Travel Betty

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Sightseeing With A Teenager In San Francisco? Travel Betty Offers Some Tips

September 7th, 2007 · 9 Comments

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My totally awesome 19 year old nephew was in town this past Labor Day weekend from North Carolina. To be honest, I didn’t know if he’d even want to come out to San Francisco. He’s a country boy and a home body and happy to be so, thanks. But when I offered up the trip as a graduation present, he seemed genuinely excited. So, I found some Cheap Flights, purchased a ticket and then proceeded to worry for two months about not being cool enough to entertain a teenager for 4 days. Luckily the worrying was for naught. He seemed to have a great time and wasn’t harmed in the process.

Golden Gate Bridge

So, if you happen to be stumped for things to do with your own on-loan teenager in San Francisco, here’s what I discovered…

Male Teenagers Like:

  • Haight Street in general (especially stores that sell things with pot leaves on them)
  • Driving down Lombard Street and imagining what it’d be like to go down on a skateboard
  • Walking around the Italian neighborhood of North Beach
  • 826 Valencia’s Pirate Store
  • Paxton Gate (a strange brew of taxidermy store and garden center. they also sell loose teas.)
  • Alcatraz (reserve your tickets beforehand, least you find yourself coping with a disappointed teen)
  • Chinatown’s many stores and little old ladies who shove you out of the way
  • Golden Gate Park for its impromptu swing dancing, roller disco, De Young Museum’s observation tower (skip the actual museum…BORING! the tower is free!), walking around Stow Lake looking for turtles, watching a musician perform underneath the giant windmill out by the ocean were you can ride the electric trolling motors they have there.
  • Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf (they fight and smell bad. what’s not to like?)
  • The view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands (we were close enough to see people standing on top of the northern tower. just glad he didn’t ask me to take him up there!)
  • Little Nepal (this was the one “weird” restaurant we took him to and although he sited a blister on the roof of his mouth from the spiciness, overall it was a hit)
  • Hanging out with Aunt Betty’s two hot girlfriends and the always cool, Travel Boyfriend
  • Marriott’s Rooftop Lounge for awesome views
  • Pointing out every cool old car and motorcycle in SF (of which, I discovered, there are many)

Male Teenagers Don’t Like:

  • Aunt Betty pointing out where she and Travel Boyfriend made out during first date (this is not a reflection on Washington Square Park itself)
  • SF Mime Troupe (Nephew decreed “Nobody wants to hear about the war.” Don’t worry, I’m working on him.)

So, as you can see, even though experts may tell you differently, it really isn’t that hard to make a teenager happy. Especially in a city as amazing and diverse as San Francisco. Who knew?Looking for even more ideas on what to do with your kids in San Francisco?

Fodor's Around San Francisco with Kids, 2nd Edition: 68 Great Things to Do Together (Around the City with Kids)

Fodor’s Around San Francisco with Kids, 2nd Edition: 68 Great Things to Do Together (Around the City with Kids)

Frommer's San Francisco with Kids (Frommer's With Kids)

Frommer’s San Francisco with Kids (Frommer’s With Kids)

Another Betty blogging about teen travel in San Francisco:

Bay Area Back Pages

Tags: California · Food and Drink · Music · Northern California · USA

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  • 9 responses so far ↓

    • 1 Mickey // Sep 9, 2007 at 11:47 am

      So, was he stoked enough to stay, or move?

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    • 2 Travel Betty // Sep 9, 2007 at 6:20 pm

      Nah, sadly he prefers the quiet and calm of the country. But at least now he knows there’s something else out there if he changes his mind!

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    • 3 Kango // Sep 14, 2007 at 1:00 pm

      This is heroic. I would think hanging around 16th and Valencia, eating al fresco at Delfina or Dolores Park Cafe, checking out all the interesting stores (herbs, occult, etc.) on Valencia, a walk down Mission St., would be kinda fun.

      Also, a trip to the Apple Store by 4th and Market and the Virgin Records across the street…

      Congrats, what a cool aunt he has.

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    • 4 jenee-g // Sep 14, 2007 at 5:18 pm

      so glad to see the Pirate Store on the list! My son has been a regular since they opened and he (11) personally escorts out-of-town visitors (all ages) there himself, then begs them for a stuck bug at Paxton Gate as a tip.

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    • 5 Travel Betty // Sep 26, 2007 at 11:54 am

      That’s so cute, jenee-g! What an enterprising young lad.

      Darn, Kango, I forgot the Apple store. Although it’s probably a good thing or I would have had to spring for his iPhone :)

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    • 6 Ogden // Feb 16, 2008 at 3:11 am

      Nice information…….. thanks.

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    • 7 Mary // Jan 28, 2009 at 10:12 am

      I read the article because I too am the aunt of an awesome 19 yr. old nephew, and we’re going to San Francisco over spring break for his first visit – thanks for the lively commentary and excellent suggestions.

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    • 8 Tudor Bran // Apr 2, 2009 at 1:25 am

      I’d definitely take a chance on Alcatraz.

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    • 9 Wakeboard // Nov 12, 2009 at 3:50 am

      If it is possible to drag a teenager (particularly a teenage boy) away from the endless assortment of computer gadgetry they all seem to own, I’ve found one of the most successful “how to entertain a teenager” tricks is to get them out on the water with a wakeboard.

      After all, there must be any number of ideal locations in and around SF where the water is reasonably calm and it’s possible to hire a wakeboard for a day’s activity?

      Not only is wakeboarding considered “waaay cool” by most teenagers, it gives them the opportunity to get some fresh air. And best of all, it leaves them physically exhausted!

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