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

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Spots for Kids: SF Bay Area

The following is a list about indoor, outdoor, trails, and kid-friendly restaurants in the Bay Area. It is not exhaustive, so feel welcome to add comments about places you recommend.  

Written in collaboration with:
Rachel Teichman ~ Tots and Plans & OOGIAH, www.totsandplans.com & www.oogiah.com
Lillian Berman ~ Kid Friendly SF, www.kidfriendlysf.com
Jessica Hahn-Taylor ~ Hill Babies SF, www.hillbabiessf.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: Conservatory of Flowers
San Francisco Indoors
Aquarium of the BayKids can see underwater & visit the new otter exhibit.
Conservatory of Flowers, GGP: Wonderful permanent & temporary themed flower displays.
Contemporary Jewish MuseumChildren’s author exhibits and crafts projects some days.
The Creativity MuseumTechnical arts experiences from music to animation. Carousel too.
ExploratoriumA hands-on way to learn about all things science in a great new location.
House of AirKids can jump and bounce indoors!
The Randall Museum: Animals to see and a little treehouse structure to climb. Classes too.
Recess Urban RecreationLots of space for free play, & classes including art & languages.
Japan Center: It’s great to visit to Japantown in any weather, but on foggy and rainy days, a visit to Japan Center is a splendid cultural experience!
San Francisco Outdoors
Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, GGP. Discover your & your child’s inner botanist.
Crissy FieldConverted from military use to a waterfront park with a marsh, meadow & promenade. Kids can run & fly kites on the beach. Crissy Field Center has programs for kids.
Japanese Tea Garden, GGP: Authentic Japanese garden with bridges to climb and tea to try.
Park Chalet, GGP: This eatery & brewery has an outdoor space for their food and/or your own. Outdoor music & events. Make sure to visit the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden too.
China BeachThis private feeling beach, tucked away in the Sea Cliff neighborhood is perfect for kids. Pack lightly though, you’ll need to walk down a long staircase.
San Francisco Trails
Bayview Hill360-degree views; rare native plants; historic WPA staircases; stroller friendly
Fort FunstonSunset Trail (0.75 mile; stroller friendly) & Low Tide Loop Trail ( 2+ mile, beach access). A favorite of dog owners. 200 foot high sandy bluffs, view hang-gliders.
Lands EndImpressive views of the Bay and shipwrecks, cypress trees & wildflowers.
McLaren Park: 2nd largest park in SF; dog friendly; 2.7 mile Philosopher’s Way; Louis Sutter Playground and duck pond; stone spiral at the summit of a hill; rope swing
Mt. Davidson: A short hike to the top of this mountain will give you an impressive view of the whole city. Highest point in SF.
Corona Heights: Hike up this mini mountain near Randall Museum & see a panoramic view of the city.
San Francisco Kid Friendly Restaurants:
Shulzies Bread Pudding in Hayes Valley: http://www.schulziesbreadpudding.com/
Delancey’s on the Embarcadero near South Beach
Noodle places in Japantown and Japan Center: Some favorites are SuzuMifune, and Benihana
Park Chalet at Ocean Beach & GGP
Boogaloo’s in the Mission
Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack in the Mission/Bernal
Pacific Catch in Inner Sunset, Marina and Marin
Dragon Well in the Marina
Super Duper in the Castro, Marina, Downtown, Mill Valley
El Toreador in West Portal

Photo credit: Children's Fairyland
East Bay Indoors
Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Fairyland and Freight & Salvage, BerkeleyChildren’s theatre based on favorite books. The Cat in the Hat will be playing live at Fairyland this summer.
The Bladium, AlamedaSoccer, baseball and basketball classes, camps & nights out.
Chabot Space & Science Center, OaklandReal rockets ships and educational playroom, along with a planetarium/movie theatre.
Habitot, Berkeley: Kids can take part in all kinds of make believe, educational play and art.
Junior Center of Art & Science, OaklandExhibits and events teach about science, art & history.
Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Walnut CreekKids can see animals & learn about rehabilitation.
MoCHA, OaklandThemed art projects for kids to try out and get creative and messy.
Oakland LibrariesSummer evening events with performances & projects.
OMCA, OaklandExhibits, family Friday nights out & Gallery of California Natural Sciences.
Play Cafe, OaklandBall pit, dress-up, kitchen & baby play areas. Lots of food & seating.
Sticky Art Lab, BerkeleyWall full of discarded household items waiting to be transformed.
Studio Grow, Berkeley & Danville: Crafting, playing, climbing, story, song & parachute time.

East Bay Outdoors
Adventure Playground, Berkeley: Kids can explore and build with discarded building supplies.
Alameda BeachesAlameda feels like a vacation spot with its beaches & shops.
Children’s Fairyland, Oakland: Charming pre-Disneyland theme park with rides, holiday events, the longest running puppet show in the U.S. & summer overnights.
Cull Canyon, Castro Valley: Clean man-made swimming hole with lifeguards & picnic area.
The Oakland ZooPerfect zoo for young kids. A variety of animal exhibits and carnival rides.
Pixieland Amusement Park, Concord: Vintage style amusement park with lots of rides.
Roberts Regional Recreation Area, Oakland: Redwoods, all-access play area, grass & pool.

East Bay Trails
Berkeley MarinaPaved path for biking, running and walking.
Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland: Lots of trails, along with a playground and amphitheatre.
Lafayette ReservoirFishing, boating, biking, skating and walking. Check daily schedule.
Lake Merritt, Oakland: Great paved path for biking, running and walking. Waterbirds.
Lake Temescal Recreation Area, Oakland: Lake, picnic areas & playgrounds.
Tilden Park, Berkeley: 2,079 acre park, 39 miles of trails, merry-go-round, Lake Anza, train ride & feeding farm animals.

Photo credit: Marin County Parks
North Bay Indoors
Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito: Hands-on art, science & environmental education museum. Classes, events, outdoor play spaces & performances.
The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito: Visit the center that rescues and humanely treats ill, injured, or orphaned marine mammals, and returns healthy ones to the wild. Free admission.
Playland SausalitoJumpy houses, indoor play area for ages 6 & under.
Play-Well Marin Activity Center, San Anselmo: Engineering & physics education through building with LEGO blocks.

North Bay Outdoors
Blackie’s Pasture, Tiburon: Sports fields, walking & biking path. Picnic areas & playground.
Brentwood Fruit PickingA variety of farms to pick and buy fruit from seasonally.
McNears Beach, San Rafael: Fishing, swimming pool, picnic area & snack bar.
Old Downtown Windsor: Kid friendly, charming old-style downtown in the wine country. Home of the World Famous Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic that takes place one weekend each June. A must see at least once in your life!
Terra Linda Pool, San RafaelPool day getaway. Playground & shallow kiddie pool.
Train Town, Sonoma: Quarter scale railroad on four mile track, miniature town & petting zoo.
Safari West, Santa Rosa: Take a ride through animals living in the wild, and even camp out too. Book reservations online for visits or lodging.
Schoolhouse Canyon Park-Camping at Russian River, Guerneville: Perfect car camping under redwoods, across the street from the Russian River.

North Bay Trails
Angel IslandIsland mountain in the bay, historic Immigration Station and Nike missile site; 5 mile perimeter trail; switchback trail to top of Mount Livermore
Bolinas Beach Loop: 1-mile loop through quaint downtown to beach and back; accessible during low tide
Muir WoodsRedwood forest (some trees over 600 years old); Redwood Creek watershed; 6 miles of trails, some stroller friendly
Mt. Tamalpais2,571’ peak, great views, 50 miles of trails, Bootjack Picnic Area, East Peak Visitor Center, Mountain Theater

Photo Credit: San Mateo County Parks
South Bay Indoors
C is for Craft, Palo Alto: Drop-in time and classes for old fashioned crafting & LEGO playing.
CuriOdyssey Museum, San Mateo: Experimental wildlife center for children & families at Coyote Point.
Didalidoo, San Bruno: Indoor playspace for ages 0-4. Lots of space to climb, roll & slide.
Palo Alto Junior Museum & ZooHands-on science exhibits & outdoor zoo with tortoises, raccoons & bobcats. A climbing area too.
Children’s Discovery Museum of San JoseKids will learn about jobs, cultures and books while pretending.
U-MeOpen play areas for climbing, and classes all day including story time, dance and art.

South Bay Outdoors
Coyote Point Park, San MateoPicnics, playgrounds, bay swimming, CuriOdyssey Museum, windsurfing and boating.
Burgess Pool, Menlo Park: Sunny swimming, playground, grassy areas.
Gamble Garden, Palo Alto: Community horticulture foundation. Free entry to gardens.
Parkside Aquatic Park, San Mateo: Bay beach, boating, playground, picnic tables.
City of PacificaBeaches, surfing, parks, Coastside Farmer’s Market, play at Frontierland Park and other playgrounds, bowling at Sea Bowl & horseback riding at Sun Valley Equestrian.
Costanoa, Pescadero: Picnicking, spa, lodge, camping, cabins & restaurant.
Gilroy GardensHorticulture based, beautiful family theme park, great for young children.

South Bay Trails
Crystal Springs Regional Trail, San Mateo: 15 miles of trails, Sawyer Trail is flat and paved, reservoir views, sunny, 600 yr. old Jepson Laurel tree, Pulgas Water Temple
Mori Point, Pacifica: 32-acre wetland and coastal scrub, ocean views, beach, marsh with red-legged frogs
Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, off Hwy 35: 3,000+ acres, 10.4 miles trails, excellent wildflowers, ridge location, oak trees, rolling hills, long views, headwaters for two creeks
San Bruno Mountain, Daly City: 2,378 acre park, 360-degree views, bogs, ravines, long views, unique fauna

Kid Friendly South Bay Restaurants:
Buck’s in Woodside
Fish Market, San Mateo
Benihana’s Burlingame