"All good things are wild and free." --Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Randall Museum and Corona Heights Hill

 If you have a young child, are in San Francisco, and have not yet been to the Randall Museum, you must go now. Seriously. It is one of those places that will titillate your child to no end—live animals from crows to quail, bunnies to hamsters, tortoises to snakes, a venerable 27-year-old red-tailed hawk, a beehive full of busy worker bees, and more, plus two playrooms full of toys and stuffed animals, a kid-sized caboose to cavort in, life-size cutouts of local animals (raccoon, opossum, coyote) that make peculiar noises, and gardens full of savvy finches who know school children drop their lunches. There are classes too, not just for kids, a woodshop, evening lectures on naturalia and astronomy, and a model train display. And most wondrous considering today’s capitalist society, the Randall Museum is free. Thank goodness for San Francisco’s Parks and Rec Department!

Lumbering behind and above the Randall Museum is Corona Heights, a craggy hill of folded chert of an orangish-reddish hue, laced with trails and staircases, and covered in a pelt of grass. From its apex you can see the clear blue triangle of Mount Diablo in the east, the Marin Headlands in the north, San Bruno Mountain to the south, and more hills of San Francisco to the west. Don’t skip the hike up the hill when you come to the Randall Museum. There is a half mile or so loop (and if you want to walk further, consider Buena Vista Park that you see to the west). If my one-and-a-half year old baby can climb the long and arduous staircase to the boulders on the top of Corona Heights, so could anyone else. There is nothing quite like the expansive feeling you get at the crest of a great hill, with the City and the bay spread out around you.

Randall Museum
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located at 199 Museum Way, San Francisco CA 94114. See website for more details.
Last Note
Please read this poem by Hallie Sinore about hiking Corona Heights hill with babies. Click here.

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