It’s relatively easy to fill your days on a family trip to San Francisco. Most don’t even need a guide book to put together the basic must see, must do list. But after you’ve walked on the Golden Gate Bridge, escaped from Alcatraz and jumped on a Cable Car, take the kids to Golden Gate Park.
Golden Gate Park sees 13 million visitors each year. It’s the third most visited park in the United States, outdone only by New York’s Central Park and Lincoln Park in Chicago.
Great for Kids
I spent countless hours playing in Golden Gate Park with my girls when they were little. Now a tween and teen, they’re not so little anymore, but a recent weekend trip proved the park’s appeal is strong as ever. Maybe even stronger.
Some of the favorites like the California Academy of Sciences, and the many playgrounds scattered throughout the park are still favorites. But having older kids allowed us to make new additions to the list.
Roll Through the Park
At 1,017 acres Golden Gate Park is about 175 acres larger than Central Park. We covered more of it than ever before rolling on Segways. Electric Tour Company Segway Tours begin at the Music Concourse, in between the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum. Part roads, part trails – our guide Cody took us through sections of the park we’d never discovered on our own.
Learning on the Go
At the start of the tour, after everyone passes their Segway safety lesson, riders are given an earpiece to wear during tour. The wonderful result, we could actually hear everything our guide Cody had to say, which was quite a bit. But it wasn’t a script either. Learning we were locals so to speak, he did a great job highlighting the things he thought we were less likely to know, and made sure the kids were having as much as we were.
Take in the Views
It was our Segway guide who recommended we check out the Hamon Education Tower Observation Deck at the de Young Museum. This is something you can certainly do with younger kids, but older kids will like it for different reasons. On a clear day the view has San Francisco WOW factor.
Identifying those landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge and with my girls, where they wanted to go for dinner, was just plain fun. There is also a great, wall sized map of San Francisco worthy of checking out. And did I mention visiting the Observation Deck is free? Just be ready for security to take a look in any bags or backpacks you’ve got with you.
Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden
Since you’re already there, take a few minutes to visit the sculpture garden. Though older kids don’t necessarily need run around time, things they do when statues are involved make for great embarass them when they are older pictures.
Free Saturday Classes at the de Young
If your visit to the park falls on a Saturday it’s worth checking out the free Saturday classes. Doing and Viewing Art is open to kids 4 through 12, but offers a fun way to see an art museum with tweens and teens in the often required short period of time. Tours of permanent and current collections are followed by classes taught in the museum’s studio workshops. Classes are free with museum admission.
One Necessary Last Stop
We thought we were heading home when the kids demanded a stop at the Koret Children’s Quarter and Golden Gate Park Carrousel. Thought to be the nation’s first public playground, it’s worth a stop on every visit to Golden Gate Park whether the kids are 3, 13 or 43.
Editorial Note: Dana and her family received complimentary tours from Electric Tour Company, but as always Dana’s thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos courtesy of Dana Rebmann
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