Where to Take Your Parents When They Visit San Francisco

|September 4, 2019

Entertaining guests in your hometown can be intimidating. How do you put together the perfect itinerary of both fun and food, both tourist attractions and local hangouts? Luckily, your parents probably just want to see what your life is like in San Francisco, which gives you the perfect excuse to mix in beloved, everyday spots like your favorite bakery and craft brewery with the places you don’t always get to, like major museums and tourist neighborhoods.

In this guide, you’ll find all of that and more so you can build the perfect parent-friendly itinerary.

Some other guides that might help you entertain your guests? Check out The Coolest Guided Tours to Take in San Francisco, The List to Send Your Friends When They Ask What to Do in San Francisco and The Top 10 Day Trips from San Francisco.

1. The Ferry Building

what to do in San Francisco Ferry Building

One of the most iconic buildings in the city, the Ferry Building is the home of CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and one of the best indoor marketplaces in the country. Inside, visitors can shop Bay Area originals like Book Passage, beekind and Heath Ceramics. Then, be sure to eat your way through Donut Farm, Biscuit Bender, Boulettes Larder and many, many more. To see a complete and updated list of vendors, click here.

2. The Presidio

Things to do with parents in San Francisco

A place for equal parts history and fun, the Presidio is home to beautiful trails, open lawns, some of the city’s best restaurants and bars, The Walt Disney Family Museum, historic landmarks, beaches and the city’s best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can even spend a full day there and we proved it in Your Guide to Spending a Full Day in The Presidio, Mapped.

3. Anchor Brewing

Things to do with parents in San Francisco

More than just a famous name in the California craft beer scene, Anchor Brewing is a great place to go to get an inside look at the craft. Though you’re welcome to visit the facility without a reservation, go upstairs and view the iconic copper kettles, we recommend making a tour reservation here. You can join a public tour and tasting (ranging from 1.5 to 2 hours) or reserve a private experience! Both include an inside look at the history and brewhouse alongside beer tastings.

4. Hog Island Oyster Co.

Things to do with parents in San Francisco

Photo courtesy of Hog Island Oyster Co.

Hog Island hand raises and shucks every oyster, mussel and clam at their Tomales Bay farm in Marshall, and inside the San Francisco Ferry Building—just an hour and a half from that farm—you can see for yourself why these oysters are some of the best in the region. This San Francisco location is nestled along the waterfront with iconic views of the Bay Bridge so you can pair your fresh oysters with a view of the water, too!

If you want even more oysters, we recommend reading Where to Get the Best Oysters in San Francisco.

5. Heath Ceramics

Things to do with parents in San Francisco

In 1948, Edith and Brian Heath began a small-scale pottery business. Today, that project is led by husband and wife team Robin and Cathy, has become one of the most recognized names in pottery and home goods, and is driven by strong core values and a powerful vision. In the Mission District, their newest space is all about collaboration and creation. Under a 60,000-square-foot roof, you’ll encounter like-minded creators and businesses, including Tartine Manufactory, the Heath showroom, The Newsstand, Heath Sews Studio, Heath Clay Studio and a collective of other designer studios. You can even take a full factory tour, but be sure to reserve your spot in the Factory Tours section here.

6. Golden Gate Park

things to do in Golden Gate Park San Francisco

Golden Gate Park is home to some of the city’s most beautiful and serene natural areas alongside landmark institutions like de Young, California Academy of Sciences and Conservatory of Flowers. To learn more about everything you can do in all 1,000 acres, check out Everything You Can Do At Golden Gate Park.

7. Legion of Honor

Referred to as San Francisco’s most beautiful museum, the Legion of Honor displays 4,000 years of ancient and European art in an unforgettable setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Designed in Beaux-arts style, the building was built to commemorate Californian soldiers who died in World War I and is a work of art on its own.

If your parents love art, you can find more in our guide The Ultimate Guide to San Francisco’s Most Impressive Art Museums.

8. Beach Blanket Babylon

An ideal recommendation for anyone who likes laughter, Beach Blanket Babylon is the world’s longest-running musical revue and one of the most popular attractions in the city. Located in the North Beach district, a show here includes hilarity, political and pop-culture satire, music, and a star-studded, ever-changing lineup of pop culture characters from Lady Gaga to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You can purchase your tickets on the website here.

9. Sunnyside Conservatory

Tucked away in one of the city’s charming, quieter neighborhoods, Sunnyside Conservatory is home to a 100-year-old garden, rejuvenated with a thriving collection of drought-tolerant plants, succulents and palms. At its center, you’ll find an iconic, octagonal redwood building, which dates back to 1900 and has been completely renovated for public use. The gardens are open to the public so you’re welcome to come and explore a piece of history in Sunnyside!

10. Devil’s Teeth Baking Company

Located in the foggy Outer Sunset just a few blocks from Ocean Beach, Devil’s Teeth is the place to go for breakfast, lunch, coffee beverages and some of the city’s best baked goods. Their lineup includes sourdough made fresh daily, a full range of cookies, zucchini bread and coffee cake, muffins, cinnamon rolls and so much more. Follow the team on Instagram here to see what they’re currently making.

11. Foreign Cinema

A great setting for your parents to experience the San Francisco culinary scene, Foreign Cinema has been a classic since opening in 1999. And that atmosphere includes classic movies which play on the wall above the outdoor patio! Open for brunch and dinner, Foreign Cinema has evolving menus that showcase some of the best flavors of Northern California, including fresh oysters and Champagne. You can make your reservations online here.

12. Dandelion Chocolate

Things to do with parents in San Francisco

Photo courtesy of Anne Fishbein via Dandelion Chocolate

Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory headquartered in the Mission. In the factory, the team roasts, cracks, sorts, winnows, grinds and tempers small batches of beans then molds and packages each bar by hand. In the cafe, shop and factory, you can watch chocolate makers at work, and we definitely recommend making time for the Bloom Chocolate Salon. This sit-down salon inside the 16th Street Factory serves breakfast and prix-fixe afternoon desserts like chocolate service, tea service and an ice cream tasting menu! For more details and online reservations, click here.

To get more ideas for fun in the Mission, check out Your Self-Guided Tour of the Mission District, Mapped.

13. SoMa StrEat Food Park

Located in one of the city’s most bustling and entertaining neighborhoods, this outdoor destination is a culinary carnival and urban playground. Their little block of SoMa features a rotating lineup of daily food trucks, craft beer and wine, carnival games, WiFi, TV screens, regular themed events and heat lamps for the cold nights. It’s family- and dog-friendly so feel free to bring everyone along!

14. Lands End

Things to do with parents in San Francisco

Though it is a bustling city, San Francisco offers a surprising number of open, outdoor spaces and hiking trails. The trip to Lands End Lookout is a favorite for both its history and views. Winding through the northwest corner of the city, the route explores hillsides of cypress and wildflowers, provides views of old shipwrecks, offers access to the ruins of Sutro Baths in the Sutro Historic District, overlooks pocket beaches and more!

15. Boudin at the Wharf

San Francisco sourdough is famous for a reason, and if you have to venture into Fisherman’s Wharf, the Boudin flagship is an excellent excuse. In addition to the upscale Bistro Boudin and Bakers Hall—which offers a marketplace, café and espresso bar—you can watch the bakers making fresh bread by hand through the 30-foot observation window. For even more, check out the Museum and Bakery Tour, which explores the history of Boudin Bakery in San Francisco and offers even more views inside the facility.

To make the most of your time in the neighborhood, check out Your Self-Guided Tour of Fisherman’s Wharf, Mapped.

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Category Community Guides, San Francisco

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McGuire Real Estate

McGuire Real Estate

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