OK… Yesterday was an EPIC day! These are the summer days you LIVE for in SF–sunny, warm and beautiful views of the Bay. If you are a native of the Bay Area, you know this is NOT NORMAL. Usually our city is covered in fog all summer; it becomes a windy, cold wasteland filled with puffer coats and drizzle on your glasses. This is evidenced by all the shivering masses of unsuspecting tourists huddled in their shorts and hastily bought “Golden Gate” fleeces trying to catch a view beyond the fog.

But when SF is warm and clear…. it’s AMAZING!!!!

These days are like trying to capture a picture of a tiny hummingbird in flight. If you aren’t paying attention, you might miss them entirely. Check out these awesome views at the top of the Battery East Trail, in the Presidio near Golden Gate Bridge.

Top 10 Summer Family Activities in the Bay Area

Continuing with my FAD Series (Family Activity Days) here are a few of the things we’ve been doing this summer in the Bay Area. And if you’re new to SF or just visiting for the day, remember to bring lots of LAYERS!!! (For more summer ideas wherever you are check out my Summer Bucket List of 100 ideas for family fun!:

  1. Walk the Golden Gate Bridge – I’m not saying this will be easy. Nine times out of ten, you will be covered in fog. But on the day it’s
    Hummingbird
    sunny… you will experience Nirvana. Park at the bottom of the hill in the parking lot near the Warming Hut. Walk up the stairs on the Battery East Trail and follow the signs to the Golden Gate Bridge. Views are spectacular! Look for hummingbirds along the way like the one I caught on my short hike. Check out this map for more info.
  2. Picnic at the Presidio – This was on my list last fall, and I’m keeping it on the list. Get your craft beer or rose while your kids frolic in the grass. You don’t even need to bring lunch because there are a wide array of Off the Grid food trucks. Just remember to get there early or wait in long line! (And don’t forget to bring your wallet!)
  3. Alcatraz Island — This is a great trip for older kids, especially on the Night Tour. Visit San Franciso’s famous penitentiary/ tourist attraction, in the San Francisco Bay. Summer means longer days, but be sure to to book tickets in advance due to more tourists.
  4. The Lawrence Hall of Science — This awesome science museum in the Oakland hills has activities for kids of all ages (tots to teens!). The last time I visited, my girls did animation! It also has great views of the Bay.
  5. San Francisco Public Library – The Main Children’s Library is always a blast (and if your looking for a new read, kids librarians SERIOUSLY ROCK!!!) Check out the library event webpage to see what events are planned around the city. Classes/workshops include LEGO Robotics, and cooking, kids music and MUCH MUCH MORE!
  6. Take the Ferry to Plank — Go Bowling in Jack London Square! Take the ferry from the Ferry Building and in a short trip you’ll be in historic Jack London Square. Grab some good (a bit pricey) pub food and head out on the lanes or at the arcade. Kids and parents… HAPPY!
  7. Angel Island — Is another great place to visit on the Ferry. Make it a field trip and learn about the island’s natural history, first inhabitants and how its important place in California’s immigration history.
  8. While we’re being SF tourists… might as well ride the Rocket Boat! — This super fun boat leaves from Pier 39 and is TOTALLY SILLY… but even my risk averse girls were grinning ear to ear. Be sure to pick a not so foggy day, and BRING YOUR JACKET, cause it gets colder than you’d think on the Bay. While you’re at it visit the San Francisco Carousel and eat an overpriced kid-friendly lunch at the Pier Market Sea Food Restaurant
  9. It’s not too late to check out a music performance at the Yerba Buena Garden’s Festival — With tons of children’s events, music performances (think: jazz, latin and classical) including performing arts (think theater and spoken word). There are even Thursday lunchtime performances. All close to the Metreon (think easy food and bathroom options for kiddos) and a playground and Children’s Creativity Museum make it a fun packed day for all.
  10. Talking about summer music… Stern Grove festival goes through mid August. (DUUUUUDE!!!! the Doobie Brothers are playing THIS WEEKEND!) Actually I’m planning to check out Talib Kweli on August 16th (Find out more here!) Whatever your taste in music Stern Grove has something for everyone. Just make sure to get their EARLY to grab a space for your blanket as this place get’s PACKED… especially on sunny, summer days.

I’m sure I missed a few. Please post your suggestions in the comments below. What are your favorite family activities this summer?

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About alimcollins

Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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