San Francisco Museums for Kids of All Ages

With temperate weather year-round, San Francisco offers tons of outdoor activities for families. Rollicking through Golden Gate Park is always an option, as well as playing in the sands of the Bay Area's numerous beaches: Ocean Beach, Stinson Beach, and Muir Beach, just to name a few.

But if that infamous San Francisco fog has blown in, and you understand Mark Twain's famous quote firsthand ("The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco"), then it's time to find some indoor fun. Studies show that the earlier kids are exposed to art, the bigger the payoff down the road. If you want quality time that's both an fun and educational, check out our list of family friendly museums.

If your kids are bubbling with energy and need some real "hands-on learning," spend some hours at The Exploratorium, a place specifically designed for the endless curiosity of children. If you'd like to get some area-specific history, The Cable Car Museum not only reveals the intriguing mechanism behind the city's iconic transport, it also frames San Francisco's history in a way that even kids will enjoy. If all else fails, then head to the universal cure for the boredom of children: The Walt Disney Museum. If Uncle Walt can't make museums interesting, no one can.

Cartoon Art Museum
Photo courtesy of Cartoon Art Museum


First envisioned in 1984, this museum gained prominence following support from Charles M. Schulz, creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. In 1987, the museum established a home in Yerba Buena Gardens, the city's art center. The facility now offers...  Read More



One of the great things about San Francisco is its treasure-filled bay. Angel Island, only a short ferry ride from San Francisco, Tiburon or Vallejo, is perfect for either a short or long excursion. Bring a picnic lunch and idle the time away...  Read More



Perched right on the Pacific Ocean, The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a world-class facility that offers unforgettable experiences for the whole family. If you're coming from San Francisco, you'll enjoy a beautiful drive down the coast with plenty of...  Read More

Photo courtesy of used in book.


During Alcatraz's 34 years as a prison, most of its inmates were simply high-risk escapees and troublemakers. Still, the prison plays strongly in national memory thanks to infamous residents like Al "Scarface" Capone and Robert "Birdman" Stroud....  Read More



Come nose-to-beak with penguins and parrots, watch sharks and sting rays cruise beneath your feet, and feel the spray of the California coast. Fly to Mars (and beyond the Milky Way!) from the safety of your planetarium seat, take a virtual...  Read More

Cable Car Museum


This museum has been called "one of the top 10 free attractions in the world" by travel guru Arthur Frommer. Watch the machinery that makes San Francisco's most famous form of transportation possible. Also go upstairs for photographs,...  Read More



If you've tried all the other museums on this list, and you're absolutely desperate for a sure-fire museum experience, then bring out the big toy guns: The Walt Disney Family Museum. Like only Disney can, this museum combines fascinating...  Read More

Bay Model Museum
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


This one-of-a-kind model is a feat of US Army Corps engineering: the entire Bay Area set to a model. The Corps created this enormous indoor model to study the tides and currents of the Bay, and it was renovated and refurbished and made open to...  Read More



If the kids have been on their very best behavior and deserve a real treat, take the time to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and visit the Bay Area Discovery Museum. This premium stretch of real estate just below Sausalito and right on the bay has...  Read More



The Exploratorium believes the fundamental childhood traits of being playful and curious should be fostered for a lifetime. Founder Frank Oppenheimer believed in intertwining art and science to make learning attractive and memorable through...  Read More


Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom