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Waterfront for Families

Explore the city by the bay and appeal to kids of all ages
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.1 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  There are many neighborhoods in San Francisco that are great to explore with children. This guide aims to capture some of the city's... more »

Tips:  Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers, especially near the water where wind can kick up and make even a summer day chilly.

If... more »

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Points of Interest

This is a great way to start your day, especially on a weekend when the Farmers' Market is going on. You and your family can fuel up on excellent, organic, local breakfast choices, delicious coffee and unbeatable bay views.

If you are staying in town, walk, cab, BART or trolley to the eastern end of Market Street, cross the Embarcadero and you... More

Fresh fruit, delicious pastries and terrific coffee spell a terrific way to start your day and begin your tour of the amazing Ferry Building Marketplace.

Blue Bottle Coffee is famous in the Bay Area for its prepared drip coffee, but this shop will create almost any coffee beverage you like. Also, the owner's wife makes desserts every day using mostly organic ingredients, and the kitchen offers other items like granola and Belgian waffles.

4. Village Market

Great general store to pick up provisions for your day out walking around.

5. Embarcadero Center Holiday Ice Rink

In the winter time, the city creates an open-air ice rink for the public to enjoy. All lit up for the holidays, it's conveniently located across Embarcadero Road from the Ferry Building and punctuates the end of Market Street, affording amazing views in both directions.
4 Embarcadero Center

The walk from the Ferry Building to Pier 39 is about 1.5 miles, but with a wide, flat sidewalk (no infamous SF hills here), endless bay and city views and a few fun places along the way, the open air exercise is a welcome change from the bustling ferry marketplace.

Runners, people walking their dogs, locals and toursists all easily co-mingle... More

7. Vista Point

This is a great place to take a quick break and enjoy the sights. From here, you can see two of the most distinctive San Francisco landmarks: Transamerica Pyramid and Coit Tower. Bay Bridge is also visible from here. It's a great place to take some great photos of the city.

Located right next to Pier 17, TCHO takes San Francisco's chocolate culture to the next level. TCHO promotes organic high-quality dark chocolate and in this location you get to tour the facility and do some chocolate tasting. The tours are by appointment only and start at 10:30am and 2pm every day. You can make a reservation for the tour at http:/... More

9. Pier 33 (Alcatraz Option)

Hornblower Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33 is the spot to catch a ferry if you want to tour Alcatraz.

Of note, tour operators suggest that you allow 2.5 hours to ride out to, explore and return from the island.

If you plan to tour Alcatraz, please plan accordingly. This guide was written without allowing for the 2.5-hour Alcatraz trip, but there... More

"The Rock," most famous for the infamous inmates it housed as a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963, is part of the National Park Service.

Tour operators suggest allowing 2.5 hours for a visit to and a tour of the tiny island. It is a fun experience, especially for kids, history buffs or anyone enamored with the bygone and violent days of... More

A tourist magnet? Yes. Worth it with kids? Absolutely.

Pier 39, unlike the other piers you passed as you walked along the Embarcadero, is a completely outfitted destination unto itself. Restaurants, shops, rides and more unbelievable views. Pier 39 is THE place to go for Alcatraz kitsch and cable car memorabilia. But it is also an amazing spot to... More


Fisherman's Wharf covers a stretch of a few blocks immediately after Pier 39. You will have noticed that the relatively sparsely populated and warehouse feel that you passed when you left the Ferry Building has been replaced by a very busy, touristy stretch of waterfront.

Street performers, vendors and junky shops line the street on both sides.... More

This museum is one of the world's largest privately owned collections of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines (more than 200) in their original working condition. Almost all of them can be played after popping in a few quarters. Whether you are an arcade machine fan or not, this is definitely worth a visit. Free... More

A 40-year-old institution, Scoma's seafood restaurant is located right on the wharf and features some of the freshest, best seafood in the city; the complimentary valet parking helps too!

Some of the most popular dishes include crab cakes, cioppino and fresh fish daily. Another great feature (according to its website), "Scoma's fish receiving... More

Just past the throngs of people in the shops and restaurants is the welcome calm of a national historical park. It features a unique combination of highlights, including a museum, regular events and hands-on exhibits for kids; several historic sailing vessels, many from the 19th century; and a large inlet of water where brave swimmers regularly... More

Clearly visible up the street from Aquatic Park, Ghirardelli Square is a little bit of history, a little bit of shopping and a whole lot of eating fun.

Ghirardelli has been making chocolate at Ghirardelli Square since 1852. The original ice cream and chocolate factory is still there, and it is magical for kids and adults. There you can see the... More