Get Outdoors in the Bay Area With Kids

Though I spend countless days wandering around the streets of San Francisco on the hunt for concrete mixers and tractors, Muni trains and kind humans, when Kai and Nikko need some focus (or, let me be honest here: when I need a break) here are some of my favorite Bay Area places to get them outside.

My nieces in Golden Gate Park

My nieces in Golden Gate Park


Little ones need nature

Golden Gate Park: So the Koret Playground (you know that monster playground next to hippie hill) is great and all, but usually going to a playground makes me want to start drinking Bloody Marys in the corner. My friend Leigh calls playgrounds a “Petri dish of parenting.” So I tend to avoid playgrounds unless my husband is with me. Sure, these are my issues, but isn’t all of parenting about passing on our issues to our children? Anyway, I love taking the kids to Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Garden (it’s free!), Stow Lake (you never imagine how interesting pigeons and turtles can be) and of course, when all else fails, the California Academy of Sciences.

Berkeley’s Tilden Park: Tilden Little Farm (just past the carousel) gives kids the chance to experience a farm. They can feed the sheep, pig, cows, and goats and see chickens, mammoth sized turkeys, and geese. Afterward, a trip on the steam train is an ample reward for mom and toddler.

Crissy Field: A beach with no waves, what more can you ask for? Well, 75 degree weather and no wind might not come every day, but when it graces San Francisco, this is where we go to play in the water. Plus the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the ships remind me why I live in this gorgeous city.

Tennessee Valley

Tennessee Valley

Tennessee Valley: For this one, moms and dads, lessen your ambition. While we used to take epic hikes to Muir Beach and back from here, now we take our kids to see how far they can walk. This Marin hiking is trail is ridiculously popular, so come early, bring a picnic and extra clothes. The trail is about three miles round trip and deposits you at a sweet little beach.

Fort Funston: The other day we were on our way to the zoo, when we spotted the hang gliders soaring over Fort Funston. Of course, I made a U-turn to head to Fort Funston instead. Now, this steep beach path is known for wind, but the magic of watching these daredevils surf the air keeps my kids entertained.

Pacifica’s Beaches: OK, so Northern California doesn’t often have the weather for beachcombing, but when the weather cooperates, we head out to Pacifica to frolic in waves and sand. I like Linda Mar Beach, for the tidepools and community vibe. Bring an extra pair of clothes and a blanket.


2 responses to “Get Outdoors in the Bay Area With Kids

  1. A Bloody Mary doesn’t sound like such a bad idea…but these suggestions are great :).

    I’ve honestly not thought of doing Marin Headlands hikes (like Tennessee Valley) with the kids but that’s a pretty easy way to get a really different experience from the City. Sometimes I have to remember we are allowed to cross the bridges and actually leave the 7×7 bubble!

    The beach at Chrissy Field is definitely a great experience on our rare sunshine days.

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