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Splash pads have become the hottest place to hang out during the summer months. And with the drought in our rearview mirror (for now) there are more places than ever to get soaked. Click through to find the park closest to you, from a pirate adventure themed water world to giant a barnyard themed park with a water tower. Splash on!

Blue Goose Park, Brentwood

Does your child love the farm? Then take a drive to Brentwood for this farm-themed park complete with a barn play structure, a water tower that pours water onto the splash pad, and giant sunflower sprayers for larger than life barnyard fun.

1765 Adams Ln.
Brentwood, Ca
Online: brentwoodca.gov

Brentwood City Park, Brentwood

Enjoy a well-maintained old-school-meets-modern park at Brentwood City Park. Complete with water guns and a splash pad, a cute little clubhouse for toddlers, and a play structure for kids of all ages to enjoy, this cabin-themed park is adorable and has ample shade over the picnic tables.

790 2nd St.
Brentwood, Ca
Online: brentwoodca.gov

Seven Seas Park, Sunnyvale

Young swashbucklers will enjoy playing aboard the S.S. Seven Seas then running through the bursts of water that splash from overhead. Take a seat in the shade and enjoy the open visibility of your kiddo on the playground. (Open daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.)

1010 Morse Ave., Sunnyvale, Ca
Online: sunnyvale.ca.gov

Lakewood Park, Sunnyvale

Blast off into a world of fun at Lakewood Park! Families with kids of all ages will find something fun to occupy their summer afternoon from skating, basketball, slides, teeters and a rocking water play area. Little astronauts will enjoy getting sprayed by the spaceship and running around the padded ground decorated to look like outer space. Parking can get jam packed at this popular playground, so be prepared for a quick 2-3 block stroll. (Open daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.)​

834 Lakechime Dr.
Sunnyvale, Ca
408-730-7751
Online: sunnyvale.ca.gov

Always Dream P​lay P​ark, Fremont​

Kids of all ages and abilities will find something fun to do at this park created by famed local Kristi Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation. Climb giant spheres, get dirty in the sand pit, sit for lunch, enjoy the swing set, and race down the slide before taking a refreshing break at the spray umbrella on the top of one of the park's little hills.

Stevenson Blvd & Gallaudet
Fremont, Ca
Online: fremont.gov​

San Ramon Central Park, San Ramon

Beat the heat at San Ramon Central Park. Take a seat under the vast shade while the kiddos enjoy playtime at the gigantic play structure and spider climbing net, or get soaked in the squid-like splash pad area. The water's on April 1 through Oct. 30 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

12501 Alcosta Blvd.
San Ramon, Ca
Online: ci.san-ramon.ca.us

Rancho San Ramon Community Park, San Ramon

Rancho San Ramon Community Park is a little climber's dream—From rocks to climb to big spider webs and twisting rock walls, there's a lot to do! Truck fans will adore the little trucks slide, and both parents and kids alike will agree that the splash pad is the best way to cool off after between all the climbing fun. The water's on April 1 through Oct. 30 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

2000 Rancho Park Loop Rd.
San Ramon, Ca
Online: ci.san-ramon.ca.us

Emerald Glen Park, Dublin

After you hit up the Dublin’s Farmer’s Market, take your family for some water play at Emerald Glen Park. Rainbow arches bloom over the splash pad, shooting out sheets of water, and there’s even a fun green tunnel that sprays out water like a shower. Kids love to climb amongst the unique rock structures that also double as slides, too. Due to the drought, the park will be reducing their water usage, and only turned on the water when temperatures hit 90 degrees or above. This site will be updated each day at 9 am, so check here before heading over. Water features will be on 1-6 p.m. if temperatures reach 90 or above.

4201 Central Pkwy.
Dublin, Ca
Online: ci.dublin.ca.u

Castro Valley Community Center-Park, Castro Valley

Four parks and a splash pad? This playground is like the Disneyland of playground water play. Your little buccaneers can use the spray cannons to get their friends soaking wet, all while romping around the softly padded ground. Due to current drought conditions and required water restrictions District Splash Pads will be operating:
Memorial Day through Labor Day Weekend
Saturday, Sundays and holidays
from 11:00 am-5:00 pm
and on weekdays when the weather is 80 degrees or higher. Remember to check the website to see if the water is running​.

18988 Lake Chabot Rd.,
Castro Valley, Ca
Online: haywardrec.org

El Cerrito Splash Park, El Cerrito

Beat the heat over at the El Cerrito Swim Center, where they have one of the most awesome splash pads ever. The large park is filled with all sorts of water gadgets, from colored buckets that tip surprise showers to the kids below, misting tunnels and all sorts of water jets. Don’t miss out on the cute cartoons that decorate some of the watering holes. Admission: $2/splash park only

7007 Moeser Ln.
El Cerrito, Ca
Online: el-cerrito.org/

Meadow Homes Spray Park, Concord

Take a trip into the ocean with this fun open water themed splash park. Kids can spray each other with the cannons, run through the water under the shipwreck, avoid the shark, and climb the beach rocks. The water's on from noon to 6 p.m. , seven days a week in the summer. For more information about water times, click here.

1351 Detroit Ave.
Concord, Ca
Online: cityofconcord.org

Shari Wargo Stamps

​Central Park, Mountain House

Central Park is a great place to bring a picnic and some chairs and simply spend the day outside with the whole family. Between the palm tree shaded splash pad, bocci ball and basketball courts, and playgrounds for ages toddler to 12, there's something for everyone at this fun destination. The Mountain House library is next door, and food trucks make an evening appearance on Fridays throughout Summer. The interactive splash pad is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until Labor Day. For more info, check out the schedule here.

25 Main St.
Mountain House, Ca
Online: mountainhousecsd.org

Yasmin M.

Ortega Park, Sunnyvale

With towering flowers throughout the sprayground, this popular Sunnyvale spot makes you feel like you've entered a giant garden. Wade through puddles, light sprayers and bubbling geysers. Need a break from the water play? Stop at the playground nearby to tackle the wall climbing structure or take a ride on the swings fitted for kids big and small.

636 Harrow Way
Sunnyvale, Ca
408-730-7751
Online: sunnyvale.ca.gov/

Maria B. Freitas Park, San Rafael

Control your water playtime by activating the water by pressing the hand on this red pipe. Water trickles from three giant red rings, and spray from a water hole. The fun part comes as the water slowly builds up towards a crescendo before gushing out and soaking the kids. While you're here, share a picnic under the gazebo or plan a family barbecue.

Montecillo and Trellis Dr.
San Rafael, Ca
Online: justplaygrounds.com/maria-b-freitas-park

Worth The Drive: Swanston Splash Park, Sacramento

Welcome to the ultimate sprayground with every water gadget available. When the summer temps pump up to 100-plus degrees in the Valley, sprinklers and hoses at this sprayground turn on to cool off little tots. Push the turnstiles around and around until the water buckets unload.

2350 Northrop Ave.
Sacramento, Ca
Online: morpd.com/parks/swanston_park

Mitchell Park, Palo Alto

Two frog statues make this splash pad look like a real pond. As kids race about on a slip-free surface, water shoots gently up to about the same height as your little ones. The water comes out with minimal pressure so that your kiddo won’t be surprised as they frolic and play. The new, inclusive Magical Bridge playground is here, too, so be prepared to spend the day!

600 E Meadow Dr., Palo Alto, Ca 94306 (650-463-4900 or cityofpaloalto.org/)

Jack Fischer Park, Campbell

With grassy hills ideal for picnics, tons of shade from the sun and a dedicated mud zone for kids to make as many mud pies as they want, easily makes this Campbell splash pad a favorite of Bay Area families. Bring along buckets so your little builder can make sand castles or jump through the water spouting from the water tunnel. Don’t forget to come early to avoid the crowds, and pack enough sunscreen to beat the heat.

Abbott Ave. & Pollard Rd., Campbell, Ca 95008 (408-866-2100 or ci.campbell.ca.us/)

Ryder Park, San Mateo

Head over to Ryder Park for a bucket load of good, clean fun. Geysers shoot water for the kids to dance around in and the sprinklers go off every 5 minutes so no matter where you are in the sprayground you're guaranteed to get soaked. Afterwards, play on the monkey bars or jungle gym, and stroll along the meandering paths to enjoy stellar views of the Bay.

1801 J Hart Clinton Dr.
San Mateo, Ca 94401 650-522-7434 or cityofsanmateo.org/)

Which park is your favorite to cool off at?

—Shari Wargo Stamps and Erin Feher

 

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Take the Plunge! Best Bay Area Swimming Pools

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Why Santa Cruz Should Be Your New Favorite Beach Getaway

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When it’s too hot out to do anything but eat ice cream and you don’t have the energy to come up with oodles of Pinterest-worthy DIY kids activities, it’s indoor play spaces for the win! Who needs boredom busters when you’ve got a climbing wall with air conditioning and free wifi? These five new play spaces each boast their own unique draws. Keep reading to see which fits your family’s next outing best.

imagination playhouse train set
Photo: Imagination Playhouse

Imagination Playhouse
Have a gaggle of kids and need a space that accommodates the various ages? Good news —Imagination Playhouse opened its doors in San Francisco last month, offering a safe indoor space for ages 4 months to 8 years! Big kids and tots alike will love climbing through the jungle gym and jumping in the ball pit, or zipping down the slide. There’s even a soft play area with a train table for little ones. Party goers may want to snag the July discounts when reserving for birthdays: You get $40 off the basic package or $50 off the private party package if you book before August.

imagination playghouse slides

5628 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Mon. –Sat. 9:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
Cost: $12 (pay only $8 during July!), $15 for events, $7 for “happy hour” (the last hour of each day)
Online: imaginationplayhousesf.com

SensationAll Gym trampoline

SensationAll Kids Gym
Whether your child is 10 months old or 11 years old, he’s bound to have a ball during open play at SensationAll Kids Gym, an indoor play space and treatment center for all abilities that opened in March. Kiddos can choose from an active play room with spinning and climbing equipment (zipline coming soon), or re-center in the calming room with a lighted vibrating sensory ball pit. The art and creativity center offers a variety of rotating media for kiddos to work with in order to ignite imaginations, and the gym often hosts fun activities like yoga or face painting. Since it’s owned/operated by two licensed pediatric occupational therapists with over 20 years of combined practice experience, SensationAll Kids Gym also offers private speech therapy, physical therapy, and behavioral therapy sessions. Music and dance classes were just added and are available at $20/class. Looking for a party venue? They do that too!

bubble fun

Photos: SensationAll Kids Gym

1770 Willow Pass Rd.
Concord, Ca
Hours: Mon. –Sat., 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun., Closed for private parties
Cost: $15/drop-in ages 2 & up, $12 ages 2 & under, free under 10 months old. Monthly family passes also available.
Online: sensationallkidsgym.com

jumpity bumpity shark play structure

Jumpity Bumpity
Hayward parents have been awaiting news of Jumpity Bumpity‘s opening with anticipation, and the play space just revealed that it’s hoping to open the end of August. This aquatic-themed space offers mazes, fun slides, trampolines, swings, and more in a soft-contained play space. Kiddos ages 12 and under will enjoy the space, but there’s a separate area for those ages 6 and under so that they have a safe place to play away from the bigger kids.

jumpity bumpity tot zone

Photos: Jumpity Bumpity

31169 Mission Blvd.
Hayward Ca
Hours: Mon.–Thurs. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri., Sat. & non-school days, 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: $15 unlimited play Mon.–Fri., $13 for toddlers under 36 inches; $17 weekends & holidays; $15 for toddlers weekends & holidays.
Online: jumpitybumpity.com

wund3rkid parent lounge and art area
Photo: Shari Wargo Stamps

Wund3rKid
Palo Alto parents are raving about the new kid in the neighborhood that opened its doors in January: Wund3rKid. This indoor play space for ages 9 months to 5 years offers different play stations in a bright, open floor plan so that parents can enjoy wifi, coffee, and tea in comfy chairs while still keeping an eye on their littles. The bathroom is ready for both diaper changes and potty training, and the “wet box” ensures that little ones aren’t playing with any toys that were just in another kiddo’s mouth. The artwork area and chalk walk change based on daily theme, and there are often different activities offered. Want your tot to enjoy music time or art? Wund3rKid offers yoga, music, art, and Spanish classes on-site! Locals enjoy the drop-in options at this location, but if you visit often you may want to save a bit of money by purchasing a basic or premium membership which includes unlimited play, free organic snacks, and either free classes or discounts. Looking for a new party spot? They’ve got you covered there, too, and even let you bring your own food.

wund3rkid book nook

Photos: Shari Wargo Stamps

559 College Ave.
Palo Alto, Ca
Hours: Mon.–Sun. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Cost: $25/drop-in ($5 per additional child), $20/class ($10 per additional child)
Online: wund3rkid.com

Coop SF Dance Floor

The Coop SF
Though Bay Area parents have had a blast at The Coop birthday parties since October, this location just officially opened for open play in June. Ages 1.5 to 7 can enjoy a coop-themed ball pit, bouncy toys and imaginative play–inspiring green toys while parents sit back and relax in the modern open floor plan. The Coop SF plans to add a cappuccino machine for parents toward the end of July, but already offers free wifi and magazines. Metered street parking is available Monday through Saturday, and the parking lot on Miller Avenue charges just $1.50 per day. If you’re visiting from out of the city without a car, BART is 2 miles away, and Caltrain just a short .4 miles.

Coop SF Slides and Ball Pit

303 Linden Ave.
South San Francisco, CA
Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., Limited open play on weekends, but available for private parties (call ahead)
Cost: $10/child over age 1 for all day play, parents and caregivers free
Online: thecoopsf.com

Have you been to any of these new indoor play spaces? Which is your favorite?

–Shari Wargo Stamps

Just Opened: LYFE Kitchen Cupertino

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Tired of the weekly food battle with the kids? Cupertino’s newest restaurant may be the secret weapon you’ve been hoping for. LYFE (love your food every day) Kitchen‘s motto “Feed. Your. Self” is all about enhancing the quality of life through food by showing people that “healthy food can be delicious, approachable and affordable.” Everything on the menu is under 600 calories, and under $15. The whole family (yes, even the kids) love it.

LYFE outdoor seating_redtri

Making Healthy Food Good Again
“Gross!” is one word that comes to mind when people think about what’s usually considered a healthy food option, but at LYFE Kitchen taste is one of the most important factors when creating their nutritious new recipes. You’d be amazed by some of the vegan and vegetarian dishes—Even if you’re a happy omnivore. Each dish is prepared fresh, without the use of a microwave or fryer (like the unfried chicken pictured below). And even though LYFE Kitchen uses grass-fed meat and organic produce whenever possible the pricing is great. (The majority of dishes are priced under $10, with a handful of entrees between the $10-15 range.)

LYFE Kitchen Unfried chicken_redtri

Sauces and juices are also made fresh daily in-house. LYFE Waters, which are waters infused with ingredients like fresh fruits and veggies, Chia seeds and agave are available in Cucumber Mint, Hibiscus Beet, Orange Ginger Chia, and Ginger Mint Chia. Tasty smoothies like Kale Banana and Mango Cucumber Lime are also available, or fresh-squeezed juices such as orange juice, classic lemonade, and ginger-pomegranate lemonade.

LYFE Water_redtri

Cupertino became the sixth LYFE Kitchen restaurant in California (there’s one in Palo Alto, too) when it opened late March. Chef Kim, the head chef for all recipes created out of the Memphis-based food company, personally flew out to train the restaurant’s on-location chefs for weeks prior to the doors opening. She shares that this personalized hands-on training is what allows for consistent food quality in all of their restaurants, and being present for the opening allows her to see how customers from different areas respond to the dishes.

LYFE Kitchen yogurt

Keeping Kids Front and Center
Customers are greeted with a hydroponic plant wall full of herbs for kids to learn about and try while waiting in line for the healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner item of their choice. Sometimes restaurants serve a lower quality food in the kids meal offerings, but LYFE Kitchen Little Lyfers meals contain the same high-quality food as the adult menu while maintaining a typical kids meal price point (between $2 and $6). Though everything is made fresh, LYFE Kitchen chefs prepare the food relatively quickly so the kids don’t get too antsy (yay!).

LYFE herbs_redtri

Chef Kim shares that kids are the toughest critics to appease when it comes to food, so it really means a lot that so many kids are excited about the dishes in the restaurant. From cheesy flatbread and unfried chicken to fish tacos and pancakes, each mouthwatering meal item comes with a choice of sweet potato or fruit (with vegan meal options available). Add a chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, Chocolate Budino with pomegranate, Chia seeds and toasted almond or Banana Coconut Budino with Chia seeds, nut crunch and toasted caramel for a healthier dessert to reward a great dinner.

LYFE chocolate chip cookies_redtri

A Friendly Atmosphere
Since food tastes best when shared with friends, there’s a full list of shareables and flatbreads, as well as local craft beer and wine on tap. The overall atmosphere at LYFE Kitchen is very comfortable and welcoming, too. Choose from patio, chair, bar, or soft sofa-like bench seating. Anyone can walk up to the water bar for their choice of glass and water — ambient, sparkling or chilled— and the staff is eager to answer any questions. Picking up for a dinner at home or event? LYFE Kitchen caters, but also allows for phone-in and car-side pickup!

LYFE Kitchen comfy seating_redtriAll photos by Shari Wargo Stamps

LYFE Kitchen

Cupertino
19399 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite #5
Cupertino, CA

Palo Alto
167 North Hamilton Ave.
Palo Alto, CA

Online: lyfekitchen.com

Hours: Monady -Thursday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Have you ever been to a LYFE Kitchen restaurant before? What did you think?

–Shari Wargo Stamps

 

 

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It’s sunny out and the kids are almost out of school—kick off the summer with an educational outdoor adventure put on by one of the Bay’s best wildlife centers. Lindsay Wildlife Experience offers a myriad of programs for families go above and beyond a day at the zoo. Keep reading to see which experience fits your family best (but hurry before they fill up)!

looking out at hills Mt. Dialblo hike_redtri

Photo by Shari Wargo Stamps

Creature Hikes
Face your fears with one of the real in the wild hikes presented by Lindsay Wildlife Experience Volunteers. April boasted a tarantula hike where kids and parents scoured the ground for tarantula burrows and discovered a spider toting eggs. But every Saturday from June 4–July 9 hikers ages 6 and older can embark on a nighttime hike like no other — One with neon scorpions! Volunteers say these bright scorpions cover an entire hillside at Mt. Diablo State Park when they come out at night. This exciting 2-mile hike definitely isn’t for the squeamish, but adventurers big and small will adore the time spent together learning about their natural surroundings from Lindsay’s helpful volunteers.

Spider with eggs_redtri

Photo by Shari Wargo Stamps

Ongoing Classes and Tours
Take advantage of Lindsay’s year-round Preschool Program, where kiddos can partake in 4-week classes like digging for dinosaurs and other adventures, or the Mini Monday Program, with a different theme and activity each week. Homeschoolers ages 6-12 may choose from a variety of different 4-week programs not regularly offered, too! Have a nature-loving teen on your hands? Check out Lindsay’s Young Naturalists Club for ages 11-16, or ways they can become a camp helper. If you’re interested in just popping in to check out Lindsay Wildlife Experience’s regular daily activities there’s still oodles to do! From a behind the scenes at a wildlife hospital presentation to petting time, animal talk and enrichment time to cool “Meet the Ambassador” there are a myriad of ways to learn about and interact with new animals!

volunteer sharing about spiders_redtri

Photo by Shari Wargo Stamps

Special Events
Lindsay Wildlife Experience offers free admission on the third Friday of every month, and also free admission to military personnel and their immediate family members as part of the Blue Star Program from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Birthdays, space rentals, group and troop events are also common at Lindsay. Summer boasts a number of special events such as Member Tuesdays when the Lindsay Wildlife Experience is only open to Members, movie nights, family nights, and special talks.

mt. diablo hikes_redtri

Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Wildlife Experience

Click HERE to check out more details about Lindsay Wildlife Experience Summer activities and register.

Lindsay Wildlife Experience
Exhibit Hours: Wed.–Sun. 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. (Event Hours Vary)
Cost: $8.50/Adults, $7.50/Seniors 65+, $6.50/Ages 2-17, Free for kids under 2, members and on the third Friday of each month
Online: lindsaywildlife.org

How do you teach your kids about the natural world around them?

–Shari Wargo Stamps

 

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Take off your shoes and join the world of re-imagined play—the kind where creativity flourishes and hands-on learning through exploration blossoms into new art forms. After four years of dreaming up an open play space for all ages, Twirl founder Sabrina Cazarez made her dreams a reality in Alameda last year. If you haven’t been to Twirl you’ll want to stop in ASAP.

Twirl cahlk wall _redtri

Creativity Zones
Instead of throwing a bunch of toys in different rooms (or even corners of the room), Twirl takes a much cleaner and inventive approach to playtime for kids under 10 in the play gallery. There’s a super fun main play structure in the center of the room with creative learning spaces surrounding it on each wall and little wall nooks offer a variety of play spaces in the open floor plan. One corner of the room is home to a bookshelf and seating area with some toddler floor toys, while other nooks are painted their own unique color and have a different imagination activity within them — Like a giant piano, LEGO build wall, astronaut ship and costume, hanging chair, restaurant, or shop. The play exhibits (as Twirl calls them) rotate out each quarter so the kiddos will never get bored. Drop-in is just $12 per kiddo (adults are free) and you can stay as long as you’d like during that time seven days a week!

The paint studio offers kids of all ages different art activities at each table, as well as a reusable materials and art supply center for kids to try their hand at anything they comes up with! The fun is fairly limitless at Twirl.

Twirl castle play area_redtri

Ongoing Activities for Kids and Parents
During a normal day of Open Play, Twirl leaders periodically come out to lead Twirl Time, where they sing and dance as a group! Twirl also offers 6-week long after-school art classes for kids in grades TK-Second Grade where Twirl staff help with homework then lead an afternoon art project and offer snacks. Looking for a little time alone? Twirl has some amazing Kids Night Out happenings on Fridays with themes like Earth Day and Space. For just $35 you get to drop the kiddo off at Twirl from 5:30-8 p.m. to create, snack and play — Not bad! Twirl even has you covered from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. over Spring Break and Summer Vacation! Sabrina says they typically have about one counselor to six kids (more depending on the age of the children), and they keep the groups relatively small (awesome!). There are even drop-off weekday Zumba classes available for ages 3-8 and Baby Workshops where Twirl will help you get a fabulous baby handprint or footprint.

Twirl play room_redtri

Community Focused
Sabrina lives in Alameda with her family, so she made sure that Twirl is a hub for community, not just another business. She features local artists throughout the studio, sells local goods in the Twirl shop, offers adult crafting classes, and is also open to collaborating on events like parent meetups . Kids will adore having the back party room all to themselves then letting loose on the play floor and art gallery area for their birthday, too. Twirl offers a variety of birthday party packages and add-ons. Be sure to check out the Twirl calendar for all of the upcoming community events.

Twirl
1424 Park St.
Alameda, CA
Drop-In Hours: Sunday-Monday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (but check their website for early closures due to private parties)
Cost: $12/child
Online: twirlalameda.com

Have you been to Twirl yet? What’s the first thing you’d do when you go?

–Shari Wargo Stamps

Just Opened: Bowl’d BBQ Alameda

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Finding a non-chain restaurant that works as both a date-night spot and family favorite isn’t always easy—especially when some family members are vegetarian and others aren’t. But Alameda’s newest family-run restaurant checks off all the boxes. The modern, sleek aesthetic and approachable Korean cuisine qualifies Bowl’d BBQ as a date-night favorite, and the tasty vegetarian take on Kimchi and other traditional dishes makes it a hit with the whole family.

Photo by Shari Wargo StampsPhoto: Shari Wargo Stamps

A True Family Business
Bowl’d BBQ is the fourth eatery sisters Jessica Oh and Chi Moon have opened in the last 5 years after working with their mom in the restaurant business for more than a decade. Jessica and her husband handle the day-to-day logistics, Chi handles design and training, while their mom cooks signature recipes perfected through decades of cooking experience.

Photo by Shari Wargo Stamps
Photo: Shari Wargo Stamps

Choose Your Own Meal Adventure
With an variety of tables, bar, booth and outdoor seating, anyone can get comfy at Bowl’d BBQ. And the menu offers options for those looking to try adventurous new dishes or simply indulge in familiar favorites. Kids love the Kids Rice Bowl with shredded veggies, toasted seaweed, a side of soup and protein of choice, as well as the slushies! With nine flavors like Kiwi, Peach, Strawberry and Mango it’s easy to see why. Jessica told us that another family fave is Veggie Jhap Chae shared amongst the whole clan. The portions are also perfect for all appetites: One main entree comes with eight side dishes and a soup! Ordering a few appetizers and entrees would be perfect for a family of four (with leftovers). Plus, you can go home knowing the kiddos actually got some veggies in their meal!

Photo by Shari Wargo Stamps
Photo: Shari Wargo Stamps

Korean for Beginners
Jessica says that one of the reasons Bowl’d BBQ is so popular already (it’s been open just a few weeks) is because of the restaurant’s mission: To introduce Korean food to people who may have never tried it before by making it approachable. Because not everyone likes the strong fishy flavor of traditional kimchi, Bowl’d uses a delicious (seriously) vegetarian recipe, and also offers customization with every order so that customers can choose whether an item is vegetarian, gluten-free or has a certain choice of meat. Bowl’d also changed the names of some of the traditional dishes and added pictures to their menu to make customers who are new to Korean food feel at ease. The staff has been trained to go over the menu and answer any questions.

Photo by Shari Wargo Stamps Photo: Shari Wargo Stamps

Dinner and a Show: Bibimbop
When you go, we highly recommend ordering the Bibimbop, which is served up in a hot stone bowl. This meal is a full experience, as the rice dish features 12 different vegetables, plus whichever protein you choose. Then watch your dish cook right at the table—mix it altogether when you are ready to eat! Don’t miss the best part: the crispy rice at the bottom of the hot stone bowl. Owner Jessica says this is her favorite part and it reminds her of her childhood. Another favorite is Bowl’d BBQ’s version of KFC—Korean Fried Chicken. Whether you eat it spicy, soy-glazed or as classic BBQ it’s bound to hit the spot (It’s one of the top-ordered items at Bowl’d right now, followed by Bibimbop and Kimchi Pancakes).

Photo by Shari Wargo StampsBowl’d BBQ Kimchi Pancakes. Photo: Shari Wargo Stamps

Looks as Good as it Tastes
The aesthetic is the final element that sets Bowl’d apart from other Korean restaurants. The modern colorful exterior draws people in, and the light-filled, color-drenched interior makes you want to stay awhile. Sisters Jessica and Chi hired local artist David Kim to create a masterful mural for their side patio wall that ties everything together.

Photo by Shari Wargo Stamps

Photo by Shari Wargo Stamps
Photos: Shari Wargo Stamps

Bowl’d BBQ
2201D S. Shore Center Dr.
Alameda, Ca
Hours: Daily, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Online: bowldbbq.com

Have you been to Bowl’d BBQ? What is your family’s favorite dish? Tell us in the comments below! 

–Shari Wargo Stamps

 

The Best Kids’ Hair Salons for Tiny Tresses

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Don’t try to tie that hair tinsel yourself—take it to the professionals! We’ve combed through lists of Bay Area kids salons to find some top picks (factoring in overall parent experiences and pricing) for basic cuts, tinsels, feathers and more. From over-the-top amazing to simply a great place to get a haircut, this list of salons will have the kiddos shining on their first day of school.

haircutstevendepolo

San Francisco

Prep
Dolling out hip dos and styles for your little urbanite, this is one of the coolest hair salon for kids. With a modern, posh interior and sleek furniture, you’d never guess this Pacific Heights spot houses a hair salon for the 18-and-under set. Prep prides themselves on their unique and fresh hairstyles, as well as their line of Prep hair products with funky names like Get Rich Quick Conditioner to Oh La Light Hair Polish. Book your kiddo’s appointment online at prepcuts.com or give their studio a call. Prep also offers special preschooler hours Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m.–2 p.m., and all day Saturday.

3235 Sacramento St.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: 11 a.m.–7 p.m. T-F and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday
Phone: 415-763-7737
Online: prepcuts.com

prep-cuts-kid

Credit: Melissa H. via Yelp

Kids Cuts
The car-themed chairs are bound to distract your little one while the scissors are doing their job (not to mention the two play areas, video games, and lollipops). One visit here and the kids will be begging to get their hair trimmed again and again. Juts make sure to hit the ATM on the way, as this place is cash only.

85 29th St.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: 10 a.m.–6 p.m. M-F and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday
Phone: 415-643-8582

little_clipper_haircutPhoto: Little Clipper Kids Salon by Thuyvi M. Via Yelp

East Bay

Little Clipper Kids Salon
With cute chair choices like a Hello Kitty, Garfield or frog chair for older kids and a vintage car, taxi or Hummer for toddlers and younger, this salon is equipped for all ages under 15.

36476 Fremont Blvd.
Fremont, Ca
Hours: Wednesday-Friday 1-6:30 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. -4 p.m.
Phone: 510-791-1812

Ms. Karen’s Place
Ms. Karen herself will be the one touching up your child’s hair, and she’s got the gift! Be sure to call ahead to book an appointment, as they don’t accept walk-ins. This is a tiny place but filled with tons of awesome distractions.

3561 Mt. Diablo Ave.
Lafayette, Ca
Hours: By Appointment Only
Phone: 925-283-2855
Online: mskarensplace.com

Kid’s Choice Hair Salon
This mobile hair salon is a hidden gem to some locals. Bridgette comes to your home for a comfortable, attention-detailed hair appointment.

Hours: By Appointment Only
Phone: 510-522-5437

Snippety Crickets
This Berkeley salon and toy store is a parent’s dream! Children can get some time in with Thomas’ train tracks and hang out with Elmo while waiting for a haircut. Coolest part? They sell a variety of toys and gifts, including books, Thomas the Train items and little golf sets for kiddos.

1753 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, Ca
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m M-F, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. every Sunday
Phone: 510-527-3987

Snips Children’s Hair Salon
As their business hours are Thursday through Sunday, working parents may find this spot to be a perfect fit. Brightly colored walls adorned with the ABCs is a nice touch, and it doesn’t hurt to have DVDs available for viewing while sitting in the chair! Kids get to take a lollipop and balloon home after their haircut, too, so everyone leaves happy.

5335 College Ave. #4
Oakland, Ca
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday
Phone: 510-547-7277
Online: snipsforkids.com

Purple Monkey Hair Salon

Photo via Purple Monkey Hair

Marin County

Purple Monkey Hair
Owned and operated by a Marin mom, Purple Monkey Hair is a full service kid salon.  With a bright, cheery space, welcoming staff, plus iPads and toys galore to keep your little ones occupied, it’s easy to see why this spot is popular with Tiburon locals. Book an appointment online or call ahead, and if it’s your little guy or gal’s first haircut, they’ll celebrate the special moment with a certificate and your little one’s lock of hair. Best of all, included with every service is an organic lollipop or a small prize, which will surely bring a smile to your tike’s face!

1550 Tiburon Blvd., Suite N.
Tiburon, CA
Hours: 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday
Phone: 415-789-KIDS
Online: purplemonkeyhair.com

Children’s Hair Club
This family-owned business is headed by “hair guy” Eddie, who will work his magic with squirmy worms. Hair products used on little customers are from Original Sprout and are sulfate-free and super kid-friendly. Baskets of toys and foosball tables will keep everyone occupied. Be sure to ask about the “Baby’s First Haircut” package. It comes with a photo and clip of hair for the memory book.

4176 Redwood Highway
San Rafael, CA
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, By Appointment Only
415-492-1000
Online: childrenshairclub.com

snip-its PA

 Photo Courtesy of Snip-its

South Bay

Kids Salon
Whether your child is a car fanatic or dreams about riding a horse, they’ll love the abundant seating options at Kids Salon. Complete with an attentive staff and TVs at each station, this might be the new salon for your family.

3665 Union Ave.
San Jose, CA
Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. T-F, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday
Phone: 408-559-3000
Online: kids-salon.com

Candyland Cuts for Kids
Take a seat in a classic car and buckle up for the most fun haircut of your young life. This colorful spot features a play area where children can read books, keep busy with train sets, play board games and more. Lollypops are a given, and even mom and dad can get spruced up here while the kids keep themselves entertained.

5890 Santa Teresa Blvd.
San Jose, CA
Hours: 9:30 a.m.– 6 p.m. M-F, 9 a.m.– 6 p.m on Saturday, and 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. on Sunday
Phone: 408-225-9989

Cubby Cuts for Kids
If you’re looking for a patient, calm stylist, this is the place to get your child’s hair done. Parents boast about the efficient and friendly service, kids enjoy choosing from sitting in the official Wiggles car, a John Deer tractor, on a horse and more. The play area complete with a house for tots is also a big hit (and great for siblings or wait times).

1734 W El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA
Hours: Open times vary, call for weekly schedule
Phone: 650-964-5437
Online: cubbycutskidshaircuts.com

Candyland Salon
Credit: Kate H. via Yelp

Chocolate Mousse
Whether your kiddo needs a buzz cut or braids, head to Chocolate Mousse, a charming children’s salon in Los Gatos. With play area, video games, cartoons at each station, and magazines for parents, this is the ideal locale for the whole family.

Insider Tip: Though they sometimes take walk-ins, this salon is by appointment only.

540 N. Santa Cruz Ave.
Los Gatos, CA
Hours: 9 a.m.– 5 p.m. T-F and 9 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. on Saturday
Phone: 408-395-8320
Online: chocolatemoussechildrenssalon.com

Snip-its
This franchised Bay Area location is so fun the kiddos may even forget they’re there for a haircut! Upon check-in, kids receive a Snip-its Adventure Club Card, then meet and interact with Snips and the Gang: Flyer Joe Dryer, Curly Comb, Maranga Mirror, Jean Luc le Spritz, and Marlene & Charlene, the “Clip-ette” sisters in the Snip-its Animated Show. This Snip-its location stays open an extra hour (6-7 p.m.) on the last Tuesday of each month to serve children with Autism (all stylists are trained to provide a comfortable, positive hair cutting experience), and recently added ear piercing to the list of offerings. Visit the Magic Box on your way out, it dispenses a prize in exchange for a swatch of hair after your visit!

Insider Tip: Check out the various themed birthday parties for little girls: Glamour Party, Style-A-Doll Party and Rock Star Party.

855 El Camino Real (in Town and Country Village)
Palo Alto, CA
Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. M-F, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday
Phone: 650-323-8330
Online: snipits.com

Just Kids Cuts & Beauty Market
Photo: Just Kids Cuts & Beauty Market by Cay A. via Yelp

Peninsula

Just Kids Cuts & Beauty Market
Boasting an interplanetary theme, this salon and gift shop is filled with kitschy items that make getting cleaned up super fun! Kids can even watch movies while they get their dos done. Moms will enjoy browsing the scented candles and diffusers.

Insider Tip: Just Kids Cuts & Beauty Market takes walk-in appointments but is known to get busy, so call ahead.

1200 Howard Ave.
Burlingame, Ca
Hours: Mon. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m T-F, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. on Sundays
Phone: 650-548-1490
Online: justkidscuts.com

Gary’s Kids Cuts
Foster City locals rave about Gary’s Kids Cuts (formerly Dylan’s Kids Cuts). Kids enjoy a movie in a car-shaped salon chair while Gary snips away.

Insider Tip: Call before you go (and get an appointment). Only complaint found was that Gary isn’t always available during salon hours.
939M Edgewater Blvd.
Foster City, CA
Hours: 11 a.m.–7 p.m., M–F and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat. & Sun.
Phone: 650-341-2887

Lil Couture Salon
Be sure to ask for Cathy, the owner of the salon, who’s ability to execute amazing cuts on screaming toddlers is known up and down the Peninsula (and even around other parts of the Bay Area). Puzzles, games and cartoons are available for the kids, but there are plenty of up-to-date magazines for moms, too. This salon strives to provide “quality at an affordable price” and offers organic, kid-safe products for customers. Want to add a bit of hair tinsel? They do that too!

16 E. Third Ave.
San Mateo, Ca
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. M & W-F, Tues. from 2-6 p.m., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sat., and 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. on Sunday
Phone: 650-548-4000
Online: lilcouturesalon.com

Where do you go to get your little’s locks trimmed? Share why it rocks in the comments!

—Shari Wargo Stamps & Gabby Cullen

High Octane Adventures For Extreme Families

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If a stroll through the park isn’t action-packed enough for your adventurous brood, it may be time to try out some extreme family fun. From jumping out of a perfectly good airplane to climbing to great new heights, you’ll find a fix for your crew of adrenaline junkies right here.

ifly
Photo Credit: iFly SF Bay

Families With a Need For Speed

From sock races to laps in the pool, some families just like to do things a little faster than others. The Bay Area offers some fun ways to race with friends and family to satisfy your need for speed without compromising safety.

Photo Credit: GoKart Racer
Photo Credit: GoKart Race

GoKart Racer
For the family who loves racing but wants just a bit more, GoKart Racer is the place to visit. Here, you can enjoy snacks from the cafe, pool tables, a lazer maze, arcade games, and choose from one of three racing tracks and sessions for kart racing! Ages 8 and up will have a blast playing the day away at either of the two GoKart Racer locations.

1541 Adrian Rd.
Burlingame, Ca
650-692-7223
Online: gokartracer.com

1430 Enterprise Blvd.
West Sacramento, Ca
916-604-7223
Online: gokartracer.com

K1 Speed Racing
With three fabulously centered locations in the greater Bay Area, K1 Speed Racing is the European style, zero-emission go-kart racing center of your dreams. Go up to 45 mph on tight turns co-designed by pro race car driver Boris Said to fit the standard of real racing. Whether it’s parent’s night out, a birthday party for your little adrenaline junkie or a family outing, K1 Speed Racing has you covered. Choose from a party package or buy races as you go.

2925 Mead Ave.
Santa Clara, Ca
Online: k1speed.com/santa-clara-location.html

S. San Francisco
160 Beacon St.
South San Francisco, Ca
Online: k1speed.com/san-francisco-location.html

K1 Speed Sacramento
3130 Bradshaw Rd.
Sacramento, Ca
Online: k1speed.com/sacramento-location.html

Families Who Can’t Keep Their Feet On the Ground

If “I Believe I can Fly” is your family motto and own personal jam, then some off-the-ground adventures may be more your family’s taste. Try a high-powered freefall with grandma, or watch your 16-year-old fly solo in his own plane!

Photo Credit: iFly SF Bay
Photo Credit: iFly SF Bay

iFly SF Bay
Ages 3 to 103 enjoy the exhilaration of free fall flight within the safety of a 1000 horse power vertical wind tunnel with experienced instructors at iFly SF Bay. Each flight is just 2 minutes, but equal to the free fall of two jumps out of the airplane, so even the pros visit iFly to practice their technique. Families can fly alone or get a group package with pictures and video clips, and schools have the option of teaching science class in-flight!

31310 Alvarado-Niles Rd.
Union City, Ca
510-489-4359
Online: sfbay.iflyworld.com

Oakland Flyers Club
It’s never too early to earn your wings, but you do have to be 16 to go out on your own solo flight. Get the family together for some up close and dazzling flying lessons.

8135 Earhart Rd.
Oakland, Ca
510-568-3317
Online: oaklandflyers.com

California Airways
Whether your family wants to learn how to fly, or just have a pretty cool airplane birthday party, this local hot spot is ready to help you soar.

22693 Hesperian Blvd., Ste. 220
Hayward, Ca
510-887-7686
Online: california-airways.com

Bay Area Glider Rides
Do you know what it feels like to soar through the air using the momentum created from an airplane? Try gliding. Taking a trip to Hollister for an afternoon of gliding (they offer rides and lessons) is a can’t-miss trip (and they have a Groupon right now).

90 Skylane Dr., suite 101
Hollister, Ca
888-467-6276
Online: bayareagliderrides.com

East Bay Hang Gliding
Have you ever wanted to fly like a bird? Now you can. Hang gliding is said to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that hooks you in and makes you feel like a kid again. East Bay Hang Gliding prides itself in teaching educated gliders who use proper technique their entire careers. Choose from a single flight or entire lesson package. Family members ages 5 and up can fly together or alone throughout the East Bay!

Milpitas, Ca
707-373-0964
Online: eastbayhanggliding.com

Families Who Like to Get Their Feet Wet

If hearing the calming sound of water, or feeling the cool rush that comes from brushing with rapids is your idea of adventure, a white water rafting trip or kayak tour may be the right activity for you. San Francisco has several options available for novice and expert water faring families alike.

Photo Credit:  Flickr user Pete Bellis
Photo Credit: Flickr user Pete Bellis

Action Whitewater Adventures
Whether you prefer constant rapids, or the excitement of calm waters with class three rapids, the whole family is guaranteed to have a blast traveling the American River followed by a tasty barbecue with Action Whitewater Adventures.

Lotus, Ca
530-621-1315
Online: actionwhitewater.com

City Kayak
Taking a ride in a kayak is fun on a lake, but it’s even better with magnificent views! Ages 8 and up can Kayak under the Golden Gate Bridge, tour the city from the water, enjoy a twilight trip, or paddle over to Alcatraz and Treasure Island. Want to try out paddle boarding? City Kayak rents the gear and teaches classes for stand up paddle boarding too!

Pier 40
San Francisco, Ca
415-294-1050
Online: citykayak.com

San Francisco Kayak
Join the fun on a small group adventure with a sit-in kayak as you observe the beautiful sea life of San Francisco. If you’re a fan of hiking San Francisco Kayak leads hiking adventures, too — walk among the giant redwoods of Muir Woods or follow a cliff-side trail to Alamere Falls!

350 Townsend
San Francisco, Ca
415-787-2628
Online: sfkayak.com

Adventurous Sports Studio
Ever wondered how you could perfect your surfing technique out of the water? Adventurous Sports Studio has just the set up for you and yours to learn all the techniques you need to know before you head out on open waters. Let the skilled team at Adventurous Sports Studio asses your technique, give you guidance, and then direct you in the real thing! Check out the studio’s snowboard and ski prep center, and kids’ spy camp, too!

650 Florida St., Ste. L
San Francisco, Ca
415-397-7678
Online: adventurous.com

Families Who Reach For the Top

Whether you prefer climbing an indoor wall or the side of Mother Nature, your family can always make time for a good climb with the Bay Area’s selection of climbing structures.

Photo Credit: Mission Cliffs

Photo Credit: Mission Cliffs

Bridges Rock Gym
Similar to Planet Granite, Bridges Rock Gym offers both rock climbing and several other fitness options, camps and after school activities. Birthday parties are a blast here, and climbing without a rope on low walls is a specialty. Ages 5 and up will enjoy learning all about slacking, safety tips, climbing knots, and anchors. It’s a great place for events and family outings, or to spend some time alone and hone in on your skills in a private lesson.

5635 San Diego St.
El Cerrito, Ca
510-525-5635
Online: bridgesrockgym.com/Kids

Touchstone Climbing
Since 1995 Touchstone climbing has been amazing Bay Area residents with their 50-foot high lead wall with 23,000 square feet of climbing area and 2,000 square feet of bouldering (low wall climbing). While Touchstone offers climbing clubs for kids with the opportunity for competitive climbing, they also offer events, birthday parties, yoga classes, top-notch safety, and climbing classes.

Mission Cliffs
2295 Harrison St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-550-0515
Online: touchstoneclimbing.com/mission-cliffs

Dogpatch Boulders
2573 3rd St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-800-8121
Online: touchstoneclimbing.com/dogpatch-boulders

Berkely Ironworks
800 Potter St.
Berkeley, Ca
510-981-9900
Online: touchstoneclimbing.com/ironworks

Great Western Power Co.
520 20th St.
Oakland, Ca
510-452-2022
Online: touchstoneclimbing.com/gwpower-co

Diablo Rock Gym
1220 Diamond Way, Ste. 140
Concord, Ca
925-602-1000
Online: touchstoneclimbing.com/diablorock

Studio Climbing
396 S. First St.
San Jose, Ca
408-998-4000
Online: touchstoneclimbing.com/the-studio

Planet Granite
Ages 8 and up will adore the after school activities, Summer camps and birthday parties available at Planet Granite. If family time is your goal, then Friday Night Climb N’ Dine is a must-try. Have a family member who isn’t quite as into climbing as the rest? Planet Granite is also home to Crossfit and yoga classes.

924 (Old) Mason Street in The Presidio
San Francisco, Ca
415-692-3434
Online: planetgranite.com

100 El Camino Real
Belmont, Ca
650-591-3030
Online: planetgranite.com

815 Stewart Dr.
Sunnyvale, Ca
408-991-9090
Online: planetgranite.com

Families Who Like to Get Dirty

Some kids just love to play in the dirt . . . even after bath time. Make local races benefiting real causes a family affair and your kids will have a blast getting dirty while you have fun acting like a kid again. These events are one of few places where it would be weird if you left without mud or paint covering your clothes. Dive in and have fun!

Photo Credit: Flickr user Chill Will

Photo Credit: Flickr user Chill Will

Muckfest
Muckfest is a family friendly event with post-event reception that benefits the National MS Society. Make it through hilarious (and muddy!) courses while supporting a great cause with the family.

Oct. 10, 2015
Solano County Fairgrounds
900 Fairgrounds Dr.
Vallejo, Ca
Online: main.nationalmssociety.org

Color Vibe 5K
Start the race with plain clothes, run through color clouds then come out covered in vibrant colors! This is a fun 5K for all ages benefiting a different local charity at each stop.

Online: thecolorvibe.com

Mud Factor Kidz
A seriously fun muddy obstacle run just for kids. Parents can have a blast at the main event or just walk alongside their kiddo as they attempt the same obstacles during the kid run! Kiddos get the same swag as adults for their big accomplishment, too.

Granite Regional Park
8181 Cucamonga Ave.
Sacramento, Ca
Online: mudfactor.com/mf-kidz/

Are you part of a high-adventure family? Where do you go to get your family fix of adrenaline? Tell us in the comments below! 

—Shari Stamps

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