Whether you are a long time resident of San Francisco or just visiting, the five following destinations offer a break from the usual buzz of the beautiful, busy city. Entirely child-friendly and easily planned, they serve as an excellent weekend getaway or a special extra something for your city vacation.
This famous island was not only home to prisoners but American Indian inhabitants during the late ’60s and the military before all of that. The prison was home to such harrowing criminals as Al Capone and Robert Stroud. Guided tours offer a wealth of knowledge and include a variety of themes including famous inmates and escapes. For a spookier trip, consider taking a nighttime tour through the prison. In addition to the infamous building, Alcatraz Island boasts rare flora and fauna. The only way to get to the island is by ferry which run all day and can be be found at Alcatraz Cruises. Consider combining this trip with a tour of Angel Island to explore its immigration history. Just make sure to make reservations! For more information, visit the National Park Service website on the area.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Park is arguably one of the most beautiful and pristine national parks in this country. If you are an avid hiker, there are trails through the Yosemite Valley terrain that would make for an enjoyable day hike. For a less strenuous day (or a day with the kids), check out the more popular attractions such as Giant Sequoias, the many waterfalls and the Yosemite Museum by car. For more information, visit the National Park Service website.
Napa Wine Country
If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip away from the kids, exploring the Napa Valley is exactly what you are looking for. Chock full of lovely wineries with wine-tasting rooms all nestled into the rolling landscape of sunny California, its a intimate trip to take. A list of the wineries in the area can be found here. This trip is best done by car, choosing your own destinations and going at your own pace. If you are weary of driving with wine in your belly, however, many San Francisco tour companies including A Friend in Town offer tours. Its best to make sure you eat plenty of lunch and take turns when it comes to guzzling wine. Consider bringing a nice picnic along or check out one of the dining experiences along the way. Celadon is a local favorite. For further information, visit the Napa Valley website.
Part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area, Muir Woods is located just over 10 miles outside of the San Francisco city limits. Home to a population of ancient sequoias, black-tailed deer and other flora and fauna, this park is an excellent place for a day of hiking or biking. It offers a laid-back way to help kids gain an appreciation for nature. Either plan your own day (be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks) or participate in one of the activities the park provides. There are several other parks in the Recreation Area to explore as well, if you’d prefer to explore further. The Muir Beach and Overlook provide an excellent views and wetlands to discover. For more information, visit the National Park Service website.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
This aquarium is home to such creatures as jellyfish, sea otters and sea dragons. It is located in Monterey, CA, about 2 hours away from San Francisco and is a great kid-friendly destination. This large aquarium can easily be made into a day trip. For an extra charge, you are able to get a backstage pass to the facility. Make sure to make reservations for this in advance. If you are making a day of it, you can eat in the cafe at the aquarium or visit any surrounding restaurants in the city of Monterey. Old Fisherman’s Grotta is an excellent restaurant that offers succulent seafood. Open year round (except for Christmas), it is best to visit the aquarium on a weekday when students are still in school to avoid the crowds. For more information, visit the aquarium’s website.