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The holidays are here and winter is the perfect time to book a family staycation in the Bay Area. There are tons of hotels with amazing kid perks like horseback riding, s’mores kits, ice skating and warm, indoor pools. With packages like staying in Santa’s Suite and going on a treasure hunt, these hotels really have the whole family in mind. Book your staycay today—no boarding pass required!

photo: Westin St. Francis

Book at Holiday Hideaway at the Westin St. Francis—San Francisco

Location is key, they say in real estate and that certainly is the case for the Westin St. Francis. Located across the street from Union Square with its magical, holiday-themed ice skating rink and walking distance to a plethora of attractions, this hotel is steeped in San Franciscan history and will welcome your family for the perfect staycay. Read about our stay here and for more must-do and see sightseeing advice. 

Online: marriott.com

A special thanks to Westin St. Francis on Union Square for hosting the trip.

Get Cooking at the Stanford Inn by the Sea—Mendocino

Nestled atop a meadow that overlooks Mendocino Bay, The Stanford Inn and Resort is a luxurious and sustainable destination providing recreation opportunities like nature tours, yoga, canoeing, kayaking and gardening.

The Vibrant Families package is available as an add-on to a three-night minimum stay any time of year. It includes a family cooking class, art and creativity class and healthy living class all taught at the resort with plenty of downtime to play. Explore the breathtaking Mendocino coast, wander the resort’s vast property and educational farm, or head out on one of the resort’s redwood outrigger canoes with the entire family!

Online: stanfordinn.com

photo: Tilden Hotel

Explore the City Like Tourists at the Argonaut Hotel- San Francisco

Located in Fisherman’s Wharf, this nautical-themed hotel is full of details that kids love. Little ones can select goodies from a treasure chest and embark on a scavenger hunt. Kids and adults can enjoy Happy Hour with items like hot chocolate with whipped cream. If venturing out of the hotel, Pier 39, sea lions and Ghirardelli Square are all just a five-minute walk away. 

The Backyard Adventure Package is great for families just wanting to explore. Fuel up with breakfast at the Blue Mermaid and stop in for dinner after a long day with a daily credit depending on how many days are booked. 

Online: argonauthotel.com

Stay at Santa’s “Home Away from Home” at the Fairmont Hotel- San Francisco

Sitting atop Nob Hill, the Fairmont Hotel is one of the most luxurious and beautiful hotels in San Francisco. With renowned restaurants, beautiful views and walking distance to all that the city has to offer, it’s an awesome spot for a staycation.

The Santa’s Suite Package is one of the best experiences for little ones during the holidays. Guests stay in a family-friendly luxury suite decked out in holiday decor, breakfast for up to 4 guests, a “Candy and Hot Chocolate Bar” with adult beverages for parents, a DIY gingerbread house kit, complimentary holiday movie and overnight parking. Be sure to book this one early as it will sell out! 

Online: fairmont.com

photo: Palace Hotel

Swim under the Stars at the Palace Hotel—San Francisco

The Palace Hotel is a clear choice for a winter staycation spot if for one reason only—it has the pool with the best view in the city. This gorgeous indoor pool is covered by windows so that you can see all the nearby skyscrapers and twinkling holiday lights. Families will enjoy the hotel's excellent service and massive suites that offer plenty of room to spread out with the whole crew. Dine at the Garden Court Restaurant at their ample breakfast buffet or the signature tea that is offered on Saturday afternoons. 

During the winter, you can book the Holiday Memories package that includes two passes for the Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center, two one-way Cable Car tickets and free in-room WiFi. 

Online: marriott.com

Red Carpet Treatment at the Ritz Carlton- San Francisco

If looking for something special for the kids as well as parents, check out the Ritz Carlton in Nob Hill close to Chinatown. The rooms are spacious, a Nespresso machine is in every room for that much-needed morning coffee with beautiful views and right in the middle of everything in the city.

The highlight is really the Ritz Kids program. Kiddos receive a red-carpet treatment during their stay complete with a special registration including a coloring book, personalized letter and a discovery-filled scavenger hunt. The special kid's menu includes everything from ants on a log to warm chocolate chip cookies. Make sure to take part in the cherished holiday tradition of Holiday Teddy Bear Tea—afternoon "tea" and a holiday show just for kids! 

Online: ritzcarlton.com

photo: Cavallo Point Lodge

There are Views for Days at Cavallo Point Lodge—Sausalito

Cavallo Point Lodge is San Francisco’s award-winning national park lodge, attracting families seeking adventures or a staycation during the hectic holiday season. With weekend guided hikes, outdoor watercolor classes, picnics, or even just running around on the property’s grassy ground lawn, it’s all available with stunning views of San Francisco. Parents can enjoy daily morning yoga classes as well as access to the fitness suite and mediation pool. 

Next door, sharing a secluded cove, is the very popular Bay Area Discovery Museum that families could easily spend the entire day at. Back at the hotel, the property’s back yard is 80,000 acres of Golden Gate National Parks, with built-in kid fun like hiking and beachcombing. 

Online: cavallopoint.com

photo: Half Moon Bay Lodge

Cozy Up at the Half Moon Bay Lodge—Half Moon Bay

Book a suite with a fireplace and enjoy a long weekend at the Half Moon Bay Lodge. We love this coastal retreat for families because it includes free breakfast every morning and has a heated outdoor pool and hot tub. Winter stays will get you 25% off through the end of March

Book a session of horseback riding on the beach and then head to downtown Half Moon Bay for some shopping at our favorite store for kids of all ages, Oddyssea. Oddyssea has an awesome outdoor area with a bunch of hands-on activities for kids and adults like leather working, terrarium building and a scavenger hunt in the garden. Don't miss the killer sandwiches and live music down the street at the San Benito House.

Online: halfmoonbaylodge.com

photo: Kate Loweth

Shop, Skate and Play at Parc 55—San Francisco

Union Square hails all kinds of tourists from around the world, so why not join them for a couple of days and take part in all the fun activities? Parc 55 offers the winter Shop, Skate and Play package that includes three passes to the Safeway Ice Rink at Union Square, a complimentary gift from Bloomingdale’s, plus a 15% savings certificate, personal shopping appointment & beauty consultation, as well as free breakfast for the kids.

Take a morning after breakfast and hit up Union Square for a stroll. When it’s time for lunch, head over to Chinatown for some highly rated Chinese food or visit the Fortune Cookie Factory if the kiddos haven’t seen it yet!

 Online: hilton.com

photo: Kate Loweth

Explore the Embarcadero at Hotel Vitale—San Francisco

We love the Hotel Vitale for it's perfect location right across the street from the Ferry Building and the Embarcadero Center Holiday Ice Rink. You'll get Bay views from the roof decks and loads of activities for families right around the corner. Parents can relax with massages at the on-site spa. Kids will especially love the Embarcadero Explorers Package that comes with four tickets to the Exploratorium, kids binoculars to scope out the Bay Bridge and a fun gift bag that includes a kids' Giants hat, SF puzzle, color-changing sunglasses and more.

The hotel is conveniently located in the same building as the SF Railway Museum (a fun and free spot to learn about San Francisco railway history) and right down the block from Sue Bierman Park and the Vaillancourt Fountain. Head across the street for ice cream at Humphry Slocombe, among dozens of other dining spots in the Ferry Building. The Exploratorium is just a 10-minute walk away—grab a pedicab ride back to the hotel when your legs are tired! 

Online: jdvhotels.com

photo: Carmel Valley Ranch

Make Some Family Time at Carmel Valley Ranch—Carmel

If you’re up for a bit of a drive, Carmel Ranch Valley is an ideal vacation spot to really be out in the open air. The hotel is dedicated to the idea of play, so you can be sure to have a great time with the kiddos. 

Parents can enjoy a variety of fitness and wellness classes like nocturnal yoga or time at the spa. For kids, check out the many complimentary add-ons from an organic garden tour, QR code scavenger hunt and s’mores kit for nighttime fun. For a customized family trip, book a Ranch Style Getaway for 2 nights in a family suite and $330 credit to use on family activities like beekeeping, archery or crafting.

Online: carmelvalleyranch.com

photo: Santa Cruz Monterey Bay KOA Holiday

Kids Stay Free in December at Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday—Watsonville

If you have never brought the kids to a KOA for camping then you are in for a real treat. This spot near Manresa State Beach and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk offers Deluxe Cabins with bunk beds or a sleeping loft for the kids. There is a heated swimming pool, big playground and campfire theatre on the property.

December has three Winter Wonderland weekends that are packed with kid favorites like s’more and cocoa, letters to Santa crafts, movie night, train ride and candy cane palm trees to climb on. There are even donuts on Sunday and a light show every night!

Online: koa.com

photo: Hotel Zephyr

Take in the Fisherman's Wharf Festivities at Hotel Zephyr—San Francisco

Kids will love the funky Hotel Zephyr, complete with giant games and fire pits. The playful hotel is all about a fun experience while being right across the street from Fisherman’s Wharf. The rooms are designed to look like captain’s rooms, so little ones will love the porthole window in each room. With walking distance to PIER 39, Ghirardelli Square and the Alcatraz Ferry landing, the activities are endless. 

Spend an afternoon in the hotel’s pretty awesome indoor/outdoor lobby. Book a Winter Package that includes curated hot chocolate and 25% off accommodations. With colorful seating and jumbo games like Connect 4, it’s a great way to get some quality family time in.

Online: hotelzephyrsf.com

photo: Kate Loweth

It's a Winter Beach Day at the Dream Inn—Santa Cruz

Avoid the summer crowds and head to Santa Cruz this winter. The Dream Inn Hotel is right on the beach, so all you have to do is step outside with some sand toys and sunblock for a day of fun. With a heated outdoor pool, a view of the ocean from every room and colorful decor throughout the hotel, it’s the perfect Santa Cruz stay. 

If you feel like staying an extra day, the hotel has a Third Night Free offer. With so many things to do and explore including the Beach Boardwalk, Nickelodeon Theater and Big Basin State Park, you will definitely want to book that extra night. 

Online: dreaminnsantacruz.com

Great Wolf Lodge

Heated to a balmy 84F year round, the indoor water park will thrill kids with its slides, lazy river and wave pool. Not be undone, fun on dry land is to be had as well! Their signature, interactive game MagiQuest has participants wandering the lodge using a wand to join tribes, befriend magical creatures and defeat the enemy. Add on mini golf, a ropes course, arcade and mini bowling lanes to fill out your stay! Read our review on Great Wolf Lodge here.

Great Wolf Lodge
2500 Daniels St, Manteca
Onlinegreatwolf.com

A special thank you to Great Wolf Lodge for hosting this trip.

—Sandra Lee & Kate Loweth

featured photo by Westin St. Francis at Union Square

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Now that summer is winding down and the school year is underway, how about giving a fall/winter family vacation a thought? For families eager to get together safely, house rentals are still the way to go. We’ve rounded up our favorite rentals that accommodate multiple families that are not only spacious but have some pretty cool things to do for kids of all ages. Check out our picks from a San Francisco staycation to a road trip vacation.

Golden Gate Home, San Francisco

Just steps away from Golden Gate Park, this spacious home in Inner Sunset is great for a low-key, low-stress get-together with family. Take a trip to Ocean Beach, the local farmers market and tons of awesome restaurants and shops within walking distance. 

Sleeps: 14
Cost: $548/night
Online: airbnb.com

Mission Dolores Flat, San Francisco

Perfect for families with babies and small children, this centrally located condo is just steps away from popular Valencia and Mission St. Take the complimentary stocked picnic basket for a day at Dolores Park, walk to restaurants, or do some shopping. Parents can rest easy knowing there are a ton of baby items available for use including high chairs, umbrella strollers, toys and books. 

Sleeps: 9 
Cost: $699/night
Online: airbnb.com

Endless Summer Home, Santa Cruz

Beach lovers can enjoy this spacious home in the heart of Santa Cruz with views of the ocean. On chilly nights, crank up the gas fireplace and curl up on the leather couch for movie night. This home is also made for families with two twin-over-twin bunk beds and baby essentials like booster seats, baby gates and a crib.

Sleeps: 10
Cost: $530/night
Online: airbnb.com

Gratitude Getaway, Sea Ranch

Get away from it all in a home designed for relaxation and connection. During the day, walk to Shell Beach or go on a family hike and explore. Then take in the beautiful sunset at golden hour on the patio while cooking up some burgers on the BBQ grill. After a long day, sit by the fireplace for family game night.

Sleeps: 10
Cost: $235/night
Online: airbnb.com

Lux Cabin for the Whole Crew, Lake Tahoe

Nestled in the woods of Fallen Leaf, this South Lake Tahoe family retreat has a view of the lake from every direction. Kids can hang out in the bunk room complete with a DVD player, TV and books to read. With space to lounge on the couch, cook a delicious meal, or take in the sunset on the private dock, memories can definitely be made here. 

Sleeps: 12
Cost: $850/night
Online: airbnb.com

Golf Course Home with Hot Tub, Bodega Bay

Beautiful home with sweeping views of the golf course and beach, this hideaway is quiet but still close to The Bistro, clubhouse and beach. Three bedrooms in the main room as well as a detached guest suite for visitors can accommodate everyone. Kids can play a game of foosball while grownups relax in the hot tub.

Sleeps: 8
Cost: $550/night
Online: airbnb.com

Cozy Retreat Inside the Park, Yosemite

Located in Yosemite West, this luxurious 3,400 three-level chalet has enough space for everyone to stretch out comfortably while enjoying the park during the day. Gather around the fireplace and unwind, make some fondue in the fully stocked kitchen, or watch the sunset from the wrap-around deck. 

Sleeps: 10
Cost: $769/night
Online: airbnb.com

Elmwood House with Pool, Berkeley

A perfect fit for large families (including pets) and multi-family get-togethers. The backyard oasis has fruit-lined trees of apples, cherries, figs and lemons. The heated pool was designed to look like a mountain swimming hole, and the hot tub has a waterfall. For family movie nights, a projector is available for use. Kids will love the toys and games as well as the indoor treehouse! 

Sleeps: 12
Cost: $700
Online: airbnb.com

Coastal Seaside Retreat, Half Moon Bay

Drive up to this Half Moon Bay home and leave worries behind during your stay. Centrally located and within walking distance to popular restaurants like Sam’s Chowder House and the California Coastal Trail. Watch the sunset while grilling up some dinner on the BBQ grill and let the sounds of the waves take you to your happy place. 

Sleeps: 10
Cost: $437/night
Online: airbnb.com

Family Home with Play House, San Rafael

East Bay residents can check out this family-friendly home with kids in mind when trying to accommodate a lot of guests. The big selling point is the detached playhouse and indoor playroom ready for little ones to enjoy. The backyard is fenced and kids can jump on the trampoline while adults relax on the beautiful deck. 

Sleeps: 10
Cost: $858/night
Online: airbnb.com

Alpaca Farm House, Sonoma

Surrounded by lavender trees, vineyards and alpacas, this three-bedroom, two-bath tranquil home is perfect for families wanting to get together in Sonoma. Walk to wineries on a sunny afternoon or stroll through the aromatic lavender and butterfly gardens with the kids. After some wine tasting and some shopping downtown, sit out on one of the beautiful porches with a glass of wine.  

Sleeps: 10
Cost: $830/night
Online: airbnb.com

Jug Handle Creek Farm, Mendocino

Just three miles from Mendocino, this 1870’s Victorian farmhouse is ideal for large families that need a lot of space. Enjoy the 32 acres to explore including plant nurseries, gardens, nature trails and only five minutes to the beach. The house has a music room, library, and a ton of toys and games for kids ages 2-10. 

Sleeps: 15
Cost: $538/night
Online: airbnb.com

Wine Country Estate, Sebastopol

This beautiful 1890’s Victorian estate takes you back in time when you walk in, but the modern upgrades make it a great vacation spot near wine country. The house has four bedrooms and a den, hot tub, spacious backyard and huge game room with a pool table and TV that’ll surely keep the kids busy during the day. 

Sleeps: 10
Cost: $644/night
Online: airbnb.com

Quiet Country Home, Monterey

If the thought of getting away to a place where you can listen to the birds in a beautiful garden brings you joy, check out this spacious home in Monterey. Tucked away yet close to the beach and downtown, it’s a great place to reconnect. The highlight is really the enormous backyard for kids to run around and play. 

Sleeps: 10
Cost: $603/night
Online: airbnb.com

The Treehouse, Guerneville

Built on stilts around a giant tree growing out the hillside, this beautiful house sits atop the redwoods overlooking the Russian River. There are two units, which accommodate up to 10 guests altogether. There is a bit of a hike to get up to the house, and best suited for groups with older kiddos, but a vacation inside an actual treehouse is pretty awesome. 

Sleeps: 10
Cost: $640/night
Online: airbnb.com

Mountain Vacation Home, Mammoth Lakes

With six bedrooms, enough for 16 people to stay in, this vacation home can accommodate the whole family. Two dining rooms, games and impressive deck views are all part of the package. A short walk to Village at Mammoth, you’ll be surrounded by shopping, activities and a gondola that’ll take the family to Canyon Lodge. 

Sleeps: 16
Cost: $493/night
Online: airbnb.com

—Sandra Lee

featured photo by iStock

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Food Trucks: Your Meals on Wheels

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Have a meal al fresco with rolling restaurants that are delicious with no clean-up needed. These awesome neighborhood food trucks around the Bay Area not only serve gourmet food of all cuisines but are a great way to get the family together and hang outside. Many are open with COVID-19 precautions and pre-ordering in place, so get ready to dine out!

San Francisco

photo: Curry Up Now

Off the Grid Levi's Plaza

Take a break during the week and enjoy lunch outside from some of the best rolling trucks in town. Chow down on @senorsisig, @curryupnow, @bowldacai and others on a rotating schedule. 

1155 Battery Street
S
an Francisco, CA
When: Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Online: offthegrid.com

photo: William J Simpson Photography

SPARK Social SF

A community garden space in the heart of Mission Bay, this food truck park is also a beer and sangria garden as well as an event space. They work with over 150 food trucks that rotate for lunch and dinner, so there is truly something for everyone. The lineup is posted every day at 10 a.m!

601 Mission Bay Blvd. North
San Francisco, CA
When
: Weekdays 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (with trucks rotating 3-5 p.m.), Saturdays 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Online: sparksocialsf.com

Parklab Gardens

Mini golf and dinner? Head over to Parkland Gardens for tee time and food. @hooktdoughnuts is there with mini and mochi donuts if you are looking for something sweet, or make it a Taco Tuesday with @domingosinternational! Check out the bar for Happy Hour specials every day.

1379 4th St.
San Francisco, CA
When: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Online: parklabgardens.com

East Bay

photo: Off the Grid

Off the Grid—South Shore Center, Alameda

Check out this pop-up lunch event, open every Saturday with food trucks and live music! They set up shop in the parking lot of South Shore Center, a 594,000 square-foot open-air shopping destination featuring a variety of nationally known retailers and restaurants to serve the residents of Alameda. A nice food break before or after some shopping! 

535 South Shore Center
Alameda, CA
When: Saturdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Online: offthegrid.com

Tacos Sinaloa

Family-owned and operated, this Oakland taco truck is your best bet for authentic tacos in the East Bay. Meat, veggie and seafood lovers can munch on tacos, burritos, quesadillas and tortas. Don't forget a seasonal agua fresca or strawberry horchata! 

2138 International Blvd
Oakland, CA
When: 9 a.m. Sun.-Mon. 
Onlinetacossinaloaoakland.com

Peninsula/South Bay

photo: Murissa M. via Yelp

Kona Ice West San Jose—South Bay

Follow the Kona Ice West San Jose Facebook page to get all the intel on when they'll be delivering to your neighborhood. You’ll place your order in advance and we definitely recommend you go for the color-changing cups as the kids will love them.

Online: facebook.com

Tasty Mob Market
A food concept with food trucks and pop-up stores, Tasty Mob Market aims to connect small business owners with the community. From tacos to momos, there is something for everyone! Be sure to stop by Calif Caracas for the Bay's best empanadas! 

Online: Redtri.com 

photo: Off the Grid

Off the Grid—Serramonte Center

Serramonte is your Tuesday night dinner spot in Daly City. Enjoy street food from a rotating list of food trucks right outside Serramonte Shopping Center like @capelosbarbecue and @curveballmobile for some awesome sliders.

39 Serramonte Center
Daly City, CA
When: Tuesdays, 5-8 p.m.
Online: offthegrid.com

The Momo Everest

Authentic Chinese and Nepalese food is served up including their namesake Momo, which is a delectable meat or veggie filled dumpling. Their chili chicken is to die for and quite spicy so make sure to wash it all down with the best Masala Chai you will find outside of Kathmandu!

Multiple locations (yes, they're that good):

205 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
425 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose
81 S Main St, Milpitas
1593 Monterey Rd, San Jose
39233 Fremont Blvd, Fremont

Online: https://everestmomo.us/find-us

Marin

Marin Country Mart

Marin Country Mart is the place to be for Sunday lunch! Food trucks are there serving up delicious sweet and savory snacks for the whole family. Afterward, stroll over to the shopping village and support local businesses. 

2257 Larkspur Landing Circle
Larkspur, CA
When: Sundays 11 a.m-3 p.m
Online: facebook.com/marincountrymart

Casablanca Moroccan and Mediterranean

Looking for some healthy and delicious Mediterranean food? Casablanca's been cooking up gourmet favorites like falafel, shwarma sandwiches and kabob wraps for 17 years. Follow them on social to see what farmer's market they'll be at next! 

Online: casablancamoroccanfood.com

—Sandra Lee & Kate Loweth

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Happy Birthday! It’s time to celebrate! Along with balloons, fun gifts and themed décor on the list, a birthday cake is not to be forgotten. We’ve rounded up our picks from all over the Bay Area for the most delicious, beautiful cakes to celebrate the big day. From ice cream cakes to 3D works of art, we’ve got you covered. Let’s eat some cake!

San Francisco

Mitchell's Ice Cream

One of our favorite ice cream spots in the city also makes to-die-for ice cream cakes. Choose from their fresh, pre-made cakes with themes like Elmo or Frozen, or opt for something completely custom. Each cake is made with a layer of ice cream (your choice), a layer of white or chocolate cake, and topped with vanilla or chocolate frosting. Orders can be placed by phone, in-person or online.

Online: mitchellsicecream.com

Pretty Please Bakeshop

Owned and operated by a fellow Bay Area mom, Pretty Please Bakeshop in Inner Richmond makes gorgeous cakes for just about any kind of occasion. Elegant, vintage or whimsical, they can customize whatever you want. For something classic and more budget-friendly, check out their Celebration Cakes. With designs like a rainbow, Toy Story, or Snickers including complimentary inscriptions, it’s a win/win. 

Online: prettypleasesf.com

Noe Valley Bakery

This neighborhood bakery has everything from cookies to danishes, pies and baguettes, but their cakes are a fan favorite. The house-made funfetti birthday cake (with lots of sprinkles, of course) is delicious and great for something last-minute. If you want something more custom, check out their build-your-own-cake and choose the flavor, filling, colors and message (including photos).

Online: noevalleybakery.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxQegi8jSU1/?hidecaption=true

Wholesome Bakery

If you’re looking for a solid gluten-free option, check out Wholesome Bakery in the city. This 100% gluten-free bakery stays away from all additives, preservatives and fillers and uses plant-based frosting colors. Their six-inch, four-layer custom cakes are beautifully designed and feed 8-10 people in delicious flavors like confetti and dulce de leche. Delivery and pick-up are available. 

Online: wholesomebakery.com

East Bay

Fenton's Creamery

The ice cream at this Oakland spot is already super popular, with people coming from all over the country to try one of their classic flavors like butter brickle or seasonal flavors like apple pie. Their ice cream cakes are just as fabulous, with custom or pre-made cakes ready to be picked up. Note that for custom orders you’ll need to order three days in advance. 

Online: fentonscreamery.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/CA0UgcPhMYL/?hidecaption=true

Bakes by Eileen

For absolutely beautiful cakes that you don’t want to eat (but should, because they are delicious), look no further than this bakery in Alameda. While you won’t find Paw Patrol or Frozen-themed cakes here, what you will find are edible works of art. Check out the celebration cakes made with optional details like edible flowers or gold leaves. Another option is a unique letter/number cake shaped in any number or letter with optional add-ons like gold-painted macaroons and seasonal fresh fruit. 

Online: bakesbyeileen.com

James and the Giant Cupcake

For a cake that’s full of colors and fun for a special occasion, James and the Giant Cupcake can definitely deliver. Check out the signature Boardwalk cake covered from top to bottom with sprinkles, a deluxe cake in themes like a unicorn, mermaid, or custom cake for something specific. Custom cakes need a week’s notice for standard cakes, so plan ahead. 

Online: jamesandthegiantcupcake.com

South Bay/Peninsula

Kathy's Creative Kakes

With a specialty in creating unique and fun cakes for kid’s birthdays, this San Mateo bakery has won some well-deserved awards. Owned and operated by Kathy herself, you can see and taste the passion of her work in every cake made and decorated. Pick from the massive book of past work, including characters and numbers, or bring in a picture and an idea for something truly custom. 

Online: kathyskakes.com

Copenhagen Bakery

A favorite spot for delicious pastries, cookies and cakes, Copenhagen Bakery in Burlingame has been around for many years and for good reason. Their custom cakes for kids of all ages and parties of all sizes are no problem and the designs are truly one-of-a-kind. For something easy and a crowd-pleaser, check out their house specialty cakes (which can also be customized) like red velvet or princess. 

Online: copenhagenbakery.com

The Cake Queen and Coffee Bar

Created in-house with the best and freshest ingredients, this South San Francisco bakery knows the art of 3D cakes. With so many flavors combinations, the hardest part is picking one. Examples include Peter Rabbit (carrot cake), Cinnamon Toast (horchata cake and cinnamon cream cheese) and Blueberry Pancake (blueberry cinnamon cake and maple cream cheese). Check out their gallery for some pretty amazing works of art. 

Online: bayareacakequeen.com

Mazzetti's Bakery

The family-owned business out of Pacifica specializes in cakes for special occasions for over 40 years. The cakes are made in-house without using any preservatives and fresh ingredients. Customize your own cake to your little one’s liking with flavors like chocolate and white, red velvet and tres leches. Flavorable fillings include strawberry jam and chocolate fudge. Check out their website for more flavors and combinations! 

Online: mazzettisbakery.com

North Bay

Krumbs Cake

From elegant to whimsical and everything in between, Krumbs cakes in Marin has a birthday cake for every kind of theme and idea. From fire engines real enough to play with to an Alice in Wonderland theme, these cakes really make an impression. They have a ton of flavors and fillings to choose from, as well as some “winning combinations” if you can’t decide! 

Online: krumbscakes.com

SusieCakes

With several locations around the Bay Area, SusieCakes is a parent-favorite because of the clean ingredients used in all of their treats. No cake mix or preservatives are used, so you’re getting the real deal made from scratch. The classic Celebration Cake is a winner with vanilla cake, colorful sugar confetti and light blue frosting. Customized cakes are also an option with classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla and fluffy buttercream frosting. 

Online: susiecakes.com

—Sandra Lee

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After the year we’ve had, there is no doubt moms are the real superheroes. From working moms to stay-at-home moms, it’s been a rough year having to juggle it all under very unstable conditions. Since it’s almost Mother’s Day, we’ve put together a list of fun things to do to make her feel super special. From scavenger hunts to a DIY spa day, let’s show all the moms out there how much they are loved and appreciated. Cheers to MOMS!

photo: istock

1. Make her some old-fashioned papercraft. Here's a list of easy stuff to pick from. She'll be touched with the effort and of course the masterpiece!

2. Take an online class together- from cooking to gardening and everything in between, there is something for every mom. Make it a family event to bring everyone together, or gift a class that's just for her.

3. Make mom brunch—don't worry, it's easy. We've got some simple and delish recipes that your mini sous chefs can help you whip up.

4. Pretend that you are a tourist in your own house. Give mom a grand tour of the house. For added fun, you can make a treasure hunt for mom with clues like, "under the bed where you kiss me the best goodnight," or "mudpie time" for clues hidden in the mud-kitchen in the backyard.

photo: istock

5. Have a "Stay at Home" vacation. Imagine going to Paris or Hawaii for a day. Make delicious crepes together, or turn your backyard a luau complete with beach-themed drinks and flower leis.

6. Make it an at-home spa day. Paint mom's nails, give her a massage, slice some cucumbers for her eyes and presto! She'll feel pampered and relaxed.

photo: istock

7. Put her favorite cheese, crackers and beverage in the cooler and spread out the blanket for a backyard picnic. Even better, order up one of these Brie Grazing Boards and serve her a fancy charcuterie platter. 

photo: istock

8. If mom's favorite spot is by the campfire, fear not, set up a tent at home! You can cozy up with her in the tent and read some favorite books together. Bonus: you can go sleep in your own beds if the sleeping bags just won't cut it.

9. Make it a family movie night! Pop some popcorn, gather the blankets and queue up one of these favorite family flicks that are based in the Bay Area.

photo: istock

10. If you would like to take some quality time with mom and the whole family, how about a bike ride together? Here's our list of kid-friendly bike trails (just make sure you are maintaining proper distance from others).

photo: istock

11. If your mom loves gardening and flowers, you can plant some of her favorite flowers or help her in the garden. You could even make it a yearly tradition to plant a tree honoring mother earth and your mother every year.

photo: istock

12. And don't forget, ask her to dress up and play make a silly face/monster face games. Get the whole family together for a fun set of pictures! Time with mom and family is super memorable, maybe you get a ton of pictures for a scrapbook for next year or her birthday!

—Sandra Lee and Shruti Priya Bapna

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With Mother’s Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to show mom what she means to you and support some local Bay Area businesses at the same time. We’ve gathered up some of our favorite local gifts sure to make her smile. With everything moms have done this past year, let’s make this Mother’s Day one to remember!

Thoughtfully-Curated Gift Baskets—Aldea Home & Baby

This Mission District shop is offering gift baskets for Mother's Day that will definitely impress. The Cozy Time Bundle is perfect for the tea lover as it includes Index of Teas Team Towel, True Tea infuser mug, Mug Imprint Ochre, S'well Elan Sport Bottle and Mog Egg Cup from Donna Wilson. Or go for the Treat Yourself Bundle for a mom who needs a pampering session pronto. It includes a Louvelle eye mask, bath bomb cubes, Nightshift wax candle and Slow North Harmony bath salts. 

All items can be shipped or picked up curbside at their SF location.

Online: aldeahome.com

photo: Katie Dauser Ceramics

Our Two Loves—Katie Dauser Ceramics & Succs in the City

Local SF mom Katie Dauser is just the type of local artist we want to support these days. She creates gorgeous ceramics and succulent arrangements that would make the perfect Mother's Day gift. Check out her Instagram for items for purchase and current work. Purchases can be made from her Etsy shops! 

Online: Shop ceramics here and succulent arrangements here

Cheese, Please—Stepladder Creamery

Treat mom to a cheese plate unlike any other. Stepladder Creamery makes small-batch cheeses with milk from their herd of LaMancha goats at their Central California farm. Their small cheese plate bundle includes four-ounce wedges of Paso Vino and Cabrillo, a Ragged Point, a Big Sur, a Spicy Fromage Blanc and a Marinated Fromage Blanc. Add on their goat milk soap or avocado blossom honey for the ultimate gift pack. They also offer a three-month subscription plan and a large cheese plate bundle for the ultra cheese lover. 

Online: stepladdercreamery.com

Art for Her Walls—3 Fish Studios

Mother's Day is a great time to support local artists and we love 3 Fish Studios for their bold prints at reasonable prices. Choose from California-inspired pieces featuring San Francisco neighborhoods or the States of Love collection that features the California bear hugging states and countries. They even have magnets and note cards that would be a great addition to a gift basket. 

Online: 3fishstudios.com

Burlap-Wrapped Beauties, Delivered—Farmgirl Flowers

Skip the dozen roses this year and go for something more earthy. Farmgirl Flowers delivers gorgeous bouquets and live plants all over the U.S. from their home base in San Francisco's Flower Mart. It's not cookie cutter arrangements here—rustic-style arrangements are hand crafted from fresh flowers and each bouquet is it's own unique work of art wrapped in a burlap bag. 

Online: farmgirlflowers.com

 

Satisfy Her Sweet Tooth—Snake & Butterfly

For a sweet treat that's also a work of art, grab a box of truffles or caramels from this Campbell chocolate factory. This small family-owned shop offers homemade, organic, fair trade chocolate (and did we say DELICIOUS?). Show them some love by getting your mom the ginger and nib bar, a jar of the fig balsamic caramel and a 12-pack of colorful truffles. You can't go wrong!

Online: snakeandbutterfly.com

Beauty for Your Home—Heath Ceramics

There's something so satisfying about a beautifully-set table. Heath Ceramics in Sausalito is your go-to spot for timeless home decor and accessories. Their bud vase is the perfect vessel for your garden cuttings and their cutting boards are a gorgeous start to your next cheese board. Shipping and curbside pick-up is available. 

Online: heathceramics.com

Mama and Me Flower Crowns— Natalie B Designs

Floral designer Natalie B Designs has a special treat for all mothers and little ones in the Bay Area. The Flower Crown Box includes supplies for two flower crowns (so little ones can design their own), greens and flowers, ribbon, wire, instructions and access to a step-by-step video. Beautifully arranged and thoughtfully sourced box is a great gift for mamas and daughters. Pick-up and shipping is available. 

Order: nataliebowendesigns.com

photo: Blue Bottle

Caffeine, Pronto—Blue Bottle Coffee

The new Blue Bottle Pour Over Kit gives mom the tools and expertise she needs to enjoy Blue Bottle cafe-quality coffee at home. Featuring a Blue Bottle DripperBlue Bottle Carafe30 Blue Bottle Filters and The Art of the Blue Bottle Pour Over manual, this is the perfect gift set for any deserving mom in need of high-quality caffeine this spring! 

Online: bluebottlecoffee.com

To Share, or Not to Share—Cheesequakes

Cheesequakes, made in San Francisco, are all natural, creamy, and moist with a luxurious crust and flavors that, like San Franciscans, are sophisticated and unusual. Cheesequakes is offering delivery of its full-size and individual serving Cheesecakes, made with all natural ingredients and available in a variety of unique flavors, including “Mama’s Ricotta.” Cheesequakes offers Bay Area delivery via DoorDash.

Online: doordash.com

Beautiful Jewelry- Mountainside Made

Handmade, small-batch artisanal jewelry made in the Santa Cruz mountains, it's the perfect one-of-a-kind gift for mom. Creator Amber Duncan uses inspiration from museums and antiques to create simple and beautiful pieces that can be worn every day. Check them out in person at the General Store, or order online for shipping. The shop also offers Be Well boxes, including one for mom. 

Online: mountainsidemade.com

Cooking Class from Cozymeal

Browse an endless variety of cooking classes from this San Francisco service. Gourmet chefs share their knowledge and experience in a welcoming environment to learn something new. Whether it's the art of macaroons or Italian comfort food, there is something for everyone. Book an online class and treat mom to something delicious on her special day. 

Online: cozymeal.com

photo: Leon and George

Leon and George

This San Francisco-based potted plant company offers an amazing white-glove service with each order that is hand-selected, treated and styled. Plants come in a variety of sizes and you have access to their awesome team of trained horticulturists and master gardens to help pick out the perfect plan for mom. They also arrive in a beautiful ceramic pot (in various color options) and furniture-grade wood stand of your choice. Now that's great service! 

Onlineleonandgeorge.com

—Sandra Lee & Kate Loweth

Featured photo: iStock

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The Bay Area is the mecca for adventurous eating, so why should the adults be having all the fun? From acai bowls to Indian burritos, it’s time to trade in the standard chocolate chip cookie for a macaroon at these local spots with little foodies in mind. Check out our favorite family restaurants for adventurous kids to get those taste buds talking.

photo: Pacific Catch/Anna Marks

Pacific Catch

With a brand-new location that just opened up in Santa Clara, you have even more options for dining out with your family at Pacific Catch. Offering primarily seafood options, your family will love the fish tacos, lobster roll with fresh avocado and the family-style fresh catch entrees that take the guesswork out of what to order for dinner. The kids menu options include kid-sized versions of the popular fish and chips, coconut shrimp and California rolls. Non-fish eaters can opt for chicken strips or a teriyaki bowl with chicken as the protein. The Santa Clara location has ample outdoor seating and a fire pit for when the temps dip. 

3315 Coronado Place
Santa Clara, CA

11 locations across the Bay Area including Cupertino, San Francisco and Walnut Creek

Online: pacificcatch.com

photo: Kate Loweth

Jack's Restaurant

With four Bay Area locations to choose from, there's likely a Jack's Restaurant near you. We love it for a family night out as the restaurants are totally family-friendly and the menu is full of food that kids will love. Take the kids on a trip to the Mediterranean with the sampler as a starter (pitas, hummus and tzatziki). Lamb meatballs are terrific for sharing along with the garlic oregano fries. Skip the traditional kid's menu choices and share a plate of the lamb chops that are perfectly sized for picking up and eating with your hands. To keep the Greek flavor going until the end, opt for the galaktoboureko for dessert. Layers of sweet phyllo pastry, semolina custard and apricot-orange blossom preserve will be just the bite you need to round out the meal. 

Locations in Newark, San Bruno, San Mateo and Pleasant Hill
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Online: ilovejacks.com

photo: Kate Loweth

August (1) Five

The deep aromas of Indian food welcome you as soon as you walk in the door at August (1) Five in San Francisco. This modern take on Indian food is particularly kid friendly at brunch time when they offer a rotating menu of options like French toast topped with bananas and butterscotch and arancini. Both Chef Manish and owner Hetal's own children love the Poori Aloo, a potato stew, and the Veggie Appam, a savory, gluten-free pancake. It's location is ideal as it is right down the street from the War Memorial Opera House and open for dining before or after Nutcracker and SF Symphony performances. 

524 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Brunch: 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tues.-Fri. Dinner: 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Tues.-Sun. (open until 10:30 p.m. on Fri.-Sat).
Online: august1five.com

photo: SAJJ Mediterranean

SAJJ Mediterranean

Need something a little different to eat on family movie night? Check out SAJJ Mediterranean for a menu that’s healthy, filling and affordable for the whole crew with locally-sourced produce and hormone-free Halal meats. With their Feast for 4 deal, you’ll get falafel, chicken shwarma, salad, rice, hummus, tzatziki and pita bread for all of $30. With locations in SF, Mountain View, San Jose and Sunnyvale, you can pick it up on your way home and have dinner done.

4140 North First St.
Suite #10
San Jose, CA
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m-9 p.m & Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m-10 p.m
Onlinesajjstreeteats.com

Curry Up Now

The popular food truck serving Indian street food with a twist has several brick and mortar locations all over the Bay Area, and the décor is enough to want to hang out with the whole family. While the food choices can be a bit spicy for the little ones, the kids' menu is there to the rescue. The Bunty Burrito with paneer and Naan Pizza are top choices that are an instant hit, while grown-ups can snack on Sexy Fries and samosas. Can’t stay? Check out their Family-Style Meals To Go in Alameda and Oakland (for now).

1745 San Pablo Ave.
Oakland, CA
Hours: Mon.-Sun., 11:30 a.m-9 p.m
Onlinecurryupnow.com

photo: Kate Loweth

Mendocino Farms

This LA-based deli (and more!) is all the rage since it opened up its first location in Campbell and second in San Jose. The kids' menu is pretty standard, but the PB&J will probably be the best version of this sandwich you’ll ever have. Get your little ones to try something new like the beet side salad—you can grab samples of whatever sides look appetizing while you wait to pay for your meal. Aside from the delish menu, these people know what it’s like to eat out with kids by designing a kid’s corner complete with a mini table, chalk wall and Connect Four game. With the goal of building a place that the community can gather around, Mendocino Farms just might hit the spot. Read more here

The Pruneyard
1875 S. Bascom Ave.
Campbell, CA

Santana Row
3090 Olsen Dr., Suite 150
San Jose, CA

Opening soon in San Mateo

Hours: Daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Onlinemendocinofarms.com

Gracias Madre

With a restaurant named “Thanks Mom” in Spanish and a dedication to love of the earth and the families that live in it, you almost have to visit, and it’ll be so worth it. This Mission Mexican joint is 100% plant-based, non-GMO and authentic. The interior décor takes you to a village in Mexico, while the food (looking at you guacamole) snagged some rave reviews from the Zagat national food reviewers. Try the quesadillas with pumpkin seed salsa and flautas with sweet potato and caramelized onions for a delicious take on vegan Mexican fare.

2211 Misson St.
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Mon. & Tues., 11 a.m-10 p.m; Wed.-Fri., 11 a.m-11 p.m; Sat., 10 a.m-11 p.m; Sun., 10 a.m-10 p.m
Onlinegracias-madre.com

Bumble

Mama bees looking for a place that doesn’t scream kid friendly but so is, look no further than Bumble. Its chic décor makes it an ideal spot for a mama’s brunch, while the playroom (available for a fee) and healthy kids' menu makes it all sorts of OK to bring the little ones. Mini pink waffles will match your grown-up portion, and the Lil B’ Plate makes it a point to include seasonal fruit and veggies. You can spend an entire afternoon here, but be sure to check the calendar for movie days and family nights.

145 First St.
Los Altos, CA
Hours: Tues.-Fri., 9 a.m-2 p.m; Sat. & Sun., 8 a.m-3 p.m
Onlinebumblelosaltos.com

 

Mana Bowls

For a healthy snack when the tummies are growling, head on over to Mana Bowls for take out. The Brazilian café is all about the super foods in a delicious way with acai bowls, smoothies and fresh juices. The peanut butter mango bowl is one of our favorites—acai sorbet and coconut base topped with granola and honey. The bitty bowls are perfect for the mini-me's and come with acai sorbet, bananas, strawberries, apple juice and granola.

1930 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Fairfax, CA
Hours: Daily 10 a.m-5 p.m
OnlineManabowls.com

VeganBurg

Think you can’t get a burger if you’re vegan? The founders of VeganBurg set out on a mission to change exactly that, and it has become one of the most popular vegan joints in the Bay Area, earning celebrity nods from Taylor Swift and Sir Paul McCartney. 100% plant-based and GMO-free, you can feel good about what you’re eating and how it impacts the environment. The Mini Meal includes a burger, fries with broccoli and a cookie. The other location is in Singapore, so we can rest easy that this one is located right here in the Bay.

1466 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m-9 p.m; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m-10 p.m
Onlineveganburg.com

Homestead

Sunday supper is cozy and homey at this Piedmont neighborhood restaurant. Dishes change weekly and there is always a pasta dish (linguini with butter and parmesan cheese) made just for kiddos. For something more, they can indulge just like the grown-ups do with half-portion, half-priced three-course prix fixe dinners that include items like steak and eggs and cinnamon roll bread pudding.

4029 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA
Hours: Daily 8 a.m-12 p.m (Cafe); 5 p.m-close (dinner) & 4:30 p.m-8:30 p.m (Sunday Supper)
OnlineHomesteadoakland.com

Panichito's

For fast, casual, authentic Mexican food that’s more than a cheese quesadilla with beans, check out Panchito’s in North Bay. Here you can order classic favorites like carne asada and chile verde, with some pretty tasty chips and salsa on the side. Not only does the kids' menu serve up adult-sized entrees like Chile Relleno and tamales, they also feature a vocabulary key for bitty diners who want to try out their Spanish. De nada!

667 De. Gando Rd.
San Rafael, CA
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m-9 p.m & Sat., 12 p.m-9 p.m
OnlinePanchitosrestaurant.com

Tap 415

Take the kiddos to Westfield Mall (next to Nordstrom’s) after some back-to-school shopping or before a movie at the Metreon for some yummy comfort food. Tap 415 has a cool vibe for both adults and kids with a thought out menu designed just for them. Classics include mac n’ cheese, cheddar burgers and mini corn dogs, but the seasonal mocktails and shakes are worth saving some room for.

845 Westfield Center, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m-9 p.m; Fri. & Sat., 11:30 a.m-9:30 p.m & Sun., 11:30 a.m-8:30 p.m
Onlinetap415.com

Foreign Cinema

The iconic SF restaurant draws the crowds every day, and although it’s a prime date spot, you wouldn’t believe it’s also seriously kid-friendly. The three-course prix fixe meal comes with chicken or steak, veggies, and pasta, and ends with an ice cream sundae while a feature film is shown in the background. Who knew a kids' menu could be so grown-up, but still add some fun with crayons and a coloring book?

2534 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Mon.-Wed., 5:30-10 p.m; Thurs.-Sat., 5:30-11 p.m; Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m-2:30 p.m
OnlineForeigncinema.com

Yankee Pier

Fish sticks get a much needed upgrade with fish n’ chips at Yankee Pier. This East Bay restaurant is all about sustainability and their fresh seafood from “coast to coast” makes for one delicious meal. Kids' menu features shrimp cocktail, grilled salmon, classic clam chowder, and of course, fish n’ chips. For dessert, check out the house-made butterscotch bread pudding with whipped cream, enough for the table to share.

3593 Mt. Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, CA
Hours: Daily 11:30 a.m-9 p.m
Online: Yankeepier.com

Kasa Indian Eatery

Calling all Indian burrito fans—this place is for you! The perfect lunch on the go, these burritos come with tikka masala, curried lamb and potatoes all wrapped up nicely in a flour tortilla. For the little ones, have them try a kid-sized version with egg, rice and yogurt. Although the menu is small, it packs a big punch when it comes to flavor. They have two locations in the city and offer catering for big events.

4001 18th St.
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Daily 11 a.m-10 p.m
Online: Kasaindian.com

Oh Baby Sushi

For casual Japanese food that you’ll actually want to visit with the whole gang, this Redwood City joint makes it easy to nosh on fresh sashimi while your kiddos explore mini portions of teriyaki bento boxes, tonkastsu bowls and ramen in soy sauce broth. The outside patio is nice to enjoy on a sunny day, and if naptime is near, all items are available for take out.

2139 Roosevelt Ave.
Redwood City, CA
Hours: Tues.-Wed., 11:30 a.m-2 p.m & 4:30-9:30 p.m; Thurs., 11:30 a.m-2:30 p.m & 4:30-9:30 p.m; Fri.-Sun., 11:30 a.m-3 p.m & 4:30-9:30 p.m
Online: ohbabysushi.com

True Food Kitchen

Healthy food backed by a physician gives us all the good-for-you feels. With locations in Palo Alto and Walnut Creek, True Food Kitchen is all about mingling nutrient-rich foods with flavorful combos for a meal that gives you the energy to chase those kids around for the rest of the day. Kids' menu items include almond butter, banana and apple sandwiches and chicken teriyaki bowls with brown rice and quinoa. Be sure to check out their brunch as well with yummy options of juices and smoothies, salads and grain bowls.

180 El Camino Real, Suite 1140
Palo Alto, CA
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m-9 p.m; Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m-9 p.m
Onlinetruefoodkitchen.com

—Kate Loweth, Sandra Lee, Erin Feher & Mireille Schwartz

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Now more than ever, it’s important to teach our young kids about the Black Americans who paved the way for civil rights in America. February is Black History Month, and we’ve rounded up some spots to visit (even virtually) to take a pause and learn about those that made those courageous efforts before us in the Bay Area. From museums to cultural centers, there are some great spots that teach, engage and inspire our youth. It’s all about setting the stage with the knowledge to make a positive impact on our country.

Richmond Art Center | Richmond

This beautiful art center has classes, exhibitions and events that cater to schools, community centers and the Richmond Public Library. For Black History Month, they have partnered with the Art of African Diaspora for an online event to highlight artist work with virtual open studios, artist talks and other events that are sure to be fun and educational for the whole family. You can enjoy this programming from Feb. 11-May 16. 

Online: richmondartcenter.org

Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) | San Francisco

MoAD, a contemporary art museum, celebrates Black cultures, ignites challenging conversations, and inspires learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora. This month, you can engage in activities like an art history crash course presented by California College of Arts professor Jacqueline Francis. She’ll be talking about the art and artists of the Black Atlantic with an emphasis on aesthetic objects produced by African or African-descended people over four sessions. Check the website for details on this and other programs. 

Online: moadsf.org

Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) | Oakland

While the museum is currently closed due to COVID, the Oakland Museum of California has instituted an OMCA at Home program with fun projects and seminars for families of all ages. Check out the virtual tour of the Black Power, an exhibition that explores the history of the Black Power movements in California and the Bay Area’s role. 

Online: museumca.org

African American Museum and Library at Oakland

This museum has been dedicated to discovering and sharing the historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California. The second-floor museum regularly hosts traveling and original exhibitions that highlight the art, history and culture of Black history. Check out their wide variety of online classes and special programming. 

Online: oaklandlibrary.org

Willie Mays Statue | San Francisco

Do you have a baseball fan at home? A trip to Oracle Park is already pretty awesome. It also hosts a statue of one of the most well-known baseball players. Willie Mays spent almost all of his 22-season Major League Baseball career playing for the San Francisco Giants. Learn about his history starting with the Negro American League and visit the statue on your next trip to San Francisco. While you're at the statue, get the kids to count the number of palm trees in Willie Mays Plaza. When they find 24 you see if they can guess that the 24 palm trees represents Mays' jersey number. 

Online: oraclepark.wordpress.ncsu.edu

The Presidio | San Francisco

A visit to the Presidio can teach kids about Buffalo Soldiers, the famous Black cavalrymen who  were stationed there from 1902-1903. The Presidio marks a key time in the history of the participation of Black people in the armed forces. They fought with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, fighting bandits and patrolling Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. 

Online: nps.gov

African American Arts and Culture Complex | San Francisco

A community-based organization with a mission to empower and connect through culture, the AAACC is a great place for our youth to learn about Black history. They are all about expression with art, education and special programs while supporting local Bay Area artists. Check out some of their virtual programming and exhibits like The Black Woman is God: Reclaim, Reconfigure, Re–Remember.

Online: aaacc.org

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Garden | San Francisco

Take in the vision of peace and unity at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at the Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. You’ll get to see his inspiring words, poems and images from the Civil Rights Movement surrounding a beautiful waterfall. 

Online: yerbabuenagardens.com

photo: iStock

Ralph D. House Community Park

In 2010, this park was named in honor of Ralph Dewitt House, a park champion who devoted himself to public service. House was a driving force and leader in ensuring open space in the Bayview community. House founded the Bayview Hill Neighborhood Association and was its president from 1985 through 2004. He volunteered his time tirelessly and empowered others to advocate for their communities. Be sure to visit this park soon and take in the beautiful views of the city's southeast. 

Online: sfrecpark.org

—Sandra Lee

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After 2020, it’s pretty obvious that we all need a little L.O.V.E this year. Valentine’s Day is coming up, and we’ve got some pretty awesome local Bay Area shops that have put together some great gifts for loved ones, friends, family, kids, and anyone else that made this past year a little less hectic. From beautiful charcuterie boards to cookie decorating kits, we’ve got you covered. Spread the love while supporting local businesses with treats that’ll sure to bring a smile. We all need that.

San Francisco

photo: XO Bakes

XO Bakes

Becca, owner and mom of two is all about bringing joy to others through homemade sweets. What better way to spread the love than with beautiful cookies that make both delicious treats and gifts to others? XO Bakes is offering half-dozen cookie boxes for $30 and includes fun shapes like diamonds, winged-hearts and envelopes, as well as cookie cards (two cookies) for $9. Contactless porch pick-up is available in the San Francisco area. 

Online: xobakes.com

Hey, Cookie

Eight years and thousands of cookies later, founder Christa Hill is still delivering her favorite treats and bringing smiles to her customers in San Francisco. This Valentine’s Day, treat yourself, a loved one or a friend to homemade cookies from the award-winning baker herself. Her Cupid Box comes with 24 assorted two-bite cookies including shortbread hearts, X’s and O’s for $58 delivered. 

Online: heycookiesf.com

photo: Batter Bakery

Batter Bakery

This small-batch, boutique bakery in San Francisco is loved by residents in and out of the city. For Valentine’s Day, Batter Bakery is offering their signature cookie decorating kit in small or large starting at $25 and includes shortbread cookies, royal icing, sprinkles, supplies and instructions. Also check out their heart-shaped cookies in unique flavors like lavender sea salt, chocolate hazelnut, and red hot candy! Pick-up and delivery are available, with a local courier delivery fee of $18.

Online: batterbakery.com

photo: Kokak Truffles

Kokak Chocolates

A passion project for chocolatier Carol Gancia, Kokak Truffles has become a Bay Area favorite. The beautifully designed chocolate bouquet truffle box in five/$19.95 or 12/$42.95 with flavors like strawberry, hazelnut, and coffee is a great gift. For something even more decadent, the Chocolate Love Tower for $95 includes an assortment from the Castro Pride, pie, tea, liqueur-filled and dark chocolate collections. Boxes can be ordered for local SF delivery, curbside pick-up, or shipped. 

Online: kokakchocolates.com

East Bay

photo: Bakes by Eileen

Bakes by Eileen

Self-taught baker, Eileen Wang in Alameda is all about beautiful desserts. For Valentine’s Day, grab a four-piece cupcake treat box or individually packaged “Galentine’s Day” box for $24 in flavors like red wine chocolate raspberry or vegan thin mint chocolate. We love the Tea Box for $70 that includes themed cupcakes, hot chocolate bombs, cookies, brownies, mochi and tea for a romantic afternoon tea or fun surprise to share with the kids. Pick-up and delivery are available in Oakland and Alameda and orders must be in by 2/8! 

Online:  bakesbyeileen.com

photo: Brie Grazing Boards

Brie Grazing Boards

Started by a single mom with a love for making food look beautiful, Karla’s charcuterie and cheese boards are full of little details and totally giftable. For Valentine’s Day, check out the Love is in the Air Charcuterie and Dessert Box for $99 that includes a fun breakable chocolate heart as well as signature cheese and charcuterie options. For a fun treat for the kids, snag the To the Moon and Back Box filled with yummy treats and only $10. Check out her Instagram for inspiration and contact information!

Online: briegrazing.com

Casa De Chocolates

Since 2012, this Berkeley boutique chocolatier has been creating unique, small-batch, high-quality artisanal chocolates inspired by a passion for the Latin American culture. For Valentine’s Day, Casa de Chocolates has their Amor (Love) Collection featuring beautiful gifts ranging from chocolate-covered strawberries to hand-painted chocolate roses. We love their assorted chocolate box for $33 with flavors like Petalo de Rosas, Guayabana, and Tequila, or the chocolate-covered strawberries and truffles set for $28. Pick-up is available at their shop in Berkeley. 

Online: casadechocolates.com

South Bay/Peninsula

Sibby's Cupcakery

The San Mateo bakery has been around since 2004 serving delicious signature, seasonal and custom-themed cupcakes baked to order from scratch. For Valentine’s Day, Sibby’s is offering their mini/$33 and regular/$40 sampler box with themed flavors like heart confetti, double chocolate raspberry, red velvet and white chocolate passionfruit. Delivery is available from San Francisco to Sunnyvale and pick-up is by appointment only. Check the website for hours. 

Online: sibbyscupcakery.com

photo: Meraki-X

Meraki-X

If you haven’t heard 16-year-old Shrobana Shangupta’s story, you need to. This teen is making waves in the way of raising money for nonprofits like Sunday Friends and St. Jude’s in the San Jose area with her love of food. Self-taught and ambitious, her macarons have already cultivated a following with unique flavors like jelly donut and Nutella cheesecake. Share the love and order a Valentine’s Day box with rose and vanilla cheesecake with dark chocolate ganache flavors at six/$15 and 12/$25. All proceeds go to her Sunday Friends fundraiser. Pick-up is available in San Jose. 

Online: _merakix_

photo: Made Out Of Dough

Made Out Of Dough

Started eight years ago, Made Out Of Dough is all about bringing the flavor. With savory scones and sweet pastries, they have been working the farmer’s markets around the Bay Area and wowing customers with yummy treats. For the special day, check out the Chocolate Covered Strawberry cake with fresh strawberries or the Vanilla Love cake with swirled pink vanilla for $20. They are also offering mini pies for $10 each. Orders are accepted until 2/6 and pick up is available at their pop-up booth in San Mateo or delivered for $5. 

Online: MadeOutOfDough

SusieCakes

A crowd favorite, SusieCakes makes beautifully delicious cakes, cupcakes, cookies and pies made from scratch. For Valentine’s Day, the bakery is whipping up an I Heart You Box of four cupcakes in special flavors for $20 as well as a dozen mini rose cupcakes. For a fun activity, grab a cupcake or sugar cookie decorating kit. Pick-up and delivery are available at select bakeries, so be sure to check out the website for the closest one!

Online: susiecakes.com

Marin County

photo: Johnny Doughnuts

Johnny Doughnuts

Artisinal doughnuts handcrafted with organic ingredients sourced locally is the name of the game at Johnny Doughnuts. They will have Valentine’s Day decorated doughnuts in standard flavors as well as a new Strawberry Bismark that is a must-try. For a special gift, check out the assorted Valentine’s Day doughnut holes in a variety of flavors and fillings, dressed up like a box of chocolates, wrapped up and sealed with a handwritten note for $25. It’s the perfect gift for just about anyone. Email or call the bakery to reserve your box! 

Online: johnnydoughnuts.com

Sift Dessert Bar

Family-owned since 2008, Sift Dessert knows the sweet stuff. With three locations in the Bay Area including Santa Rosa and Napa, Sift Dessert Bar makes beautiful cupcakes, macaroons, cakes and cuffles (cake and frosting blended together and dipped in chocolate). They have some fun boxes for Valentine’s Day including the gluten-free Conversation Crispy Bars and Macaroons box with rice crispy treats for $45 and the Hey Sugar Gift Box with whoopie cookies, gummy bears, sprinkles chocolate bar and a customized note for $42. Shipping and store pick-up is available. 

Online: siftdessertbar.com

photo: Baked Blooms

Baked Blooms

Want to send some flowers but also cupcakes? Check out Baked Blooms in San Anselmo. This home-based bakery started by stay-at-home mom Sarah Thongnopneua makes cupcake bouquets arranged and decorated to look like a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Prices start at $45 for a seven-piece small bouquet of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes in red, white and pink floral design. Cupcakes are homemade and baked from scratch in small batches using real ingredients. Pick-up is available in San Anselmo with local delivery only in Marin at this time. 

Online: bakedblooms.com

—Sandra Lee

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With kids being home and parents getting creative in finding things to do during this COVID year, options are running low. Now that museums are starting to open up, it’s a great time to visit safely. With the holidays not far away, what better gift than a membership to our beloved Bay Area museums that have been hit hard this year? From all things air transportation to Charlie Brown fans, treat your child (and yourself), with a gift that not only teaches but is fun for the whole family. Parents rejoice!

San Francisco

photo: The Exploratorium

Exploratorium

The Membership: Two family memberships are available for purchase. The Family Explorers Membership includes unlimited daytime admission for up to two adults and accompanying guests, plus up to four children for $149. For those that want grandparents to be able to visit with the kiddos anytime, check out the Family Explorers with Caregiver Card. It adds unlimited daytime admission for one adult, and grandparents can visit anytime with kids for $199.
Compare That To: Admission is $29.95/adult; $24.95/youth (13-17); $19.95/youth (4-12); free for children under three. After Dark tickets are also $19.95/non-members. 
The Biggest Perks: 10% discount at the store, exclusive invitations to members-only events and exhibitions, discounted tickets to Tactile Dome and After Dark, and discounted guest tickets for daytime admission. Membership is also 100% fully tax-deductible. 

Note that the museum is currently closed and will open at a future date.

Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green St.)
San Francisco, CA 
Online: exploratorium.edu

Walt Disney Family Museum

The Membership: Family Membership includes admission for four members plus one additional guest per visit with eight film vouchers that can be redeemed for tickets to their monthly film screenings for $245. 
Compare That To: Daily admission is $25/adult; $15/youth (6-17); free for children under five.
The Biggest Perks: All the benefits of the Dual and Individual Membership including participation in NARM and ROAM (giving access to hundreds of museums across the country), one-time-use VIP tickets to guests, discounts for additional tickets, invitations to members-only events and a 10% discount to the store. It’s also tax-deductible! 

104 Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 
Online: waltdisney.org

photo: Kate Loweth

SFMOMA

The Membership: Great for visiting with family and friends, the Dual Membership includes admission for one member and up to three guests for a total of four adults per visit for $180. 
Compare The To: Daily admission is $25/adult; $19/youth (19-24); free for guests 18 & under. 
Biggest Perks: Up to 16 free tickets for each surcharged special exhibition, members-only preview days and parties, 10% off museum store purchases (20% off member sale days), 10% off gift memberships, discounted tickets to films, lectures, and education programs and 25% off parking in the SFMOMA garage. 

151 Third St.
San Francisco, CA 
Online: sfmoma.org

photo: Kathryn Whitney © 2018 California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

The Membership: Family Membership includes admission for two adults and children 17 & under for $269. For the best deal with grandparents, opt for the Family Plus which includes two adults, children 17 & under and one caregiver, plus free admission for two guests for $329. For those with a flexible schedule and OK with blackout dates, consider the Community Value Membership for $169 for two adults (parents or grandparents) and children 17 & under. It’s a great way to visit the museum and save money as well! 
Compare That To: Daily admission is $29.74/adult; $23.25/youth (13-17); free for children under two. 
Biggest Perks: Invitations to exclusive exhibit previews and member talks, members-only planetarium shows, animal feedings and hands-on programs, 20% off lectures, sleepovers, tours and NightLife, 10% off shopping, dining and birthday party rentals and express entry to the museum. Fully tax-deductible as well! 

Golden Gate Park
55 Music Concourse Dr.
San Francisco, CA 
Online: calacademy.org

photo: de Young Museum

deYoung Museum

The Membership: The Family Membership is fully tax-deductible and is good for two members and two guests (17 & up).  
Compare That To: Daily one-time admission is $15/adult; free for guests 17 & under. 
Biggest Perks: Invitation to Member Mornings on select Saturday mornings, admission to special exhibitions for six children up to age 17, discounts on Summer Camp and classes designed for families and children, 10% off at the museum stores (and 20% off during seasons members-only sale days), discounts on audio tours, programs and events. 

Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr.
San Francisco, CA 
Online: deyoung.famsf.org

East Bay

Chabot Space and Science Center

The Membership: The Earth Family Membership includes two parents and all children in the household 18 & under for $99. The Earth Orbiter is also available and includes a grandparent for $150/year.
Compare That To: Admission is $18/adult; $14/youth (3-12); free for children under three.
Biggest Perks: Priority registration for summer camps, events and workshops (which are super popular), access to monthly members-only telescope viewing, discounts on Starry Nights Gift Shop and Town Kitchen Cafe and free or discounted admission to science centers and museums worldwide from the ASTC Passport program. 

Note that the museum is currently closed, but plans to re-open in June 2021.

1000 Skyline Blvd.
Oakland, CA 
Online: chabotspace.org

Habitot Children's Museum

The Membership: The Ambassador Family Membership is a great membership that’s easy on the wallet. It includes unlimited visits for up to four household family members (including caregivers) for $34. Note that there is a six-month minimum enrollment. 
Compare That To: Daily admission is $12/adult and children; free for babies 12 months & under. 
Biggest Perks: Half-price admission at over 200 children’s museums nationwide (including seven in the Bay Area), unlimited additional guests at just $10, 10% off birthday parties and Parent Night Out events and 20% discount at the store.

Note that the museum is currently closed and will open at a future date. 

2065 Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA 
Online: habitot.org

Peninsula/South Bay

photo: Hiller

Hiller Aviation Museum

The Membership: The Family Membership is $90 and includes admission for two adults and up to four children 17 & under with discounts on Aviation Camp. A Pioneer Membership is also available and adds an additional card for another adult (up to three per visit) and two one-time guest passes for $125.
Compare That To: Currently open only on the weekends with a discounted fee of $14.40/adult (normally $18); $8.80/youth (normally $14); free for children four & under. 
Biggest Perks: Discounts on workshops and special programs, 10% discount at the shop (and 25% off on Special Member Days), 10% discount on birthday parties, invitation to members-only aviation parties, free Flight Sim Zone and Drone Plex access and discounts on FMX Flight Simulator. Families can also score a 10% discount on Aviation Camp enrollment. 

601 Skyway Rd.
San Carlos, CA 
Online: hiller.org

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

The Membership: Choose between a Family or Grandparent Membership for $175 which includes unlimited admission for two adults and children or grandchildren 18 & under. 
Compare That To: Currently the museum is only open to Bill’s Backyard and is $5/guest; free for infants. 
Biggest Perks: Members-only invitation to exclusive events and exhibition previews, discount at the FoodShed and two one-time-use guest passes. 

Currently, the museum is only allowing admission to Bill’s Backyard with plans to re-open the rest of the museum in phases. 

180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 
Online: cdm.org

CuriOdyssey

The Membership: A Family Membership is $145 and includes admission for two adults and children (or grandchildren) 18 & under and free parking when visiting the museum. 
Compare That To: Daily admission is $15.95/adult; $12.95/child; free for babies 17 months & under.
Biggest Perks: Discounts for IlluminOdyssey Outdoors, free entrance to Coyote Point Recreation Area, discounted admission for family and friends, 10% discount at the shop, and for birthday parties, and free or discounted tickets to over 400 science and wildlife centers. Memberships are also fully tax-deductible!

1651 Coyote Point Dr.
San Mateo, CA 
Online: curiodyssey.org

North Bay

Bay Area Discovery Museum

The Membership: The Family Membership includes two adults and all children in the household, with a 20% discount for teachers and corporate employees. There is also a Grandparents Membership which includes all the same benefits as the Family Membership, with the addition of including all grandchildren a grandparent member wishes to cover. Membership does not include admission to the Goblin Jamboree. 
Compare That To: General admission is $16.95/adult; $16.95/kids (1-18); $14.95/babies (6-11 months) and seniors.
Biggest Perks: Exclusive member storytimes and meetups (hands-on STEM and art projects), admission to BADM festivals and special events, free or discounted tickets to over 500 children's museums and science centers worldwide, four guest passes, credit towards birthday parties and a 10% discount at the store and cafe. 

557 McReynolds Rd.
Sausalito, CA 
Online: bayareadiscoverymuseum.org

Charles M. Shultz Museum

The Membership: Includes admission for two adults and all children 18 & under, plus four guest passes for $75.
Compare That To: Admission is $12/adult; $5/youth (4-18); free for children under three. 
Biggest Perks: Invitation to members-only events, 20% discount on museum workshops, 10% off at the museum store, discount on ice skating at Snoopy’s Home Ice and admission to the Children's Museum of Sonoma County and the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. Plus NARM and ROAM privileges. 

Note that the museum is currently closed and will open at a future date.

2301 Hardies Lane
Santa Rosa, CA 
Online: schulzmuseum.org

—Sandra Lee

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