There's no better way to see a city than by foot, but San Francisco's endless hills can turn a family stroll into a family nightmare. If you need a long expanse of land for the family to stretch its collective legs, there's no better place for a flat, leisurely stroll than the Embarcadero. And we've broken up the walk for you into morning, afternoon and evening.
Just like any Ferry Building worth its salt, this beautiful building on the Embarcadero is close to all public transportation, so it's a great spot to start your day. Mom and Dad can enjoy exquisite coffee from Blue Bottle Cafe or Peete's while the kids can munch on sweet or savory challah rolls from Cowgirl Sidekick or handmade cinnamon biscuits from Biscuit Bender. And it's all under the grand roof of the Ferry Building, an iconic San Francisco landmark.
If it's a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, take the time to stroll through the outdoor farmer's market, which offers something for everyone including educational programs for the kids about sustainable agriculture and the importance of a healthy diet. (Get the "school" part of the day out of the way in the morning, before they know what hit 'em.)View of the Bay Bridge from the Embarcadero — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
After you've had breakfast and explored the Ferry Building, your best direction is straight west down the Embarcadero - unless the Giants are in town and you're up for a baseball game at their world-class home, AT&T Park. If baseball's not your thing, take your time walking down the Embarcadero, which offers fantastic views of the bay, engaging street vendors and outdoor music.
The Embarcadero is currently being renovated for the America's Cup yacht race, and a brand new cruise terminal makes its debut soon, so this is definitely the place to be. But for sure-fire family fun, make sure you visit the brand new Exploratorium. Even if you don't want to buy admission tickets, the Exploratorium offers 1.5 acres of free exhibits, including the misty Fog Bridge.Fog Bridge at Exploratorium — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
Once the whole family has filled their minds and hearts with all the Exploratorium offers, check in to get a consensus. If the adventurous spirit is still riding high (and the sore soles of feet haven't dragged pee-wee spirits low), then you can continue your walk along the Embarcadero and into San Francisco's main draw for tourists: Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. From the Wax museum to the Museum Mecanique, Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf has one goal: to keep your family entertained until they can't be entertained anymore.Aquarium of the Bay — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
If you'd like to get away from the crowds and get right on the water, boats and tours to Alcatraz, Angel Island, Sausalito and Tiburon leave regularly. For those landlubbers out there, you can catch the famous Powell Cable Car line at Fisherman's Wharf and travel back to downtown, stopping in North beach or Chinatown for dinner.
If you and your family are looking for a flat road to fun in this hilly city, walk the Embarcadero to your heart's - and mind's - delight.