San Francisco with Kids: Ride the Ducks!

World Culture for Kids at Mama Smiles Joyful Parenting

Have you ever been to San Francisco? Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge is one of my earliest childhood memories – from when I was four years old! Last weekend we had the opportunity to tour the city with Ride the Ducks, and it was the perfect way to tour San Francisco with kids! Here are a few of our favorite parts of the tour!

Going on a Ride the Ducks tour in San Francisco

San Francisco is an incredible city! I knew I wanted to take the kids to see it, but wasn’t sure where to start. When we were offered the chance to ride Ride the Ducks (tour the city on WWII era DUKW amphibious vehicles), I knew I had found the perfect introduction to the city for my kids!

San Francisco Skyline from the water

Our first attempt was rained out, but I’m glad we waited because we got PERFECT weather for our day out in the city – and touring it from inside the bay is the perfect introduction to the city! See the Giants AT&T Stadium on the left? People go out on the bay in all sorts of boats during games, hoping to catch balls that get hit out of the stadium! Kids are always given the opportunity to “drive” the DUKW while it’s in the water. My kids were too shy, but the kids who gave it a go had a blast!

Spot the sea lion in this photo

Sea lions are one of my favorite things to find in San Francisco! Can you spot one sunbathing at the bottom of the Cape Hudson boat? We spotted a few others that were jumping in and out of the water, but they were too far away to capture with my little phone camera. Next time I’ll bring my DSLR!

whimsically painted buildings in San Francisco

San Francisco is famous for attracting artists, and it’s no surprise given the creativity that goes into local buildings! If you look closely at the building at the top left of the photo above you will see that they painted the windows on the side of the building to look like bay windows, but they are actually flush against the building. It’s an optical illusion created to match the real bay window on the front of the building!

Bay Bridge in San Francisco

I’m a big fan of neat bridges, and the Bay Bridge is a very nice one! An artist was commissioned to create whatever they wanted for the sculpture below, and they built cupid’s bow and arrow because they felt so much love in San Francisco. That bow and arrow is for one BIG cupid!

Bay Bridge in San Francisco with local artwork

China town is probably my favorite part of San Francisco. My kids got their first introduction to this part of town on our duck tour, and I look forward to taking them there for dim sum, although I think I’ll wait until they are a little older.

China Town in San Francisco

No tour of San Francisco is complete without your classic San Francisco image of a cable car on a hill! We were lucky enough to drive past this street in time for a postcard perfect photo opportunity! Four-year-old Lily fell in love with the cable cars!

Classic San Francisco Streetcar Photo taken on our Ride the Ducks tour

Our Ride the Ducks tour was such a great way to introduce the kids to San Francisco! Big cities can be overwhelming for little ones, and this was a wonderful way for them to get a feel for the city without going into sensory overload. Our tour guide shared several interesting facts about the city, as well as silly jokes interspersed with relevant sound clips from popular songs. This was our favorite: Did you know what seagulls are called in San Francisco? Bagels (Bay gulls)!

Thank you, Ride the Ducks, for this fun introduction to the beautiful city of San Francisco! Do you live near San Francisco, or do you plan to visit? If so, you’ll want to enter this giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you ever gone on a DUKW tour? Do you have a favorite tip about traveling with kids to share?


  1. Sue Hull says

    I like to go to Treasure Island and bring a lunch. I haven’t been there in years but the view is so beautiful. I live about 45 minutes from San Francisco. This tour sounds like so much fun! Thank you for the great giveaway :)

  2. Larissa Brunken says

    Travel tip with kids is allow plenary of time for them to explore… We love San Francisco and have never done the duck tour

  3. Jenny says

    Dave has been traveling to CA a lot for work and we have the opportunity to go to San Francisco with him in July. I’m not sure I want to pay for airfare for me and Abby, but the hotel and car would be free. Anyway, CA has never been a place I’ve wanted to go, but Dave wants us to see it. Anywhere else in San Francisco you’d recommend?

Thanks for taking the time to comment!