your child (and you!) will love a ride on one of the city's famous cable cars. Hop aboard and glide over the San Francisco hills. Make a stop at the Cable Car Museum - where you will see old cable car models, historic photos, tools and more -- to complete this uniquely San Francisco thing to do with toddlers.
The Big Red Shiny Mack Fire Engine
Toddlers will love a ride on the Big Red Shiny Mack Fire Engine! Families can ride this vintage fire engine that drives over the Golden Gate Bridge, through the city streets and to Fort Baker. The 90-minute ride starts at Fisherman's Wharf.
Koret Children's Quarter Playground at Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is a great spot for toddlers in San Francisco. There is plenty of space just to toddle around, but there is also a duck pond and the Koret Children's Quarter. The carousel is the centerpiece at Koret, but there is also a playground and climbing structure and a concrete slide. The vintage slide is fun for parents to slide down on top of a piece of cardboard with their toddler.
Children's Creativity Museum
This museum is a creativity hotspot for kids and toddlers in San Francisco. The Play Patio section, for ages 2 to 6, has kids building whatever they can dream with large wooden building logs. Check what workshops or camps are running during your visit, too, because the creative ideas are always changing at this museum.
Pier 39 is an iconic thing to do in San Francisco and toddlers will definitely enjoy it as well. The Aquarium by the Bay is situated at the Pier. There are street performers and musicians to watch and musical stairs to create your own tunes. Toddlers will love to ride the carousel and of course, check out the sea lions who have made Pier 39 home. Be sure to dress in layers; it gets chilly here!
Cruise Around San Francisco Bay
A cruise around San Francisco Bay may be a fun thing to do with toddlers in San Francisco, who love the water and boats. The Golden Gate Bay Cruise is a narrated, 60-minute boat tour that floats down the shoreline offering excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Your toddler will love the boat ride and may even be peacefully lulled asleep by the sounds of the water. It's hard being a toddler on vacation!
Marine Mammal Center
Located just outside San Francisco in Sausalito, the Marine Mammal Center rescues and rehabilitates sea lions and seals. It is also open to the public to tour and admission is free, making it an ideal thing to do with toddlers in San Francisco. Visit between February and May and you will witness pupping season for the seals and sea lions!
San Francisco Zoo
The zoo is always a winner with the toddler crowd and the San Francisco Zoo does not disappoint. Penguins, lions, turtles and more will surely welcome your toddler to their home. But there is also the Little Puffer mini steam train that kids can ride, a carousel and a large playground, which has specific sections for toddlers. The Children's Zoo area is what toddlers will likely love most about the San Francisco Zoo. The kids can interact and learn more about the animals by grooming and feeding them.
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