Though the water in San Francisco's beaches is chilly, it does not detract from the beauty and simple entertainment that a beach excursion has to offer. From Ocean Beach, the largest and potentially the calmest, to Aquatic Park right in the middle of San Francisco's urban diversions, you will undoubtedly find a beach that suits your family's preferences. According to SFtravel.com, four of San Francisco top beaches are Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, Aquatic Park, East Beach (also called China Beach). Stinson Beach, which is across the Golden Gate Bridge, is also quite popular. Be sure not to miss the nearby Muir Woods, which contains six miles of trails and offers hikers plenty of chances to view California's glorious coast.
San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum
The San Francisco Botanical Garden offers all ages the chance to enjoy a diverse array of plant life. It has 55 acres of plants--more than 7,500 types from all over the world--as well as vast open areas where your family can sit and enjoy a picnic. In addition to its general guided and self-guided tours, the San Francisco Botanical Garden also offers tours especially for children and teens, a day camp and story times.
California Academy of Sciences
The Academy of Sciences, located in Golden Gate Park, is dedicated to exploring the natural world and enlightening the public about ways to preserve the planet's integrity. The new $500 million building took almost a decade to plan and build. It contains a planetarium, an aquarium and a natural history museum. Daily tours and programs provide entertainment and information for every age group.
San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo houses over 250 animal species and an impressive botanical collection. It strives to be a haven for many rare and endangered animals, and while it aims to educate both children and adults, there are many opportunities to just have fun. Just walking around the zoo as a family will offer you plenty of entertainment, but you can get even more from the children's programs, which feature arts-and-crafts activities, games, tours and animal encounters. There is even a summer zoo camp!
At San Francisco's Circus Center you can be a circus performer for a day. Though it is an actual training center for would-be acrobats, clowns and other circus performers, it is also available for groups looking for an unusual experience. Private circus classes allow ages five and up to learn circus fundamentals such as juggling, balancing, trampoline and acrobatics. Kids over the age of ten can take flying trapeze classes with the safety nets in place.