The San Francisco Cruise Port hosts more than 80 cruise ships throughout the year and ushers more than 300,000 passengers in and out of the beautiful bay city. It’s located at the James R. Herman Pier (Pier 27) and Pier 35 cruise terminals, and it’s perfectly posed to take cruisers to places like Alaska, Mexico and Hawaii.
If you’re sailing in or out of San Francisco, there are plenty of things for you to do in the area. For travelers with just a few hours to kill, there’s always Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square to hit up. The Ferry Building (with its Saturday farmers’ market) is a delight, as are the shops on Market Street.
Have little ones cruising with you? Here are some fun things to do with kids in San Francisco. Some of these activities and attractions can be enjoyed with just a morning or afternoon to spare; others are ideal if you have the entire day to explore.
Seaward Street Slides
The Seaward Street Slides sit tucked into a quiet neighborhood in San Francisco, on Seaward Street at Douglas, on one of the steepest sections of the city. They’re a set of concrete slides in a tiny park that begins on one tree-lined street and ends on the charming street below.
If you’ve been to San Francisco, or have seen pictures of the city, you know that the sloping streets make for interesting housing situations, views, and experiences. Imagine two tall homes sitting side by side on a hill, with a strip of green space nestled between. Now, picture two long slides on that grass, with a bit of sand at the bottom for cushion and a set of stairs to repeatedly get you back up to slide again.
Sometimes, you’ll find leftover cardboard boxes that visitors have brought to help them get down the slides faster and without hurting their bum. If the boxes aren’t there, be creative and use something slippery and slidey that you might have with you. Don’t want to slide with the kids (although many parents can’t resist)? There’s a bench to relax on in addition to the small patch of grass.
Lots of kids like getting souvenirs when they travel. They enjoy picking something out that they wouldn’t normally find near their house, and sometimes they’re eager to choose a toy or other token that will remind them of their vacation. For children who love Pokémon, anime, Manga, or things Japanese made, there’s treasure of gift items waiting for discovery right off of the Powell Street Cable Car Line in Nob Hill. They’re located in a small, but gem-packed, shop called Powell Gifts and you’ll notice the place right away from the big and bright pictures of comic and cartoon characters on the wall outside.
Powell Gifts is store that sells stuffed toys, posters, playing cards, CDs, action figures, t-shirts, and probably more than a hundred other items focusing on popular video game, animation, and pop culture characters. A nice woman who has been there to greet guests for at least 10 years is in the shop every time we visit, and she’s always eager to help kids find that perfect Legend of Zelda or Kingdom Hearts toy they’ve been looking for. The prices at Powell Gifts are decent, rare products are abundant, and access to the store is easy even if you need parking for a car.
If you want to fill up a few hours with sunshine, exercise, sights of ocean animals, and sips of vegan hot chocolate while you browse a cute gift shop, take the kids to Crissy Field. Crissy Field is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (it used to be included in the Presidio borders) and it’s located just east of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a great place for kite-flying, swimming, sea lion viewing, and taking amazing close-up pictures of the Golden Gate (with little ones in the foreground the photos seem even more special), and it links to several pathways that are good for kid-friendly hikes.
There’s grass to picnic on and marshes to uncover at Crissy Field. Kids can run and play, and everyone can warm up (it gets pretty cold a certain times of the year) with a toasty beverage in the Warming Hut Cafe (try their yummy soy cappuccino) that’s just a few feet from the water.
Crissy Field, Powell Gifts, and the Seaward Street Slides are only a small handful of the adventurous things to do and see that await families visiting San Francisco with kids. The city is filled with experiences to delight all, so use these as a starting point and then set out to explore other places like the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park or Pier 39 on the San Francisco waterfront.