When planning a vacation it is often very difficult to set priorities from a distance. San Francisco is really no different than any other vacation destination in that manner. In fact, as a vacation destination, this city has so much to offer that the problem isn't finding enough stuff to do; it is limiting yourself to only doing the things you want most to do because of time constraints. Unless you are going to be in this great city for a month, it would be very easy to overload your itinerary.
Here are a few suggestions for pacing yourself while traveling as well as providing adequate downtime for all family members while visiting San Francisco.
1) Remember that this is a vacation not a military exercise. Be especially aware of young children as they can tire easily and aren't much fun when overtired. Plan rest times in addition to activities in order to provide much needed breaks for everyone that is traveling with you.
2) Remember that the little ones have things that are important to them too and your ideas and their ideas about what will interest them the most aren't always the same. You don't want a child with hurt feelings, especially when that could have been so easily avoided by simply offering your child a choice.
3) Keep in mind that while most things are great to do as a family, some alone time or split time, isn't necessarily a bad thing-even when on vacation.
4) Plan your day with extra time in between attractions to accommodate for transportation issues, bathroom breaks, and any number of things that can come up. There is no point in being frustrated over the unavoidable, especially when on vacation.
5) Limit yourself to activities in the same general area of town on a given day so that you aren't spending the vast majority of your day getting from point A to point B or looking for a parking spot. It is best to park and walk as much as possible or rely on public transportation in San Francisco whenever walking is unavoidable.
6) Let your young ones select at least one place a day (within reason) to eat. Obviously no one wants to eat at McDonald's every day of your trip except your little ones, but by allowing them to have a choice you are making them feel special and giving them something to look forward to when standing in a long line for something you want to do more than they do.
7) Plan activities for younger children in the middle of other activities. This will keep them somewhat appeased if they know they have something to look forward to later and will save you from a long line of endless tantrums.
8) Plan for some sort of restful activity in the middle of the day if you aren't close enough to your hotel for an afternoon nap. Even if it's ducking into a library or bookstore to read quietly for an hour. You will be amazed at how much just a quick rest can do to perk up the spirits of everyone in your group.
These things won't guarantee a smooth trip but will greatly increase the likelihood of less bouts of angry, overtired children and fed up over tired mom and dad as well. The most important thing about any vacation is that you take the time to enjoy yourself and your time together as a family.