What are the best places in the city to inspire, inform, and excite children?
This past school year, our students ventured all over the Bay Area to learn about science, history, ecology, and the arts.
Based on their experiences, here are recommendations from our teachers on the best places to take kids for play and purpose.
Top Places to Take Children in San Francisco
Asian Art Museum: The Asian Art Museum is full of treasures that fascinate children. Make sure to take advantage of the storytelling tours. “Our fantastic, spirited docent told stories of Hindu deities while pointing out their depictions in art. The kids loved it and they learned a ton!” says Sophia, one of our upper elementary teachers.
Flora Grubb: You may not immediately think of a gardening shop as a place to explore with your child, but Flora Grubb (owner) has an incredibly imaginative space. We took our younger students here to find plants a flower box project.
Angel Island: Angel Island is a state park where families can enjoy hiking and playing on the beach. “The ferry ride to the island is beautiful and the kids love exploring the boat,” says Carolyn, our Director of Education. Older children (age 7 and above) will also enjoy the historical exhibit that provides a real-world perspective of what it was like to be a Chinese immigrant to the U.S. at the turn of the century.
Chinatown Alleyway Tour: This tour is a phenomenal way to get up close and personal with one of San Francisco’s most colorful neighborhoods. The tour guides are young people who are experts on Chinatown history. The tour also includes a stop at the fortune cookie factory, where you can have your own fortune added to a cookie for one dollar.
Fort Point: Our upper elementary students visited Fort Point during our first week of school. “The children loved exploring the Civil War era fort. Be sure to climb to the top and sit directly under the Golden Gate Bridge,” says Carolyn.
Japanese Tea Gardens: Nestled in between the De Young and California Academy, the Japanese Tea Gardens are a hidden gem of Golden Gate Park. They are one of the most beautifully landscaped gardens around and offer a quiet respite where even the most active children can find some tranquility. Bring your sketch books and have fun observing and drawing flowers.
Exploratorium: The Exploratorium is perfect for inspiring curiosity and wonder. Every exhibit is hands-on and makes physics and biology come alive for kids. Located on the pier, the Exploratorium also offers breathtaking views of the Bay and is an ideal spot for an outdoor lunch.
Presidio/Crissy Fields and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy: Engaging and passionate educators coupled with incredible programming makes the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy an amazing place to learn about the Bay's natural environment. Connecting with nature in an urban environment can be difficult, but with the Conservancy, families can volunteer together to care for our parks. They can also take interpretive walks along the many hiking trails to learn more about native plants and animals. Picnic on the beach afterward to have an unplugged day of fun.
Children's Creativity Museum: The museum, a block from our Yerba Buena school, offers a perfect combination of technology and creativity for elementary children. Furthermore, outside of the museum is one of the best playgrounds in the city. You would never know it is there until you plan visit to Yerba Buena or the CCM.
We will continue to add to this list as we make more discoveries!