San Francisco Kids
826 Valencia St., Mission
The powerful brainchild of Dave Eggers, 826 Valencia is the flagship for his childhood literacy project—and also home to the pirate store. Here, you'll find after-school writing programs for under-resourced kids, along with all the gear you need for any Peter Pan/Captain Hook fantasies. There are similar concepts—all wonderful, all life-changing—all over the country.
The Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery St., Presidio
Founded by Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, this 40,000 square foot space in the Presidio offers an incredible view into the mind that created the whole concept of animation, whether you have little fans of Mickey on your hands or not. There are elements from his whole life on display, including many drawings from when he first landed in Los Angeles with $40 in his pocket. There's also a fascinating 13-foot model of Disneyland on site, rendered according to Walt Disney's original vision.
Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids
766 Valencia St., Mission
Its parent store, Paxton Gate, is devoted to natural oddities and artifacts, whether it's taxidermied animals or other-worldly looking air plants. At the little kid's store, you'll find old-fashioned toys for screen-free tactile play, along with plenty of science-minded finds, including edible chemistry sets, rainbow makers, Korg synth kits, and build-your-own volcano sets.
Gough St. & Washington St., Pacific Heights
Inarguably one of the city's nicest parks (complete with epic views), this 12-acre spot in the middle of Pacific Heights also boasts a pretty kick-ass playground. There's also an off-leash dog run, tennis courts, and a picnic area.
Golden Gate Park Playground
Kezar Dr., Golden Gate Park
The Koret's Children Quarter is one of the city's oldest (it was established at the end of the 19th-century, though refurbished many times in the intervening years), and it's also one of the most compelling, thanks to a hand-carved carousel, proximity to the California Academy of Sciences, rope-climbing walls, a huge concrete slide, and all kinds of play structures.
San Francisco Symphony Family Concerts
201 Van Ness Ave., Hayes Valley
With a line-up that includes everything from The Nightmare Before Christmas to Peter and the Wolf, this series of family-friendly concerts are intended to both appeal to younger tastes and also inspire kiddos to pick up instruments, too. Peter and the Wolf, for example, is performed by the San Francisco Youth Symphony.
745 Treat Ave., Mission
Established in 1937 by Josephine D. Randall, who received her masters degree in zoology from Stanford in 1910 before going on to become S.F's first Superintendent of Recreation, this incredible resource offers a wood shop, arts studios, a science lab, a greenhouse, and more than 100 animals who cannot survive in the wild. It's currently being remodeled, so the animals and exhibits have taken up temporary residence in the Mission. Fun fact: She Josephine Randall also organized the first Girl Scout troops in the United States.
Mollusk Surf Shop
4500 Irving St., Outer Sunset
This beloved surf spot in Outer Sunset sells boards and gear for the whole family, but we think their kids stuff is the cutest, whether it's pint-sized bathing suits or pennant-adorned hoodies. They also host surf-centric gallery shows and are a great resource for those looking to learn.
Julius Kahn Playground
West Pacific Ave. & Spruce St., Presidio
Inspired by the playgrounds in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, this beloved spot is particularly good for older kids, as much of the climbing equipment is more challenging than your typical slide structure. That said, there's a designated spot for smaller kids that's not as intimidating. There are also hiking trails throughout the Presidio (with views of the Golden Gate Bridge), along with tennis and basketball courts and playing fields.
19th & Dolores St., Mission
The recently re-opened Helen Diller Playground is the stuff of children's fantasies. For one, there's a 40-foot long slide, built into a hill, rock climbing walls, sand pits, and a shipwrecked boat; for two, there's a separate zone for the littlest ones, so everyone can run around without fear of collisions. If playground-ing isn't your thing, there's also a soccer field, six tennis courts, and a basketball court.
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