Little kids in a big city, especially ours who are from the country...just the stimulation of all the noise, lights, etc can be very tiring, so we plotted out small adventures for each day.
Mass transit may feel completely overwhelming with small children in the big city. But really it is the only way to go...and once you plot your path you will be pleasantly surprised at how well it goes. Because to a child...a train is a train. And they are all amazing fun! The BART, MUNI, and Ferry Services of San Francisco are amazing and easy to maneuver and for children under age 5...FREE!
Day 1 we opted to head out to one of San Francisco's endearing spots...Pier 39. It has it all...food, aquarium, arcade, theatre, rides, ferry boat tours, restaurants...and the Sea Lions. We hopped the mass transit and with one transfer at Embarcadero to a line made of of historical rail cars called the F Line which runs along Fisherman's Wharf and will drop you right at Pier39. The kids' followed their ears to the sea lions and sat on and climbed the wooden tiered seating system for a good 45minutes. Next we ventured to the center of the wharf where the kids enjoyed meandering through a few shops and then a ride on the 2nd floor of a 2 story carousel. And thanks to my husband's watchful eye...as you face Pier 39 after exiting the street car on the right you will see some green space. There surrounded by a hedge is a play structure as well as a small house made of vines. We lounged looking out on the city's downtown, Coit tower, etc while the kids stretched their legs. Then we decided to stretch ours and tucked them into our double McClaren stroller and wheeled them back down to Pier 1...The Ferry Building. Again my husband had been watchful that day and noticed it was Farmer's Market Day. Here we grabbed lunch at Mijita. We always tend to choose this location because it is on the backside of the building and has outdoor seating right where the ferries dock and load and unload. This consumed our morning...and with a small cup of Ciao Bella Gelato in their hands we headed back on the trains we made our way back to our friend's for naps.
After naps we went ventured a few blocks via the L bus line to Golden Gate Park's Children's Playground. The playground is amazing...it makes every adult want to take off their shoes and climb, jump, etc.. Two amazing play structures...for the smaller and bit larger children. A massive webbed climbing structure, waves which hidden in their foam are holds that create a long, tall climbing wall as the crest over a soft padded ground., and swings. As it this was not enough...in a gorgeous surrounding...there is a unique slide made of concrete that children descend on via pieces of cardboard...and a beautiful carousel.
Dinner time we deferred to our friends who live or have lived in the city with children. San Francisco is an amazing wealth of culinary delights, so we did not want to stay in every night and dine on mac-n-cheese. We opted for the Park Chow. Always on San Fran's top 100 when we walked into the bottom floor we were a bit worried about our choice as it's long bar and narrow seating. But the bartender said our table awaited upstairs...where the mood was still loud and fun (drowning out our own children's noise), but also under a glass roof and very open and somewhat rustic surrounding. A children's menu, coloring, and fast service...and we had definitely made a good choice.
Day2 we headed over to the Academy of the Sciences. This renovated San Francisco classic has received huge amounts of press and rightly so, but with it comes crowds, lines, etc.. Lucky for us our hostess was a member which put us in a different line than the general public and allowed us to purchase extra tickets at a different kiosk as well. With our children being toddler and preschool in age we forwent the planetarium and Rainforest...both which had large lines even at opening. We instead choose to spend most of our time in the aquarium areas and at touch pools and waving to divers who cleaned to tanks. 2.5hrs later and we had seen it all...and this seemed to be perfect timing for the children...as well as the perfect child on the go in San Francisco.
(NOTE: Above I reference my McClarren Stroller...and I do this because it has been a saving grace in many situations. It is one of the few doubles that folds up end to a short 48hour umbrella like. And a funny connection to San Fran...seems like everyone has a McClarren. I think it is due to it's rugid construction of steel that can withstand the rigors of the city streets and life)