Forget about exotic island vacations when searching for the ultimate multigenerational destination. Think outside the box and the beach. Desert TravelingMom decided to go urban and discovered lots of fun multigenerational adventures in San Francisco. Engaging museums, outdoor fun and unique venues made visiting the city an amazing idea for multigenerational travel. Everyone from 6 to 60 enjoyed San Francisco.
5 Multigenerational Adventures in San Francisco
Southern California is our typical destination for fall break, but this year we opted for a new adventure and headed further north to San Francisco. My husband and I had not traveled to San Francisco in quite a few years. This was the first visit for our sons and my dad who joined us.
Planning a week long itinerary in San Francisco that would keep everyone from school age kids to a grandpa happy was a little tricky. Keeping things interesting and interactive was the key to everyone’s happiness. Read on for our 5 multigenerational adventures in San Francisco.
Visiting Muir Woods was number one our list. Walking through a primeval forest of old growth coast redwoods was amazing. It was so peaceful and still, almost like we were on a different planet. And compared to the Arizona desert it is totally exotic.
The trail is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs, the perfect place for an awesome multigenerational experience from little ones all the way up to grandparents. Plus with bathrooms and a cafe near the park entrance, it’s easy to make a 1/2 day trip without packing anything.
Muir Woods is about 40 minutes outside the city. Although families can easily rent a car, I wouldn’t recommend it as parking at Muir Woods is extremely limited. If you do opt to drive yourself, plan on arriving before the park opens to avoid the crazy traffic and parking issues. You can also book a tour to Muir Woods.
We bypassed the big group tour bus and chose a private tour of Muir Woods. It was a bit of a splurge but it was the best decision for us. Our guide customized the tour for our needs. We skipped the standard Sausalito portion and checking out Muir Beach and the view of the Bay Bridge from Hawk Hill instead.
Traveling Mom Trip: Arrive before the visitors center opens and avoid paying the park entrance fee.
I was a little nervous about visiting Alcatraz with my kids. I remember finding the history interesting when I visited Alcatraz in my 20’s. But I wasn’t sure my boys would agree with me.
Almost everyone enjoyed the audio tour. My 9-year old had no problem following along and listening as we walked through the prison facilities. My 6-year old enjoyed the National Parks Junior Ranger program more. (He only made it half through the audio tour before losing interest.) Both boys enjoyed taking the ferry back and forth from the city.
Traveling Mom Tip: Pick up the Junior Ranger Activity Book at the Ranger Station when you first get off the ferry.
The Exploratorium is amazing and a must visit for all kids from toddlers to teens. It houses over 600 science, nature, art and technology exhibits. Everyone is encouraged to touch and play, even adults! I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite exhibit because they cover anything and everything you can imagine and more. With so much to do and explore, we easily spent 1/2 of a day there without trying. We basically had to peel the kids away when we left.
Traveling Mom Tip: Plan on eating lunch at the Exploratorium. The SeaGlass Restaurant offers locally sourced, upscale comfort foods that will please both picky kids and discerning adults. Plus you’ll find great waterfront views from the dining room.
Our favorite attractions at the Fisherman’s Wharf were Musée Mécanique and Madame Tussauds wax figure museum.
Musée Mécanique is free to visit and houses over 200 antique arcade machines that work. Most games are only a quarter, so you can go try your hand at a few without breaking the bank. Although if you stay nearby in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, you may be coaxed into stopping by more than once.
Video games are one thing, but I was surprised by how much everyone enjoyed Madame Tussauds. Basically, we took silly pictures with the wax figures. Some displays offered props for us to use too. The museum houses a variety of wax figures from music and sports stars to actors and historical figures. Most people will be able to find someone they’ll want to take a selfie with!
Traveling Mom Tip: I’d recommend bringing an extra camera if your kids don’t have one. Mine kept stealing my phone to take silly photos.
Exploring San Francisco
Beyond our big multigenerational adventures in San Francisco, we had a couple free afternoons that allowed us time to explore the city. Some easy adventures include riding a cable car and visiting the free cable car museum, grabbing a meal in Chinatown, and indulging in dessert from Ghirardelli Square or Bob’s Donuts. After exploring the city and conquering the hills, you will deserve a treat.
Traveling Mom Trip: Stay in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. It makes it easy to walk or take public transportation to many popular tourist attractions.