6 Awesome + Free Things to do with Kids In San Francisco

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I get emails a lot from readers who are coming to visit San Francisco with their kids and are looking for suggestions of fun and free things to do with them while they’re here. I’ve talked about a few things here and there but thought it might be fun to compile everything together in one place. Also, I’d LOVE to hear your suggestions if you’re a local or if you stumbled upon something amazing to do with kids here while visiting.

On our kid-friendly adventures around the city we’ll be reporting our experience using the app, Metromile. Have you heard of it? It’s a free app and device for your car that tracks your car’s health and stats like parking, fuel cost, MPG and street cleaning reminders. All free! They also offer pay-per- mile auto insurance which sounds pretty awesome.

Here are our 6 free + favorite places to go with kids in San Francisco and a bit more about Metromile…

Metromile is such an interesting app and unlike any app I’ve ever used! It’s free and tracks all kinds of important things about my car, as you can see below. Once you sign up you’re sent a device in the mail that plugs into your car. It’s pretty easy to figure out where it goes, they have a little diagram that shows you the mostly likely spots you would find it. It only took me a couple minutes to figure it out and I didn’t need my car manual.metromile

Besides street cleaning alerts, car location, and fuel cost, a feature I really like is that you can categorize the type of driving you’re doing. Which is great if you work from home like I do and use my car for work purposes often. For example, in this trip above to Burlingame for a work event last week I marked it as business and then could come back and sort through at tax time and see how much exactly I drove and spent on gas for work in 2015. Brilliant!

Here’s a really cool thing though: Metromile now offers pay-per-mile auto insurance which is pretty revolutionary! There’s a little video explaining more about it at the top of this page. It’s great for people that don’t drive a ton or live in a big city and take public transportation a lot. So SMART to only pay insurance on what miles you’re driving.

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Here are some favorite free spots we like to drive to with kids in San Francisco:

1. Chrissy Field: I’ve talked about Chrissy Field beach here. It’s in the bay so the waves are very calm and on a nice day it’s packed with families and little kids exploring the tide pools. The parking is easy and there’s a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

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2. Fort Point is kind of a hidden gem I think. You can see the structure in the main image of this post. It’s a old military fort with tons of spiral staircases, dark rooms and huge canons to check out inside. Plus, you can go to the roof and be right under the bridge! There are little videos and exhibits inside that explain more about what the military presence here in San Francisco as well. It’s fun to roam around and get lost in all the interior rooms and cellars. Free admission!

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We also love to sit at the parking entrance of the fort and watch the surfers. When it’s stormy the waves get huge and sometimes crash onto the cars parked there so watch out!

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3. DeYoung Tower: I haven’t found the DeYoung museum super kid friendly but anyone can take the elevator up to the 11th floor and walk around the observatory without paying museum admission. There are amazing 360 views of the whole city and it’s fun to help kids point out some spots they may recognize as well.

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(images of the DeYoung by Eva Kolenko from this Say Yes post)

4. Stow Lake: One of our favorite spots. It’s right in the middle of Golden Gate Park and a fantastic area to walk around and explore. We love to feed the ducks and turtles especially. If the kids are feeling up to it,  a hike above the waterfall is a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

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(Images of Stow Lake by Kaley Ann from this Say Yes post)

5. Land End: There is so much to do here if your kids are down for hiking a little. Sutro baths + the caves are amazing, we go there a lot. We also love to hike down to Mile Rock beach and check out the labyrinth on the east bench above the beach. Also be sure to get some dumplings while you’re out there too.

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There’s so much to explore in Lands End,  and it’s just gorgeous! A great place on a pretty day to watch the sunset as well.

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Images at Lands End by Jared Stanley

6. Secret Slides: The Seward Street Secret Slides are concrete slides that are built into the hill. They’re fun for kids and adults. Only up 10-5 and not open on Mondays (we’ve learned the hard way here) they’re really fast and fun. Bring cardboard and the trick is to throw some sand down from the top right before you hop on for maximum speed. The streets are windy up there so it’s a great place to use the car location function in the Metromile app.

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Also in terms of playgrounds, our favorites are: Koret Children’s Center (carousel and concrete slides built into the hill) , Yerba Buena Gardens (also a carousel and HUGE slides that even scare Henry!), Mission Delores playground (newly rebuilt and big slides as well. A nice little kid area, great swings, and next to BiRite Ice Cream).

 

Thanks to Metromile for sponsoring this post. Check out the free app and learn about cost-per-mile car insurance right here. 

Comments

Such great ideas! Love those slides, those look amazing

Great list! I’ll have to bookmark these for our next visit

Such great ideas, thank you! That app sounds cool- checking it out now

When we have visitors we try to go to all those places too (although we’re yet to make it to Seward Street slides). A day hanging out in the Mission is always on the list as a taste of the “real” San Francisco, and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is a “must do” depending on the age of our visitors.

My favorite free museums in San Francisco are the Cable Car Museum and the Wells Fargo Museum. Have you taken the kids to either? I love taking visitors to the cable car museum so they can see how the cable cars work. It’s pretty amazing. The Wells Fargo museum is full of lots of hands on historical fun. My kids love playing with the old phones and morse code machines. If you haven’t been you can see them here:
http://www.littlehiccups.net/2014/03/san-francisco-cable-car-museum.html
http://www.littlehiccups.net/2014/08/wells-fargo-history-museum.html

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