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San Francisco and area-

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If you're going to be in San Jose, check out the awesomely weird Rosicrucian Park and Egyptian Museum. The park is wonderfully random, and the museum is almost a perfectly ordinary Egyptian museum, except for the kinda weird bits. They have 3 real mummies and a fake tomb to explore! Oh, and there's a planetarium too--the current show is about Mithras.

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My kids are also five years apart in age, so interests vary somewhat (they're 4 and 9.) We do San Francisco a few times each year, and have since my eldest was an infant - love that town!


This science museum has proven fun for both of them, and Golden Gate park is nice for walking, lunching, or enjoying the beautiful weather. Lots there to see and do. We do our ritual tromp through the Japanese Tea Garden, which they don't love but don't dislike either. It's gorgeous. My oldest loves to shoot photography, and has ample opportunity there. Lots of bridges and turns and fish to keep the younger one entertained enough on the walkthrough, too.


They also like the Exploratorium (my younger moreso than the older, but the older was still entertained.) There's also a Discovery museum in San Jose, but we've yet to go there. It gets great reviews, though.


We try to take in a ballgame; baseball or football, depending on the season and who's playing.


If it's not too far, and depending on what time of year you go, Santa Cruz's Boardwalk is always a big hit. We do it every year, just before it closes down for the season.


Another daytrip is the train up to Sacramento, then the State Capital. We've done that a few times, and if either boy is into trains there is a train museum right there.


Fairyland in Oakland would be good for the younger, especially if you've read some of the classic books the park is based on. My older child groans when I tell him we're going, but he has fun once he gets there. Not thrilling fun, but fun nonetheless LOL. More than he ever thinks he will!


Tons of area parks and bayfronts to fly kites, ride bikes, walk, or hike. My younger hates to walk, so she and I will fly kites while my older bikes or hikes with friends/family. Perfect kite-flying weather most of the year!


We always hit up the big Farmer's Market at the Ferry Bldg. Browse, rest, lunch :) plenty to do and see in the surrounding area, too, as its right on the water.


My four year old likes shows, so we try to get to The Orpheum if it's an appropriate-age show for her. If not, the Asian Art museum is nearby; not thrilling, but interesting enough. We live in the Southwest, so we lack for that at home. (I'm Asian LOL)


My kids both love Ghiradelli Square. Somehow the chocolate indulgences taste better, fresh from the source rather than from the bag they see at Target! It's in the touristy area (Fisherman's Wharf), but worth at least one visit if you have chocolate-hounds like I do.


Finally, both kids can't get enough of Lombard Street, even though it makes me sick (physically, literally). We drive it once, then they get to walk up and down to their hearts' content while I sit on the sidewalk and try to contain my lunch.


In that vein, every trip we park on the rest stop area of the Golden Gate Bridge and they walk (some of) the length of the bridge. Super windy! Always a photo op, we have one of them every trip, growing up before the camera (Alcatraz or the skyline in the background). It's free, easy, and gets them out running.


We do go to Chinatown, but only because I have a housebound auntie who lives there. It's neither exciting nor fun for my kids, but it's also not exotic or foreign to them because most of my extended family lives or frequents them for groceries, appointments and whatnot. Good food, though! If you go, grab some dim sum. SF has some of the best.

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My kids love Cal Academy of the Sciences, Exploratorium, Alcatraz, and though it is touristy--the cable cars are such fun. You might want to consider getting a city pass because the main attractions really add up fast.


Off the beaten path, if your boys like building things, Lawrence Hall of the Sciences in Berkeley, is a great math and science museum where they can design a roller coaster track, play math games, and build with thousands of kapla blocks. Your littlest might enjoy the steam trains down the street in Tilden park.


Christine W

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The Tech Museum in San Jose is a lot of fun, especially for your oldest.


In San Francisco is Zeum, another hands-on children's museum that is totally different from Exploratorium, another excellent place to visit. At Zeum you can do stop motion movies, green screen music videos, etc.


If you want to get outdoors, go to Muir Woods and do some short and easy hikes (some are paved) among the redwoods. Stinson Beach is nearby if you want to play there.


Santa Cruz has a fun boardwalk, and nearby Natural Bridges State Park is a nice beach and has great tidepooling if you go at low tide.

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Great ideas so far! Sounds like San Francisco has been covered well. In case you head south to Monterey to hit the Aquarium, here are my rec's in that area.


We live in Monterey and lOVE the Monterey Bay Aquarium! It's worth the drive and if you spend the night, hit First Awakenings, located near the Aquarium at the Cannery Row Outlet Mall..(lame mall) for breakfast. I swear we are sending one of their kids to college based on how much we love going out to breakfast there. I highly recommend the bluegerm pancakes (HUGE!..order 1) or the over lightly crepe egg. YUM!


Whale watching is incredible right now in Monterey. The blue whales (yes, the largest mammals alive on the planet!) are back in the bay right now after a 7 year hiatus. The humpbacks are plentiful as well and super playful. Now, that said, the krill is thick currently and once it's gone, the whales move on, which could be any day now. This is a time that most locals I know are getting out and whale watching. Check out Monterey Bay Whale watching and you can check on their website the numbers they saw the day before.


Also, if in Monterey, head over to Pebble Beach and do the 17 mile drive about an hour or so before sunset. End at Spanish Bay resort and sit outside at the fire pits (and bring a sweater..this is summer on the coast) and listen to a bagpiper walk the back nine while playing his pipes and watch the sunset. They have a pricey bar menu, but it's worth it! Also, you can apply your overpriced gate fee to get into Pebble Beach to your tab.


If you don't have time to drive to Big Sur, go to Point Lobos state park and be sure to visit Whaler's cove and China cove. B..E..A..U...T...I...F..U...L! This is one of my all time favorite places on the planet. Chances are you will see birds of prey, whales, deer, rabbits, seals and sea otters. If you end up heading to Big Sur, stop at the River Inn and have an ice tea while soaking your toes in the Big Sur river.


Feel free to personal message me if you have any other questions.


Julie in Monterey

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