Teens are beautiful and unique creatures. At least this is what we as parents keep telling ourselves. The problem with teens is that their tastes and wants change almost hourly so it is quite difficult to determine at lunch what will appeal to them at dinner. Fortunately, if you are planning a visit to San Francisco, California, there is most likely something that will appeal to them no matter what mood they are in at the moment.
I always recommend allowing older children and teens (even younger children in a limited capacity) to have some voice in deciding what activities to do while on vacation. After all, it is their vacation too and just because we think they will like it doesn't necessarily mean they are remotely interested in it-this goes back to the beautiful and unique creature statement.
The great thing about San Francisco is that while your teen may swing in vicious cycles between being a child and thinking he or she is grown, there is quite a lot that will appeal to both sides of your teen's personality. Fisherman's Wharf is probably my favorite San Francisco destination. Pier 39 offers a great number of attractions for teens. From Frequent Flyers where your teen can experience the feeling of being air born to the Riptide Arcade, with shopping, sea lions, and entertainers in between there is a lot that this area has to offer the teen in your family. You can also rent a kayak and let your teen do the navigating, if you're really brave that is. Another attraction at Fisherman's Wharf that your teen might find more enjoyable than anyone else in the family is the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum.
I think even a teenagers won't find trolley tours beneath them. In fact, your teenager might have a great deal of fun taking one of these tours as well as accidentally learning some small nugget of information about San Francisco history that will stay with them long after the vacation is over.
If you feel up for a ride, you might consider taking your teen to Paramount's Great America in San Jose. In fact, this is a trip that the entire family might enjoy. Little kids can enjoy the Nickelodeon characters and the rides that are designed especially with them in mind. Teens and adults can enjoy some of the more thrilling rides created for the adrenaline junkies in your life.
Your teen might get a kick out of a trip to the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf. This museum offers realistic recreations of people, events, and horrors beyond imagination-well my imagination. This is definitely one of the more interesting destinations in San Francisco. Take a walk through history or onto the set of the latest horror movie. It all seems so real and the characters so life like.
Your teen may really enjoy one of the Alcatraz tours. They offer a day tour and an evening tour. I seriously recommend the evening tour if at all possible as there are more features than on the day tour and it makes a much more 'thrilling' experience. You may also wish to combine a tour to Angel Island with your trip to Alcatraz. Angel Island also has a rich history as well as some breathtaking views and great trails for hiking and biking. You could also consider making a day of your trip to Angel Island, especially if your teen enjoys either of these activities.
And then there's the shopping, a favorite pastime for teen girls and a potential bonding experience for mothers and daughters. Conversely, men can bond with teenaged sons and/or daughters over a nice sports game. The bay area offers many options for sports lovers.
No matter what your teenagers tastes at the moment, I have no doubt that you will find something in this great city that you can all agree on. Be sure to work in attractions that you wish to enjoy between the attractions of your teen. This will make the interests of the other more tolerable for everyone.