As long as you avoid the steep hills San Francisco is known for, downtown is the perfect place to take your baby for a long stroll. Before you head out, be sure to pack up your stroller with the necessities: some diapers, wipes, snacks, bottles and an extra changes of clothes—just in case. Now you’re ready to experience just how fascinating walking through the city can be!
Meandering through culture
Japantown is a great place to start. In the heart of the neighborhood, you will find the self-guided History Walk, featuring 16 interpretive signs that detail the history of the community. It details the story of their settlement after the Great Earthquake of 1906, the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II and current efforts being made by these immigrants to maintain the community. Stop by the Peace Plaza to see the Peace Pagoda, donated in the 60s by the Japanese city of Osaka. This tower is the most well known landmark of San Francisco’s Japantown and offers visitors views of a different kind of architecture than the towering skyscrapers of the downtown area. This plaza is the home of many of Japantown’s best festivals, including the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
Walking into the Kintetsu Mall, you will think you have been transported to Tokyo. This shopping center is filled with Japanese restaurants and shops. The sounds of Japanese teens chattering and the trickle of the water underneath the indoor bridge in the center of the mall will delight your baby. Stop by a bakery to get a fruit tart or mini cake then pick up jewelry, home décor or clothing in the various Japanese-themed shops.
The sounds of waterfalls
Another place that you can go for a stroll with your little one is the Yerba Buena Gardens. This park can get crowded on sunny days; you will see people lying in the grass with books, picnic baskets or friends. City buildings surround the area, but while you’re in the gardens, it’s as if you’ve found your own secret hideout set away from the hustle and bustle. One place that will fascinate your baby is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Reflection Pool. A wide waterfall splashes over granite rocks into the pool, and you can walk behind the water to read panels about Dr. King’s fight for civil rights. Your little one can gaze through the water at the people enjoying the sun and listen to the water sloshing against the rocks.
The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, which lasts from May to October, brings the community a wide array of cultural displays including classical, jazz and children’s programs to interest children in learning about diversity and innovation.
Down the street from the Yerba Buena Gardens is San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. This is a great museum to take little ones to because there are so many colors and unique shapes that will draw their attention. And you get something out of it too! Explore the paintings as well as the photography sections. You can even find inventive art installations that are unlike anything you have seen before. One that is particularly interesting is Felix Gonzales-Torres’ “Untitled (Golden)”. It features strands of golden beads that form a curtain separating two rooms. Visitors stop to go in and out of the beads. As they are made for experiencing, your baby is allowed to grab at them—and he or she will definitely want to after the clacking sound and glittering sparkles catch their attention.
These baby-friendly places are all relatively close together so make a day of spending time with your baby as you experience them all.