San Francisco Kid Activities

People often ask me three questions about raising children in San Francisco.

1. Do you like raising children in city life?

2. What activities do you do/where do you go?

3. What do you miss the most about the suburbs?

I haven’t lived all over the country, but I have lived all over California, southern, central and northern. Of all the cities I’ve lived, and if I had to choose where I’d be at this moment with my children, it would most definitely be San Francisco. You might say, it’s the obvious choice, you live there. And, it could be that I was raised in the burbs of Northern California, less that two hours from Tahoe or San Francisco, so I may be biased, but I whole heartedly love this city and what is has to offer families. It’s likely that one day we will move to the burbs to enjoy its offerings, and like many other families, we may be chased out due to the high costs of living, but that’s an entirely different conversation. For now, let me share four kid spots that may not top the tourist list, but are great activities for any family visiting San Francisco.

1. Conservatory of Flowers 2. Koret Children’s Playground both located in Golden Gate Park

Conservatory

Golden Gate Park is loaded with goods for just about anyone. The Academy of Science, Japanese Tea Gardens, or the De Young are all an obvious must see. But, if you are in the park with kids, two free or inexpensive options are the Koret’s Children Playground or the Conservatory of Flowers. Whenever my niece and nephew visit, the first place they want to go is Koret park. From a merry-go-round, a huge climbing structure to a famous concrete slide (bring your cardboard), it offer activities for younger and older kids. This park has more than just the traditional swings and slides, which is why it’s such a favorite for my nephew and niece who are eight and ten years of age. Also in Golden Gate Park, the Conservatory is beautiful year round, but the flowers are gorgeous in March/April. The vast staircase makes for great toddler climbing, and it’s only $8-$2 (depending on age) to walk through the Conservatory. More often than not someone is playing the guitar, probably Cat Stevens, the Dead, or the Beatles, classic favorites for this gal. Pack a lunch and enjoy! This also makes for an amazing photo op. One of my all time favorite pics of Audrey is posted above at the Conservatory of Flowers. I can remember chasing her around with my camera, while people laughed and enjoyed watching this little human giggle with determination as she climbed to the very top step. I wasn’t fast enough to capture her sweet face turn back with pride once she reached the top, but if I close my eyes, I can be in that moment, which makes me sooooo happy.

3. The Walt Disney Family Museum in Presidio Park.

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Disney-Museum

A more recent discovery, and while not really appealing to children under three, it is truly something to see for anyone over the age of three. Boasting over 20 Exhibits with live artifacts from the movies, original sketches of the first Mickey, and a 12 foot model of Disneyland, you have to check this out! There is a $20 ticket fee for Adults, but children under six are free. Every month they show a featured film and a short in their very own theatre, and the films are free with admission. Recently, I took my daughter to see Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, you know, the perfect in every way Mary Poppins. Audrey must have asked me a million questions during the movie. Thankfully, we were two of four in the theatre. Why does Winifred Banks hair look like that? Why did Mary Poppins come on a cloud? How did they all jump in that picture, because they are superheros? Of course I couldn’t give great answers, so I decided that the superhero option would suffice for the time, and that sometimes women have funny hair. What kid isn’t obsessed with Disney, my daughter has been for two years, and is still obsessed with Mickey, so she couldn’t get enough! After touring the museum, have lunch at Crissy Field with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. For older kids, pop into the House of Air at Crissy Field. Trampoline fun!

4. Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito

Discovery

Discoery2

My friends and I have been taking our kids here since my first was six months. Technically just outside the city, the Discovery Museum is just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. The grounds have indoor activities as well as outdoor activities, making it an option no matter what the weather has in store. Creativity is at the core of the museums philosophy. There are art studios (Audrey was painting/cleaning a window in the pic above), a stream with fish and frogs (rubber of course), imaginative playgrounds, book readings, and more. The museum also hosts holiday events, musical and theatrical performances, and special guest speakers. It’s based near the water, so you can eat lunch and have a gorgeous view of the bay, and Golden Gate Bridge. Side note for parents. The museum is located just below Cavallo Point Lodge which is fabulous. Grab a drink at Cavallo’s Farley Bar after your fun-filled day. If the kids allow of course!

Answering the last question, I miss what you would expect about the burbs. To list a few…nature, quiet moments, less traffic, a proper backyard for the family, and not dealing with San Francisco meter maids, who I recognize do not have a fun job, yet I still want to go all ninja on them every time I see their tiny cars circling a street like little robots, waiting for that last minute to expire on someone’s meter!! Phew… sorry, I’ve been burned too many times before discovering PayByPhone. Anyhow, that will all come one day, and I know as cliché as it sounds, I will have left a piece of my heart in San Francisco. It’s more than just the iconic spots, like Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli, and Golden Gate Park. It’s the less traveled spots that become family favorites, memories at the parks and beaches, and the local store owner who knows your family by name. City living has its pluses and minuses, but it’s a fantastic place for families full of creativity, culture, and exploration. I hope my children will have fond memories here.

The Trendy Pea – Kid Style

New series – The Trendy Pea! I’ve always had a love affair with fashion, but pair that with little humans sporting some trendy duds and I just can’t hold back! I’ll be sharing kid style inspiration from the streets of San Francisco (and by streets I mostly mean parks or kid spots, but it just sounded more hip to say streets).

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Hello Anderson! This dapper little man is 15 months and pure sweetness. Shirt: Gap. (similar) Grey Skinny Cords: Bon Point. Shoes: Livie & Luca. (similar styles)

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Look at these little feet. Livie and Luca has fantastic kid shoes. They are super stylish and durable. To save, buy sale shoes for next season!

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Watching the busy streets of San Francisco, dreaming about his next adventure. Thanks for sharing your kid style today Anderson!

DIY Fabric Pinboard

It’s no secret that closet space is a rare commodity in San Francisco. I’m always envious of my girlfriends who have beautifully organized, spacious closets. I’m a bit OCD about organization, so I’ve had to be creative in many ways. My husband says that the nesting phase women go through during pregnancy has never left me, ha! I think it’s just part of growing up and running a household to the best of my abilities, which we all do at some point in our lives. Mike just likes to laugh at my over-the-top moments, such as alphabetizing the spices or canned goods! I get carried away sometimes. Moving on…accessories make your outfits, so it’s important to be able to see what you have. I’ve been wanting to make a supersize DIY fabric pinboard for my room, so I finally tackled this project. I’ve seen many smaller pinboards but not many supersize ones, and the retail large pinboards are way too expensive! Personally, I think it would be perfect in a large closet, but I made it work as a piece of art/display in my bedroom because I don’t have the space in my closet. The key is to keep everything else clean and uncluttered.

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Deep in the Trenches with the Flu

SuperMom

Super Mom! Yep, I sooooo needed this giant coffee mug fully loaded with caffeine last week. I was deep in the trenches for about ten days. My entire household was plagued with the flu, which meant that I was either covered in barf, snot, or diarrhea. I know many of you have been in this situation recently, so I wanted to share a few of my shining moments.

  • I clocked about 10 hours of sleep in four nights, and became that over paranoid mom constantly checking the monitor, which sounds normal, except that I was actually sleeping in the same room as my sick child. Clearly, it makes perfect sense to get up, check on your child sleeping next to you, get back in bed, stare at your monitor instead of sleep, and then repeat over and over. Phew, glad I was so efficient.
  • In a desperate moment after my 16 month old stuck his grimy hands in my mouth, I grabbed the hand sanitizer and used it on my tongue and mouth in hopes this would prevent me from getting sick. I said I was desperate. After that, I remembered the invention..mouthwash. Ding ding, she has a brain!
  • My communication with my husband was reduced to an evil glare (given by yours truly), as we passed each other in the hallway like distant strangers, because he had the, “I have to work early” card. As he slept so peacefully night after night, I was downstairs thinking about how much I wanted to package the barf and maybe one diarrhea diaper with his lunch. Or maybe just throw one of the diarrhea diapers at him as he slept. Or somehow have my son diarrhea on him. I’ll admit, this got a bit out of control. Sorry babe, I just wanted to share the fun I was having.

Two ear infections later, our house had finally recovered. Obviously, I can’t say anything good came of this illness, but when I think back, I can remember my squirmy 16 month old actually sleeping on my chest again (something I miss desperately). Or, being able to watch an all time family favorite, The Wizard of Oz, with my red nosed 3.5 year old who needed my extra hugs. I guess in motherhood, you always have a special moment to keep, even when the nasty flu has you deep in the trenches. I think tonight I’ll fill my Super Mom mug with a nice bordeaux instead. Cheers!

Discovering Glitter and Glue

Kelly

A dear friend of mine sits on the board with the bay area non-profit Children’s Health Guild, which is a group of women who volunteer their time to raise funds for Children’s Hospital and Research Center for Oakland and the George Mark Children’s House. Every year they host a Holiday Boutique and Luncheon, and this year I joined for the charitable festivities. Obviously, the most important outcome is the charitable donations raised, and I could go on and on about the fabulous shopping, or the some 400 lovely ladies in attendance, but the real highlight for me, was the amazingly talented guest speaker Kelly Corrigan, author of Lift, The Middle Place, and her most recent book, Glitter and Glue. From the moment she candidly began to share bits of her book and life, I knew that she was incredibly gifted as an author, speaker, and a woman. Having to overcome tremendous adversity, including cancer, she has this uncanny ability to make you laugh at even the hardest of times. Kelly read excerpts about raising her children from her most recent memoir, which had me, either hysterically laughing, in tears, or both at the same time. She would then reflect on her childhood, and with every jab or poke towards her Mom or Dad, you couldn’t help but say, “Yes, I can relate, these too are my parents with all their crazy idiosyncrasies that they have so lovingly passed on to me!” Every woman (and a few men) felt instantly connected by hearing and relating to these stories. It was special. So.. let me explain the title because I promise, if possible, you will love your mother just a little bit more.

One night during Kelly’s high school years, her mother so nonchalantly said, “Honey, your father is the glitter, and I am the glue”.  At the time, this meant nothing to Kelly, but obviously now, years later, is the premise for her book. For me, the title alone couldn’t be anymore relatable. After I left the event that day, I of course, called my mom immediately and shared about my experience and how I wished we could have shared it together. What my mom didn’t know was that at that moment, I just wanted to hug her for as long as possible. I wanted to somehow express that as a mother of two, I get it! I know about your countless selfless acts performed over the years. As amazing as Dad was, and still is, I know that YOU were the glue! You are my superhero.

I left that day a little more grateful, and actually quite obsessed with wanting to make Kelly Corrigan my best friend. Even though she is most definitely the cooler “Kelly” I take pride in sharing our 80’s first name with such a rad chick. Anyhow, I look forward to reading Glitter and Glue and all it’s raw tales on parenthood and family.

If you haven’t already thought of this, her books would make a fun and thoughtful Christmas present for any woman! If you do read one of her books or already have, I’d love to know your feedback. Happy reading and hug your mom a little tighter next time!