Family Hot Spots: Enjoying the Great Outdoors in San Francisco

lynn_benandwill_beach_ggbridgeAs any San Francisco resident or frequent visitor can attest, Fall is the ideal time to be outdoors in the City. The afternoons are warm and the evening’s crisp.

If you’re lucky enough to live in SF or are visiting anytime soon, don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with your family. Here are parent-recommended spots for soaking up some sunshine and fresh air in SF.

4 Family-Friendly San Francisco Destinations

Golden Gate Park

Sure, the enormous park is an obvious choice for playing outdoors, but there are so many great destinations within the park that you just may have missed. If you haven’t already, check out a few of these insider favorite spots:

  • The piazza area between the de Young Museum and the Cal Academy is just right for families. There’s plenty of grassy area for spreading out a picnic, playing catch or letting the kids run free. For parents, the abundance of benches and fountains are also a big plus.
  • The Windmill/Tulip Garden on the western side of the park is a worthy stop, especially if you are hoping to visit the Beach Chalet for dinner or a drink.  The sweet oasis is lovely, even if it’s not tulip season.

    Windmills via Golden Gate Park.org
    Windmills via Golden Gate Park.org
  • If you’re leaving the little ones home, consider a Segway tour for an outdoor date.  If kids are in-tow, consider renting tandem bikes from Bay City Bikes. Kids will love riding with you and early riders won’t slow you down.
  • The children’s playground, called Koret Children’s Quarter, offers a blend of old and new, including an authentic carousel (open weekends-only after Labor Day). There are plenty of climbing opportunities and slides for younger kids, too.
  • Park Chalet – You don’t need an excuse to visit this dining destination, but if you need to put something on the calendar, make it the next JAMBand Family Festival, September 22.

Mission Dolores Park

For those who aren’t familiar, this super-accessible park with plenty of wide open space (edged with palm trees) is located two blocks south of Mission Dolores at the western edge of the Mission District. It’s biggest advantage over other parks in the city? It’s the sunniest spot in SF! Expect a mixed crowd – kids aren’t the ones who like open space and sunshine! Do keep in mind that a major renovation is expected to begin this winter, though the playground will stay open throughout the work.

Mission Dolores Park via SF Parks and Recreation
Mission Dolores Park via SF Parks and Recreation

Claus Oldenburg Cupid’s Span on the Embarcadero

The can’t-miss-it bow and arrow sculpture marks the spot for the perfect family picnic. You are a mere 5-minute walk from the Ferry Building where you can pick up all the good eats you need for a delicious family spread before plopping down by the sculpture. While you’re at the Ferry Building loading up on refreshments, don’t forget to take a minute to gaze at the bay, watch the boats and take in the view. Oh, San Francisco….

Cupid's Span via Oldenburgvanbruggen.com
Cupid’s Span via Oldenburgvanbruggen.com

Off the Grid Picnic in the Presidio

Enjoy an Autumn afternoon at this giant family picnic, held weekly on Sundays from 11 am – 4 pm.  Picnics at the Presidio is located on the Main Post Lawn (Main Parade Ground) adjacent to the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Presidio Trust. Their Facebook page says it best, “You can’t say no to a picnic in 75-degree sun, complete with bay views, bloody Maries, hot food, fresh produce, and even bocce ball.”

Picnic at the Presidio 620x390

We hope these SF top spots will give you reason to spend a day outside with your family, sneak out for an afternoon with your kids or escape with your spouse while the kids are at home with a sitter! Fall is the time to do it!

Find and book babysitters at UrbanSitter.com.