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10 Exciting Travel Itineraries for an Unforgettable San Francisco Adventure with Teens:

San Francisco is a city that thrives on diversity and the outdoors, making it an ideal destination for families with teens in tow. With its iconic landmarks, vibrant culture, and eclectic cuisine options, there's something for everyone. To help you plan the perfect trip, I have curated ten dynamic itineraries that promise an unforgettable experience, grouped by neighborhood/area.

 

1. Cable Car Museum & Maritime Adventure  through Downtown to the Waterfront



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San Francisco Cable Cars

- Cable Car Museum: Delve into the fascinating history of San Francisco's iconic cable cars. Witness the inner workings of these vintage vehicles and learn about their pivotal role in the city's transportation. (Open daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM)


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Irish Coffees at the Buena Vista






- Buena Vista Restaurant: After exploring, head to Buena Vista for a taste of authentic San Francisco charm. Teens will love the community seating vibe and perhaps sneaking a sip of the famed Irish coffee (for adults only!).


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Balclutha

- Naval Museum Complex: Dive into maritime history with a visit to the Naval Museum Complex, encompassing the Balclutha, Historic Park, Maritime Museum, and USS Pampanito Navy Vessel. Teens can immerse themselves in the seafaring past of this coastal city.

 

2. Alcatraz Adventure

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Alcatraz Island from the ferry

- Alcatraz: Embark on a chilling journey (often in both senses of the word) to "The Rock" and explore the notorious Alcatraz Island. Teens will be captivated by the tales of infamous inmates and the island's intriguing history.  Don’t forgo the audio tour- the voices of the action, prisoners and guards are a highlight. Take a picnic or something to munch, as this sojourn will take up much of your morning.



-Don't miss dining options at the Ferry Building before or after your boatride, including Gott's and Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream, La Miette sweets- perfect for satisfying teenage appetites.

 

3. Vintage Vibes & Culinary Delights in the Haight area

- Free Gold Watch: Get your game on at Free Gold Watch, a haven for vintage arcade enthusiasts. Teens and adults alike can indulge in retro pinball machine fun.

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Free Gold Watch Retro Pinball Arcade

- The Ice Cream Bar & Zazie: Treat your taste buds to decadent delights at two of my faves: The Ice Cream Bar, an old fashioned soda stop, and Zazie, a cute French restaurant nearby.

- Thrifting on Haight: Dive into the eclectic scene of Haight Street and explore its array of thrift stores. Teens can hunt for unique fashion finds while soaking in the bohemian atmosphere.

 












4. Nature Escapes & Botanical Wonders in Golden Gate Park

- Golden Gate Park: Spend a day exploring the vast expanse of Golden Gate Park. Marvel at the butterflies in the pavilion, wander through the enchanting Japanese Tea Garden, and younger teens can unleash their inner child at the playground.



- Rent Boats or Bikes: A perfect way to soak in the beauty of the surroundings while enjoying some outdoor adventure is to rent boats or family “surrey on top” bikes at the lake.

- Conservatory of Flowers: Step into a world of botanical wonders at the Conservatory of Flowers. Teens will be mesmerized by the exotic plants and vibrant blooms that call this historic landmark home (check to see if the stinkiest flower might be blooming!)

- California Academy of Sciences: Ignite curiosity at the California Academy of Sciences, where science comes to life through interactive exhibits.  Outside is an enormous Ferris wheel for a thrill, or the DeYoung Museum, should your teens have a more artsy taste.

 

5. Beach Fun at Ocean Beach

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Ocean Beach Near Sutro Baths
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A Treasure Sometimes Found on Ocean Beach

- Ocean Beach: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along Ocean Beach; often this beach is covered with a rare find: whole sand dollars!  Follow up with a delicious meal on the picnic tables outside at Park Chalet or a cinnamon role from Devils Teeth bakery, or killer tacos at Underdogs 2.

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Park Chalet

- San Francisco Zoo: Embark on a wild adventure at the San Francisco Zoo, home to a diverse array of animals in open area pens, including an enormous Africa area and a bug museum.






6. Artsy Excursions & Culinary Delights in the Mission

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Unique Buildings in Mission District

- Mural Spotting: Explore the vibrant street art scene with a map of murals in the Mission District. Teens will delight in uncovering hidden gems and snapping Instagram-worthy photos.

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Mural in Noe/ Mission Area

- Mitchell's Ice Cream & Burma Love: Indulge in sweet treats at Mitchell's Ice Cream after diving into a culinary journey at my kids’ favorite restaurant: Burma Love. You may all find a new favorite with the flavors of Burmese cuisine.

 













7. Mini Golf & Food Truck Feasts in Dogpatch

- Dogpatch Mini Golf: Putt your way through an enchanting miniature golf course in one of the newest SF neighborhoods, the Dogpatch. Teens can challenge each other to a friendly competition at a SF-themed mini golf course, Stagecoach Greens.

- Food Truck Feasts: Refuel with a variety of delicious fare from the food trucks nextdoor.

 



8. Nature Retreat & Historical Exploration in the Presidio

- Presidio Tunnel Tops: Once an army base overlooking an airfield, the Presidio has become one of the most beautiful areas of SF (in my opionion). The newly landscaped tunnel tops offer a sprawling parkland with scenic vistas of the GG bride, Alcatraz and the Bay, with access down to Crissy Fields and the beach.

- Il Parco: Don’t miss the focaccia at Il Parco, a new restaurant nestled next to the visitor center- sit on site or takeaway to have a picnic at one of the many tables on on the tunnel tops.

- Fort Point: Delve into SF history at Fort Point and marvel at the Golden Gate Bridge from underneath, an unusual vantage point.



- The Walt Disney museum is also here, if there are any fans in your family.

travel Itineraries for an Unforgettable San Francisco Adventures with Teens

9. Sausalito Serenity & Culinary Delights


- Sausalito Excursion: Bike over the GG bridge (layers, layers!) or opt for a scenic ferry ride to Sausalito, which is a cute, walkable town with quaint shops and unbeatable views of the Bay and San Francisco.

- Kayaking in Sausalito: Experience the beauty of Sausalito from a unique vantage point with a kayaking adventure along its picturesque shoreline.  Nearby, make a brief stop in to see the fascinating world of maritime science at the Bay Model.

- Fish: Indulge in fresh seafood delights outside on the docks at Fish or le Garage, two of my favorite post-hike/kayak stops.

 










10. Pacifica Paradise & Tea Time Treats

- Pacifica Beaches: Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and unwind on one of the several reknowned surfing beaches of Pacifica. Teens can soak up the sun, catch some waves, or explore scenic coastal trails.  Better yet, sign them up for a surf lesson.

- Lovey's Tea Shoppe or Soul Grind: Conclude your day with a visit to Lovey's Tea Shoppe, where teens can enjoy a selection of finger sandwiches and delectable petit fours for high tea, or closer to the beach at Soul Grind for fabulous pastries and a hot chocolate.


 

 

 

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