Walking Tour of San Francisco with a Baby
When we were planning our trip to San Francisco, we quickly became overwhelmed. The more we read, the more we worried that these places would not be baby friendly. We know that we wanted to go on a walking tour of San Francisco with a baby, but did not know where to start. As we left SFO airport, we decided on this walking tour.
First of all, baby-wearing our 11-month-old daughter was absolutely sublime. If your baby is older like ours, consider a possible backache! It allowed us to zoom around most streets without worries about sidewalks, transportation, and pedestrians. However, if you are planning on babywearing, I would leave Lombard street off the list!
This is our long, hilly, pedestrian trek to see many sites (and still, not enough!) Here are the places we visited, what worked with a baby, and what didn’t.
The Ferry Building
This is the gorgeous building (also known as Pier One) with Port of San Francisco emblazoned across the front. We started here because of the proximity to the BART (Embarcadero) station, the cable cars, and hotels such as the Hyatt Regency (where we stayed).
The Ferry Building houses an eclectic collection of shops and restaurants. The area in front is a rotating market of artisan crafts. If you continue on, you will pass all the piers along the way.
Fisherman’s Wharf encompasses the northern waterfront area of San Francisco from Ghirardelli Square down to Pier 35. Often interchangeably used with Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf is the neighborhood that houses Pier 39.
While reading about Pier 39, we debated whether we should visit. It’s a very popular tourist attraction, but is it just a tourist trap?
The verdict? Worth it. The sea lions were absolutely amazing, and we met a number of must-dos in a relatively small area.
Sea Lions at Pier 39
The sea lions moved to the Pier 39 Marina after the earthquake in 1989. They came in droves and forced all boats out.
See the video:
Side note: I streamed this on Facebook Live, so please excuse my fingers and blurriness. It was not intended as blog fodder. However, I think it demonstrates what to expect when you visit. (Except for my thumb in the frame.)
You can view the Island from Pier 39, visit an Alcatraz bookstore and even buy tickets to board cruises to Alcatraz.
If you’re hungry or thirsty, check out one of Pier 39 restaurants. While most of these are commercial franchises and not a local, authentic restaurant, they are baby friendly. There are restaurants such as Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Hard Rock Cafe, and Boudin Bakery (San Francisco Sourdough).
This was our view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Bubba Gump Shrimp Company at Pier 39.
Had a few beverages at Pier 39? Take a pit stop. Public toilets along the wharf are part of the city’s Pit Stop Program. The city developed these facilities due to a concern about the lack of restroom downtown. The toilets are self-cleaning. Also, most are accessible to those with disabilities. They also provide clean and safe toilets, sinks, and needle receptacles.
You will need a rest before clamoring uphill to visit the Lombard Street. While this street is not the curviest nor highest street in San Francisco, it is very famous for the eight hairpin turns. In the 1920s, the hill was too steep for modern vehicles to climb. The hairpin turns allowed a gradual descent. If you are attempting this walking tour of San Francisco with a baby, this will truly test your strength! Whether you use a stroller or a baby carrier, this is an act of endurance to get your tiny human to the top!
If you are driving in the area, beware of pedestrians loitering in traffic! They stand in the crosswalk to take photographs of the turns and do not move when a large vehicle is approaching.
My husband pushed our daughter’s stroller all the way uphill. His legs were very sore that evening!
This is Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, as viewed from Pioneer Park. We were unable to make it up the long hill with a baby strapped to us. Pioneer Park is a lush park with plenty of space to lounge and play.
This art deco structure, also known as the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower, is a 210-foot concrete tower. In 1933, the tower was built using Lillie Coit’s funds she left at her death to beautify San Francisco. The interesting part of the story? Lillie Coit was a wealthy socialite who loved to chase fires! She would dress like a man, smoke cigars, and chase fire trucks to help put out fires. This was a time long before women could wear pants and firefighting was a paid career.
Gorgeous Cathedrals in North Beach (Little Italy)
Saints Peter and Paul Church
This gorgeous church is the majestic Italian cathedral in North Beach. Joe DiMaggio married his first wife at this cathedral (not Marilyn!) It also has been in many movies including Dirty Harry, San Andreas, and The Dead Pool. Families sprawled out in front of this lovely building to enjoy a picnic lunch on a leisurely afternoon.
Shrine of Francis of Assisi
This is no longer a parish church. The National Shrine stands where Italian North Beach and Chinatown meet. Built in 1860, the Earthquake and fire gutted the interior in the early 1900s. The interior was refurbished in 1919. The Shrine is an absolutely gorgeous place to visit and gives serenity to a boisterous city.
Financial District (FiDi)
Our destination is the Transamerica Pyramid. This was the former tallest building in San Francisco until the new Salesforce building surpassed it. This building is an architectural symbol of the city.
If your legs are not too sore, we have selcted a few bonus sites to enhance your experience.
Old Pacific Telephone building
This historic landmark is the old Pacific Telephone building. Build in 1925, the telephone company occupied the structure until a decade ago. Check out the gorgeous stonework, including the 20-foot eagle statues near the top of the building.
The San Francisco Mining Exchange
The San Francisco Mining Exchange is the second oldest exchange in the United States, after the New York Stock Exchange. The Mining Exchange formed in 1862 to trade mining stocks. This Exchange commissioned this building in the early 1920s. The mining exchange was hit hard by the stock market crash and relocated 5 years later, in 1928. The Mining Exchange dissolved in 1967. This building has sat empty since 1979. This is the last reminder of a bygone era that San Francisco greats developed their fortune. (Think Hearst, Coit, Ralston, and more!)
Wrapping up our walking tour of San Francisco with a baby, we were able to enjoy the view of the Bay Bridge at night. The lights twinkling off the bay provides peace in a bustling city.
This will drop you off right at the Embarcadero station. From thhe Embarcadero station, you can get transportation to nearly anywhere.
Do you have any questions about our walking tour of San Francisco with a baby? Any suggestions? Drop them in the comments!
Nervous about tackling SFO airport with a baby? We gave our best tips!