Best Activities for Parents Visiting the Bay Area and SFBU

Parents activities

Uh oh! Are your parents visiting you at SFBU and your room’s a mess? Maybe you just aren’t ready to introduce them to all the wonderful things you’ve been learning at one of San Francisco’s premier universities. Well, that’s okay! We understand you’ve got a lot going on with your studies. That’s why it is important to recommend some awesome activities for your parents to enjoy while you get fully prepped for their visit. Fortunately, we’ve got some great recommendations to keep your parents occupied.

Consider how impressed your parents will be when you introduce them to all these fabulous activities. As a student of SFBU, planning and time management are important. So, why not prove to your parents how good you are at planning and time management by suggesting some amazing San Francisco excursions for them?

Consider that your parents have spent your life putting your interests ahead of theirs. Perhaps now is the time to show them some of the same consideration and attention. It’s easy to recommend museums, bars, theaters, or shopping. But how about something unique for your parents who have helped you get to a point where a world-class education at SFBU is possible? Here are some amazing unique activities they (and even you!) can enjoy.

1. Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island is a fascinating place for anyone, from parents to students, friends, and family. Alcatraz reveals stories of American incarceration, justice, and our common humanity. It has been many things over the years, from a fort to a military prison and maximum-security federal penitentiary. It was even once occupied by the American Indian Movement in the name of freedom and Native American civil rights.

When it was a prison, some of the most infamous names in criminality were imprisoned there, from Al Capone to George “Machine Gun” Kelly. The cells in Alcatraz measure 10 feet by 4.5 feet. Could you imagine being imprisoned in such a place? In 1972, Alcatraz became part of the newly created Golden Gate National Recreation Area. And although there has been no effort to repair the structures on the island, their general decay and disrepair only add to the disquiet that surrounds the facility. This is one of the top tourist destinations in San Francisco and for good reason!

For more information on operating hours, seasons, and more, visit the website for the National Park Service by clicking or tapping here.

2. The California Academy of Sciences

We wanted to offer something more than the casual museum experience. So, why not recommend your parents visit the California Academy of Sciences? This attraction offers things to see and do beyond a simple museum. It also offers a Natural History Museum, an aquarium, a planetarian, and more. It’s even become a go-to for the scientific community. And for those of you who have parents fond of architectural wonders, they will be interested to learn that the entire facility underwent a conversion in 2008 by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. Today, the Academy is a green building with a design that has become an iconic part of the culture and history of San Francisco.

The Academy also offers state-of-the-art technology and design to dazzle and wow you and your parents. The planetarium boasts the world’s largest all-digital dome with a 360-degree surround screen that will transport you to distant worlds and galaxies. From short films in Hohfeld Hall to rainforest recreations and a live penguin display, there’s a lot to learn – and love – at the California Academy of Sciences.

The California Academy of Sciences is open from 9:30am to 5:00pm every day except Sunday when they are open 11:00am to 5:00pm. Tickets are $35.95 for adults, $30.95 for seniors, and $25.95 for children 4 to 11. Children under 3 get in free. For more information click or tap here.

3. Sunset Dinner at The Cliff House

Your parents will thank you for recommending a romantic dinner at the elegant Cliff House. With two options – either the Bistro Restaurant or Sutro’s Restaurant – your parents will dine well and enjoy a spectacular view of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. On Sundays, the terrace room offers a champagne brunch buffet with all-you-can-drink champagne and a live harpist. There is also a Friday night jazz offering, because whose parents don’t like a seaside dinner, sunset, and jazz?

In the end, it really isn’t about what day of the week your parents visit. Instead, it’s about the amazing view and excellent ambiance. No matter what table you’re sitting at, you’ll get an awesome view of the Marin headlands and Sea Rocks. They even offer a California seaside-inspired lunch that is based purely on the catch of the day.

Prices are modest and reservations are recommended as this is a popular spot with San Franciscans and out-of-town visitors alike. A recommendation to the Cliff House will surely impress your parents and remind them that you’ve got their comfort and entertainment in mind! Click or tap here to go to their website.

4. Fisherman’s Wharf

The only reason we did not make this the number one option is simply because that would have been too obvious. Whether you are new to the San Francisco area or not, you’ve likely heard of or been down to Fisherman’s Wharf. It is usually high on the list of things to do for those visiting the Bay Area. Fisherman’s Wharf was known for being a cultural hot spot back in the early days of the city.


When eager prospectors were participating in the San Francisco Gold Rush, Chinese immigrants were catching salmon, shrimp, and oysters and selling it all at Fisherman’s Wharf. Before long Italians, Irishmen, and many others from all over the world began adding their cultural beliefs and styles to the diverse milieu that was becoming San Francisco Bay. From Fleet Week to the raucous, carnival-like atmosphere at Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf is a cornucopia of fun and a feast for the senses.

From the Wharf, your parents can head on down to Hyde Pier, which is a world apart from “modern” San Francisco. From the paddlewheel tug to the old fishing boats and schooners, Hyde Pier will take your parents back in time as they gaze upon the San Francisco of yesterday. Visit Fisherman’s Wharf’s website for the official list of things to do on the Wharf and beyond.

5. Ride the Cable Car

Who doesn’t love to ride in a cable car and take in the beautiful vistas around them? This is one activity that has made San Francisco immortal, if for nothing else than the number of movies that have featured the Powell-Hyde cable car. The cable cars will take you and your parents along three routes where they can visit the most popular parts of San Francisco. From Fisherman’s Wharf to Union Square, Aquatic Park, Lombard Street, and finally Nob Hill – your parents will see it all without having to worry about being stuck in traffic or waiting for a cab. Dazzle your parents as you point out the 1873 red cars with the golden bells in front. There is even a cable car museum they can check out if they want to learn more.

The cable car rides are scheduled at 10-minute intervals throughout the day. They start at Union Square and end at Nob Hill. Tickets cost around $6 USD for those between 5 and 64, and $3 USD for the disabled and seniors. Check out all the history and ride and payment information at the official San Francisco Cable Car website!

Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed this romp through some of the best activities to recommend to your parents when they visit you at San Francisco Bay University. Consider that there is also so much more you can recommend. From trying out Papalote’s burritos to Mojo’s sandwiches and Little Star’s pizza, there are awesome foodie options for them to discover in the Bay Area as well.

Sure, your parents may have heard stories that San Francisco is full of crime and overpriced avocado toast, but as an SFBU student, you know that’s not the case. That’s why it's important to introduce them to the San Francisco you know and love. Make them proud of you and your consideration for their needs while they visit our fair city. And finally, enjoy the best things to do in San Francisco for you and your parents!