From Hitchcock history to tropical-style dining, this little neighborhood at the top of the hill will give you every reason to leave your heart in San Francisco. Sweeping views of Alcatraz, cable cars, and magnificent architecture all within a few city blocks make this a great place to spend a few hours with the kids. It’s like being a tourist without the trap. 

Fountain-of-the-Tortises-SF Nob Hill-Huntington Park-brokentaco via creative commonsPhoto of Flood Fountain by Broken Taco via Flickr Creative Commons

Play

Collis P. Huntington Park Play Area
Recently renovated but 100% old school, this park and playground make you feel like a tourist in your home town. There’s also the historic Flood Fountain at the park’s center, and you can count on lots of cute neighborhood dogs. Restrooms on site.

California & Taylor
San Francisco, Ca
415-831-6309
Online: sfrecpark.org/huntington-park

Washington and Hyde Mini Park
Possibly the smallest and most charming playground in the city, this Nob Hill secret is made for pint-sized people. Tucked away from the bustle of nearby downtown, it is designed to look like a child-sized city. No restrooms here.

Washington & Hyde
San Francisco, Ca
415-601-7277
Online: sfrecpark.org/washington-hyde-mini-park

outdoor labyrinth grace cathedral via yelp Emily CPhoto: Grace Cathedral labyrinth by Emily C. via Yelp

Explore

Grace Cathedral
This church’s stone work and elaborate doors make it seem like a fairy tale castle. Toddlers will enjoy climbing the steps, and all kids will appreciate the outdoor labyrinth. If the cathedral is open it’s worth a stop in to see the indoor labyrinth, the impressive stained glass, and the Keith Haring AIDS memorial chapel.

1100 California St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-749-6300
Online: gracecathedral.org

640px-James_Flood_Mansion_(San_Francisco)_4Photo of Flood Mansion by Sanfranman59 via Wikimedia Commons 

Pacific Union Club
Built by silver tycoon James C. Flood in 1899, this exquisite brownstone is a premier wedding reception spot for the other-half. Not open to the public.

1000 California St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-775-1234

Brocklebank Apartments
Fans of Vertigo will recognize the dwelling of the Madeliene (Kim Novak) in the famous Hitchock film.

1000 Mason St.
San Francisco, Ca

The Cable Car Barn & Powerhouse, SFPhoto of Cable Car Bar by Michelle S. via Yelp 

The Cable Car Barn & Powerhouse
Learn about the mechanics and history of cable cars at this free museum. You can watch the cables turn and check out an out-of-comish cable car. And don’t forget to stop by the gift shop: they sell unique “tourist” gifts including old San Francisco street signs.

1201 Mason St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-474-1887
Hours: April 1- Sep. 30, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Oct. 1 – Mar. 31, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Online: sfcablecar.com

Chinese Historical Society Museum
Learn about San Francisco’s Chinese heritage in this Julia Morgan designed museum.

965 Clay St. at Joice
San Francisco, Ca
415-391-1188 x 101
Cost:  $5/adults; $2/children 2-17; and kids 5 and under are free
Hours: Tues.-Fri., from 12-5 p.m. and Sat. 11 a.m. -4 p.m. (Closed Sun. & Mon.)
Online: chsa.org

Walk It Out
Check the SF City Guides website for their walking tours of the area. They offer free tours of the Fairmont, Nob Hill, and even Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco walking tour.

fairmont hotel lobbyPhoto: Fairmont Hotel lobby by paragon via Flickr Creative Commons

Eat

Fairmont Hotel
The lavish 1906 hotel has a lobby decked out with gilded lions, overstuffed Victorian furniture and beautiful murals. All of the Fairmont’s restaurants, including the Laurel Court off the lobby and the Tonga Room (which features regular tropical “storms”) have kid’s menus. The Fairmont also offers an afternoon tea where children are welcome and don’t forget to ask to visit the honeybees at the culinary garden. For a quick and casual bite or a good coffee, drop into Cafe Cento on the Powell side of the hotel.

950 Mason St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-772-5000
Online: fairmont.com/sf

nob hill cafe by Kevin Y via YelpPhoto: Nob Hill Cafe by Kevin Y via Yelp 

Nob Hill Cafe
Classic Italian food in a chic atmosphere. No reservations are accepted here but you can do take-out and dash on back to Huntington Park where you can nosh on a bench by the fountain and take in the impressive architecture.

1152 Taylor St.
415-776-6500
Hours: Mon. – Fri., lunch 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Sat. & Sun. brunch, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Open for dinner every night from 5-10 p.m.
Online: nobhillcafe.com

toast cup from beanstalk_Vi N via YelpPhoto: Toast cup from Beanstalk Cafe by Vi N via Yelp

Beanstalk Cafe
What’s a toast-cup you ask? A trip to the Beanstalk will have you talking about them for days. Little crisp cups with egg and bacon are too adorable not to order. They also serve a mean pastrami sandwich. Also: waffles. Word of warning: this place is downhill from most of the sites of Nob Hill so stop by on your way up. It’s just open for lunch.

724 Bush St. between Powell and Mason
415-576-1966
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. every day

Flour & Co.
Early risers will be rewarded with the many spoils of this awesome little bakery, but any time of day you’ll find sweets and savories for your sweets. Carrot cake and cookies, plus they server brunch and lunch items like eggs, biscuits and gravy, and oatmeal.

1030 Hyde St. between California and Pine
415-992-7620
Hours: 6:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Online: flourandco.com

Trader Joes
Fans of TJ’s will be pleased to see one within an short, not-too-steep walk of Grace Cathedral where you can load up on Pirate’s Booty and other snacks before exploring Nob.

1095 Hyde St. @ California
415-292-7665
Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Online: traderjoes.com 

cable car by fairmont hotel, flickr Simon AllardicePhoto of cable car on Nob Hil by Simon Allardice via Flickr Creative Commons

Getting There
The closeness of attractions in this area are easy explore on foot, and sidewalks are on the narrow side, so ditch the strollers for baby carriers or backpacks if possible. Nob Hill is on the top of a steep hill, from all sides, so walking from downtown or Union Square is probably too much for the pre-K set. Older kids should be fine, although they’ll be very tired at the top! There is a parking garage under the Masonic Auditorium (on the South side of California St., across from Grace Cathedral) at $8/hr. Better yet, ditch the car and take a cable car to the top of the hill. You can Union Square garage and take the cable car up from there, or try catching it at Van Ness and California for a less crowded option.

What’s your favorite spot on Nob Hill?

— Amber Guetebier