Top 10 Lists

Top 10 Free Places for Kids in San Francisco

What type of free activities can you do with kids in San Francisco? Sure, the weather is free. And Pier 39, Golden Gate Park and Yerba Buena Gardens offer scenic and natural beauty but we’re talking about things that are free to attend and not outdoors.

So here’s the list:

1.Randall Museum
199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA
Tues to Sat from 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM

Randall Museum focuses on arts, crafts, sciences and natural history. They have live native and domestic animals and interactive displays. They also offer free classes for parents and children.

2. Musée Mécanique
Pier 43 ½
Mon to Fri, 10am-7pm
Sat, Sun and holidays, 10am-8pm

The Musée Mécanique showcases more than 300 mechanical items. Owned by an avid collector, the museum houses antique penny arcade machines, mechanical fortune tellers and viewing machines. Still working, they only need a quarter or fifty cents to start playing. For those who grew up in San Francisco, this is a fond memory of former Play Land at the beach. Admission is free but playing the machines is not. However, this is still a fun place to visit.

3.Cable Car Museum
1201 Mason St (at Washington)

Located at Washington and Mason, the Cable Car museum is a wonderful place to take kids. It offers the history of the cable cars, in use since 1873. It also houses a gift shop with memorabilia from tee shirts to record album covers depicting the historic cars. Admission is free and hours vary depending on season.

4.San Francisco Railway Car Museum
77 Steuart St
Open Wed-Sun, 10am – 6pm

After riding the “F” street car, you may want to stop at this free museum, displaying vintage photographs and film on the history of the street cars of San Francisco. San Francisco is the only city in the nation still using the street cars, purchased from cities such as Detroit, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Milan (Italy), etc. The museum focuses on the history of rail transit. There is even a full size motorman’s platform where the kids can try out simulated controls for steering the streetcar. You can also purchase unique memorabilia from their gift shop.

5. Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
56 Ross Alley

At Washington Street, right between Grant Ave and Stockton Street, is a fortune cookie factory in Ross Alley. There is no charge to taste a sample and bags of cookies can be purchased to bring back home.

6.Maritime National Historical Park Visitor Center
499 Jefferson (at Hyde)
Open daily, 7 days a week from 9:30am to 5:00pm

Located right next to the Argonaut Hotel is the Maritime National Historical Park Visitor Center. This historic building was built in 1908, two years after the famous 1906 earthquake. Inside this visitor center is a wealth of information on historic ships and maps. They offer free walking tours on the weekends

7.Maritime Museum
900 Beach St (at Polk)
Open daily, 10am to 4pm

The Bathhouse building was built in 1939 This unique structure was designed to represent an ocean liner and represents an architectural design of the Art Deco period. Art murals line the interior walls, painted by masters Sargent Johnson and Hilaire Hiler. Special exhibits relating to maritime navigation are displayed.

8. Fort Point
Long Ave & Marine Dr
Fri to Sun, 10:00am to 5:00pm

Guarding the Golden Gate Bridge for 150 years, Fort Point was constructed as a defense barrier against naval attacks on San Francisco Bay. Built for the Civil War, between 1853 and 1861, the architecture is of Army traditional design. Special programs and events are conducted during the year. There are self-guided and guided tours, and documentary videos. On Saturdays, March through October, 10:00am to noon, there are pier crabbing demonstrations.

9.San Francisco Fire Museum
655 Presidio Ave
Thurs through Sun, 1pm to 4pm

A collection of vintage fire trucks and artifacts from the 1906 earthquake including hand pumps, helmets, and burnt pennies is sure to pique your interest. You’ll get a perspective of what it was like to put out the fires during the earthquake from the old photos and equipment.

10.Tcho chocolate factory tour
Pier 17

An artisanal chocolate factory, they are the only chocolate factory in San Francisco to conduct tours
Offered daily at 10:30am and 2:00pm, the tours are open to adults and children, 8 years and above due to FDA regulations

By Kathryn D.