The Best 101 Adventures for Families in the Bay Area

Two girls hang off a cable car in San Francisco Christine Lai
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Kids are always up for an adventure so why not plan a day out for a local adventure? Luckily, the Bay Area is teeming with opportunities and we’ve got indoor and outdoor family adventures covered in this list that both locals and tourists will enjoy. Whatever you choose to cross off, get ready for an epic family adventure!

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Christine Lai

1. Play tourist for a day and ride the carousel at PIER 39. Don't forget to visit the sea lions and grab some cookie dough from DOUGHP! You'll love checking out The Flyer, an epic "flight" that takes you on a tour of San Francisco.

2. All aboard! This list for little train lovers gives you the inside scoop of where to ride the rails around the Bay Area.

3. Make it a park day! There are tons of awesome playground in San Francisco like Hilltop Park!

4. I scream, you scream, we all scream for this epic list of ice cream spots from SF to the South Bay.

5. Get your STEM fix at these museums where science is all around you like our fave, The Exploratorium.

6. There's more to Monterey than the aquarium. Find out all the best spots there and in nearby Carmel and Pacific Grove when you road trip down south.

7. Take a break from the library and go to story time at the botanical garden, bookstore or museum nearby.

8. Check out The Detour's family game night hours and other spots to fuel your family's competitive side.

9. It's time to celebrate! Book your next birthday at these favorite birthday locations and leave the party planning to the experts. Bonus: we've got even more options if you are in the East Bay, Peninsula and South Bay.

Ojai Cowboy Cabin

10. Hit the hay at these local farms where you can spend the night.

11. Spend some time on the islands—Alcatraz and Angel Island, that is. A quick ferry ride will get you there to learn all about the history of these amazing spots in San Francisco Bay.

12. Spend some time in the Marin Headlands at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Kirby Cove, the Golden Gate Bridge and more!

13. There's never a bad time to eat donuts. Grab the giant one from Bob's Donuts or one from another of our favorite donut spots.

14. Don't let the weather get you down. These indoor playspaces are the place to be when the rain falls.

15. Get the family dining together with these meal delivery services that make your job easy.

Royal Gorge Cabins Glamping Tents

16. Camping doesn't have to be a summer-only activity. Book a weekend at one of these glamping spots that offer campfires without having to pitch your own tent.

17. The best things in life are free especially when you get a free day at your local museum. Or visit one of these museums that are ALWAYS free!

18. Speaking of free, there are loads of free things to do, right in Golden Gate Park.

19. Make your way to wine country and bring the kids for a family adventure the whole family can enjoy! These wineries are all set up to welcome the whole family, tots included.

20. Take a walk on the wild side with these kids menus for adventurous eaters.

21. Reduce and reuse. These consignment shops are the place to be when your kid is growing like a weed.

22. Meet some animals up close and personal at these 20 wildlife centers.

23. Get in some after hours time at your favorite aquarium or museum where you can spend the night.

24. Get your goggles on and dive in to one of these indoor pools that are open year round.

Christine Lai

25. San Francisco has some of the most epic playgrounds around. Start checking off our list of 30+ favorites.

26. Cast your fishing line at these local lakes and piers where dinner is waiting.

27. Dine on dim sum. We've got all the hot spots where dumplings are king.

28. Where's the only place you can visit an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum, all under one “living” roof? Our California Academy of Sciences guide is all you need to make the most of your visit.

29. Plan a picnic and explore all that the Presidio has to offer (think abandoned batteries, in-city camping and the Lucasfilm Headquarters).

30. Take some time to smell the roses at these botanical gardens.

31. Save your pennies and spend the day at the Marine Mammal Center, Bay Model and other local (and free!) hot spots.

32. Visit Japan without getting on a plane. You can get all the ramen, taiyaki and Sanrio you want in San Francisco's Japantown.

33. Spend the afternoon exploring these bike paths and bike parks that are perfect for the tiny two-wheelers.

34. Hop on a cable car and explore all that Market Street has to offer. Get the insider's scoop here and save some time for a slice at Delarosa.

35. Make some time to meet the lemurs at the San Francisco Zoo. We've got your insider's guide here.

36. Make your next meal out a memorable one (in a good way!) at one of these themed restaurants where there's more than just burgers and fries.

37. Every kids deserves a spot where they feel welcomed. These playgrounds and playspaces offer resources for special needs kids so that they can join in the fun with their peers.

Freshmade NYC

38. Kids, the dinner is on you! Let the kitchen pros teach them the ropes at these local cooking classes.

39. Plan an epic visit to Tahoe in the summer or when the mountains are covered in snow. North Lake Tahoe and nearby Reno offer even more family adventures so plan to stay a while!

40. Take the tots to work with you (and actually get something done) at these work/play spaces where the WiFi is strong and the kids are entertained.

41. Head to Corona Heights and check out the Randall Museum. Bonus, admission is always free!

42. Visit the shore at low tide and explore the sea urchins, sea stars and crabs that live in our coastal tide pools.

43. Visit CuriOdyssey, climb the dragon-themed playground at Coyote Point and enjoy the uniquely-delicious waffles at Eggettes when you visit San Mateo.

44. Recharge your batteries at these spots that are perfect for your next mom getaway.

45. Get out and explore the local waterways the best way you can, on a kayak.

Kate Loweth

46. Looking for a gift of memories instead of more stuff? Check out our recs of experience gifts for Bay Area kids.

47. You don't have to wait for camping season to enjoy s'mores for dessert any day of the week.

48. Grab a gift at one of these independent toy stores.

49. Plan a trip to Santa Rosa and book a night at Safari West!

50. Hop aboard these ships that offer a history lesson on the water.

51. Bring Fido along when you dine out at one of these dog-friendly eateries.

52. Date night, done! Drop the kids off at one of these spots where dinner and entertainment are included.

Christine Lai

53. Strap them in the strollers and hit the trails for a family adventure at these hiking spots that are good for the littlest hikers.

54. Get the guppies in the water at these favorite swim lesson spots.

55. The East Bay is loaded with awesome parks. Pick a new one and hit the slides!

56. Settle in with a good book at one of our favorite independent bookstores.

57. LEGO lovers unite! This list of LEGO resale shops is your holy grail.

Kate Loweth

58. San Francisco's first bike park is pretty epic, check out McLaren for yourself.

59. Meet baby animals at these local farms that offer tours

60. With miles of coast to choose from, you'll need this list of the best swimming beaches for the next sunny day.

61. In the summer it is berry season and in the fall apples are king. Pick a bunch today!

62. Road trip to L.A. to check out the new Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

63. Go for some foodie family time at these Bib Gourmand spots that are also kid-friendly.

64. When Karl the Fog rolls in, warm up with a bowl of tasty soup.


65. Pitch your tent at these campsites where you can hear the crashing waves as you curl up in your sleeping bag.

66. Take a road trip down to Universal Studios Hollywood and see what's new!

67. Tiny dancers will love this list of classes just for them.

68. Road trip time! Spend some time exploring these 10 California road trips.

69. Check out Bill's Backyard, the awesome outdoor discovery area at the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose.

70. Grab your kids some free grub at these restaurants where the shorties eat free.

71. Splash around in these amazing urban fountains.

72. Another way to get wet—head to these nearby lakes for a day on and in the water.

Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Afternoon Tea

73. Dress up in your finest and plan a tea party.

74. Look to the stars and learn about the world beyond our atmosphere at these stargazing spots for a nighttime family adventure.

75. Calling all groms! These totally rad skate parks are ready for you.

76. Take a spin on these carousels, there's even one that has an Alice in Wonderland theme!

77. Chase some waterfalls and let the kids explore on these amazing waterfall hikes (that are at their peak after springtime rains arrive).

78. Every day is taco Tuesday at these spots that know how to do the taco just right.

79. A warm summer night is the perfect time to enjoy these outdoor movie nights. Don't forget to pack the popcorn!

80. Do a double good deed: clear your house of clutter and donate the toys that are cast aside. You'll thank us later.

Kate Loweth

81. Make your way south and follow our recs to get the most out of your next road trip to LA.

82. Make some mom (and dad) friends at these local playgroups.

83. Everyone knows that brunch is the best meal of the day. Bonus, these spots open super early so you don't have to wait until mid-day to get your brunch fix.

84. Second Sundays are family days at Stanford's Cantor Arts Center. Make some art as a family!

85. Say cheese in front of these cool walls that will send your family pics to the next level.

86. Have the kids tried all of these iconic San Francisco desserts? What are you waiting for?

87. These stroller hikes are perfect when you want to get the kids out for some fresh air.

88. Check out these all-abilities playgrounds that welcome all! 

89. Bike rides, kayaking and awesome eats are waiting for you in Healdsburg.

Kate Loweth

90. Make your way to Mendocino to kayak, horseback ride on the beach and explore the gorgeous coastline just north of San Francisco.

91. The Outer Sunset isn't just for surfers anymore. Check out this neighborhood guide to learn what's happening in this fun SF neighborhood.

92. and 93. Deck the kids out in some trendy styles from head to toe at Whoa Dude! Tween and teens will love the cool, casual style at Orange Bird in Hayes Valley.

94. Got grandparents in town? Spend some time exploring these spots with them.

95. Cheers! These kid-friendly bars are perfect for dining out with friends and kids.

96. If the days are warm and the kids want to get wet, head to one of these amazing splash parks.

97. It's always the perfect day for pizza and we have a list of the perfect pies here.

98. Batter up! These local batting cages will let your tune up your swing in no time.

99. Dining with views of the Golden Gate Bridge? Yes, please! This list has all the best outdoor dining spots.

100. Check out Quarry Park in Rocklin where you can zipline over the quarry!

101. Visit the totally-free deYoungsters Studio in Golden Gate Park.

—Kate Loweth

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