Play Tourist in San Francisco



Fall is one of the best times to visit the City by the Bay. Usually the fog has lifted, the international tourists have fled and locals can finally enjoy restaurants, museums and instagrammable pop-ups without waiting in long lines.

One of the most over-run spots in the city, Fisherman’s Wharf, is a place that many natives avoid. But the historic area offers more than just crab shacks and souvenir shops. For those with an interest in nautical history, it boasts America’s only floating National Park. You can hop aboard a 100-year-old ferry, take a close-up look at a schooner and enjoy some of the best views of Alcatraz and the bridge in the entire city.

Want to show your kids what life was like before online gaming? Tucked away at the end of crowded, Pier 45, is an arcade lovers dream-come-true. 

The Musée Mécanique at Pier 45 is one of the world’s largest privately held collections of coin-operated contraptions. You can play old-fashioned pinball, skeeball and bowling. There’s also an assortment of weird and wonderful curiosities from the early 20th century, including fortune tellers, six shooters, and player-pianos.

If you still want more hands-on fun, you can stop by the Aquarium by the Bay,  hop on the F train to the Exploratorium , or take the Cable Car up to the North Beach area to sample some gelato.  

The Argonaut Hotel  in Fisherman’s Wharf houses part of the Maritime Museum. The lobby has a fireplace and throw-back games (Connect 4) and checkers to entertain the whole family.  A few blocks away, Hotel Zoe has a more contemporary look. . It underwent a 16 million renovation in 2017.

If you want more than a hotel breakfast, try Eight AM for frittatas and pancakes that will fuel you through the morning. 

After exploring near the water, you can grab an inexpensive lunch of fish and chips from The Codmother https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-codmother-fish-and-chips-san-francisco. Or if you are in the mood for fine dining, try Scoma’s Restaurant, which bills itself as “pier to plate” and has served some of the best fish in the city since 1965. 

If you want to shop and enjoy being close to the theater and the newest pop-up museums, check out the Hilton San Francisco. It’s got a rooftop pool and Cityscape Bar and Lounge, which is open to the general public. The Hilton is close to BART,  has great views of the city, but is a much bigger hotel, so keep your little ones close by.

Amy Ettinger is the online/associate editor at Bay Area Parent.

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