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Looking for kiddo-friendly culture? We got it. Outdoor space to play? Plenty of it. Educational experiences so fun that the kids won't even realize they're learning? We basically invented it. Kids in wine country? Absolutely!
Here are 10 family-friendly activities we recommend for your next San Francisco & Napa Valley family vacation:
- The Exploratorium: Named by CNN as the #1 Spot for Kids in the country, the museum encourages guests of all ages to touch, explore and play with 600 exhibits. Investigate the living world, experiment with thoughts, feelings and behavior, explore the local environment, think with your hands and much more.
- PIER 39: Visit the resident sea lions, watch magicians, jugglers, comedians and more during daily street performer shows, and run down oversized musical stairs — all for free! Other activities include Aquarium of the Bay, Players Sports Grill & Arcade, Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze, the San Francisco Carousel, a classic Caricature stand and Frequent Flyers (think bungee cords + giant trampoline).
- Historic Streetcar Ride: A cross between a cable car and one of the sleek light rail vehicles that run underground along Market Street, San Franciso's fleet of historic streetcars runs aboveground on Market Street between the Castro District and Fisherman's Wharf. And to learn the full story behind these historic cars, visit the free San Francisco Railway Museum.
- California Academy of Sciences: Want to earn cool points with the kids? They're guaranteed to pop a smile amidst the aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, rain forest, and home to 40,000 live animals — all under one living roof. Set time aside for a penguin feeding, dive show or swamp talk with the Academy's celebrity albino alligator, Claude.
- Golden Gate Park: This park stretches from the Haight to the Pacific Ocean. With more than 1,000 acres of plush greenery, it's also home to The Koret Children's Quarter (a merry-go-round and playground), the de Young Museum, Conservatory of Flowers, California Academy of Sciences, Stow Lake and a resident herd of buffalo.
- Connolly Ranch: For hands-on experiences with wildlife, check out Connolly Ranch, a working farm in Napa with an education center that sponsors programs to teach little ones all about nature. They also offer a new Saturday Farm Camp, where adults can spend some guilt-free hours exploring the Napa Valley while the kids have fun unplugging on the 12-acre ranch.
- Bale Grist Mill: Experience history in St Helena. At the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park in St. Helena, families can tour the circa-1846 mill or watch in amazement as docents use it to make flour.
- Castello di Amorosa: If you're looking to bring the kids along for a wine tasting, a handful of wineries will accommodate everyone. Castello di Amorosa is a medieval-inspired Tuscan castle complete with dungeons, drawbridges, and animals out front. Hosts pour underage drinkers grape juice while they pour wine for mom and dad.
- CIA at Copia: Family Funday classes every Sunday give kids and parents the opportunity to bond over a different treat every week, from pizza to cupcakes to tacos!
- The Napa Valley Vine Trail: The Vine Trail spans 12.5 miles between Yountville and Napa, with plans to extend the route to 47 miles to connect the valley. Families can rent a bike and take in the Napa Valley at their own pace, the route is flat, away from traffic, and gorgeous.