Travelling with Teenagers: Cool Places in San Francisco

By: Claire Bullen

December 31, 2013

It’s hard not to fall in love with San Francisco. From its gorgeous views to its thriving countercultural scene, the city really does have something for almost everyone – including teens. Given how quickly their tastes change, travelling with teenagers can be tricky, but the range of cool places in San Francisco virtually guarantees that they’ll find something to enjoy. Here are our five suggestions for the city’s best teen-friendly activities.

Get active

Travelling with Teenagers | Cool Places in San Francisco | Golden Gate Park

Active families flock to the gorgeous Golden Gate Park © col, 2013. Used under licence from


San Francisco is home to some truly exceptional parks and destinations for nature-lovers, so athletic teenagers will be able to try out a host of outdoor activities. Surfing schools are on offer at many of San Francisco’s beaches, while the city’s parks offer refreshing hiking opportunities (Angel Island State Park, the largest island in San Francisco Bay, is a perfectly unspoiled spot that’s a quick ferry ride away). Active families can also head to Golden Gate Park – short-term skates and bikes can be rented at Golden Gate Park Bike and Skate.

Go to prison

Travelling with Teenagers | Cool Places in San Francisco | Alcatraz Island

Captivating lore surrounds the legendary Alcatraz Island © Konstantin L, 2013. Used under licence from


Okay, not actually. But Alcatraz, the historic prison that’s located on a small island in the middle of the Bay, has long been a compelling local landmark. Learn more about the jail’s fascinating lore (did a prisoner really once flee armed with just a plastic spoon?) on an Escape from the Rock boat cruise, which gives visitors delightfully chilling details about Al Capone and the island’s other infamous criminals.

See some art

Travelling with Teenagers | Cool Places in San Francisco | Street Art

Colourful graffiti art lines the streets of San Francisco © Glenn Walker, 2013. Used under licence from


Art-oriented teens have a number of options in this cultural hotspot, from museums to street art. The quirky Cartoon Art Museum is one of the country’s only museums that specialises in this popular art form, and should interest younger visitors. For something a little edgier, San Francisco also has a thriving graffiti art scene – skip the still-marginal Mission District and head to SoMa (South of Market), where plenty of ever-changing, colourful murals line the streets.

Get a dose of Beat culture

Travelling with Teenagers | Cool Places in San Francisco | City Lights Bookstore

Wannabe Beats can make a pilgrimmage to City Lights Bookstore © nito, 2013. Used under licence from


The original champions of youth counterculture, the artists and writers of the Beat Generation, like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, all spent time in San Francisco. Teens with a literary (or rebellious) streak are sure to connect with the Beats. They can learn more about the movement at the Beat Museum or at City Lights Bookstore, which was founded by Ferlinghetti and is now synonymous with the mid-century scene.

Go thrifting

Travelling with Teenagers | Cool Places in San Francisco | Thrift Shops

Treasures abound in San Francisco’s quirky thrift shops © Jason Saul


Vintage is definitely back, and odds are teens will be interested in digging through the racks to find that perfect band t-shirt or statement item of clothing. The trendy Hayes Valley neighbourhood is a pilgrimage site for those seeking prime thrift shopping. Ver Unica and Encore Vintage are two well-stocked and affordable favourites.

Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights to San Francisco from London Heathrow. Book your flight today.

What are you top tips for travelling with teenagers in San Francisco? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Written by Claire Bullen


Claire Bullen

Claire is a born globetrotter: before relocating to London, she spent time in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. When she's not in pursuit of the next exciting meal, she can be found haunting indie bookstores and sketching outdoors. Follow Claire @ClaireMBullen

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