All About Visiting San Francisco With Kids: Important Information To Know

Two girls play in the sand with San Francisco Bay in the background.
Photo Courtesy: Kim Burns

If you want to know all about visiting San Francisco with kids, there’s some important information you should read first. From the local currency to health information, the official language, and even babysitting services, it’s important to do proper research on your vacation destination before booking your trip. Finding all the information in one place can be tricky, though, which is why we’ve compiled a list of things to know before visiting San Francisco, including important information for you to reference. Plus, stay tuned until the end, since we also include things to do in San Francisco with kids and the best hotels in San Francisco for families. Keep reading for all about visiting San Francisco for families!

At a Glance

A young girl stands on a rock while exploring an area of Stowe Lake within Golden Gate Park.
Photo Courtesy: Emily Kapic

Need to know all about San Francisco? From currency to time, official language, and visa information, here are some basic facts you should know about San Francisco.

Local Currency & Time

Wondering about the San Francisco local currency? The official currency in San Francisco is the U.S. Dollar. In case you need help figuring out how much money to bring with you, use this handy currency converter. There are numerous ATMs and foreign exchange facilities in the city, but we suggest bringing money with you. Generally speaking, the best way to save on commissions is to pay by credit card. San Francisco operates in Pacific Standard Time (GMT-8 or GMT-7) during daylight savings time. Click to see San Francisco’s current time.

Official Language & Visa Information

English is the primary language spoken in San Francisco. However, nearly 50% of San Franciscans speak a language other than English at home. The largest language groups are Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, and Russian. If you’re planning an extended trip to San Francisco or have a non-U.S. passport, you may also need to research obtaining a VISA. To learn more about the United States VISA policy, click here.

Power/Standard Voltage

In San Francisco, the standard voltage is at 110 Volts and 60 cycles. There are two associated plug types used here: plug A and plug B. Plug type A is the plug that has two flat parallel pins and type B has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin. You can typically use the same equipment if the standard voltage in your country is between 110-127 V (as in the U.S., Canada, and most South American countries).

Local Weather

Knowing about the San Francisco climate will be helpful before you depart. San Francisco has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate characteristic of California’s coast, with moist, mild winter and dry summer. San Francisco’s weather is influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean on the west side of the city, and the water of the San Francisco Bay to the north and east. This moderates temperature swings and produces a remarkably mild year-round climate with little seasonal temperature variation. The average temperature is 59 degrees Fahrenheit (14.95 degrees Celsius). Rainfall is not abundant, but the period from November to March is quite rainy. San Francisco is one of the major coastal cities most affected by climate change. Sea levels are projected to rise by as much as 5 feet, resulting in periodic flooding. Recently, wildfires have been a concern as well, and San Francisco is overdue for a massive earthquake.

The best time to visit San Francisco is in the summer (between June and September), because it is the driest and warmest season of the year. However, take into account cool temperatures, at night and in the early morning, as well as morning fogs. Check the current forecast on Accuweather. If you need more help planning your San Francisco vacation, check out the United States Government Tourism site, the U.S. Department of State Tourism site, or the San Francisco Tourism site for more information.

Health Information

Three young toddlers walk down a slight hill while hiking the Cross Town Trail.
Photo Courtesy: Emily Kapic

Having the right information about health and safety is an important part of visiting San Francisco with kids. If your children have allergies, might need medical attention, etc., be sure to keep this important information in mind.

Vaccinations, Health Tips, & Hospitals

Visiting San Francisco with young ones?  Remember to check your child has all the correct shots and vaccines.  For a complete list of the recommended vaccines and more COVID-19 health information on visiting San Francisco, visit the official CDC website.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so you should also check out hospitals near your vacation destination.  Five of the best-rated, most accessible hospitals in or near San Francisco are UCSF Health-UCSF Medical Center, John Muir Health-Walnut Creek Medical Center, John Muir Health-Concord Medical Center, Sequoia Hospital, or Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center.

COVID-19 Guidelines & Vaccination Information

If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco soon, you’re probably wondering about San Francisco’s COVID-19 guidelines. As of January 22, California has no travel restrictions or requirements at this time.  Please check the Consulate website to keep up-to-date on San Francisco’s stay-at-home orders. We suggest making sure you’re fully vaccinated before traveling to San Francisco with kids. For vaccination information, click here.

Emergency Services

A family of three stands together with the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay behind them.
Photo Courtesy: Anonymous

In case of an emergency, keep these numbers handy during your trip to San Francisco with kids, as this is very important information.

Police, Fire Department, Ambulance

Need police assistance in San Francisco?  Call 911.  In case of a fire in San Francisco, you can also contact the fire department by calling 911.  You can also call 911 to reach an ambulance in San Francisco. For a full list of emergency numbers in San Francisco, click here.

Safety Issues

If you’re visiting with your kids, you’re probably wondering: is San Francisco safe for families? The answer is yes! San Francisco is considered a relatively safe place for tourists, and the violent crimes rates are low. However, with the rise of Silicon Valley businesses, a sharp increase in the cost of living in the city has resulted in gentrification and an increase in the already sizable homeless population of the city. Drugs and crime related to thefts add to this, and car break-ins are a particular issue. The most dangerous neighborhoods (nevertheless, that also have many great aspects about them) are Tenderloin, Mission, SoMa, and Golden Gate Park. You can review the current San Francisco Travel Advisory and Covid-19 guidelines here.  

San Francisco for Kids

A young boy wearing headphones enjoys a view of the San Francisco Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
Photo Courtesy: Kim Burns

Visiting San Francisco with kids brings its own set of challenges.  Keep reading for comprehensive information on babysitting services, baby gear rentals, etc.

Babysitting Services & Baby Gear Rentals

Looking for a romantic evening alone in San Francisco?  Luckily, you’ll find plenty of babysitting services throughout the city. We suggest Golden Gate Nannies, Bay Area Sitters, and Urban Sitter. If you’ve left your baby gear at home, don’t worry!  There are plenty of places to find baby gear in San Francisco. Take a look at Baby’s Away, Babies Getaway, or Baby Quip.

Transportation

A family of six sits on their bikes while on a tour of Golden Gate Park.
Photo Courtesy: Emily Kapic

Transportation is another thing to consider when vacationing in San Francisco with kids.  Whether you need information about car seats or local airlines, you’ve come to the right place.

Car Seat Laws

In California, it’s the law that all children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat. All children under 2 years old (unless they weigh 40 or more pounds or are more than 40 inches tall) must ride in a rear-facing car seat. Children who are 8 years of age or 4’9’’ or taller may use a booster seat, and children over 8 years of age must wear a seat belt. For more information, visit this link.

Transportation Services

To get around San Francisco, take a taxi or bus. Taxis are safe, reliable, and easy to call city-wide or flag down at hotels and on major roads. San Francisco Muni operates both a bus system and a network of streetcars (or trolleys) that run on rails. Consult Transit 511, for real-time departures. Locals generally refer to the buses as Muni and the streetcars as Muni Metro. Free Muni Street and Transit Maps are available online. In addition to the regular streetcars that travel all over the city, San Francisco has a rail line with antique streetcars from other cities that runs from the Castro District to the Ferry Building and down the Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Golden Gate Transit is a public transportation company that mainly provides bus and ferry services for the North Bay (Marin County and Sonoma County, north of the Golden Gate). But within the city, their buses run from downtown SF to the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s also a good way to get to Sausalito from SF. To travel outside the city center, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit System) is the fastest link between downtown and San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland, and Berkeley. Caltrain is the train service linking San Francisco to cities along the Peninsula south of the city and on to the South Bay and San Jose. For more information on San Francisco transportation, click here.

Local Airlines

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 50 international cities on 45 international carriers. The Bay Area’s largest airport connects non-stop with 86 cities in the U.S. on 12 domestic airlines. San Francisco has U.S. pre-clearance for all passengers traveling to the United States, which allows flights from San Francisco to enter the U.S. as domestic flights. For more information on transportation in San Francisco, click here.

Other Things to Know Before Visiting San Francisco with Kids

A young girl stands next to a tree on Angel Island while looking out onto the water.
Photo Courtesy: Emily Kapic

Searching for more tips on visiting San Francisco with kids? Between tipping customs and important holidays, there are still a few things left you should know. Keep reading to learn all about San Francisco with kids!

Tipping Customs

Tipping customs in San Francisco may differ from other states or elsewhere in the world. Plan to tip around 10-15% in San Francisco restaurants. However, the exact tip amount when eating out in San Francisco depends on the place, occasion, and order size. It’s customary to give your waiter or waitress a slightly higher tip than you would a bartender, as they are likely sharing their tip with the kitchen staff. In bars or cafes, you can round the bill to the next significant amount or leave a small tip each time you order a drink.

If you’re staying in a hotel in San Francisco, it’s standard practice to tip between 10-20%. In high-end hotels, you’ll likely want to tip a range of staff, including maids, bellboys, valets, and front desk employees. It is common to tip 10% to taxi drivers in San Francisco for long journeys and help with your luggage. For short journeys, the easiest option is to round up the bill to the nearest significant amount in US dollars. If you have a great tour guide in San Francisco, also consider tipping them 10%. It is also appropriate to leave a 10-15% tip at a spa in San Francisco.    

Important Holidays

If you’re still searching for specific dates to visit San Francisco, you may want to determine whether your vacation falls on a public holiday.  This can greatly diminish the number of attractions you see, so it’s important information for visiting San Francisco.  Check out this guide to City and County of San Francisco holidays for more information.

Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids

A mom stands with five kids on a street in Chinatown.
Photo Courtesy: Emily Kapic

Once you’ve read our San Francisco important information, it’s time to start planning your itinerary and looking up what to do in San Francisco as a family. Start by making the trip into Golden Gate Park, and make a visit to the California Academy of Sciences, the De Young Museum, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Botanical Gardens, Stow Lake, or the Koret Children’s Quarter. If you need to get quickly from place to place, try renting bikes from San Francisco Bicycle Rentals.

On the waterfront, your first stop should be the Ferry Building, one of the only downtown buildings to survive the 1906 earthquake. Then, walk down the Embarcadero and watch the boats sailing until you reach the Exploratorium at Pier 15. For an extra special experience, reserve time in the Tactile Dome. Next, continue to Pier 39, a tourist hot spot with sea lions, rides, an arcade, carousel, aquarium, bay cruises, and even thrilling jet boat rides.

Finally, you can always explore specific San Francisco neighborhoods like Japantown, Nob Hill, Chinatown (with the Cable Car Museum and Fortune Cookie Factory), Presidio (with the Walt Disney Family Museum), or Lands End (with the Legion of Honor Museum). You can also explore Fisherman’s Wharf, along with Coit Tower and Lombard Street

RELATED ARTICLE: Spectacular 4-Day Itinerary for San Francisco With Kids.

Where to Stay in San Francisco with Kids

An aerial view of the The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, well-lit at night.
Photo Courtesy: The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Looking for the best places to stay in San Francisco with kids? If you’re planning an upcoming family vacation to San Francisco, you’ll want to find an amazing hotel to accommodate your entire party.  For a hotel with a pool, you can check out the Four Seasons San Francisco or the Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco. If you are a big family traveling to the Bay, then check out The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square, Suites at Fisherman’s Wharf, and San Francisco Marriott Marquis. Some other popular hotels offering plenty of kid’s activities are Omni San Francisco Hotel, Hotel Fairmont San Francisco, and The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco. 

RELATED ARTICLE: Best Family Hotels in San Francisco (With Great Options For Large Families & Pools)

Top 20 San Francisco, CA family-friendly vacation rentals | Vrbo

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed or may have reduced services. Please ensure availability before making your decision. 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

Families Love Travel is not liable for any injuries and/or damages to persons or property occurring as a result of your vacations influenced by the suggestions on this website. We are not responsible for any information given on this website, such as recommendations for babysitting services, car rentals, or accommodations. All content provided is for informational and review purposes only. The information we provide is meant to make it easier for families to travel together and nothing more. Try the suggestions at your own risk. 

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.