Day 1: Ducks, Bison and Reindeer (!?)

Jet lagged? Head to Golden Gate Park early!

Golden Gate Park is full of animals – wild or stuffed. Here are some of the places where you can see them!

Ducks and Ground Hogs at Stow Lake

Stow Lake is right behind the Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate Park. There’s no admission fee, just walk right up the hill and there’s a beautiful lake with a pagoda and a waterfall! There are many ducks, and in the spring time, look out for ground hogs! We’ve never fed the ducks, and not sure what the protocol is, but we have seen plenty of people come with a bag of bread to feed the ducks!

Henry’s favorites: walking around the inside loop of stow lake looking for squirrels.


Such a random but fun thing to see in the middle of the park. There are usually one or two roaming around. A favorite joke to tell when I visit – what did a buffalo say to his son when he went to college? “Bye son” Hahaha

Academy of Sciences

They don’t usually have “real” animals besides birds and sea creatures, but there are plenty of stuffed ones! Go check out their Africa section for all the cool animals. The cheetah on the tree comes to life, ask an employee there. 🙂 Don’t miss the butterflies and macaws in the rain forest too!

If you go during the holidays – they have reindeer!! Real ones!

Henry’s favorites: Rain forest butterflies, tide pool at the aquarium to touch starfish and shells.

Day 2: Sea Creatures

Fisherman’s Wharf for Sea Creatures

Aquarium of the Bay

We’ve actually never been (so will update when we do), but I heard you get to see all the sea animals of San Francisco Bay (vs. the aquarium in the Academy has sea life from all over the world)!

Sea Lions

They make loud and fun sounds while they wrestle each other for the perfect spot to sun bathe (or fog bathe!?).

Bonus: Marine Mammal Center

This is just over the Golden Gate Bridge and a fun side trip if you are already in the Marin area or if you have a kid that is particularly interested in marine life conservation. Great place to learn how animals are rescued and sent back to their habitat.

Day 3: Zoo Animals, Horses, and Ponies

San Francisco Zoo

Watch grizzly bears run towards you during their feeding time (usually around 10:30), take a class (for toddlers and kids), or take a scenic walk through the safari area where giraffes and zebras roam free. We love this place! Don’t go towards the left when you first walk in, because you will be trapped at the playground your entire visit. 🙂

Henry’s favorites: Petting zoo with a barn. Playground with iceberg slides.

Mar Vista Stables

After the zoo, a short 5 min drive will take you to this hidden gem! Pony rides right by the ocean, $10 for 10 mins. For older kids 7 and older, you are able to go on a scenic horseback ride which takes you to the ocean!

Henry’s favorites: Pony that poops. Half the fun for him is watching the ponies poop.