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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Contest! Win Circus Vargas tickets

Don't forget to enter the contest to win a family 4-pack of tickets to Circus Vargas. Complete details here. 
Contest ends Friday - so enter now!

Getaways for Parents in the San Francisco Bay Area

It's not easy to get away without the kiddies - you need someone to watch them and it takes planning! One of my online groups was brainstorming about places to go, and I thought I'd post some of them here.

Where do you like to go? Please put your favorites in the comments section!

CARNEROS INN - This was recommended because each room is a private cottage with a secluded backyard. The mom also liked that there were four restaurants on site (and it's a PlumpJack resort, so you know the food and wines are good!). Children are allowed at the inn, but it's mostly adults, she said. There's a spa and seasonal specials. They have free outdoor movies on Saturday evenings June through October.

INDIAN SPRINGS - This Calistoga hot springs and hotel offers single rooms, lodge rooms and cottages. The main pool is a hot spring pool (it's awesome - I've been). The spa and mud treatments are great too, though my experience is that the spa was a little downscale (at least for the massage facilities). I enjoyed the mud bath - it's quite an experience if you haven't had one before. One mom said she loves it "if you just want to lounge and pamper and do some fine dining and wine drinking."

MOUNTAIN VIEW INN AND SPA - This is also a Calistoga place. The mom who recommended it said you can rent a private cabana with hot tub, and still access the main pool. It's downtown, so it's easy to dine/drink close by and not need to drive.

CAVALLO POINT - I'm told that this Sausalito hotel has an amazing spa, restaurant and cooking classes, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay. It also has great hiking nearby. 

VILLAGIO INN AND SPA - this Yountville hotel and spa is said to be relaxing, with a lot of nice restaurants and a great pool. Eat breakfast outside, and enjoy the complimentary afternoon tea.

MADRONA MANOR - outside Healdsburg, this hotel is in a stately old manor house that is nothing like a traditional hotel with tons of rooms. Rooms are homey (but nice) with floral touches - many 
with fireplaces. The mom noted that the restaurant is pretty as well.

MANKA'S INVERNESS LODGE - an hour north of San Francisco, this hotel came recommended by a mom who loved "the most amazing breakfast delivered to your door around 9:00. If you can get #7 (room), it was unreal, just a small room, with a killer bed, real fireplace with two comfy leather chairs. A deck with a hot tub and the bathroom that was to die for - a wonderful pedastal tub and wicked cool concrete shower."

TREEBONES - This Big Sur resort has cute yurts where you stay. It's an ecoresort, with an emphasis on recycling and clean energy. There are hot tubs, massages (in your yurt) and beautiful scenery/hiking. Children are allowed (4 yurts are for families). Note that there are no restrooms in the yurts - they're a 1-2 minute walk.

- The views from here are gorgeous and it's not far away. As for recreation, they have a spa, golf course, tennis, horseback riding, Segway tours, bike riding, surfing and swimming. 

HIGHLANDS INN - Near Carmel, this is a beautiful location and in close enough distance to Carmel to enjoy its food and environment. The Inn, a Hyatt property, overlooks the Big Sur coast. The rooms are described by the mom recommending it, as really nice, with spa tubs in the room.

MONARCH COVE INN - This Capitola inn has private cabanas, and is situated on a bluff overlooking the ocean. however it is close to the beaches and downtown, and an easy drive to Santa Cruise. The mom recommending this place recommends eating breakfast at Gayles Bakery, and renting kayaks in the Monterey Bay.

The Sanctuary Beach Resort - near Monterey, this resort is supposed to be lovely - on the sand dunes. Guest rooms have fireplaces and views of the dunes or the ocean, as well as private decks and binoculars. Take advantage of the spa too.

SPIN DRIFT INN - This Monterey hotel is said to have European-style charm (and a great history). The hotel is on Cannery Row, with bay views.

Find Frisco Kids on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Circus Vargas - win tickets!

Don't forget to enter the contest to win a family 4-pack of tickets to Circus Vargas. Complete details here. 
Contest ends Friday - so enter now!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Coming Up: Happy Birds Show at Hiller

No, not Angry Birds - Happy Birds! Hiller Aviation Museum has a happy birds show coming up. You'll see macaws, parrots and cocktoos up close. Like airplanes - without the fossil fuel. And much softer.

When: Wednesday, June 29 at 11 a.m.
Where: Hiller Aviation Museum (601 Skyway Road, San Carlos) 
Cost: Museum entrance is $11/adults, $7 ages 5-17, free with paid adult for ages 0-4. Save a dollar by getting a coupon here. 
More info: Hiller or call (650) 654-0200

Sunday, June 26, 2011

July 4, 2011 Activities in San Francisco Bay Area

Palo Alto Summer Festival & Chili Cook-off
Live music, line dancing, food vendors and kids' activities, you can plan an afternoon of fun. Free admission, and a nominal fee for "tasting kits" for the cook-off. The festival runs noon to 5 p.m., with the chili tastings starting at 1:30 p.m. Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive

When I lived in Mountain View, I lived on Shoreline Blvd, and could watch the July 4 fireworks from the front steps. Granted, I couldn't hear the San Francisco Symphony playing at the same time, but I had a newborn, so it was okay. But now I'd love to go in person. The Symphony plays each July 4. You can get tickets here.

Pier 39 in San Francisco 
Head to the wharf for the fourth. Festivities run noon to 9:30 p.m. for free live music, street performers, and ultimately, the fireworks!

The Fillmore Jazz Festival runs July 2-3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy in SF. Three stages feature jazz groups, plus you'll find cooking demonstrations and art vendors. Plus food!

If you live in the South Bay, head to the America Festival in San Jose, July 3-4. There you'll celebrate the many diverse cultures that make up this great country. You'll find three stages of musical entertainment and cultural performances, fantastic ethnic foods, arts and crafts, and lots of activities for all ages. Plus, fireworks on July 4th. Hours are noon to noon to 10 p.m. on July 3rd, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on July 4. Location: River Park's Discovery Meadow, San Jose.

Marin County Fair - what's more American than the Preservation Jazz Hall Band? Hear them at the Marin County Fair on July 4th (the Temptations play that day too). FYI - the Pointer Sisters play at the fair on July 3rd. The fair runs June 30-July 4. Click here for the fair schedule. While every day is a good day to go to the fair, if you do go on the 4th, you can enjoy pig races, a lion dance, learn how to grow healthy vegetables (kids will love that one), Kenya safari acrobats, mule driving, goat milking, pie contest, Hawaiian music and fireworks (they have fireworks nightly). And it's one price includes all (except food) - it even includes rides and concerts. $15 for adults, $13 for kids 12 and under.

Gilroy Gardens - If you or someone you know is (or was) in the military, that person can get in free July 2-4th at Gilroy Gardens. Plus up to 6 people with that special person will pay only $22 admission. If you go on July 2-4th, Gilroy Gardens is hosting a Independence Day BBQ (separate cost).

Foster City Fireworks - bring a picnic and watch the firework display over the lagoon at Leo Ryan Park. The party goes on all day.

Redwood City Parade - this parade is more than 70 years old! And it's perfect for families with young kids who wake up early. The festival starts at 9 a.m., the parade at 10 a.m. Lots of family-friendly activities. The festival runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. so even if you miss the parade, you can still roll out of bed and make it to the festival.

Great America - fireworks on July 2 and 3rd at 9:30 p.m. Active or retired military personnel get in free July 2-4 (plus you can purchase discount tickets for up to 6 in immediate family).

Here are 4th of July events listed at, Savvy Source and Red Tricycle.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Circus Vargas - win tickets!

The circus is coming to town! Circus Vargas, that is. And three lucky Frisco Kids readers will win a 4-pack of tickets to the show/location of their choice. Read all the way through, and you'll find out how to enter.

This circus has no animals, which means no PETA protesters out front and no PETA people sending me harassing emails after I post this. Hooray!

Here's how they describe the show: "This edition of Circus Vargas takes you on an artistic journey,
encompassing the cultures of the world, in a series of vignettes depicting the experiences, memories and visions of a traveling circus performer. Join us on a captivating jaunt across the globe, seen through the eyes of our talented aerialists, acrobats, comedians and more, as they transcend language, age and cultural barriers, through the art of circus."

There's a pre-show 30 minutes before, featuring Jon Weiss of the Amazing Race. Check out some circus photos here.

Here's the schedule:

Dublin: July 8-18
(I-580 - at the vacant lot near Hacienda Crossings)
Newark: July 21-25
(NewPark Mall)

Hayward: July 28 - August 1
(Southland Mall)
San Jose: August 4-8
(Westfield Oakridge)
San Jose: August 11-15
(San Jose Fleamarket)

How to win tickets: Leave a comment on this post about your favorite type of circus act. Get an extra entry if you post this on Facebook or Twitter (leave another comment with a link so you'll be entered again and I can track you). Get yet another entry if you subscribe to Frisco Kids emails.

Though we'll choose three winners overall, you can only win one set of tickets. Winners will be chosen randomly. Enter by Friday, July 1st at noon Pacific time. Winners will be contacted by email, so if your email address isn't on the entry, you can email me at blog at and let me know which entry is yours. If I don't hear back from you by July 5, I will contact another winner (I know, it's a holiday weekend!).

Focus Groups: websites, communications products, smartphones, products

Some focus groups coming up:


Fleischman Field Research has one on websites. The research is taking place  at various times on Wednesday, July 6th at their downtown SF office. If you qualify and are invited to participate, you will be paid $100.
If you are interested in participating, click the link to take the short pre-qualification questionnaire.
Plaza Research has other ones:
Smartphone Users~
Thursday, June 30 or Friday, July 1st, 1.5-hour interview taking place in Mountain View
Requirement: People 18 and up who own a smartphone
Incentive: $100

If you are interested in the Smartphone Users study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Wednesday, July 6-Friday, July 8, 1.5-hour interview taking place in San Francisco
Requirement: People who use certain products online and offline
Incentive: $100

If you are interested in the Products study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

~Communication Products~
Monday, July 11- Wednesday, July 13, 1.5-hour interview taking place in San Francisco or Mountain View
Requirement: People who use certain communication tools 
Incentive: $100

If you are interested in the Communication Products study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Coming Up: Lucile Packard Children's Hospital throws Street Fair to Celebrate 20th anniv.

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a big party for the community on Sunday. They'll have 75 booths, with games, crafts, art, bounce houses, performances, fire trucks (you can climb on) and food - plus giveaway items. The San Francisco Giants mascot, Gigante, will be there as well.

When: Sunday, June 26 from 10-4
Where: Palo Alto, intersection of Quarry and Welch Roads
Cost: Free

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Camp - are you done?

Summer has officially started. Are your kids booked for camp yet? Silly question, I know. A few years ago, when the economy was better, all the camps seemed to be filled by February. As for us, we still have one more week of camp to fill for my daughter. She wants to stay home, sleep in and play with her friends (who will all be at camp that week). But she's vetoing all my suggestions, and she doesn't understand that I need those hours to work (you know, to pay for camp).

Anyway, can help you find a camp based on your needed weeks, or even days, if you need a flexible schedule. Waiting can bring discounts, too. Check out these camps which are offering discounts for late sign-up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice Celebration - Muir Beach - tonight

If you haven't made plans for tonight yet, take the kids to the summer solstice celebration at Muir Beach, from 6-8 p.m. Storytelling, songs and a bonfire. And it's free.

Read FrogMom's account of the the summer solstice celebration last year.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Coming Up: Craft Events at Michael's - Passport to Fun

Michael's Arts & Crafts is doing a Passport to Fun craft series, where you'll make crafts representing different countries. All crafts are free.

Tuesday, June 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Make a Swedish doll and flag.
Thursday, June 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Make a German hat and bell.
Saturday, June 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Make Egyptian hieroglyphs and mummy.
Tuesday, June 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Make Bahamian tropical can hug and flower.
Thursday, June 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Make Canadian moose and maple leaf.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Go the F*&@ to Sleep - a Book Review

Soon after my daughter was born, someone asked my husband if she had a nickname. "Yes," he replied. "We call her Shut the F*@^ up." The person looked horrified, but didn't understand how much she cried and how tired we were. She cried for hours a day for no apparent reason (i.e. colic) and she cried for at least 45 minutes each night when we put her to bed. Before you write me telling me what horrible, uncaring parents we are, know that we tried every technique in the book. She finally grew out of the nighttime crying and the daytime crying too. And we don't call her "Shut the F*#* up anymore (we never called her that to her face).

So imagine how happy I was when I heard about the book Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach. I grew instantly jealous. Not because this book is going to rake in a lot of money (though I would like to be a best-selling author profiting from this gem), but because I wish I thought to write it myself. It's brilliant. I got a leaked copy a few months ago and my husband and I were laughing so hard we cried.

It reads like a traditional bedtime story with perfect rhymes and meter, telling the story of a child who won't go to sleep, and the parents who are at their wit's end. Here's a sample page:

"All the kids from daycare are in dreamland.
The froggie has made his last leap.
Hell no, you can't go to the bathroom.
You know where you can go? The fuck to sleep."

You can listen to Samuel L. Jackson tell the story Go the Fuck to Sleep on YouTube (or just look at the embedded link below).  Read the story behind the story in this Star Ledger review.

Want to get Go the Fuck to Sleep for yourself? It just came out this week.

Coming Up: Kids World Events at Serramonte Center

Come to Serramonte Center for "KidsWorld," a free, fun and educational after school monthly program. 

According to Serramonte, "KidsWorld events include festive, interactive performances with singing, dancing, games, crafts and fun learning opportunities. Each event teaches students a variety of topics including music, culture, art and even etiquette. The after school program also provides a place for kids to come and socialize in a fun, safe and educational environment. Each monthly event is themed and filled with arts and crafts activities, hands-on fun, festive music and more."

Here's the next event: 

Tuesday, June 20, at 5:30
Membership is free, and is good for discounts throughout the shopping center, entry into free monthly events and more. 

The event is at the Serramonte Center, in the JC Penny wing, between Diamonds Forever and For Love 21)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Coming Up: Screenprinting Your Family History

The Museum of the African Diaspora has a family exhibit coming up, screenprinting your family history. Here's what the museum says about its program

"The Family is a key iconic image in Romare Bearden’s art.  Inspired by Juneteenth, the oldest African-American holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, our Family Day activity honors ancestry and the preservation of family relationships.   Visitors will create family trees and families will screen print a collage using their own hands as branches, and leaf shapes for writing in the names of their family members."

When: Saturday, June 18 from noon to 4
Where: Museum of the African Diaspora
Cost: Free with MOAD admission ($10/adults, $5/students, free kids 10 and under)

Coming Up: Peace. Love. Swap event in East Bay

The  nonprofit organization, peace. love. swap. is hosting a kids' swap this Sunday, June 19th. No, don't swap your kids. Swap their stuff. Clothes, high chairs. Strollers. Come and bring your stuff (clothes on hangers, except 0-18 month clothes). It's like a giant garage sale where everything is free! Bring/get stuff for ages 0-14, plus maternity clothes.

Anything not taken will be donated to charity afterwards.

Whatpeace. love. swap - see their website for more info and FAQ on how it works
Where: Head over Heels Gymnast
4701 Doyle Street, Building F, Emeryville (no parking in that lot - see website for parking info)
When: Sunday, June 19, 2011. Drop off between 11 a.m. & noon. The swap is 12:30 p.m. to 1:30.
Cost: $5 (free for volunteers) - plus your stuff. There's open play for the kids for $5.

Find Frisco Kids on Facebook!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Link Love - What I'm reading this week

Some links to pass along to you - of interest to parents and kids in the Bay Area!

--Seen the Zeppelin riding over San Francisco (that thing that looks like a blimp)? Get some great pictures of what it's like to ride in one. And see how much of the Bay Area you can identify by air.

--Have you eaten at the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen? This made me really hungry - and I just had dinner.

--78 things to do this summer (Red Tricycle)

--Billy Elliot is coming to San Francisco on June 27. Read a kid-friendly/family-friendly review of Billy Elliot here. A hint: it's a GREAT show for boys and girls. And parents.

--Speaking of Billy Elliot, did you see the opening number from the Tony's, with Neil Patrick Harris? I won't give away the number's title, but it's awesome. I can't wait to see the Book of Mormon.

--Frog Mom in California just posted a great round-up of fun things to do for a weekend in Napa - with the kids. Waterfalls, bakery and swimming at Coppola's winery (which I had mentioned in a previous post). If you need a babysitter while you're in Napa/wine country (going to a wedding or want an evening out with the spouse), consider All About Kids, who has a sitter service there (disclosure: and is a Frisco Kids advertiser).

--We've been known to make our kids exercise in the airport, to get out their shpilkes (energy) before boarding the plane. We do this by making them climb stairs, run races (when it's not too crowded) and walk back and forth on the people mover (not standing, but walking). Well, has an adult workout that we may have the kids try next time we fly. Okay, maybe we'll do it with them. We'll look like idiots, but hey - we look like idiots anyway. The video is kind of amusing - plus they all have British accents which is always a pleasure to listen to.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Father's Day Activities in the San Francisco Bay Area 2011

Looking for things to do in the San Francisco Bay Area this Father's Day? Here's a list:

Roaring Camp - Steam trains from the forest to the Santa Cruz beach (or around the mountains), live country music, BBQ, handcar races and hiking.

Michael's Arts and Crafts has a number of father's day craft activities:
Tuesday, June 14 from 6-8 pm.. Decorate a mug (free with mug purchase)
Friday, June 17 from 6-8 p.m. Make a father's day card (free)
Saturday, June 18 from 10-noon. Make a key chain (free)

Dad gets a free yogurt at TCBY on Father's Day.

Arrrgghhhh! Talk like a pirate at the Northern California Pirate Festival in Vallejo next Saturday and Sunday.

Stern Grove opens for the season this Sunday, on Father's Day. You'll hear Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (classic R&B). It starts at 2:00, but of course you'll need to get there early to get space on the lawn!

Free National Park Entrance Day. Okay, so it's not on Father's Day, but it's a few days later on the first day of summer, June 21.

San Mateo County Fair - Father's Day is the last day!

Visit a museum.
-California Academy of Sciences - if you live in these zip codes, get in free Friday through Sunday: 94102, 94103, 94104, 94105, 94107, 94111, 94124, 94130, 94158. Family crafts for kids 4-8.
-Family Sunday at SFMOMA 11-3 with a family tour at 1:00 - kids get in free. 
-Drop-in art at the Jewish Contemporary Museum from 1-3.

Picklewater Free Circus - performance 2-4 at Union Square.

USS Hornet - Living Ship Day on Father's Day

Chabot Space Center - BBQ and Solar Car Challenge

North Beach Festival - Saturday and Sunday from 10-6

Hidden Villa - Cheese Class and Banana Slug Band. Two separate events. One for adults, one for families. Both sound fabulous.

Juneteenth Festival in SF- parade, car show, basketball tournament, health fair - June 18-19

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our new favorite books

We've been reading a lot at home lately. Our new favorite author is Roald Dahl. Sure, he was a favorite in my youth for James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And I recently saw the movie Matilda, an oldie that I can't believe I hadn't seen before (comes from the book Matilda). The movie features Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman, and was delightful. We thoroughly enjoyed George's Marvelous Medicine, where a boy makes his own concoction for his evil grandmother, from all kinds of things found in the house, garage and barn.

But Dahl has written a bunch of other books that we're plowing through. My favorite so far was Danny the Champion of the World. There's just the right amount of wickedness and fun with a boy living with his dad in a little trailer behind an auto shop. Dad's love of catching pheasants illegally leads to trouble. I love that Dahl's characters are not black and white, and even the heroes have vulnerabilties and quirks. Since we finished that, I'm reading BFG to my son now - Big Friendly Giant. The giant's voice is so much fun to read aloud. We are only a few chapters in.

After visiting our school's used book sale, we now look forward to Fantastic Mr. Fox (we haven't seen the movie yet) and The Witches.

Our other favorite author is Louis Sachar. I was introduced to him when my mother-in-law send Sideways Stories from the Wayside School. The stories are original and funny. And we loved loved loved Holes, which was also made into a movie (on our list). It's about a middle-school age boy who gets sent to a work camp for a crime he didn't commit. And a mystery follows.

As a reminder, there are a few summer reading programs out there.

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program - Your kids can join Barnes & Noble summer reading program, and read 8 books and get one free.

Scholastic Summer Challenge - encourage the kids to read and win prizes through the 
Scholastic Summer Challenge. 

Check with your library for other free summer reading challenges

Friday, June 10, 2011

Coming Up: Tarantulas!

The San Francisco Zoo has a fun exhibit coming up...if you like tarantulas. Their exhibit starts tomorrow, and goes through Labor Day.

Here's the description: "zoo guests will see a unique collection of tarantulas, all of different shape, size and color. They will move through an interactive and educational exhibit, flip through a giant tarantula anatomy book and explore “Tarantula Town,” a special kid’s area with a stylized tarantula burrow that doubles as a photo spot."

As part of the opening on June 11-12, Spiderman will be there!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Coming Up: Marvels of Nature event - free

Hillsdale Shopping Center’s monthly Kid’s Club is hosting a Marvels of Nature event where naturalists from Tree Frog Treks will offer children an up-close look at amphibians and reptiles. Children will also learn about the role these colorful creatures play in the ecosystem, participate in hands-on activities, crafts and more.

What: Marvels of Nature: Amphibians, Reptiles, Crafts and more
When: Saturday, June 11, noon to 2
Where: Hillsdale Mall, San Mateo (60 31st Ave., San Mateo) - near Macy's
Ages: 12 and under
Cost: Free

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Coming Up: Sunday Streets - Free

Sunday Streets  is coming up on June 12! This one will be on the Bayview Route, 3rd Street from Mission Bay, Dogpatch, to the Bayview Opera House. Streets will be closed to auto traffic from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

They need volunteers. If you can spare 3 hours (no kids!) you get a t-shirt, lunch and other prizes. Sign up here.

Here are the remaining ones for 2011:
  • July 10: Great Highway route #2;
  • August 14: Civic Center/Tenderloin route;
  • September 11: Western Addition route, including North of Panhandle, Alamo Square and Fillmore and Japantown neighborhoods;
  • October TBD; Mission route #2

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

4 Free Movie rentals

Free Blockbuster movie rental codes! Get 4 free movie rentals at Blockbuster Express (kiosks) using these movie codes: 25ASJA9, 29BACC2, 25JBHS7, and 26RRAP8. Expires June 13, 2011. Find a location here.

Thank you Bargain Babe for the tip!

Being a Tourist in San Francisco with Kids

A friend from New York recently asked for recommendations on what to do with her kids in San Francisco, while her husband is in meetings. Here’s the quick and dirty list I came up with. What did I miss? Add your comments below!

-Zeum (now known as the Children's Creativity Museum) is a hands-on technology museum in Yerbua Buena where you can make your own stop-action animation movies and more. Outside it is a great carousel. and a playground.

-The Exploratorium is a very well-known hands-on science museum (near Crissy Field and the base of Golden Gate Bridge). 

-The Randall Museum is a city-run environmental kids’ museum – great view of the city. It may be hard to get to without a car, though you can take the bus and walk part way there – it may be a trek but the houses you’ll pass are worth it.

-At Golden Gate Park, there’s the California Academy of Science  with an aquarium, walk-through rain forest dome, and lots more. Across from there is the deYoung Museum (art) which often has kids’ programming. The Japanese Tea Garden is right there too – that would be fun. And there’s a botanical garden you can also walk through near there. If the weather is nice, you can rent a paddle boat in the park.

Touristy, but fun stuff at Fisherman’s Wharf: 

-watch the sea lions on Pier 39

-Ice cream sundaes at Ghirardelli Square. Yummy. 

-Musee Mechanique is fun with old-fashioned quarter-games.

-Boudin’s has fabulous soup in a bread bowl (and sandwiches), and you can watch them make bread from the windows (not just bread, but loaves shaped like crabs, turtles and alligators). See pictures here.

You have to take the cable car with the kids. If the line is too long for the wharf cable cars, there’s a line that goes down California Street that should be less crowded. The Ferry Building is fun for its gourmet food – you can reach it at the end of the California line. There’s a farmer’s market there one or two days a week, outside.

The zoo is good – and Ocean Beach is right there too – if you want to freeze your tush off in the sand there (too cold to swim). Once we were walking around Ocean Beach (after the zoo) and found hundreds of sand dollars on the beach.

Chinatown if fun to walk around – there’s a fortune cookie factory which is overrated but worth walking into if you’re there. The stores in Chinatown have all kinds of chatchkes the kids like this.

And Japantown is great too – some funky stores and good restaurants. 

North Beach for Italian food and coffee drinks is a must. And if you're into the hippie scene, head over to the Haight Ashbury area to walk around. Not my scene. The Mission is great for Mexican food, and a funky kids' store called Paxton Gate's Curiosities for Kids. I love walking on Fillmore Street (between Geary and the top of the hill), and walking down that street to Cow Hollow and the Marina. Great buildings, great views.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Link Love - What I'm reading

Thought I'd share a few links I've been reading lately.

Bay Area Itsy Bitsy Museums - a list of small, but inviting Bay Area Museums from Red Tricycle.

iTunes playlists for kids - kid-friendly music that won't make you tear out your hair, from TravelSavvyMom.

Toothpick San Francisco - check out this toothpick version of our beloved San Francisco. The video is worth watching.

Ecocrafting from Attainable Sustainable. Learn about a bunch of ecofriendly crafts you can make. I'm a huge fan of writer Kris Bordessa, who writes about all kinds of things, including crafts, ecology, and family travel. I've given her book Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication  & Creativity as teacher gifts and my kids really like Great Medieval Projects You Can Build Yourselves. I'm having fun following her new blog, Attainable Sustainable.

Coupon Rockstars - Like much of the country, I've been fascinated with the show Extreme Couponing. Coupon Rockstars is a Q&A with some extreme couponers - easy to read when you have a few minutes.

Visit Henry Coe State Park - we're big camping and hiking fans, and this California state park is a good one (we've camped here). Read why you should go from A Frog Mom in California.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Coming Up: Free LEGO event

Build this really cute LEGO graduate, and take it home for free!

When: June 7 starting at 5 p.m., while supplies last
Where: LEGO stores - find one here (there's one in San Mateo and Santa Clara 
Cost: Free

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Blue Star Museum Entrances for Military Families - Free

Memorial Day may be over, but military families can enjoy free museum entrance all summer long, starting on Memorial Day, ending on Labor Day (and some museums have special military entrance fees all year long). This partnership between museums and the National Endowment for the Arts, is in its second year, allowing free admission to more than 1,000 museums nationally.

Here are the Bay Area participating museums;

Asian Art Museum
San Francisco Fire Department Museum
San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design
The Beat Museum
Walt Disney Family MuseumZeum

Antioch Historical Society
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Forest Home Farms Historic Park and Glass House Museum
Habitot Children's Museum
Lindsay Wildlife Museum
McConaghy House Museum
MOCHA Museum of Children's Art
Museum of the San Ramon Valley
Oakland Museum of California
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology
Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum

Bay Area Discovery Museum 

CuriOdyssey (formerly Coyote Point Museum)
Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo
San Jose Museum of Art

The Monterey Museum of Art
The Museums of Los Gatos
Filoli Gardens

Click here for nationwide Blue Star Museum entrances.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Coming Up: Redwood Mountain Fair

Music, crafts, kids activities and food/drinks (including microbreweries and wines). The Redwood Mountain Fair at Roaring Camp (in Felton), is coming up. See the extensive music line-up here.

When: June 4-5 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Roaring Camp in Felton
Cost: $18 in advance, $20 at the door. Students are $13 in advance, $15 at the door. Proceeds benefit local nonprofits and service groups.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Coming Up: Foster City Art & Wine Festival - free

The Foster City Art & Wine Festival is a fun, famiily-friendly home-town event. Look for traditional offerings (like art and wine and entertainment, fire truck, ambulance etc.), and the kids' favorite, the popular carnival area, with rides for kid/teens/adults.

The festival is June 4th to 5th. The booths shut down earlier than the rides, in case you planned to do some late-night shopping.

Saturday June 4 - 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday June 5 - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Parking is free at Parkside Towers (exit 92 at Foster City Blvd, and follow the signs). The festival is next to the lagoon at Leo Ryan Park (corner of E. Hillsdale and Shell Blvd.)