You really can’t call yourself a Bay Area kid if you haven’t crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, explored the tide pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and spent some time in the redwoods. Print out our list of 20 must-do activities for Bay Area kids, pop it on your fridge and get ready to explore!

1. Ride the Cable Cars.

More than just a mode of transportation, the San Francisco cable cars are a rite of passage for all Bay Area kids. Hop aboard these moving National History Landmarks and hold on tight as you ride up and down the hills of the city. Ride them from Fisherman's Wharf to Lombard Street and on to Chinatown to get to know the city in a whole new way. 

Learn moresfmta.com

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2. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

Whether it's by car, on foot or on two wheels, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is a definite must-do for local kiddos. We prefer to take it slow and walk across the bridge as it is the best way to take in the awesome view of the city and Sausalito. Plus, the kids will feel like tiny ants when they see how big the cables and screws that hold the bridge together are. 

Learn moregoldengatebridge.org

3. Hike to the top of Mt. Tamalpais.

Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin rises Mount Tamalpais (a.k.a. Mt. Tam). The 2,571-foot peak offers panoramic views of the Farallon Islands 25 miles out to sea, the Marin County hills, San Francisco Bay, the East Bay and Mount Diablo. From April through October, head to the peak at night to join astronomers in their stargazing. 

Learn moresfaa-astronomy.org

photo: California Academy of Sciences

4. Stay the night at one of the local museums.

Spend some extra-special time at your favorite local museum or zoo after they close for the night. These special programs offer families the opportunity to view the exhibits and see the animals without all of the crowds. Programs like this are offered at the California Academy of Sciences, Children's Fairyland, Chabot Space and Science Center, Marine Mammal Center, USS Hornet, Happy Hollow and Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

Learn moreredtri.com

photo: Kate Loweth

5. Visit the sea lions of Pier 39.

Not only will you get pretty close to these amazing creatures when you visit them at Pier 39, you can head to the information center there and learn why they migrated to the area after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. Grab a spot on the pier and watch their funny antics as they jockey for the best spot in the sun. 

Learn morepier39.com/the-sea-lion-story

6. Dine on some dim sum in Chinatown. 

Hop off the cable car in Chinatown and head grab yourself some dim sum. These tiny dumplings are perfect for small hands and offer tons of options for all palates. Then cruise around Chinatown, shop for tiny parasols and play at the Willie "Woo Woo" Wong Playground

Learn moreredtri.com

photo: Alcatraz Cruises

7. Ride the ferry to Alcatraz.

An afternoon at Alcatraz is truly a Bay Area kid tradition. Not only do you get to tour this historic former prison island, but you get to ride across the Bay aboard a ferry. When you arrive at the island, head to the park ranger station to get info about their junior ranger program, which you can complete during your visit. 

Learn morealcatrazcruises.com

photo: Kate Loweth

8. Explore the tide pools of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. 

Get up close and personal with the teeny tiny sea life that lives just off our California coast. Head to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at low tide and peer into the pools to spot sea stars, hermit crabs, sculpin and sea anemones. Volunteer docents are around on the weekends to point out all these cool creatures.

Learn morefitzgeraldreserve.org

photo: Kate Loweth

9. Learn about history aboard the USS Hornet.

We are super lucky to have the USS Hornet docked right in our Alameda backyard. This aircraft carrier is a national historic landmark and gives visitors a small glimpse of what life was like for those who defended our country at sea. Take a tour, ride the flight simulator and even sleep overnight in the crew quarters.

Learn moreuss-hornet.org

photo: Kate Loweth

10. Ride the roller coasters at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Since 1907, visitors to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk have enjoyed rides by the beach in the California sun. Ride the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster, devour a funnel cake and enjoy the bands that play in the sand. They even have movies on the beach on Wednesday nights during the summer. 

Learn morebeachboardwalk.com

photo: Boudin San Francisco

11. Take a local food tour.

Expose your little locals to all of the good eats that are made in the Bay Area. From the Jelly Belly Factory in the North Bay to Dandelion Chocolate in SF, there are sweets all around. For a more savory option, try Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station or Boudin Bakery in SF (or maybe Cowgirl Creamery THEN Boudin Bakery in the same day!).

Learn moreredtri.com

12. Explore Golden Gate Park.

This 1,000-acre park that sits right in the heart of San Francisco offers days of adventures for families. Visit the de Young Museum, explore the living roof at the California Academy of Sciences and head to the San Francisco Zoo, all within the park. You can even splash in the waves if you head all the way to the western edge. Then reclaim your zen with a visit to the Japanese Tea Garden. 

Learn moregoldengatepark.com

photo: Kate Loweth

13. Visit the redwoods.

Whether you head to Muir Woods or one of our local state parks, it's essential for Bay Area kids to experience the sequoia sempervirens, or coastal redwoods, that live only in this area. These majestic giants are the largest living trees on Earth and home to many local animals and birds. On the second Saturday of the month during 2018, the Save the Redwoods League is offering free admission to many of the redwoods state parks so plan your trip and get out there and explore! 

Learn more: redtri.com

photo: Kate Loweth

14. Splash in the waves.

Every Cali kid should take advantage of the fact that we live just a short drive away from some amazing beaches. Whether your favorite spot is Half Moon Bay, China Beach or the soft sand of Monterey, pack up your picnic and slather on the sun screen for some fun in the California sun.

Learn moreredtri.com

photo: Kate Loweth

15. Pick your own berries.

With our awesome coastal climate we can pick strawberries, blackberries, olallieberries and more during the spring and summer months. Just head to one of the coastal berry farms or down to Watsonville and put the kids to work. You will find that the sweetest berries are those that are warmed by the sun and picked by you.

Learn moreredtri.com

photo: Presidio Off the Grid

16. Spend the day in the Presidio.

This former military base turned National Recreation Area has a ton to offer kids. Check out the abandoned batteries at Fort Scott or head to Battery Chamberlin on the first weekend of the month for real-life demonstrations. Then enjoy some food truck eats at Off the Grid or tacos and queso at Arguello. 

Learn moreredtri.com

photo: Kate Loweth

17. Go camping by the coast.

Whether you pick a spot by the beach in Big Sur or deep in the redwoods, you will feel miles away from the daily grind as soon as you set up your tent and get the campfire going. Get the kids off the electronics, scout for banana slugs and see the stars like you've never seen them before. 

Learn moreredtri.com and redtri.com

photo: Matt Beard

18. Experience the local theater scene.

Whether you are planning on taking the kids to Crystal by Cirque this spring in San Jose, or School of Rock in SF this summer, there are loads of options to get the kids to a show all around the Bay Area. We even have a bunch of local theater companies that cater just to the younger set with shorter performances that include audience interaction—perfect to get kids to love the theater from an early age. 

Learn moreredtri.com

photo: Kate Loweth

19. Explore technology at one of the area's science museums.

Living in Silicon Valley means that tech is all around us. Not only do many of the area's museums offer STEM-focused programs, many of the museums are completely devoted to this topic. Develop an early love for all things science, technology, engineering and math by visiting one of these local institutions for a day of hands-on discovery.

Learn moreredtri.com

20. Head to Año Nuevo to meet the elephant seals.

Halfway between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay is Año Nuevo State Park. Here, thousands of elephant seals return each year to breed, give birth and molt along the coastal dunes. In the winter months you can take a guided tour of the area to learn all about these amazing creatures.

Learn moreparks.ca.gov

Have you checked off everything on this list? Let us know what you still have left in a Comment!

—Kate Loweth