Our Walking Tour of San Francisco with a Baby (with Itinerary!)
We knew that we wanted to go on a walking tour of San Francisco with a baby, but did not know where to start. When we were planning our trip to San Francisco, California- we quickly became overwhelmed. The more we read about visiting this bustling city, the more we worried that getting around San Francisco would not be family-friendly. Check out our post on how to navigate SFO airport with babies.
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Total Walking Mileage: 6 miles
Time: Allow 6 hours
If this seems like too much work, Viator offers the ten best San Francisco guided tours. It costs money, but you don’t have to do nearly as much planning or legwork! However, walking is half the fun!
The Ferry Building Marketplace
The historic Ferry building (also known as Pier One) has Port of San Francisco emblazoned across the front. We started here because of the proximity to the BART (Embarcadero) station and the opportunity to snag breakfast. 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, you will pass all the piers along the way.
Most importantly, baby-wearing our 11-month-old daughter with this breathable Boba carrier was 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 the long, hilly trek to Lombard street off the list!
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 we debated whether we should visit. It’s a top-rated tourist attraction, but is it just a tourist trap?
The verdict? Worth it. The sea lions were amazing, and we completed many 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. They’re so cute and lazy
You can view Alcatraz Island from Pier 39, visit an Alcatraz bookstore, and even buy tickets to board cruises to Alcatraz. If you’re interested in the tour, buy tickets early because they sold out every day that I was there.
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 bowls with chowder are a gluten-filled delicacy).
I was impressed by the stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Bubba Gump Shrimp Company at Pier 39. However, the food is pedestrian. Our little kids enjoy the food, as well.
Had a few beverages at Pier 39? Take a pit stop. Public toilets along the pier 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 and accessible to those with disabilities. They also provide clean and safe toilets, sinks, and needle receptacles.
Ghiradelli Square- Chocolate Marketplace
Ghiradelli square features delicious and expensive ice cream sundaes. Be sure to pick up some delightful Ghiradelli squares to take home. Drink some ice water, but don’t indulge in too much sugar. You will need to rest and hydrate before clamoring uphill to visit 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! The following San Francisco architecture walking tour will entertain sightseers.
Coit Tower is on Telegraph Hill, and you can see it from Pioneer Park. This art deco structure, also known as the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower, is a 210-foot concrete tower.
Lillie Coit was a wealthy socialite who loved to chase fires at a time long before women could even wear pants! She would dress like a man, smoke cigars, and track fire trucks to help put out fires. After she died in 1933, she left funds left to beautify San Francisco.
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 (and change diapers). We love towing along this diaper bag that has a cooler so we can bring premade bottles, drinks, snacks, and food.
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 Monroe! 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
The 1860s structure stands where Italian North Beach and Chinatown meet. The earthquake and subsequent fire gutted the interior in the early 1900s. The National Shrine is no longer a parish church despite being refurbished in 1919. The shrine is a favorite place to visit and gives serenity to a boisterous city.
Financial District (FiDi)
The Transamerica Pyramid 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, here are a few bonus sites to enhance your experience.
Old Pacific Gas and Electric building
If you’re into touring San Francisco historical sites, you won’t regret seeing this city landmark. The old Pacific building was built in 1925. It 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 and commissioned this building in the early 1920s. The mining exchange was hit hard by the stock market crash and relocated five years later, in 1928. The Mining Exchange dissolved in 1967. This building has sat empty since 1979 and serves as a reminder of a bygone era where San Francisco greats developed their fortune. (Think Hearst, Coit, Ralston, and more!)
Wrapping Up the Walking Tour of San Francisco
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 provide peace in a bustling city. San Francisco is a fantastic place to vacation with a baby, so long as you prepare.
Continue to the Embarcadero station. From the Embarcadero station, you can get transportation to travel nearly anywhere.
What are your favorite places on our walking tour of San Francisco with a baby? Have you ever tried any of the walking tours in downtown San Francisco? Answer in the comments!
Nervous about tackling the airport with your tiny children? Click here for our best tips for tacking SFO airport with your baby in tow.