It’s always exciting having grandparents in town for a visit. Here are our 9 favorite activities that are ideal for an all-ages group
There is something incredibly special about showing off the city you love, to the people you love—especially grandparents. Whether your kids call them Nana, Grandpa, Grammy, Poppa, Abuelita, or another loving and popular nickname, grandparents have a special connection with their grandkids—so much so, science has proven that grandparents feel closer to their grandkids than their own kids. And of course you want to give them the backdrop to make connections and have a great time.
As with any aging relative, you also want to keep their physical limits and energy in mind, while also making a personal connection to this amazing city—you know, balance the tourist attractions with lesser known local spots—making it more than just a vacation but a glimpse into your daily life. Even with its steep hills and winding streets the Bay Area is accessible for everyone. This list keeps the mobility needs for visiting family in mind while also providing inspiration for quality family time everyone will cherish. From boat tours and children’s theater shows to one-of-a-kind hotel stays, redwoods, and high tea, everyone in your family will find something to love about the next grandparents’ visit to the Bay Area and the memories that will last a lifetime.
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The Best Activities in San Francisco for Visiting GrandparentsSarah Montoya
1. Visit the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Located along the Lands End Trail the Legion of Honor is one of the most beautiful places to visit in San Francisco. The architecture alone is enough to make it worth a visit, add in a lovely cafe and you have the perfect place to show grandparents the arts in San Francisco. The museum regularly hosts world class exhibits to inspire all ages. Just a short walk from the museum is a unique view of the Gold Gate bridge. Learn more about what else you can see and do at Lands End.
Accessibility Information: The museum itself is fully accessible and easy to navigate for persons with mobility concerns. However, the parking lot can be a bit rocky in places and steep in others; however, handicap parking is available at the entrance. For family members without a placard please consider dropping them off at the entrance. There is not a push button but there is an intercom at the north entrance to call security for assistance.
2. Visit the de Young in Golden Gate Park
The de Young is located in Golden Gate Park. The museum itself is wonderful, it has art from all over the world and centuries past, but if you are on a budget it’s the perfect space to picnic in the sculpture garden or head to the observation tower for a view of Golden Gate Park. Both the sculpture garden and viewing tower are free. During your visit check out all the Golden Gate Park has to offer.
Accessibility Information: The museum is fully wheelchair accessible, as are the sculpture garden and viewing tower. The parking garage beneath the music concourse in Golden Gate Park has elevators. Handicap parking along the main road with a relatively flat walk to the museum. If you are traveling via public transit there is a stop directly in front of the museum. Golden Gate Park has closed JFK to cars but continues to run a shuttle through the park to ensure that everyone can enjoy the park.
Additional Museums to Consider Visiting with Grandparents: The SFMOMA, The Asian Art Museum, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum are all located downtown with paid parking lots close by and are all fully wheelchair accessible. Each one is also located along major Muni stops for families using public transit.
3. Book a Tea Party at Love Joys
It feels almost universal that kids and grownups love tea parties.Love Joy’s lovely neighborhood spot tucked away in Noe Valley is a beautiful way to experience a local neighborhood and enjoy the magic of tea time. They offer two options for full service tea and a cozy casual environment that is welcoming for all ages.
Accessibility Information: Conveniently located along the J line, visitors can take a historic trolley car directly to the front door. Parking is metered with reserved handicap parking on the block. The staff is happy to offer assistance and accommodate any needs especially if you call ahead.Sarah Montoya
4. Step Back in Time at the Filoli Historic House & Garden
Built as a private residence in 1917, Filoli sits on 654 acres of land along California’s coastal range. The home is open for tours year round and the 16 acres of English Renaissance gardens are perfect for a slow stroll. Considered one of the finest country estates of the 20th century, Filoli is sure to be a memorable experience.
Accessibility Information: Reserved parking for ADA placards with a loading ramp are available at the entrance. The staff will guide you to the ramp entrance to the house through the Clock Tower Shop Courtyard. Due to Filoli’s historic structure, wheelchairs may need to traverse bricks, gravel, grass, and other uneven surfaces.Stanford Park Hotel
5. Have the Ultimate Sleepover at Stanford Park Hotel with Their American Girl Package
The Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park hosts the perfect sleepover with an optional one-of-a-kind add-on called, The American Girl Package. The customizable experience includes an American Girl bed, bathrobe and slippers upon arrival, along with a welcome note. At night, enjoy freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and milk brought to the room before heading off to Stanford Shopping Center the following day for a special experience at the local American Girl store. Activities rotate throughout the weekend and include Pet Pampering Day, Doll Hair & Manicure Day, Sweet & Savory Treats, and more.
Accessibility Information: Both the hotel and the Stanford Shopping Center are fully accessible properties with ADA parking options and trained staff to support accessibility needs. The Stanford Park Hotel pool and hot tub are fully accessible along with all other amenities.
6. Hike The Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument
California Redwoods are world famous and always worth the visit. Muir Woods offers up a beautiful range of trails with varying levels of difficulty. Use the NPS app to plan your visit. Grandparents can join their grandkids in the feeling of accomplishment while helping kids ages 5-12 earn their Junior Ranger badges. Muir Woods has a reservation to manage parking and visitor traffic, so best to plan your trip well in advance.
Accessibility Information: Muir Woods National Monument has ADA parking available and segments of accessible trails. Brochures and trail maps are available in braille, and assistive listening devices are available upon request.Sarah Montoya
7. Enjoy a Show at the Bay Area Children’s Theater
With kid focused productions of children’s classics that many grandparents will recognize, Bay Area Childrens’ Theater is the perfect way to introduce kids to the theater while also entertaining grandparents. Whether you catch a show at their Oakland location, Fort Mason in San Francisco or a show in Berkley you can find a performance close to you in the Bay.
Related: Discover the Best Kid-Friendly Shows in San Francisco
Accessibility Information: The Bay Area Children’s theater is dedicated to accessibility and works with all of their venues to ensure that the experience is accessible to all audience members. BACT also offers shows with accommodations for blind and visually impaired audiences and ASL interpreters at select shows.
8. Take a Tour of San Francisco with the Big Bus Tour
With so much to see and do in San Francisco, seeing the city can feel overwhelming. Let the Big Bus Tour do the work for you—check off your tourist bucket list as you hop on and off the bus at.
Accessibility Information: Big Bus Tours have accessible buses with wheelchair lifts; however, not all of the buses are able to accommodate wheelchairs. Please contact the company 48 hours prior to your tour.
9. Go on a Blue and Gold Boat Tour
What’s a trip to the Bay Area without time on the water? The Blue and Gold Boat Tour offers a variety of tours allowing you to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and Sausalito. Enjoy the sunset or simply get from one pier to another while enjoying the melody of the waves.
Accessibility Information: The fleet vessels vary in age and design. All vessels are wheelchair accessible and have accessible restrooms. Wheelchairs can only access the main deck which houses the bar, the restrooms and wide open interior deck and viewing spaces. The upper decks can only be accessed by stairs thus wheelchairs cannot access the upper exterior decks.