By: Bailey Gaddis
San Francisco has figured out how to achieve the tricky alchemy of sophistication mixed with flair and fun, making it an ideal vacation destination for a family with a varied platter of interests. From epic bay views to grassy sprawls, fine art galleries to interactive museums, and white table cloths and candles to picnic benches surrounded by the smells of hamburgers, San Francisco has something for everyone.
But, with such an expansive city to explore it can give even the savviest traveling family anxiety when deciding where to start. Union Square is a favorite home base for many families as it’s drenched in amble opportunities for shopping, dining, and outdoor recreation. Also, Union Square is within walking distance to Chinatown, the iconic cable cars, and so much more.
Where to Stay in San Francisco
The Westin St. Francis – A family friendly hotel that provides gifts for the kids at check-in and offers family rooms and complimentary cribs. This historic hotel is also a great option if your family enjoys a sprinkle of luxury. And, depending on your style preference of said luxury, The Westin has you covered, offering both classic and modern rooms.
Inn at Union Square - If you’re yearning for a getaway that allows you to cozy-up in one of America’s most eclectic cities check out the newly renovated Inn at Union Square. This boutique hotel has chic and comfortable rooms set far enough back from the street to allow the sweet sounds of silence to echo through your room (at least after the kids go to sleep.)
Located less than a block from Union Square Plaza and surrounded by some of the best dining options in the area, this modern inn will add a few doses of ease into your travels.
Hilton San Francisco Union Square – What’s a must-have amenity for many kids? That’s right, pool. A rare commodity in many city hotels, the Hilton offers a large outdoor pool and Jacuzzi area. Also, the hotel provides small but often-essential details like a mini-fridge, children’s menu, and an on-site convenience store.
Where to Eat in San Francisco
Super Duper - Sometimes, a family just needs a quality hamburger without a lot of fuss. At Super Duper, you can nosh on a burger made from humanely raised cows that are fed a 100% vegetarian diet and sourced from family-owned ranches - the patties are served on freshly baked buns. And what’s a burger without a side of quality fries, and shakes and cones made with organic cream from Straus Family Creamery. And don’t worry about the calories – all the walking San Francisco demands will sizzle them off.
E&O Kitchen and Bar – This three story modern Asian eatery is a great option for parents traveling with kids old enough to order room service and a movie for and sneak away to have a romantic dinner. If you’re up for a culinary adventure try the Japanese “Bop.”
Tacorea – Offering a fascinating fusion of Mexican and Korean inspired tacos this laid back taco joint will keep your taste buds entertained with options like a kimchi burrito, spicy pork bowl, or (my kid’s favorite) the tater tot nachos.
Where to Explore in San Francisco
Cable Cars – An easy way to get to San Fran favorites like the Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can immerse your family in the Exploratorium, hop on tour to Alcatraz, or visit the creatures at Aquarium of the Bay. And, this classic transportation allows you to skip the hassle of navigating your car through the busy streets and spending half your day hunting down parking. Buy your tickets at the intersection of Powell and Mason Street in Union Square.
Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center – If you family enjoys some good-natured competition step on the ice or into some bowling shoes at this center located in Yerba Buena Gardens. This space is a rarity in that it’s open every day of the year.
Children’s Creativity Museum – A collection of kid friendly labs and studios all facilitated by artists and educators there to support the creative process of guests. The creative areas include a Community Lab, Imagination Lab, Play Patio, Animation Studio, Music Studio, Tech Lab, Innovation Lab, and Spiral Gallery.
Union Square Plaza – This central spot to enjoy fresh air, well-placed benches, and a heart shaped art installation is a favorite during the holidays when it transforms into a winter playground with an ice rink and massive lighted tree.