Where to stay in San Francisco for families with kids: 6 Best areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote an article about San Francisco without a car (I will put the link to it at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the best places to stay in San Francisco for families with kids.

I will share with you what I believe are the best areas to stay in San Francisco for families, along with a map. I’ll also share where I stayed in San Francisco and recommend some of the best family-friendly hotels in San Francisco for various budgets.

Before going into the main topic of this article, let’s look at some facts about San Francisco.

San Francisco is a major city located in California on the west coast of the United States. It is famous for its beautiful natural beauty, iconic landmarks, diverse culture, and vibrant economy. 

Perhaps the most iconic symbol of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge that stretches the Golden Gate Strait, linking San Francisco to Marin County. It is renowned for its distinctive International Orange color.

Alcatraz is a small island in San Francisco Bay that once housed a maximum-security federal prison. It is now a popular tourist attraction and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

San Francisco is famous for its historic cable car system, which provides a unique and charming way to navigate the city’s hilly terrain.

San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the oldest and largest in North America, known for its vibrant culture, architecture, and delicious cuisine.

Fisherman’s Wharf, a waterfront neighborhood, is a popular tourist destination, featuring seafood restaurants, street performers, and the famous sea lions at Pier 39.

The city is a major hub for the technology industry, with Silicon Valley just to the south. Companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook have a significant presence in the area.

 The city boasts several beautiful parks, including Golden Gate Park, which is larger than New York City’s Central Park. These green spaces offer opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxation.

Is San Francisco a good place to visit with family?

Yes, I believe San Francisco is an excellent destination for a family vacation. Its iconic landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, offer educational and awe-inspiring experiences. 

Your family can explore diverse neighborhoods, indulge in delicious cuisine, and enjoy outdoor activities, like biking along the scenic waterfront or visiting the charming parks. 

Museums like the Exploratorium cater to curious minds of all ages. Additionally, nearby attractions like Muir Woods and Silicon Valley provide further opportunities for exploration. 

Where to stay in San Francisco for families with kids?

The best areas to stay in San Francisco for families with kids are Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero, North Beach, Nob Hill/Russian Hill, and Marina District. 

Each area has its own unique charm and advantages, so consider your family budget and interest to choose the right area to book a hotel.

Union Square is the best base if your family wants a central location, easy access to public transportation, shopping, theaters, and restaurants. It can be busy and noisy.

Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero, and the Marina District are strong choices for families looking for waterfront fun and iconic San Francisco experiences. They offer easy access to family-friendly attractions like Pier 39, Aquarium of the Bay, Exploratorium, Marina Green, and Alcatraz tours.

If your family prefers a quieter, more local experience, Nob Hill/Russian Hill or North Beach are great bases. Nob Hill is a quieter, upscale area with picturesque streets and great views. North Beach is a historic area with Italian restaurants, Washington Square Park, and Coit Tower.

On my trip to SF, I traveled as a solo traveler and stayed in a dorm room at the HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel. But the hostel also offers family rooms with private bed rooms and can accommodate up to 6 adults. It is centrally located in Union Square, so you’ll have easy access to major attractions and restaurants.

If you don’t like the feeling of staying in a hostel as a family, don’t worry, keep reading, I’ll give you more options to choose for your stay in SF.

Below is a map of the popular areas in San Francisco for families. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best areas to stay in San Francisco for families with kids
Map of the best areas to stay in San Francisco for families with kids

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in San Francisco, especially for families. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in San Francisco have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

6 Best areas to stay in San Francisco with family:

1. Union Square

Union Square is a convenient base for families who want to be located right in the heart of San Francisco. Its central location makes it easy to access many of the city’s top attractions. You’ll also have excellent public transportation options, including cable cars and buses, to explore the city.

Union Square is known for its upscale shopping and a wide range of dining options. It’s a great place to find restaurants that cater to various tastes and budgets.

If your family enjoys live performances, you’ll be close to San Francisco’s theater district, where you can catch Broadway shows, musicals, and other performances.

Nearby cultural attractions include the Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Children’s Creativity Museum.

Union Square can get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons, and it can be noisy, which may not be ideal for families looking for a quieter atmosphere.

Best places to stay in San Francisco in Union Square with kids:

  • Mid-range ($$): Grand Hyatt San Francisco Union Square, popular 4-star family-friendly hotel located in Union Square, just steps from Chinatown, within walking distance from  Montgomery Street BART Station and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Beacon Grand, A Union Square Hotel, great 4-star kid-friendly hotel, located on Powell Street, a short walk from Moscone Center. The hotel welcomes children of all ages.
  • Budget ($): Club Wyndham Canterbury, 3-star good value for money accommodation centrally located in the city center of SF, featuring spacious family rooms. It is walking distance from Union square and The Masonic.

2. Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most popular areas for families visiting San Francisco, and it offers a unique and vibrant experience. 

Fisherman’s Wharf is home to several family-friendly attractions, including Pier 39, which features shops, restaurants, a carousel, and the famous sea lions at the docks. You can also visit the Aquarium of the Bay and Madame Tussauds.

Kids can explore the ships and learn about maritime life at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park located at Hyde Street Pier.

If your family is interested in touring Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf is a convenient departure point for Alcatraz ferry tours.

Another must-see in the area is Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Located on Jefferson Street, Ripley’s offers a collection of oddities and interactive exhibits that will pique kids’ curiosity and entertain the whole family.

You can stay in a hotel that offers stunning waterfront views. Enjoy picturesque views of the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island right from the wharf.

You’ll find a wide variety of dining options, including seafood restaurants, chowder stands, and international cuisine, making it easy to cater to different tastes within your family.

You can treat your kids to some delicious chocolate and ice cream at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop in Ghirardelli Square. It’s a sweet stop that the whole family will enjoy.

There are numerous shops and boutiques where you can find souvenirs and unique items.

Consideration: Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most touristy areas in San Francisco, which means it can be crowded. Prices for accommodations, dining, and attractions in this area can be on the higher side due to its popularity.

Best places to stay in Fisherman’s Wharf for family with kids:

  • Mid-range ($$): Argonaut Hotel, a Noble House Hotel, 4-star family-friendly and eco-friendly hotel located on Jefferson Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a short walk from USS Pampanito Submarine.  It has a traditional seafood restaurant, and stunning views of SF Bay.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Zephyr San Francisco, popular 4-star children-friendly accommodation, welcomes children of all ages. Children 16 years and above will be charged as adults.
  • Budget ($): Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Fisherman’s Wharf, an IHG Hotel, 3-star kid-friendly hotel, located within a short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf, as well as Buses and cable cars stop, and Pier 39.

3. Embarcadero

Embarcadero can be an excellent base in SF if your family values peaceful surroundings, scenic beauty, and easy access to the Exploratorium and Ferry Building Marketplace. It’s a bit quieter than some of the more touristy areas, providing a more relaxed atmosphere for your stay. 

The Embarcadero is renowned for its stunning waterfront views of the San Francisco Bay, Bay Bridge, and Treasure Island. These views can be especially enchanting at sunrise and sunset.

The Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum, is located on the Embarcadero. It’s an excellent place for kids to explore and engage with interactive exhibits.

The Ferry Building Marketplace is a food lover’s paradise with a variety of gourmet food vendors, artisanal products, and restaurants. It’s a great place to sample local flavors.

While the Embarcadero itself doesn’t have large parks, you can easily access the nearby Pier 7, Rincon Park, and the scenic Embarcadero Promenade for leisurely walks and family outings.

The Embarcadero is well-connected to public transportation options, including the historic F-line streetcar, buses, and ferries, making it easy to explore the city.

Best places to stay in San Francisco in Embarcadero with children:

  • Mid-range ($$): Hyatt Regency San Francisco, great 4-star children-friendly hotel located on Embarcadero Center, Financial District, only a short walk from Ferry Building shops and ferries to Alcatraz, as well as  Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Mid-range ($$): 1 Hotel San Francisco, 4-star accommodation, featuring family rooms, conveniently situated in Mission Street, offering views of Embarcadero waterfront.
  • Mid-range ($$): Harbor Court Hotel, 4-star family-friendly and eco-friendly hotel, featuring Indoor swimming pool and spacious family rooms. It is conveniently located  between the Financial District and Oracle Park.

4. North Beach

North Beach, known as Little Italy, is a charming and historic neighborhood with a distinct character. North Beach is a great place to explore on foot, try authentic Italian food, and enjoy a slower pace of life.  

North Beach is rich in Italian culture, and you’ll find a variety of Italian restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. It’s a great place to introduce your family to delicious Italian cuisine.

The neighborhood features Washington Square Park, a spacious green area where kids can play, families can have picnics, and there’s often local entertainment and events.

Coit Tower, which offers panoramic views of San Francisco, is located nearby. You can take a family-friendly hike up to the tower and enjoy the cityscape.

North Beach is home to several historic sites and landmarks, including Saints Peter and Paul Church, which has appeared in movies and is an iconic neighborhood feature.

North Beach has a literary history and is home to some famous independent bookstores, such as City Lights Booksellers. It’s a great place to explore for book-loving families.

Best places to stay in San Francisco in North Beach with family:

  • Budget ($): Columbus Inn, 3-star accommodation, centrally located close to Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, and Pier 39. It welcomes children of any age and Children 17 years and above will be charged as adults.
  • Budget ($): Hotel Boheme, 3-star hotel located in Columbus Avenue, in the heart of historic North Beach San Francisco, close to Chinatown and Little Italy. It is a short walk from many Italian restaurants, cafes, as well as easy access to Lombard Street and cable cars.
  • Budget ($): SW Hotel, 3-star family-friendly accommodation, located between Chinatown and North Beach, easy access to the city’s cable car system and the Coit Tower.

5. Nob Hill/Russian Hill

Nob Hill and Russian Hill are upscale and scenic neighborhoods in San Francisco that offer a quieter and more residential experience compared to some other areas in the city.

These neighborhoods offer breathtaking views of the city, San Francisco Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge. You can enjoy these views while exploring the hilly streets.

The neighborhoods are known for their picturesque streets, historic buildings, and lovely gardens. Taking leisurely strolls with your family can be a pleasant experience.

Cons: The terrain can be quite steep, which may not be ideal for families with very young children or individuals with mobility challenges. However, it does offer scenic beauty.

Best places to stay in Nob Hill/Russian Hill with children:

  • Luxury ($$$): Fairmont San Francisco, 5-star family-friendly hotel centrally located on Mason Street in the Nob Hill neighborhood, easy access to the cable car lines, easy access to North Beach, Union Square, and Financial district. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Stanford Court San Francisco, 4-star children-friendly boutique hotel, located on California Street, Nob Hill, offering views of Grace Cathedral; within walking distance from the popular areas of  Union Square,Chinatown, and North Beach. 
  • Budget ($): Castle Inn, 3-star motel featuring family rooms, located in Russian Hill, offers free parking for those who drive, as well as a short walk from Powell/Hyde cable car line.

6. Marina District

The Marina District is a popular and family-friendly neighborhood in SF, known for its pleasant atmosphere, proximity to the waterfront, and a variety of dining options 

The Marina District is one of the closest neighborhoods to the Golden Gate Bridge, making it easy to visit this iconic landmark and explore the surrounding area.

An expansive grassy area along the waterfront, known as Marina Green, offers a great place for picnics, kite flying, or simply enjoying the bay views. It’s a fantastic spot for outdoor activities with kids.

Best places to stay in SF in Marina District for family with kids:

  • Budget ($): Greenwich Inn, 2-star hotel located on Steiner Street, Marina District, welcomes all children. Children 13 years and above will be charged as adults. It is a short walk/drive from the Palace of Fine Arts and Marina Green Park. 
  • Budget ($):  Marina Motel, 3-star accommodation situated on Lombard Street, offering free parking, which is a bonus for families who drive.
  • Budget ($): Cow Hollow Inn and Suites, popular 3-star hotel in Marina district, featuring family rooms, 24-hour front desk, and free parking for those with a car.

In conclusion, Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero, North Beach, Nob Hill/Russian Hill, and Marina District are the best places to stay in San Francisco for families with kids. These areas has a variety of children-friendly hotels, so your family will have plenty of choices to choose from.

You can continue reading about SF in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the popular areas and neighborhoods that you can stay during your family trip to San Francisco. I hope you found my article helpful and enjoy your holiday!

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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