This post contains affiliate links for which we get a small commission at no extra cost to you.
San Francisco is a place we go to frequently, most recently in July 2017. It’s a very short, direct flight from SNA making it an ideal weekend getaway. There is so much to see and do in SF that you probably won’t do the same thing each time you go! SF is a very kid-friendly city as well, with lots of playgrounds and museums that are perfect for kids. We flew Southwest from SNA using points for me and Dave and the companion pass for Milana. Going home, we flew JetBlue to LGB, also using points, making airfare free. We used our Hilton points for the hotel (5th night free on award bookings!) so the hotel was free as well.
We took BART into the city (super easy from the airport) and our hotel was just 2 blocks from the stop.
Our favorite park in SF is Dolores Park in the Castro district, which has huge slides and lots of room to roam around.
Another fun playground is right across the street from the Ferry Building Marketplace, the new Sue Bierman playground. It’s fully fenced in with an awesome climbing structure.
One day, we went to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies, a row of houses made famous by Full House. Milana had no idea what that meant and why there were no painted ladies but she still posed for a photo! There’s also a small playground in Alamo Square, so you can do both in one shot.
Chinatown in SF is one of our favorite places to wander around. If you’re looking for excellent dim sum, I highly recommend City View restaurant, which is in the Financial District but just blocks from Chinatown. We loved it so much, we went three days in a row! By the third day, Milana knew what she wanted and would wait for the crab lady to make her rounds before choosing her meal! You can’t go wrong with anything here, it was all so good and the staff is really friendly and accommodating to families with young kids.
You can visit the fortune cookie factory in Chinatown, and pick up some freshly made (sometimes hot!) fortune cookies. Just make sure you don’t grab the bag of x-rated ones, if you are sharing with kids!
On every trip to SF, we make it a point to visit Trish mini donuts on Pier 39. They are made fresh right in front of you, and the best donuts you will ever have. Milana agrees! And who doesn’t love a bucket full of hot donuts?
Pier 39, while touristy, has lots of fun things for families to enjoy. This is where you will see the famous sea lions, there are hundreds of them lounging around!
There is also an aquarium, which Milana really wanted to visit.
Walking around Fisherman’s Wharf is fun too. Lots of seafood shacks and souvenir stores here!
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a great place to explore. We always pick up some cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery, some meats from Boccalone Salumeria and bread from the Acme Bread Company and have a picnic lunch outside. Milana loves cheese (there aren’t many she won’t eat!) so it’s the perfect place for us.
On our last visit, we were lucky enough to be here to try the famous raclette! Cowgirl Creamery does raclette happy hour every weekday from 4-6 and let me tell you, it’s not something you want to miss! This was the highlight of our visit, the cheese was amazing!
Of course, what’s a trip to SF without walking on their hilly streets and visiting the Golden Gate Bridge? We visited the steepest street (Filbert) as well as the Crookedest street (Lombard). We were lucky enough to see the bridge in bright sunlight, unlike most people who have pictures of the fog that seems to cover the bridge most of the time!
When you’re in San Francisco, you can’t leave without eating some clam chowder and crab. These two items can be found all over the city, but Fisherman’s Wharf seems to have an abundance of each, making it a great destination to explore if seafood is what you are looking for. Crab House at Pier 39 is by far our favorite place to eat crab! We have tried others, and the crab just doesn’t compare to the ones at Crabhouse!
We also tried crab at PPQ Dungeness Island, which was recommended by some. It was awful and such a waste of money! Not even close to the Crabhouse. They bring the crab already broken apart (Crabhouse brings it whole and asks if you want it broken apart). When we got ours, the body was giant and the legs were super skinny and tiny. There is no way a crab of that size got around on such tiny legs, we are convinced they reuse the giant body shell and put in tiny legs for presentation purposes! It didn’t taste very good either, not sweet like the Crabhouse and the garlic noodles were pretty awful.
We also had some clam chowder in a bread bowl at Chowders on Pier 39 and it was really good! Milana loves clam chowder, so this was the perfect place for us.
Because we weren’t yet cheesed out, one evening we went to dinner at Fondue Cowboy which was awesome! It was Milana’s first fondue experience and I have a feeling we will have many more! The staff here is awesome and the food is really good. Highly recommend it!
On our last two trips, we visited the Children’s Creativity Museum, which was Milana’s dream come true! Everything in there is about art and building, two of her favorite things. We spent hours in there, and she had a blast. If you have a membership to a local ASTC affiliated museum, this one will be free! We purchased a membership to our local science center for $99/2 years and have gotten in free to children’s museum and science centers all over the world. Money well spent!
Milana’s favorite part of the children’s museum is the area where you create things. You pick a random card (based on age) and it tells you what you will be making. You then get a blue box filled with random items and use your imagination to create things. Milana loves this so much, we did it twice.
Just outside the museum, is an indoor carousel. You can get discount tickets with museum admission.
Since we will continue going to SF for weekend getaways, this portion of the blog will be updated periodically!