Tips for San Francisco

illustrated map san francisco

Tips for visiting San Francisco with kids, how to get around with the Clipper card, relax in neighborhood parks (most have restrooms), foggy weather, enjoy year round farmers markets, where to stay.


Getting Around

Use all-in-one Clipper card to get around San Francisco on BART (subway), Muni/SFMTA (bus), historic trams, cable cars and ferries on the Bay.

Buy Clipper cards at any self-service machine in a BART or Muni station, retailers such as Walgreens, and Bay Crossing shop in the Ferry Building. Also, download Clipper mobile app on your phone.

Tickets are required for kids 4 and up. More info: Clipper Card

BART is best (and fastest) way to get from San Francisco International Airport into the city center. Download BART app for real time info.

Muni/SFMTA includes a buses, light rail trains (N, K, M, N), historic trams (F), and cable cars that operate throughout the city. Two of our favorite routes:

To get to California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park and Japanese Tea Garden, ride N Ocean Beach from Market St. and get off at Irving St. and 6th street, walk north into Golden Gate Park.

To go to Land’s End for a hike, from Union Square, Geary St., take the 38 R (rapid bus), speedy bus that goes all the way to the ocean.

Least expensive cruise on San Francisco Bay, take Golden Gate Ferry from Ferry Building to Sausalito – fabulous views Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Tip: With all the public transportation options, a car is really not necessary in San Francisco city area. Hotel parking in San Francisco is expensive, typically $60 and over a night.

San Francisco is also a great walking city. E.g. From Union Square, walk through Chinatown to North Beach. Kids ready to keep going, stroll up to Coit Tower for panoramic views.


Foggy Weather

Fog, and cool breezy weather in summer is a San Francisco landmark. Unlike southern California summer, you’ll need more than shorts and t-shirts.

Summers the fog can roll in, may roll out by noon, but if not, have something warm warm to wear. Crissy Field, Tunnel Tops Park, Golden Gate Bridge can be chilly, also if you take a boat cruise out on the water.


Neighborhood Parks

Golden Gate Park the largest, and most famous park in San Francisco, but there are also excellent smaller parks with fun playgrounds, tucked away in different neighborhoods, the perfect place to relax with small children.

Tip: Most of these parks also have restrooms, a plus.

Fisherman’s Wharf
Francisco Park (restrooms)
2445 Hyde St.

North Beach
JoDimaggio Playground (restrooms)
651 Lombard St.

Washington Square Playground (restrooms)
Filbert and Stockton Sts.

Portsmouth Square
745 Kearny St. (restrooms)

Woh Hei Yuen Playground
922 Jackson St.

St. Mary’s Square
651 California St. (restroom)

Nob Hill
Huntington Park
California and Taylor Sts.

South of Market St.
Yerba Buena Gardens
701 Mission St. (restrooms)

Salesforce Park
425 Mission St. (restrooms)

Sue Bierman Park (across from Ferry Building, which has restrooms)
Washington St. and Drumm St.

Mission District
Mission Dolores Park (restrooms)
19th and Dolores Street

Golden Gate Park
Koret Children’s Quarter and Carousel (restrooms)
Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Bowling Green Drive


Farmers Markets

Sample the abundance of California at Farmers Markets throughout the city.

Find locally grown and organic boysenberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, avocados, dried fruit, nuts, honey, melons, grapes, apples. Pick up local cheese, breads, muffins, scones, pastries, brownies, pies, chocolates, cookies, desserts, granola, trail mix, fruit juices, applesauce. Have a picnic!

Farmers markets also have food vendors, tacos, sandwiches, dumplings, dim sum, paella, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, and more.

Saturday at Ferry Plaza and Sunday Marin Farmers Market are the largest markets, open year round.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Markets (Ferry Building SF)
Tuesday 10:00am – 2:00pm
Thursday 10:00am – 2:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 2:00pm

Fort Mason Farmers Market
Sunday 9:30am – 1:30pm

North Beach Farmers Market
Saturday 9:00am – 1:00pm Columbus Ave. and Greenwich St., next to Joe DiMaggio Playground.

If you’re staying in Marin County, across from San Francisco, try these two farmers markets:

Marin Country Mart (Larkspur)
Saturday 9:00am – 2:00pm

Marin Farmers Market (San Raphael)
Sunday 8:00am – 1:00pm


Where to stay

Travel for Kids has so many fun things to do with kids in San Francisco, whether it’s riding the cable cars, visiting Exploratorium science and creativity museum, exploring Chinatown, spending the day in Golden Gate Park, hiking at Lands Ends, walking over the Golden Gate Bridge, eating ice cream all over the city, but you’ll need a fun place to stay.

To help plan a trip, read our blog post: Where to Stay in San Francisco

Our list of family hotels in San Francisco is all styles and price ranges, in neighborhoods convenient to fun things to do with kids.

Tip: Across the bay north of San Francisco, Mill Valley and San Raphael in Marin County are a good location for a vacation rental, convenient to downtown San Francisco, you will need a car. Here’s the list: Marin County family vacation rentals


And find lots of fun things to do with kids in San Francisco on Travel for Kids.