Family Friendly Attractions in San Francisco

Looking for Family Friendly Attractions in San Francisco? Last Fall my family embarked on a Disney Wonder Cruise, with a two-day stop in San Francisco as we made our way down the West coast.

First of all, when docking from a cruise ship in San Francisco, you really are in one sweet spot. There’s so much to see in the immediate area, but other family-friendly attractions are only a shot cab {or trolley ride} away.

If you haven’t been before, ‘San Francisco’ really does bring about the image of trolleys and colorful row houses lining steep hilly streets. Fact is, it’s completely true and it’s a very beautiful city.

There’s so much to see and explore, especially for travelling families. Not making too many concrete plans before we took the trip, there were a few particular must-see attractions on our list. Included are some tips from our family, for future travellers taking in this iconic city.


Walt Disney Family Museum

As soon as we arrived at the port, we took a cab to The Walt Disney History Museum {at The Presidio}. There you’ll learn all about the complete life {and death} of Walt and his entire family. Family roots, growing up, work, friends … this is one complete museum.

There are awards, artifacts, clippings, drawings to full models of the Disney Parks. As you walk through, you start at the beginning and you are truly taken into the world of Walt and by the end, you’ll leave in tears as it’s a story that you are immersed in, until his death.

Leaving the museum we took the Presidio free shuttle to Union Square. Well, it stops a couple blocks away, but it was a great chance to wander a bit and see just how climbing those steep streets is painful after a while {my kids are such troopers!}. I can only imagine how strong those San Franciscans legs are, wow!

Interesting fact, city natives have to replace the parking brakes on their vehicles approximately every 4 months, as the average incline is 29% grade. Think of that next time you try to drive, stop, parallel park etc!


San Francisco Union Square

Simply put, every shoppers dream! Union Square in San Francisco is the premier shopping district is actually 14+ blocks to dine, wander and people watch. Shoppers rejoice, choose from stores like Saks 5th Avenue, Betsy Johnson, Tiffanys, Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Guess and much more!

Featured is a large central plaza with a terraced performance stage, and just a great area to explore, have a picnic or relax.

We decided to take another cable car {so much fun for the family!} back to the port area and on the way back we spotted famous Lombard Street.

Located between Hyde and Leavenworth is Lombard Street, which is known as the steepest street in San Francisco, although it is not actually the holder of this title. Every day hundreds of tourists come to the street to take pictures of its 40 degree incline arranged in zigzag


The Golden Gate Bridge

Needing no explanation, you just have to visit the most famous bridge in the world. You can even walk on the bridge, but even just seeing it from afar is pretty spectacular.

One of the most photographed things on Earth yet I have to note that the Oakland Bay Bridge {with its 10 lanes of traffic} is a wonder in itself as well!


The next day we wanted a closer look at Alcatraz so we took the ferry boat ride from the Wharf thanks to Blue & Gold Fleet. It was relaxing, and very educational since on it you learned all about the history of San Francisco from the great earthquake that pretty much destroyed the city in 1906, to information on Alcatraz.

I love that you can see the Disney Wonder docked in this picture above. Yet, the highlight of the photo is of course, Alcatraz. I loved looking at this island, each and every building, window, tower – everyone gazed in almost a trance.

Looking back, we regret not taking an actual tour of Alcatraz, yet my girls were probably too young to enjoy it. Still on my must-see bucket list, that just means we’ll have to plan a return to the Bay Area!


Aquarium of the Bay

Right near the entrance to Pier 39 is San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay features exhibits that highlight the sea life and marine environments of the Bay Area.

We loved the 300 foot tunnel that you walked through, with marine life all around you. The kids were in awe!

San Francisco Bay Aquarium

We got to see jellyfish and a giant Pacific octopus, which was really amazing to watch. There was a guide there that told us all about octopus, very educational.

We also spent a lot of time at pools which you can actually touch sharks, rays and starfish {I didn’t}. Yet, the girls did befriend a turtle!


Pier 39

It was so convenient that the Disney Wonder docked right next to Pier 39, an entire waterfront pier with everything from shops to dining, arcades and more.

You can spend an entire day of your San Francisco vacation at Pier 39 which is at Fishermans Wharf, even if it’s just wandering aimlessly and taking in new scenery.

Fresh Food Fruit Fishermans Wharf Pier 39

Stay tuned for another travel San Francisco post, specifically on Fishermans Wharf and more on Pier 39, I told you there was so much to do in San Francisco – and we were only there for 2 days on this trip. And what a 2 day family adventure it was!

I would suggest getting a San Francisco CityPASS ticket booklet for each member of your family. You can save big on admissions and attractions like trolley rides, with free coupons too. Even if you don’t use all the tickets in the booklet, you still save money.






  1. says

    How fun!! Two things I love! Disney Cruises and San Francisco! Looks like you and your family had an amazing trip!!! :)

  2. says

    I grew up in the Bay Area and recently took my husband & Boys back down and we did the Pier and Alcatraz-ate at Bubba Gumps. It is worth the trip to do SF with kids!!

  3. says

    I lived in San Francisco for a while, but haven’t been in years. I am really missing it now. It’s such a wonderful place to be. Enjoyed your pics!

  4. says

    This looked like a fantastic vacation. I do hope to visit San Francisco some day and I loved watching the pictures you posted. Thanks for sharing.

  5. says

    I have been to San Franscisco once when I was younger. I would love to go back with hubby and the kids! We did see the winding road and the Golden Gate bridge. We even saw the Full House house!

  6. Cathy Cathy says

    How cool is San Fran eh! Did they kids see the Sea Lions @ Pier 39 Isn’t that the funniest thing. Love the trolly cars and a great reataurant called The Sushi boat where you sit around a giant lady river of dishes going by you to pick and the guy making them is in the middle. If you go back Berkey (very close) is lovely little shops great restaurants. Oh and must go tour Napa and eat at CIA (Culinary Institute of America) I am just getting started so you better plan a much longer trip next time if I am doing your itinerary. :-)

  7. Dreena says

    Looks like you all had a great time. I love San Francisco. If you like burgers, a must-try is “In-N-Out Burger”. It is near Pier 39, just down on the main road.


  1. […] Who was Walt Disney? How did the company start? The curious side of me dived into everything I could learn regarding the Disney family and their history. Websites, journals, stories and then an unforgettable trip to The Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco.  […]

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