San Francisco Car Rental

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San Francisco is a popular destination because of its gorgeous streets, crisp weather, and wonderful culture. Families will find lots to do in San Francisco, from visiting popular attractions like Chinatown to spending time in Golden Gate Park. Rent a car so you can go to and from the city and visit other popular California destinations located just a short drive away from the city.


Your Family Guide to San Francisco
Day Trips from San Francisco
Driving Around San Francisco

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San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

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Redwood City Centennial


San Francisco Moscone Center


San Francisco Union Square

Your Family Guide to San Francisco


A trip to San Francisco with the kids isn't complete without a visit to Chinatown. This isNorth America's oldest Chinatown, and it's also the largest Chinatown outside of the Asian continent. An ornate gate marks the way into this famous neighborhood where you can experience delicious Chinese food, buy souvenirs, and visit fabulous shops. Book tours, check out Chinese culture, and visit some of Chinatown's most beautiful buildings, including the Sing Chong Building and some Chinese churches.


The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic piece of San Francisco. On your or your kids' first visit to San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is worth an afternoon's time. Golden Gate Park offers thousands of acres of water, gardens, and walking paths for your exploration. It's a beautiful place to rest and enjoy the California scenery and wildlife after traversing the bridge by car. Segway tours, sports, and games are available at the park as well. You and your family will find lots to do in this beautiful place.


Get everyone off their smartphones for an afternoon when you visit Musée Méchanique. This penny arcade is a huge collection of antique arcade games. Visit and play classic games that your grandparents used to enjoy, and show your kids what youth used to do for entertainment before Angry Birds and Candy Crush. Admission into the arcade is free. The arcade also features hand-cranked music boxes (and a few modern arcade games, in case anyone can't get by without looking at a screen.)


The initial draw of Ghirardelli Square is, of course, Ghirardelli chocolate. Parts of the square smell deliciously of chocolate, and of course you'll want to visit Ghirardelli while you're there. The square itself is a beautiful walking opportunity within the city when the sun is out and the weather is fine. Delicious food options grace the square, including pizzerias, bakeries, juice shops, and more. The square also has some history; it started as a Ghirardelli chocolate factory, and has become a staple of San Francisco.


Day Trips from San Francisco


If you head about 30 miles south of San Francisco (35 minutes by car), you'll find Half Moon Bay. This small coastal town offers gorgeous scenery and a chance for your family to get away from the big city for the day. Though the Pacific Ocean is a little cold for swimming, the Bay Area beaches are a gorgeous place for your family to take a midday stroll. Half Moon Bay also houses lots of delicious local cuisine, including farm-to-table varieties that your whole family will love eating. In the afternoon, rent some bikes and take a bike ride through the picturesque town.


Coastal Santa Cruz is about 75 miles south from central San Francisco, which takes about an hour and 15 minutes by car. Delicious food and gorgeous hiking opportunities characterize this California city. When you arrive in Santa Cruz, choose a hike or two that will energize your morning. You can hike rock formations along the coast, or delve into the redwood forests and hike amongst some of the most majestic trees the U.S. has to offer. Then, head to the boardwalk where you can find fun carnival food, delicious restaurants, and games the kids will love.


Drive north of San Francisco for just over an hour to get to Point Reyes National Seashore. This protected and preserved location has idyllic scenery and wildlife. The location is perfect for a calming day of hiking and learning. Take a ranger-guided tour to learn details about the seashore, and visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse for spectacular ocean views. Make sure to visit Alamere Falls, a waterfall that graces seaside cliffs and empties directly into the ocean. Don't worry about packing a picnic lunch; Point Reyes has plenty of restaurants for lunch and dinner.


Driving Around San Francisco


Lots of streets are narrow and hilly, making navigation difficult, especially in the central part of the city. As usual in big cities, San Francisco has terrible rush hour traffic. If you're around during rush hour, stay off the highways (especially I-80) while everyone else is commuting. Plan walkable activities for these times of day so you're not tempted to hop in the car and change locations. Public transportation in San Francisco is good, so if you're traveling short distances consider hopping on a cable car or bus instead.


The Golden Gate Bridge also has a lot to do with San Francisco traffic. Some of the lanes on the three-mile bridge switch direction depending on what time of day it is, making travel confusing for outsiders. Your best bet is to visit the bridge well away from rush hour, and to check online for the latest traffic reports before you head to the bridge. Since you're not fighting everyone to get to work on time, you can avoid the worst parts of San Francisco traffic if you plan well.


When you visit, you will see why so many people have fallen in love with this city. If you're returning for a second, third, or tenth visit, your kids will love seeing the spots that make you adore visiting this city so often.


San Francisco Visitor Information:


7 Spectacular Views in San Francisco

Things to Do in San Francisco with Family

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