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