san francisco exploratorium
San Francisco
The Embarcadero
Exploratorium (Pier 15) - The Exploratorium museum of science and creativity is our favorite museum for kids in San Francisco, and it's always changing, every time we visit.
Everything in the Exploratorium is hands-on – play with colored shadows, see yourself in a mirror upside down, make your own Rube Goldberg machine, power appliances by pedaling, discover light, sound, electricity and magnetism, see under a microscope what lives in San Francisco Bay, and much more.
The museum is fabulous for kids, from toddlers to teens, and allow plenty of time to explore the many exhibits. It's a big noisy place, strollers okay, cafes and lockers on-site.
Prior exhibit at the Exploratorium - The Art of Tinkering.


Ferry Building - Sample the abundance of California fruits and vegetables at the Farmers' Market . You'll find locally grown boysenberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, avocados, dried fruit, nuts, honey, melons, grapes. Pick up some local cheese, bread or foccacia, fruits, muffins, scones, pastries, cobbler, turnovers, cookies, or fruitbreads, and have a picnic. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Saturday is the largest market, crowded with food vendors, and food to eat al fresco, along the edge of the bay.
Ride the ferries - From the Ferry Building , take the Golden Gate Ferry to Sausalito and Angel Island.
On the bay, you'll see the great container ships coming in through the Golden Gate Bridge, sail boats galore, tug boats pulling barges, pilot boats. On the ferry trip to Sausalito, the ferry goes right next to Alcatraz Island, with super views.
For a longer ferry ride, go to Angel Island - perfect for a picnic lunch and hike in good weather. Read our blog post: Explore Angel Island
The ferries are a good deal (cheapest cruise around the bay), and one of our favorite things to do in San Francisco.
Walk along the Embarcadero - The Embarcadero ("wharf") was once a busy port, stuffed with ships loading and unloading passengers and tons of cargo. Today the Embarcadero is a wide tree-lined promenade. You can walk all the way from Market Street at the Ferry Building to Fisherman's Wharf one direction, or the AT& T Park the other way. Between Pier 5 and Pier 9, walk out onto the pier jutting out in the bay - it's a great place for kids to watch the boats go by.
Playground (Sue Bierman Park) - At the corner of The Embarcadero and Washington St. is a nice big playground with climbing structures, and grass to run around. Bring your picnic lunch.
Ride the cable car - Pick up the California Street cable car (at the intersection of California and Market Streets) and ride up to Nob Hill.
Wells Fargo History Museum (420 Montgomery St.) - This museum is one of the "hidden treasures" in San Francisco. The Wells Fargo bank operated stagecoaches that transported gold from the gold fields. In the museum, kids will see gold nuggets and gold dust, gold scales, strong boxes, and a hundred year old stagecoach. Kids can try their hand sending messages in Morse code on a telegraph key, write your own ticket, pack your suitcase for a trip, feel like a passenger on the overland route in a simulated bumpy stagecoach ride, or take the reins. The museum is free and open Monday to Friday, 10am - 5pm.