Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Crookedest Street, and clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf aside, there’s much to do on a San Francisco family vacation that’s off the main tourist track. If you’re planning a San Francisco vacation with your kids, I hope you’ll consider paying a call to its lovely zoo out by Ocean Beach. A trip to the San Francisco Zoo can also be a springboard to other nearby sights that are also fun to visit with children (included below).
Here are my SF Zoo tips if you plan to go:
1. Arrive early, but not too early. The San Francisco Zoo is open 365 days a year (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. most of the year, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during summer), so you can cross the city after peak morning traffic and still arrive in time for a good parking space.
2. Do not trust GPS to get you to the right gate for the San Francisco Zoo. There is an unfortunate guard who spends each day redirecting GPS-guided tourists arriving at the staff parking entrance to the front visitor’s entrance. Stay on Sloat Avenue until you see the sign to turn off for the zoo. You can click here to see it on the map.
3. Bring warm layers – even if the morning seems warm. The San Francisco Zoo entrance is actually right across the street from the Pacific Ocean–and not the Pacific Ocean they have in San Diego. While this makes it nice and easy to work in some sand castles and a beach picnic after your zoo visit, keep in mind that on a cooler day (which we get many of in San Francisco, particularly in July) there will be a coastal breeze blowing through the zoo. Make sure everyone in your family will be warm enough to enjoy their time outdoors.
4. Plan a strategic play break at the sandy playground. If your toddler begins resisting the stroller, or refuses to stay near you as you walk, just make a pit stop at the massive playground area for some free play time. The playground has suitable areas for toddlers as well as big kids, not to mention family restrooms that include diaper changing tables beneath heat lamps (yes, believe me on point 3!).
5. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, head to the “South American Tropical Forest,” where a warm and balmy indoor world awaits many a chilly traveler. Just watch out for the enormous yellow anaconda – I can’t imagine what they’re feeding it.
6. Rent a wagon or a stroller for your visit. Wagon and stroller rentals are available at $10 / day, available on a first-come first-served basis.
7. Check the daily schedule if you’d like to attend the penguing, pelican, or giraffe feedings, or see snack time for the grizzlies. In addition, the San Francisco Zoo is offering these summer events, from June through September:
Summer Programming in the Children’s Zoo
10:30 a.m. Barnyard Stampede – Family Farm
11:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. Nature Trail is DAILY starting June 9, then weekends only through Labor Day – Children’s Zoo
11:15 a.m. Hatchery Tour – Family Farm
2:30 p.m. Incredible Insects in Action – Insect Zoo
3:30 p.m. Pond Feeding – Family Farm
4:00 p.m. Keeper Talk: Raptors! – Hawk Hill
Wildlife Theatre (June – September)
2:00 p.m. Thursday through Sunday
8. Combine your visit to the San Francisco Zoo with a stop at these other favorites in the same vicinity:
- Fort Funston – Dog and hang glider paradise, just south of the zoo.
- The Wilhelmina Windmill at the west end of Golden Gate Park – next to the kid-friendly Beach Chalet/Park chalet restaurant (more info in linked post).
- Driving loop for north central SF – Golden Gate Bridge, Park, Beaches & More
- More San Francisco recommendations from Travels with Baby
For more information about the San Francisco Zoo, visit their website at: http://www.sfzoo.org/.
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008
- January 2008
- December 2007
- November 2007
Travel better with the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks!
- Maui, Molokai, awards and new blog – oh, my!
- Five easy ways to fuel romance…on a family vacation?!
- Announcing the CARES flight harness + Travels with Baby guidebook winner…
- It’s here! Travels with Baby is now available at Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, and Amazon.co.uk
- Three ways to keep a toddler from kicking the airplane seat in front of you
- Win a CARES flight harness + 2nd edition Travels with Baby guidebook!
- Community question: San Diego activities for vacation with 10 month old baby and 4 year old?
- Birth (of a book) announcement!
- Val-Travel Scamming on Why and How to Get the Paris Museum Pass for Your Family’s Visit
- wanderingeducators on Why and How to Get the Paris Museum Pass for Your Family’s Visit
- Heidi Wagoner on Why and How to Get the Paris Museum Pass for Your Family’s Visit
- Rob on It’s here! Travels with Baby is now available at Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, and Amazon.co.uk
- Elena on Win a CARES flight harness + 2nd edition Travels with Baby guidebook!
Tagsairlines air travel animals Ask Shelly awards beach blog books budget California camping car seats Costa Rica Europe family travel food France gear giveaway green travel guest post Hawaii health holiday travel Italy Jamaica Kauai Maui Oregon outdoor Pack This Paris parks Photo Fave road trips safety San Francisco sleep Spain tips Tip Tuesday traditions travel toys TSA Yosemite