Things to do with teens in San Fran & LA

Photo credit: Shannon Entin / Homeschool TravelingMom

A mom of a teen and two college students (including a son who loves surfing) is planning a trip to California. They’ll stay four nights in San Francisco and four nights in Los Angeles. She asks TravelingMom, “Where do we have to eat on the trip, and what awesome activities are a must-do?”

According to San Francisco Bay area local, Leslie Harvey, Frequent Flyer TravelingMom, Alcatraz is a must-do with teens and college age kids – just book in advance if your trip is in the summer months as the tours sell out! Ride a cable car and stroll through Chinatown to grab some cheap and delicious dim sum.

As for restaurants, the dining everywhere is fabulous. Classic San Fran spots that won’t break the bank include Tadich Grill (historic), Swan Oyster Depot (seafood), Yank Sing (dim sum), and Slanted Door (Vietnamese). For a fancy or special night out, Boulevard is a can’t-miss restaurant. The weather can be a bit fickle, so you can’t always count on good surf spots, but Ocean Beach is a classic choice, as are Pacifica and Half Moon Bay south of the city.


“The Magic Bus is an outstanding moving theatrical experience.” says Christine Tibbetts, Blended Family TravelingMom. “Very professional immersion into City of Love 1960s.”

Our own TravelingMom founder, Kim Orlando, says, “When we visited SF for 3 nights, we stayed at the downtown Hyatt – perfect location, free walking tours, and newly renovated. We biked the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and took the ferry back to the city, and visited the cable car museum and the Fortune Cookie Factory (near each other).”

What to Do in LA with Teens

Warner Bros. Studio tour in Los Angeles

Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff / Los Angeles TravelingMom

Los Angeles TravelingMom Mimi Slawoff says, “In L.A., depending on their interests, check out: Surfrider Beach Malibu; lunch at nearby John’s Garden; Santa Monica Pier (lots of restaurants there); Griffith Observatory; horseback riding with Sunset Stables Hollywood (great views of L.A.); The Getty; Hollywood; Universal Studios/CityWalk; and Behind-the-Scenes studio tour at Warner Bros. Places to eat (recommended by my 19 y/o): In N Out Burger; Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles; Tito’s Taco Truck; and Diddy Reise ice cream.” She also shares her ideas for How to Spend Two Days in San Francisco With a Teen.

More TravelingMom suggestions for San Francisco.

More TravelingMom suggestions for Los Angeles.

Do you have any suggestions for must-see, must-eat in San Fran and L.A.? Leave us a comment!