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Visiting Muir Woods with Kids – Ultimate Guide

Visiting Muir Woods with Kids – Ultimate Guide

Visiting Muir Woods with kids is an absolutely must do day trip from San Francisco especially for those visiting San Francisco with kids.  We love a National park so knew that a visit to Muir Woods National Monument would be a highlight of the trip for us.  To help you enjoy the site as much as we did we are going to tell you exactly what to do in Muir Woods with kids whether you are visiting Muir Woods with a toddler, baby or a teenager covering everything from the best hikes for kids, best activities and answer all your questions such as is Muir Woods Stroller Friendly?! 

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Visiting Muir Woods with Kids Tips and Tricks 

Before we get into some of the specific kid friendly activities at Muir Woods, we wanted to point out a few things that you absolutely have to organise for your trip whether you are heading to the National Monument with or without kids. 

Next Read: Is Muir Woods Worth Visiting?

Organise your Muir Woods Car Parking and Shuttle in Advance

Visiting Muir Woods with Kids Tips and Tricks

Visiting Muir Woods with Kids Tips and Tricks

Muir Woods National Monument operates a reservation systems and reservations are essential for anyone wanting to visit Muir Woods. 

The reservation system operates both the on-site parking system and the shuttle bus to the further out parking lots. To book your reservation visit or call 1-800-410-2419.

It is absolutely essential to book your parking in advance as you can’t park without a reservation which could end your day before it has started.

 Also there is no wifi, 4G or cell service at Muir Woods. Therefore if you arrive at the park without a reservation you will find yourself driving back into the nearest town to get signal to make your reservations and then have to drive back to the park. This is such a waste of your day so be sure to do this in advance.  

We were lucky to be visiting early in the day and in the off season so we got parking right near the entrance to the park. However if you are visiting Muir Woods in peak season or aren’t able to get a parking spot in the nearest lot do not worry the shuttle service to Muir Woods is very well organised and is easy to use even if you have kids and strollers with you. 

If you do nee to use the Muir Woods Shuttle on your visit it is likely to take you around 30 minutes to get from the parking lot to the entrance. 

Best Time to Visit Muir Woods National Monument 

We visited Muir Woods on an early Wednesday morning in February when there were no school holidays which was absolutely perfect. There were no crowds and we got parking at the nearest lot very easily.

We also recommend planning your visit for midweek if you can as the crowds at Muir Woods swell at the weekends.

Also if you can it is advisable to visit in the off peak season as you can get the park pretty much all to yourself and will not see as many crowds. 

You will find that most people tend to visit Muir Woods in the summer and this is definitely counted as Muir Woods peak season. However if this is the only time you can visit I would not let this fact put you off just be sure to get your reservation well in advance to avoid disappointment. 

For more information on the best time to visit Muir Woods check out this post. 

Tips For Visiting Muir Woods With Toddler in Tow – Is Muir Woods Stroller Friendly? 

When we visited Muir Woods we visited with our two year old toddler. Our little girl is a pretty good hiker but what I loved about visiting Muir Woods with toddler in tow is that the boardwalks around the park meant that it was very easy for her to walk around the park on her own. 

And in answer to the question “is Muir Woods Stroller Friendly?” – it absolutely is again because of the boardwalks so you could even come to Muir Woods with a baby. 

Be sure to stop by at the Visitors Centre

Whenever we enter a national park or national monument, we always stop at the visitors centre first thing we do and we recommend you do this too. 

The reason for this is that at the visitors centre you can pick up the all important site map (remember you won’t have you phone to use google maps if you haven’t pre-downloaded one), find out about any closures in the national monument and find out updates about weather and conditions. 

Facilities at Muir Woods National Monument

Near the entrance to Muir Woods there is a visitors centre and cafe. We liked the fact that the food at the cafe seemed to have a lot of organic credentials! While the gift shop had lots of great souvenirs and gifts. 

However if you are traveling to Muir Woods and San Francisco on a budget it is worth packing your own snacks and drink with you. 

Be Prepared for no cell service

Once you are in the National Monument you will find there is no cell, wifi or 4G service. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have your reservations in advance and downloaded. 

However if you are traveling to Muir Woods without a car, you need to organise your return journey before you head into the National Monument. It will not be possible to organise a Lyft or Uber on site. 

For more information on the best way to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco check out this post. 

What to Wear at Muir Woods

If traveling to Muir Woods with kids in a morning make sure you bring layers as it can get quite cool and foggy in the park.

If you are travelling during the summer however don’t forget to bring the sun screen. Even though the magnificent trees provide great shade you will still want plenty of sun screen with you. 

Also alongside worrying about what to wear to Muir Woods, you need to think about other things you will need to pack. For instance, you will want to have plenty of water and snacks with you as there is limited food and beverage options available on-site. 

For more information on what to pack and what to wear at Muir Woods check out this dedicated post. 

What to see at Muir Woods National Monument

What is at Muir Woods for Kids?

If you are wondering what is at Muir Woods for Kids the answer is LOT- below are some of our favourite things to do in Muir Woods with kids no matter the age. 

Boardwalks among the Trees

Visiting Muir Woods with Kids

Visiting Muir Woods with Kids

The main attraction of the Muir Woods National Monument are the Sequoia Sempervirens aka the enormous Redwoods. They are the largest living things on earth and they are simply breathtaking! They look like they go on together and you will find yourself looking at the sky the whole walk round.

Near the entrance of the park there is a cut through tree which is a great thing to show kids to show the circles and dating method of the trees!

There are several paths within the woods and the site has about 6 miles of trails. As we were traveling with a toddler we decided to take some of the easier boardwalk paths rather than going off one of the spurs.

This was perfect as there were several bridges that meant you could do an easy loop of the park! The boardwalks also meant that it would have been possible to do with a stroller. In fact I would say that the Muir Woods loop is one of the best stroller friendly hikes in the Bay Area. 

One of my other favourite places in Muir Woods is Cathedral Grove which is a beautiful and tranquil place. However they do emphasise that these space should be used for quiet contemplation and keeping sound to a minimum so not a great one to do if you have a hangry toddler who is needing a rest stop. 

However if you are traveling to Muir Woods with older kids then there are plenty of longer and slightly more difficult walks that you can do. 

Hiking Muir Woods With Kids 

Visiting Muir Woods with Kids - Visiting Muir Woods with toddler

Visiting Muir Woods with Kids – Visiting Muir Woods with toddler

Muir Woods has over 6 miles of hiking trails which are actually easy to do with kids for the most park. Most people only tackle one trail at Muir Woods – The Main Loop Trail and this is a great length to do with kids and is very flat.

The length of the hike on this trail can be altered for your families needs – you just need to cross one of the four bridges to head back and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half to walk depending on which length you want to tackle. 

Overall I would say some of the most kid friendly Muir Woods hikes are:

  • The Muir Woods Fern Creek Loop – around a 2km hike that is completely stroller friendly so great for those traveling to Muir Woods with toddlers or babies. 
  • Muir Woods Main Trail – another completely stroller friendly Muir Woods trail. The thing we love about this trail is that the loop has a couple of turn around points that can alter the length of the trail. For instance you can loop back at Bridge 2 for a short 0.5 mile hike. However we personally recommending heading all the way to Bridge 3 for a 1 mile hike to get the most out of it.  And 
  • Fern Creek and Hillside Loop – a 3.1km trail for those wanting to do a bit more. Better for those traveling without a stroller. 

For those traveling with teenagers there are more challenging hikes such as the Ben Johnson, Return Via Dipsea Loop. This is a 4 mile loop hike but has a rise of 925 feet in elevation. But for those who accomplish this hike you are rewarded with amazing views of San Francisco, Mt. Tamalpais, and the Pacific Ocean.

Please note: during salmon spawning season the bridge on this trail may close so it is worth heading to the visitors centre before you set off to be sure it is open.  

There is also the hike to Muir Woods Beach however there are some hazards on this trail. Therefore I would only ever do this with teenagers and adults. 

Get Your Junior Ranger Badge at Muir Woods With Kids 

One of my favourite things about visiting National Parks with Kids is the Junior Ranger programme. Although classified as a National Monument rather than a National Park you can still take part in the Junior Ranger Programme at Muir Woods. 

To take part collect an activity book from the Visitor Centre and complete the hands on activities as you go round. If you complete it all your kids will be rewarded with a badge and will be sworn in as a junior ranger. 

Looking for more outdoor adventure in California? Then why not road trip to Yosemite?

FAQs about Visiting Muir Woods with Kids 

How to get to muir woods from San Francisco?

If you are wondering how to get to Muir Woods from San francisco I would personally recommend hiring a car and driving to the park. But be sure to reserve your parking in advance. 

To get to Muir Woods from San Francisco it takes about 40 minutes. 

How long does it take to walk through Muir Woods? How long does it take to visit muir woods?

How long it takes to walk through Muir Woods really depends on you, how much you would like to walk and how much you will let your children walk. I would recommend putting aside at least a few hours or half a day to Muir Woods in your San Francisco itinerary.

If you want to do some of the longer trails you could spend up to 5 hours on site. 

Do you need a carrier at Muir Woods?

While Muir Woods is stroller friendly on the hikes that use the boardwalks, if you are traveling with a baby and want to do one of the more strenuous hikes then you will need a carrier.

However if you plan on sticking to board walk hikes that are stroller friendly you will not need to take a carrier with you. 

Can you go to Muir Woods without a reservation?

Nope going to Muir Woods without a reservation will just mean you have to drive straight back into town and make one. 

Have you been to Muir Woods? What are your top tips?


Wednesday 9th of January 2019

Wow, this looks amazing. How far outside San Francisco is Muir Woods? Do you need to rent a car or are there also busses running from SF? Am heading over in March and would love to do a day trip to one of the Nationals Parks, so for sure will check this one out.

Wandermust Mummy

Saturday 12th of January 2019

It's a car ride but I think there are public transport options too! If you do drive yourself you need to make sure you prebook your parking!

Angharad Paull

Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

These woods look beautiful and I do love a board walk path! Really handy practical tips too, thank you!

Melissa C.

Tuesday 2nd of October 2018

So gorgeous! Would you believe that I've lived in California half my life and never been?

Wandermust Mummy

Tuesday 2nd of October 2018

Gosh you should definitely rectify that it is so lovely

Cath - BattleMum

Sunday 30th of September 2018

It sounds like a fab wood to visit. I'd love to go and see the Redwoods one day. I bet they need to be seen to be believed! #fearlessfamtrav

Jenny - TraveLynn Family

Saturday 8th of September 2018

I'm so embarrassed to admit that I've never heard of this place! But woodlands are always a winner with my boys! #fearlessfamtrav