I can probably say without much repercussion that San Francisco holds the largest and most widely known LGBT pride festival in the world. There is already so much to do in San Francisco, adding in a festival such as this one is sensory overload. But since I've been to S.F. as a kid, let me start off the story from there.
As a kid, your parents take you to all those road trips you dread of going on because you hate sitting in the car for hours on end. And while San Francisco is great when you are there; the 6 hour drive from L.A. to the Bay area can be gruesome for a ten year old boy. As I think back though, the memories I made on the trip were lastingly ingrained in my head. Of course, like all tourists, we headed straight to Fisherman's Wharf. If you don't like seafood and shellfish, you might need to skip coming here. But if you do like seafood, you better try the clam chowder (there's a flagship Boudin Bakery on site there now) which San Francisco is known for. It's a great place for you to walk around and enjoy the pier, waterfront restaurants, and shops.
Nearby, but further south, is the Ferry Building. I love the Ferry Building! Back in the day, it actually wasn't much. But today, it's filled with restaurants, coffee shops, and artisanal shops. If you want a sit down lunch, I had some decent tacos (Baja & carne asada) and my boyfriend got much better tasting huevos rancheros at Mijita. Overall, it was just OK but I do think the hand made tortilla's were pretty good. I'd rather recommend you getting the New Orleans iced coffee from Blue Bottle and a grilled cheese sandwich from Cowgirl Creamery instead. You'll thank me afterwards. It's a really long walk from Fisherman's wharf, so I suggest you either ride a bike over or take a cab.
Another tourist thing I did as a kid was riding the cable cars. The cable cars extend from Fisherman's Wharf to Market Street (where all the shops/malls/restaurants/hotels are). Nothing has changed with the process of riding the cars. Back then I believe you bought a ticket and stood in line for your turn to ride it, which you still do to this day. Just be wary of busy times because the line can get ridiculously long. It's a great experience and I would recommend it.
Now, as an adult, San Francisco is even more fun. And to see the LGBT pride parade (which is huge), is pretty spectacular. It runs along Market Street and it takes up all traffic lanes. I went in the late afternoon and I ended up standing in the back, about 4-5 people deep. The festival, which is free, also took up so much city space you can easily get lost in there. I wish I had a map of the festival because there were different spots within it that held concerts, dance parties, food stands, and exhibitions. Plus, well known musical artists come out to perform as well! If you want to do something cultural while you're there too, I would suggest heading to the Golden Gate Park. There are two museums on the List that are showcased at that park, which is the de Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences. They are right across from each other so it won't be difficult to navigate from one or the other. Some of the highlights of my CA Academy of Sciences visit included seeing an astronomy show from a dome ceiling in the Planetarium, walking through the butterfly conservatory, and checking out the Living Roof. While the de Young Museum is a smaller and less interactive museum with more artwork and artifacts on display. If you want to not pay the admission fee to this museum and you're a Bank of America debit cardholder, come on the first weekend of the month. It's free then. I would also have suggested going to the Asian Art Museum during Pride, but it gets closed down during that time since it's located right in the middle of it all. The Pride festival usually occurs in the vicinity of City Hall, and the Asian Art Museum is right across from City Hall (separated by a lawn). But if you do end up going when it's not Pride, you'll find a bunch of beautiful Asian artwork and handiwork that are pretty Instagram-friendly. It's another small museum, but I did find a good amount of interesting pieces to keep me entertained.
I was able to hit up three of the restaurants on the List for this trip: Zuni Cafe, House of Nanking, and Foreign Cinema. Zuni Cafe was really airy and great for lunch rather than dinner. I think the sunlight coming through all the glass windows throughout the restaurant made it so much more enjoyable to dine in. Definitely get the fries! Foreign Cinema, on the other hand, was definitely more of a dinner scene. It had a darker atmosphere, and mood lighting was a bit overkill at this restaurant. One tip I can tell you is to reserve a seat in the courtyard, where they play movies on a screen for you to enjoy with your meal. The last restaurant we had a meal at was the House of Nanking, and it was pretty disappointing Chinese food. The dishes we got were the pork wonton soup, steamed pork dumplings, famous Nanking sesame chicken, and crispy rice noodle tower. I would not recommend any of them and suggest you skip this location altogether. I think it got famous from Food Network luminaries coming to this restaurant but I think it's all hype now, and you can tell with it's low Yelp review rating. And the only reason I went there was because I needed to check it off my List. Sometimes Patricia is wrong about her selections, and this is one of them.
But to leave this article on a positive note, I want to let you know that I realized how fortunate I was to have these childhood and adulthood memories. It really is a nice feeling to be able to compare what you experience as an adult to what you experienced as a child, because now you've acquired this sense of appreciation as an adult you didn't as a child. So I can't wait to go back to places I have been as a child and compare how I feel now to when I did back then.