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Visiting San Francisco With Your Kids

  • Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

    Friday, 5:45 p.m.

    Check into Kimpton Hotels' Argonaut in Fisherman's Wharf. It's right next to a bike-rental shop, a Ben & Jerry's, and the Maritime National Historical Park, where kids can take the wheel of a 19th-century vessel. The Neptune's Adventure Package includes, among other treats, cable-car rides, bathrobes, and a snack pack. All that and a view of the bay…plus free wine in the lobby each evening! It even welcomes pooches.

  • iStockphoto

    Saturday, 10 a.m.

    You might have heard that San Francisco has hidden staircases, but did you know that there are hidden slides? Grab a piece of cardboard big enough to sit on and head to the park on the corner of Seward and Douglass, in the Castro District, where you'll find the sky-high chutes built into the side of a hill. There are stairs to take you to the top. If you don't happen to have a pizza box handy, no problem. You'll likely find some cast-off cardboard (or maybe even a fast-food tray, which makes you go faster) on-site. Spend a morning sharing good cheap (free, actually) thrills and an adrenaline rush with local families.

  • Shutterstock

    Saturday, 1:45 p.m.

    Hurtle down 22nd Street, one of the steepest in the world, and get lost in 826 Valencia, a pirate-supply store housed in an airy space with exposed beams, trapdoors, and a plank to walk. The marvelous array of booty makes it impossible to leave without a little something. Choose from bottles of “scurvy begone,” a Belly of Whale escape kit, even mermaid bait (it's just glitter inside the tin—but still!).

  • Courtesy of Dynamo

    Saturday, 4 p.m.

    Quick, what's a Bitter Queen doughnut? Find out at Dynamo, in the Mission District, where quirky pastries are handmade every day with organic, often locally sourced ingredients. This fantasy factory of curious cream-filled and candied concoctions is a must-visit. “I make the trip on weekends for a Maple Apple Bacon,” says Emily Deans, a mom of two in Palo Alto, CA. Across the street is the nearly 100-year-old St. Francis Fountain, for milk shakes. Sugar rush, anyone?


    Sunday, 11 a.m.

    Before the trip home, let the kids literally bounce off the walls at the House of Air, a trampoline park with 67 submerged rubbery surfaces in a restored airplane hangar. The unique structure of the trampolines makes it impossible to fall off. Visitors 7 and up can jump, leap, and dive in the main section, while tots 3 to 6 will be set in their own Junior Bounce House.