Top 20 Places to Take Kids in and around San Francisco
Best Places for Kids in the San Francisco Bay Area!
2021's best places to take kids in the Bay Area, based on KidsOutAndAbout's annual reader survey. But there is LOTS more to do in San Francisco! Get great ideas here! What is listed below are far from the only opportunities for family fun and learning; they're just what was voted this year.
1. Oakland Zoo
Oakland Zoo, home to more than 850 native and exotic animals, is managed by the Conservation Society of California (CSC); a non-profit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. With over 25 conservation partners and projects worldwide, the CSC is committed to conservation-based education and saving species and their habitats in the wild. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.
2. Children's Creativity Museum
The Children's Creativity Museum is a hands-on arts and technology experience for families with children ages 2 -12. We believe that creative expression, innovation, and critical thinking are core to fostering the next generation. Visitors are invited to make a stop-motion animation video, take the Mystery Box Challenge, and create their own mini-golf course.
3. San Francisco Zoo
This 100-acre zoological park features over 2,000 animals from around the world, plus beautiful gardens, and the largest playground around. Ride the historic Little Puffer steam train and Dentzel Carousel. The Zoo’s mission is to connect people with wildlife, inspire caring for nature and advance conservation action.
4. My Local Library
Of course, the libraries in the San Francisco area are not really ONE place, but MANY places... but it's important to emphasize how valuable libraries are for family learning and fun. The libraries in our area are wonderful about posting their events to the KidsOutAndAbout calendar so you always can get ideas for free things to do with your kids that celebrate education and imagination. KidsOutAndAbout.com takes this opportunity to salute the wonderful children's librarians who serve our community with such dedication. They're proud that locals voted them #4 in best places to take kids this year!
5. The Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is a museum, a professional development home for teachers, and a global exhibit-design trailblazer with a mission to transform learning worldwide.
6. California Academy of Sciences
An aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum—all under one Living Roof.
7. Aquarium of the Bay
Aquarium of the Bay is a non-profit organization with a mission to enable conversations on climate resilience and ocean conservation globally, while inspiring actionable change locally by protection and preservation of the San Francisco Bay and its ecosystems, from Sierra to the Sea™.
8. Children’s Fairyland
Children’s Fairyland is America’s first storybook theme park. Ever since we opened in 1950, we’ve been a magical place for young children to create, imagine, play, and learn.
9. The Santa Cruz Children's Museum of Discovery
The mission of the Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery is to delight, inspire and challenge by providing an exciting and interactive learning environment in which children and their adults can explore the wonders of Santa Cruz County.
10. Lindsay Wildlife Experience
The mission of Lindsay Wildlife Experience is to connect people with wildlife to inspire responsibility and respect for the world we share. The wildlife hospital is open every day of the year to accept injured and orphaned native California animals.
11. Asian Art Museum
With Asia as our lens and art as our cornerstone, we spark connections across cultures and through time, igniting curiosity, conversation, and creativity.
Asia is not one place. The ideas and ideals that we call Asian are countless and diverse. Some of the works we display pre-date written history. Others were recently created. Many have connections to works from other continents and other millennia. We explore these links, provoking discovery, debate, and inspiration.
At the Asian Art Museum, artistic and educational programs empower visitors to discover the relevance of great artworks in profoundly personal ways. Immersed in our galleries, visitors ponder the universal values found in human expression. Through the bustle of daily programs, students of the world steep in cultures through art, music, dance, and tradition. In the clamor of our classrooms, children build bridges to old and new worlds.
12. House of Air
House of Air is an indoor Trampoline Park located in West Crissy Field in The Presidio of San Francisco, California. Our athletic and recreational facility is host to open trampoline jump time, aerial and physical training on trampolines, trampoline dodgeball, fitness classes and other recreation activities. We cater to group events, including birthday parties, corporate events, family events, and fundraisers.
13. Chabot Space & Science Center
Chabot Space & Science Center is a non-profit institution and community resource located on 13 trail-laced acres in Redwood Regional Park in Oakland amid the largest stand of coastal redwoods in the East Bay. Chabot features a 241-seat full dome planetarium, interactive and hands-on exhibits, space artifacts, a giant screen theater, a Challenger Learning Center, and the only research-level telescopes regularly available to the public for weekly live viewing in the Western United States.
Chabot’s mission is to inspire and educate learners of all ages about the Universe and Planet Earth.
14. Marin Museum of Contemporary Art
Marin Museum of Contemporary Art connects art, community, and artistic expression. The Museum is a vibrant arts center offering exceptional contemporary exhibits and education programs for art-lovers of all ages. The exhibitions in our three galleries change every seven weeks.
15. Nicasio Valley Pumpkin Patch
Located in the Heart of Beautiful Nicasio Valley in Marin County, California.
16. Pier 39
From amazing views and a sea of sea lions to chowder bread bowls and California wines, your visit to San Francisco starts at PIER 39.
17. Seymour Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is dedicated to educating people about the role scientific research plays in the understanding and conservation of the world’s oceans.
As a non-profit science museum and zoo, CuriOdyssey lets kids loose to observe wild animals, experiment with scientific phenomena and let the natural world answer their questions. We treat kids like the geniuses they are.
19. Deer Hollow Farm
Friends of Deer Hollow Farm (FODHF) is an all-volunteer, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization formed in 1994 to preserve and support Deer Hollow Farm, a regional teaching center in the heart of Silicon Valley that promotes environmental education.
20. Q-ZAR Laser Tag
LASER TAG * ARCADE GAMES * SNACK BAR
Winners in Special CategoriesIn the second part of our survey, we asked readers to select their favorites in three categories. Here were their choices.
Top Arts EducatorA.C.T. Young Conservatory
A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory teaches more than just acting. By training at the YC, students gain the creative and communication skills to succeed in just about anything. Students learn to incorporate the craft of theater into their everyday lives, developing concentration, imagination, professionalism, character, and self-confidence along the way. Many students go on to study theater and performance in college, and our alumni are often seen gracing stages and screens in the Bay Area and across the country. Some YC alumni include Darren Criss (Emmy and Golden Globe Award–winner), Erika Henningsen (Mean Girls on Broadway), Adam Jacobs (Aladdin on Broadway), Winona Ryder (Stranger Things), and Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us).
Top Sports EducatorYerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center
*Figure Skating and Hockey instruction for skaters of all ages and abilities: group lessons and private coaching available.
* Birthday Parties, Field Trips, Fundraisers, and Private & Corporate Events
* Full service Pro Shop: ice skates, hockey gear, skate sharpening & repairs
* Youth and adult hockey leagues, pickup games, stick & puck, and tournaments
* Figure skating sessions, synchronized skating teams, competitions, and ice shows
* Bowling available daily from noon - 10:00 pm.
Top STEM EducatorCalifornia Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences offers programs for youth and teens, including Careers in Science (CiS), Teen Science Night (#TSN), and a Science Action Club (SAC) for grades 5-8. Sign up for our Youth Programs mailing list to stay informed about all teen opportunities, including when program applications open.