Radisson Hotel Fisherman's Wharf Rating: 3.0 Pearls
The Radisson doesn't play up its family appeal, but it should. Its heated outdoor pool is among the nicest in the city, especially given the electric firepit, gardens, palm trees, and plenty of deck chairs and umbrella tables on the pool deck. And while there are about a half-dozen other big-chain hotels vying for tourists in the family-focused waterfront area of Fisherman's Wharf, and the Radisson is closer to the wharf than the Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, and Holiday Inn (and it's often cheaper too).
Handlery Union Square Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
For an affordable -- yet still comfortable -- family option near the high-end shopping in Union Square, you can't do better than the Handlery. This classic San Francisco boutique hotel has one of the few, and one of the best, outdoor pools in the neighborhood. Plus, for about the price of a small standard room elsewhere, families visiting the Handlery can upgrade to a large, 450-square-foot Club-level guest room with a balcony or patio.
Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The best luxury option in the city for families (and not just because it's only a few yards from some of the world's best ice cream and chocolate in Ghirardelli Square) the Fairmont's huge, residential-style one-, two-, and three-bedroom units truly deliver all the comforts of home -- a full kitchen with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances; an in-room washer and dryer; free DVD rentals to watch on a 40-inch flat-screen TV next to a gaslit fireplace. More importantly, foldout couches in the living rooms and bedrooms available with two twin beds make sleeping arrangements easy.
Argonaut Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
With its "treasure chest" full of free toys in the lobby and nautical-themed guest rooms, the Argonaut is a great family option across the street from the Fisherman's Wharf waterfront, near the docks where the ferries leave for Alcatraz and one block from the tempting chocolate concoctions in Ghirardelli Square.