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Did you know there are fairies living in secret right here in the Bay Area? We know what you’re thinking: geez, even fairies are moving here now! But these mythical creatures are here to spread enchantment and joy to children and adults alike. They are not here to overbid on real estate and spew app ideas to venture capitalists. In fact, they all live in modest homes and most people don’t even notice they’ve taken up residence right under a tree, curb, or even on buildings. We’ve found some of the best fairy lairs in the Bay Area, so sharpen those eyes and get ready to go on a fairy hunt with the kids!

Fairy FAQ

Before you flutter off, here are some tips to get ready: grab a bag of fairy pearls to leave for the fairies (marbles, rocks, glass beads), a magic wand (because Tinkerbell has one) and dust off the fairy wings (the pair you bought for Halloween but always seem appear on your child for ordinary occasions like grocery shopping and school) and let your imagination lead the way.

And now some rules: If you take a rock from a fairy you must leave a rock. Or better yet, just don’t take anything. Instead, leave a gift. Because fairies love surprises! Some fairies like to receive letters too so don’t be shy about writing a letter to a fairy before you hit the street. Lastly, fairies are real and you are visiting their homes, so please do not move or rearrange their homes. If you do move anything at a fairy’s house, you might make it upset and no one wants a pissed off fairy flying around (especially in 2021)!

SAN FRANCISCO

Fairies Found Living in Logs in San Francisco

In San Francisco’s Glen Canyon Park, there lives banana slugs, coyotes and it’s most unique inhabitant: fairies. With the scenic views of the canyon and the feeling of being in a faraway land—not in the middle of an urban city—two fairies have taken up residence there. One is at Silver Tree Camp, also known as the Glen Ridge Co-op building. The other is on the unofficially named Banana Slug Trail. Both within a two-minute walk from each other, which makes for a delightful kid hike.

Though it’s not in its original glory, the Silver Tree fairy house is not to be missed! Carved into a fallen tree stump by the local artist, author, and poet Tony Powell, kids can stick their hands in the door to see if the fairy have any hidden “pearls” inside. Also, this fairy loves receiving letters. So be sure to write a message to leave at its home. If you’re lucky, the fairy might even respond through its website (yes, this fairy has its own website, this is San Francisco after all). Lastly, Tony Powell is the same artist who installed the fairy door in San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden. He mentioned there are new fairies doors currently being created so keep an eye out when walking the streets of SF.

The Banana Slug Trail fairy house isn’t hard to miss. It sits in a large tree trunk along the main trail to Silver Camp. Created by a local Glen Canyon resident, the fairy house has taken on a life of it’s own with people adding their own decorations and tokens for the fairies.

Fairy Doors in Golden Gate Park

In Golden Gate Park, An A to Z Adventure, the letter "F" is fairy doors. Get some intel from author Marta Lindsey on where to find four fairy doors, two of which are located in the Music Concourse. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CB9LCR5BW7v/?hidecaption=true

Hike the Fairy Gates Trail in Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve

This kid-friendly urban hike is full of fairies and your little ones will love exploring. There's not much of an elevation change and there's plenty of shade so it makes for an ideal hike even on a rare hot day. 

EAST BAY

Alameda Island is Sprinkled in Fairy Dust

Did you know Alameda Island has the largest population of fairies in the entire Bay Area? With hundreds of fairy doors located in nooks and crannies all over the island the kids will be kicking up fairy dust and having a blast hunting for them.

The first miniature immigrants weren’t even fairies but mouse doors. Created by an anonymous artist, Mows510 (pronounced “mouse”) who started the trend back in 2015 when he installed his first mouse doors. Local residents became enamored with the mouse doors and started recruiting other mystical creatures, like fairies, to move to the island too. 

Now, there is even a dedicated Facebook group that monitors where the fairies and mice live. You can even check out this Google map that shows the fairy door locations. The most concentrated cluster of fairy doors is at the corner of Clinton St. and Oak St. in Alameda. The neighbors are really friendly and love to help fairy hunters find doors and direct them to their favorites. 

If the kids really want to see some of the original mouse doors by Mows510, there are a few in the USS Hornet parking lot. Or if you want to get the kids super excited, take them to Tucker’s Ice Cream to find the mouse door there.

Secret Fairy Lair in Livermore

There is a well-hidden community of fairies living at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore. Speckled with fairy doors all over the property, fairy hunters can opt to buy a fairy map that comes with clues or wander around. People are invited to come anytime during business hours and you can stay and have lunch under the trees and there are even public restrooms. The artist, Sue Fordyce, said she was inspired by Pokemon Go to create the fairy adventure. But with a twist: she wanted the focus be about disconnecting from technology and being in nature exploring.

If all this fairy hunting has you inspired to create your own fairy door, check Alden Lane Nursery’s calendar for their next Fairy Fest. This day of fun includes searching for fairies and their lairs in the Enchanted Ancient Oaks.  

The Fairy Houses of Little Point Richmond

To find this too-cute spot, head to the intersection of Washington Avenue and Nicholl Avenue in Point Richmond and stroll up Washington. Eager eyes will find the little fairy houses that are full of the cutest details. Our favorite is the Little Library, which one is yours? You can see more pics and get details on this charming stroll here

Peninsula/South Bay

photo: Kate Loweth

Visit Fairy Glen in San Jose

In the early days of the pandemic, Willow Glen resident Lili Ghazian started building little fairy houses to display in her front yard as a way of spreading cheer. You can read her story here. This darling display can be found at the intersection of Celestine and El Rio in San Jose. The fairies love receiving mail so bring your notes and drawings when you visit! 

photo: Kate Loweth

Sanborn County Park, Saratoga

Want the ultimate way to motivate the kids to set out on a hike? Head to Sanborn County Park in Saratoga and have them look for a fairy house along Lake Ranch Trail. From Highway 9, continue on Sanborn Road just past the county park entrance and park where the road ends. The Lake Ranch Trailhead is here. The trail is a 0.5-mile uphill trek and you'll find the fairy house on the mountain side about 3/4 of the way up. If you continue past the fairy house you'll reach the Lake Ranch Reservoir and a beautiful view! 

photo: Kate Loweth

Quarry Park, San Jose

This park in Saratoga is just past downtown along Highway 9. It's a popular spot for hikers and geocachers, and there's even a fairy that lives along the Saratoga to the Sea Trail. You'll find it between the first and second bridges along the 0.6-mile marked portion of the trail. 

Sonoma County

Healdsburg Plaza

Not only does Healdsburg have a totally cute downtown plaza and our favorite pizza spot PizZando, but the plaza is full of fairy doors that are perfect for a hunt. Print out this clever map and see if you can check them all off! 

 

—Kate Loweth & Tarah Beaven

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Looking for an amazing location for your family photo session? We’ve got you covered with 20 location ideas from iconic San Francisco locations to the most gorgeous nature around. Pick the color-coordinated outfits and check out our favorite places for holiday photos in San Francisco and beyond.

San Francisco

Huntington Park, San Francisco

Why it's Great: A quintessential San Francisco setting in the middle of the hubbub of the city. This quaint little park is surrounded by the historic Huntington Hotel and Grace Cathedral. If you're looking for old-world city vibes, this location is for you. 

Corona Heights Park, San Francisco

Why it's Great: For the more adventurous families, this is perfect spot for you. Corona Heights Park is a unique setting in San Francisco that showcases expanses views of the city for as far as the eye can see. It is a somewhat steep hike to get to the peak of the hill but the payoff is worth it! Pack a backpack with water and snacks and make an adventure out of your family photo session here. 

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco

Why it’s Great: The Palace of Fine Arts is a unique place to snap your holiday photos with it's interesting architecture and rich San Francisco history. Arrive early to avoid the crowds because it's a popular destination to visit and picnic at.  

Baker Beach, San Francisco

Why it’s Great: Baker Beach is the perfect San Francisco iconic backdrop for natives and tourists alike for holiday photos. The Golden Gate Bridge towers in the background surrounded by the ocean and clean sand. Also, there’s a few dirt trails to explore on your walk down to the beach. Bonus, after taking photos you can spend the rest of the day getting your feet wet in the freezing cold water.

Crissy Field, San Francisco

Why it’s Great: Stretches of green grass with a few coves of sand and surf with the Golden Gate Bridge looming in the background make up this oceanfront stretch. The fog rolls in and out of Crissy Fields as much as the tide changes but if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to capture some holiday photos before the bridge disappears in the thick mist.

East Bay

Markham Arboretum, Concord

Why it’s Great: This park offers so much for photos that families are sure to snap the perfect holiday photo. “Minutes from downtown Concord, this centrally located park is a treasure trove of backdrops for a family photo-session. From manicured walkways and rugged trails and fences to a bridge and plenty of shade it’s a photographer’s playground!” said photographer Nicole diGiorgio.

Jewel Lake at Tilden Park, Berkeley

Why it's Great: This spot not only offers lots of lush backgrounds for photos but there's plenty of nearby parking and you can reward nice smiles with a visit to the Little Farm when you are done. 

Borges Ranch, Walnut Creek

Why it’s Great: For nature photos that have a mountain range that goes as far as the eye can see, Borges Ranch is the perfect place for holiday photos. Don't forget to stop by and say hi to the farm animals adjacent to the parking lot. The kids can even walk in their pastures! 

Crow Canyon Gardens, San Ramon

Why it’s Great: Photographer Niki Stefanelli said, “This is a fun little local garden on the border of Danville and San Ramon. I love it because something is always in bloom, and there are lovely little fences, benches and gates set up in the gardens providing perfect photo backdrops. There is also an open field with great trees for climbing at the end of a family session. And, for the more adventurous crowd, there is a path leading down to a stream which runs in the rainy season.”

Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland

Why it's Great: Just off Highway 13 in the Oakland Hills is this lovely park where you can get just the right amount of shade so that you won't have squinting in your photos. It's also super green which is great for holiday color coordination. 

Peninsula

Elizabeth Gamble Garden, Palo Alto

Why it’s Great: The gardens are beautiful all year long and since it's in a compact area, it's perfect for small kiddos who tire easily, as well as for generational sessions with older family members who need to sit down. There is no permit required for this lovely location, but donations are accepted (and encouraged)!

Windy Hill Preserve, Portola Valley

Why it’s Great: With the spaced out trees in a dirt field with leaves that turn from green to yellow, Portola Valley is as close to capturing the autumn vibes as the Bay Area gets. It can get pretty crowded during the holiday season with families seeking the fall colors so sharpen your elbows and get ready to say cheese! 

Holbrook Palmer Park, Atherton

Why it’s Great: It is only a few minutes off of 101 but it feels really secluded. The leaves on the trees are so beautiful at this time of year and make for gorgeous backdrops for family photos. Also, there are so many different areas to shoot in for variety. It can look like you went to several parks in just one location! There is even a playground for the kids.

San Pedro Valley Park, Pacifica

Why it’s Great: If you have a large family with kids on the younger side this is the park for you! Walk the Weiler Ranch Trail for about 5 minutes and you’ll come to a huge clearing with a meadow. The meadow creates a natural boundary enclosure for the kids to run and play making photo taking a snap. There are also fun wood bridges and dirt trails to explore so bring extra clothes to play in afterwards.

South Bay

Stanford University Campus, Stanford

Why it’s Great: If you love leading lines and a throwback to your college days, then photographer Ania Gajda says Stanford is the place for you: “This location offers many different architectural features as well as a little park nearby. It's the best early in the morning before it gets crowded.”

Vasona Park, San Jose

Why it’s Great: The park is huge and is filled with nooks and crannies that are photo worthy. Some highlights include a large red drawbridge that goes over the pond; multiple piers that jet out onto the lake; and lastly, the beautiful nature that fills every single place of this park. Photos are best super early in the morning to beat the crowds. Just beware of the speed walkers and runners passing by so you don’t end up with a file of photo-bombers.

photo: Hakone Estate and Gardens

Hakone Estate and Garden, Saratoga

Why It's Great: This spot in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains will make you feel like you are worlds away. The gardens are gorgeous any time of the year and there are tons of spots for seated photos. Gather over one of the bridges and distract the kids with the koi fish and turtles in the ponds. 

North Bay/Marin

Fort Baker, Sausalito

Why It’s Great: Nestled right on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge is Fort Baker, home to the Bay Area Discovery Museum and Cavallo Point. This hidden gem features some of the best views of the Golden Gate. Venture towards the water and you have an unparalleled view of the bridge and the ocean beyond as well as the Marin headlands. On clear days you can see the city. Plus, there’s free parking and places to picnic. Need we say more?

China Camp State Park, San Rafael

Why It's Great: We love this spot because it offers loads of different backdrops from beachy spots to the eucalyptus grove. Pose the family on one of the old fences that date back to the 1800s when China Camp was a fishing village. 

Olompali State Historic Park, Novato

Why It's Great: If you are looking for an old barn to use as a neutral backdrop, this is the spot. There are lots of paths if you are looking for some walking shots or stone fences for staggered sitting. Check the park hours before you head over. 

Need wardrobe ideas for the kids? Check out this list of our favorite local clothing brands.

—Tarah Beaven & Erin Lem

 

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Have your kids turned feral? You may not think so after a trip to the Oakland Zoo. Herd your wild ones and take them on an adventure for a day of animal sightseeing, experiencing native California wildlife, playing at a new playground and going on carnival rides. Read on for the inside scoop to where over 700 native and exotic animals live.

Map Your Visit

A unique trait of Oakland Zoo is that it’s built into the landscape of the Oakland Hills. The landscape is populated with animals that are native to California and from around the world. Keep your eyes open because you might even stumble upon secret trails throughout the zoo. Because of its size, if your kiddos burn energy fast, be sure to bring a stroller or rent one there (single stroller $7; double $9). Given how vast Oakland Zoo is, grab a map at the zoo entrance and mark all the animals that are must see. The map distinguishes each area so you can maximize what type of animal interests your kids the most. It also has a list of feeding times for the animals—the real animals, not your kiddos.

Pro Tip: There are two entrances to the zoo, Main Entrance and Lower Entrance. Map the animals you want to see and pick the parking lot closest to maximize your walking time. The gift store is at the Main Entrance.

Walk The California Trail

This past summer the Oakland Zoo opened its newest addition: the California Trail. Step onto a gondola and take the free (with paid admission) four-minute ride over an ecological recovery zone that’s filled with native plant habitats for local wildlife, including the endangered Alameda Striped Racer snake.

This birds-eye view will give you a 360 outlook of the Bay Area and on a clear day you can see as far as downtown San Francisco. While riding the gondola be sure to keep an eye out below to see the recently-added American bison. And yes, there are even many baby bison calves to see in the herd too!

The gondola will drop you off at the top of a mountain that has a café, playground, overlook and six (soon to be eight) new native California animals including bald eagles, gray wolves, grizzly bears, American black bears and others.

Walk the “California Trail” to the newly-opened playground and watch your kids go wild! This playground has a stream running through it, a rocky mountain to climb, grassy hills to slide down on mats and a mini zip-line. You’ll want to block out a good amount of time for the kids to run and explore here. And don’t be shocked if you see a black bear climb a tree and hangout on a branch from it’s nearby home.

A Real Safari Adventure

A must experience is a ride on the Safari Train that chugs you to Wild Australia—no passport required. The train loops around the home of wallaroos and emus that freely walk around—and yes, they can even walk right up the train. Wild Australia can only be accessed by train, so be sure to buy tickets at Adventure Landing located near the Main Entrance.

Children’s Zoo

The Children’s Zoo, located near the Lower Entrance, is the prefect area for children to roam, explore and play. This area houses a goat and sheep barn where children can pet and brush the animals. If your child is a reptile lover be sure to stop in at the Reptile and Amphibian House. There’s even a special door only for children to enter through.

Keep your eye out for secret trails and a lily pad hop that your children will love skipping around on. But be careful! One small slip and they’ll fall into a shallow pool of water.

Be Amused

If seeing roaring lions, huge elephants and tiny insects isn’t enough excitement stop by Adventure Landing. You can purchase single tickets ($1.75) or a book of 24 tickets ($24) to ride the Safari Train, carousel, small roller coaster and a handful of carnival rides. Be warned, your thrill seeker child may not want to see the rest of the zoo if you start here first!

Parking & Dining

Because of the zoo’s location, be prepared to shell out $10 for paid parking. Also note that pets are not allowed, they are not even permitted to stay in the car.

There are food kiosks studded all over the zoo with meals and snacks. There are three main cafés located near each entrance and one in the California Trail exhibit.

Pro Tip: The café near the main entrance has a special kid’s meal that comes in a zoo-themed container with animal crackers. Kids go crazy for it. You can see the food options here.

Avoid The Crowds

Get a leg-up on the crowds and plan your visit for a weekday morning. Not only will you avoid the masses but you’ll also have a front seat view to see the animals eating their breakfast.

Admission & Hours

General admission: $24/adult; $20/seniors; $20/children 2-14; children under 2 and adults 76 and over are free
Military discount (with current ID): $18/adult; $15/seniors; $15/children 2-14; children under 2 and adults 76 and over are free
Parking: $10 car parking fee; $15 bus parking fee

Members are free and parking is included in membership!

Hours: Entry 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Gondola 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Adventure Landing Rides 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Contact Yard (in Children’s Zoo) 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; The zoo is closed: Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Oakland Zoo
9777 Golf Links Road
Oakland, CA
(510) 632-9525

Online: oaklandzoo.org

photos and story by Tarah Beaven

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Even if school has already started, our perfect Bay Area weather means that you can keep the summertime vibes going well into the fall. Book an RV rental with Mighway, pick the perfect spot at nearby Lake Camanche and set out on your late summer adventure. Grab the last of your sunscreen and tell the kids to pack their frayed swimsuits because a last-minute camping adventure just got easier.

Camp In Style

If summer has you yawning and the thought of packing all your camping gear has you breaking into a sweat (or maybe you don’t own any camping gear), keep your sanity intact and let Mighway RV rentals do all the work for you. Labeled the “Airbnb of RVs”, you can select your rental and even include extra amenities such as a personal Convenience Kit that includes towels, linens and dinnerware and/or the Kitchen Kit that includes everything you need to cook and clean up afterwards.

To rent an RV for your next camping adventure it’s as easy as booking an Airbnb or hotel room. Simply peruse their rentals listed on the website in the city you’d like to pick-up the rental and use filters to find your dream RV rental.

Want three TVs for indoor and outdoor movie watching—there’s an RV that has that! Want air conditioning—there’s an RV that has that. Maybe you prefer dry camping verses wet camping—there’s an RV option for that, too! A 32-foot RV with walls that pop out allows for lots of room for a family of four to spread out. Mealtime is made easy with a kitchen outfitted with all the amenities used at home including a microwave, stove and an oven. The kids will soon be calling it your “home on wheels.”

PRO Tip: No need to buy and pre-pack your groceries ahead of time. Instead, drive the RV to the nearest grocery store and stock-up there. Easy-peasy.

Help if You Need It

One of the best perks of renting from Mighway is their roadside service. If anything at all happens to the vehicle give them a ring and they’ll help you get back on the road or will ensure the rest of your trip goes smoothly.

Family Fun At Lake Camanche

Lake Camanche is a jump, skip and a hop outside of the Bay Area in San Joaquin Valley—about 30 minutes east of Lodi. Its 7,700 surface acres of water and 54 miles of shoreline will make you feel like you have all the space in the world to dip in the water, fish, play games at camp or rent a boat for water fun.

Lake Boat Rentals

For lake boating, book a boat of your choice and head out to explore. There are many mini islands/sand bars that pop-up all over the lake. Dock the boat and climb around an island or anchor in the water for swimming fun. Don’t forget to boat to the dam so you can see it up close and personal. You may even spot cows lounging near the shoreline cooling off!

A hidden nook to be sure to check out on the lake is to take the boat down the Narrows. The Narrows has a unique scenery of jagged rocks, tall canyons and you might even see huge hawks flying around. Grab a map at the marina and ask for directions before setting off.

Other Water Activities

If you’re more of a kayak or paddle boarder they have those available for rent, too. Make it a day on the lake and pack lunches and beverages. No need to rush, they even have floating port-a-potties on the lake!

Have a boat already? Great! They have docking at both shores for you to take your boat onto the lake.

Campsite and Camp Activities

Each campsite has a fire pit and grill which makes cooking your catch of the day easy. There are many locations you can fish: on the lake or one of the many dedicated fishing ponds, which are non-swimming, around the campsite.

If you forget to pack s’mores essentials, not to worry, the marina store has you covered with everything you’ll need. Lake Camanche knows how to keep the fun going with games available to rent. Everything from tennis rackets and balls to corn hole, you’ll be booking another trip to the lake before even setting off for home.

Another bonus is that the lake personnel are attentive and they drive through the campsite regularly to check on guests or to help with hook-ups. You can even call the front desk to request help with anything at your campsite and they will arrive promptly.

PRO Tip: Pick a campsite near one of the large non-swimming ponds for extra shade. Or if you prefer shore-side camping, there are lots of spaces to choose from for that, too.

Summertime Vibes

In the Bay Area summertime isn’t over until the ghouls scream at Halloween—we still have our Indian summer approaching in September and October after all! So keep the summertime vibes going and enjoy a break from city life and head to the lake for some RV camping adventures.

Mighway
Onlinemighway.com

Lake Camanche
North Shore Address: 2000 Camanche Road, Ione, CA
South Shore Address: 11700 Wade Lane, Valley Springs, CA
Gate Hours: 5 a.m.-11 p.m.
Day Use: 5 a.m. to one hour after sunset
Phone: (866) 763-5121
Email: camping@camancherecreation.com

photos and story by Tarah Beaven

This trip was paid for by Mighway and Lake Camanche/CA Parks Co. but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.

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Kids are miniature hoarders. They cling to every free, gifted and earned toy given to them. Getting your kids to clean their room and declutter can be a source of stress for everyone, which is probably why there’s so much clutter piling up in their rooms right now. Here are a few tips on how to declutter your kids’ room without having to hire a professional negotiator (but hiring a professional home organizer is really helpful), plus some Bay Area businesses that can help with the process.

Declutter without kids (for parents of kids under age 5)

Parents of kids under the age of 5 have it a bit easier when it comes to cleaning up because you can sneak into their rooms like a ninja and box up toys to donate or store without them being none the wiser. And if your kid is a smarty pants, then assure them all you did was “reorganize” (that is telling the truth after all).

  • Sort: Gather and sort toys, crafts and books into piles for donation or to keep. New-condition toys can be saved for holiday and fundraiser drives at your child’s school. Toys that are still in the packaging can be re-gifted (hey, saves you a trip to the store!). Everything that is being kept should be stored in containers that are easy for the child to access.
  • Use symbols: Create labels with symbols to remind your little one where items are stowed. Tack the symbols, such as images of books, toy cars, dolls etc., onto the outside of baskets, bins, jars and even directly onto shelves. Or heck, put those labels on the outside of the dresser too so they can learn where to put their clean clothes.
  • Don’t forget the dresser: Speaking of dressers, ever notice that your child’s dresser drawers look like an explosion of mini socks and undies? Take control and reuse short and smaller product boxes, Apple is a favorite, which are in nice condition and sturdy to sort and organize clothes.
  • Pro Tip: After school drop-off or while dad/mom is out with the kids on the weekend is the best time to tackle this project. When your little hoarder returns home they’ll be excited to explore all the new organizing which is a great time to teach them where items are stored and how to put things away.

Declutter with kids (recommended ages 5-12)

As kids get older it gets easier but also harder to declutter. Gone are the days of sneaking toys out of their room without them even noticing. If every time you step into your child’s room to declutter you get chased out by a toy laser, here’s a few tips to lessen the heartburn:

  • Get philanthropic: Get your kids into the decluttering spirit by choosing a few toys and books they no longer play with to donate to a child in need. Kids inherently love feeling like they’re helping other kids.
  • Let the kids THINK they’re in control: Kids who are reticent to part with their toys may need some help selecting which to donate. Help them by setting out the toys and games you recommend for donation. Then, have them put half in a donate pile and the other half in a keep pile.
  • Creative storage solutions: Using items to organize that are not for their intended purpose is a great way to reuse what you have and gives organizing a unique flair. For example, not sure how to organize and stow long toys that are used regularly? Purchase a long under bed basket to stow swords, lasers, baseball bats and more. Another example is using an old toolbox or wooden crate for art supplies. But before you organize the art supplies, get out a piece of paper and have your child test each marker. The dry markers get tossed. It’s a good lesson to teach the importance of putting caps back on markers.
  • Pro Tip: Tackle this project right after you child has written out a birthday wish list or there’s an upcoming holiday or vacation (Easter candy counts as a gift!) to help incentivize and put the project in perspective. Let them accompany you to a donation center to see their impact first-hand. For kids who are closer to 12 years old who are having a hard time parting with their goods, give them any money made from selling their items or reimburse them for the amount listed on the donation receipts. Money in the pocket to buy new things is a great incentive (and an opportunity to teach about business and finances).

How to stay sane (for all parents)

Hire a professional home organizer. Yes, these companies exist. One local option is Spruced Co. and they are extra cool as they specialize in eco-friendly home organization by using natural textiles, glass and metal storage solutions and are big into reusing what you already own. Here are a couple of tips that will help keep you sane even if you don’t hire a professional:

  • Reuse: Reuse baskets and bins that you already own first to organize the games, books and toys that are being kept. It gives the room a personalized look and saves money. See-through containers are great for storing items that are visually pleasing such as playdough or kinetic sand while woven baskets and wooden crates are better for messy looking toys such as toy cars and stuffed animals.
  • Research: A professional will tell you how to implement creative solutions for storing games and toys in a way your kids can easily replicate on their own. If you’re organizing on your own, spend a few hours on Pinterest and organization blogs to get ideas. Remember, implementing a storage plan your kids can do on their own is key to long-term success for you and them.
  • Make a plan: Once all the currently-owned organizing containers are used, a professional will note what your storage needs are along with exact sizes, styles and what will be stored in them. They’ll even send you links to purchase the additional items. If you do this on your own, stay sane and make these same notes before shopping. Please, don’t walk into a Container Store without a plan. You will never be the same again if you do.

Donation Locations

Read RedTri’s list of where to donate your used toys; below are some favorites:

  • Local Schools: Your child’s school will accept gently used books for the library and new condition toys for fundraisers and toy drives etc. Be sure to call ahead of time to ask what they need and if they’re currently accepting donations.
  • SCRAP (a San Francisco nonprofit): Donate your duplicate marker sets and crayons and all other arts and crafts materials and toys that will be repurposed and made available to teachers, parents, artists and organizations.
  • GoodWill: They take almost everything so if you need a one-stop-shop this place is for you. Don’t forget to snag a donation receipt to file with your taxes!

Resale Locations

  • Green Apple Books: They will buy your good-condition children’s books. It’s also a great bookstore to shop for yourself and children. Win-win.
  • Monkei Miles: They will purchase your like-new children’s clothing and shoes for cash.
  • Chloes Closet: They will consign your children’s clothing, shoes and toys. Then they will donate anything they don’t sell on your behalf.
  • Nextdoor and Craigslist: These apps are great if you want sell or give away your items in the comfort of your own home. Just post photos and descriptions of the items you’re selling or giving away for free and wait for the takers to contact you.

Now, go set a timer for two hours and tackle one room and start the decluttering process!

Do you have any tips on how you declutter with your little ones? Share them below!

—Tarah Beaven

All images by Tarah Photography

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Us parents probably have vivid childhood memories of watching our favorite NBA idols like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant and many more. However, it’s likely you never got to see your favorites play ball live and in person. Well, parents, that all changes now. Here’s your chance to live vicariously through your children to see your—ahem, their—favorite NBA players hoop it up right here in the Bay Area.

1. It’s the Warriors second to last season at Oracle Arena: Yes, it’s true, the Warriors will soon move to the Chase Center in San Francisco. Hurry up and grab seats to a game at what will be long remembered as the “Roaracle.” And what better way to say farewell than to unleash your kids’ Warriors pride on the east side of the Bay? The stadium has 19,596 seats ranging in price from $75 per seat and up depending on the seat location and game. To see the reigning NBA champions and two-time MVP Stephan Curry PLUS last year’s NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant and Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green play (wow, that was a mouthful!) the money spent for the kiddos to see their basketball idols will go down as one of their favorite childhood memories and bragging rights for a lifetime.

You won’t want to miss a minute of the game or even the pre-game entertainment. Make sure you’re in your seats 10 minutes before tip-off starts to sing the national anthem—which is nothing like your child’s grade school anthem. With pyrotechnics spewing fire and mini fireworks bursting overhead, your child will be mesmerized. And that’s just the beginning. Get ready to turn off the lights and watch a video of the team getting pumped up for the game. At this point, you’ll likely be throwing fist pumps in the air and your child will be standing on their seat screaming like a maniac. Good! That means you’re ready to rumble!

If you sit in the lower bowl behind the baskets, you might get thunder sticks to bang together in the hopes of distracting the opposing team at the free throw line during the second half. The kids can bring the thunder sticks home to play with—or annoy their parents with. Either way, the thunder sticks are sure to be coming home with you.

Pro tip: The north side most often gets the thunder sticks; although the visiting team ultimately gets to choose which basket they shoot at.

2. Food for even the pickiest of eaters: Kids can have their fill of extra crispy fries and hot dogs. Parents, head to sections 106, 124, 215 and 231 to choose healthier fair such as salads and fruit from the Kaiser Healthy Picks carts.

If the kiddos have a sweet tooth hankering, swing by the Sweet Tooth Corner at sections 120 and 232 or wait at your seats for the hawkers to walk by with churros, cotton candy and lemonade.

3. There’s entertainment in and out of your seats: If your child is having difficulty staying in their seat with all that sugar running through their veins, stretch your legs and walk to the EA Sports NBA Live 18 Gaming Lounge in section 231. There you will find multiple video game consoles and a huge touch screen that you can play card games on.

At halftime, forget haggling with the crowds to grab a second hot dog. Instead, hang out and watch the halftime show. Your kids can pace the aisle while watching the performers of the night. This is also a good time to snap a selfie closer to the court with your little sports fan. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll see a dancer wandering by that you can take a photo with, too!

4. Swag as far as the eye can see: Stock up on your favorite Warriors gear at the Team Store located by the main entrance to the arena near Will Call. From onesies to youth sizes, your kids will surely find their favorite player’s jersey and more. Also, the New Era Cap corner in section 119 is a must-visit if your kid has a love affair with flat bills and snapbacks.

5. Slang for the pros: If you need cliff notes on Warriors slang so you can look cool in front of your sidekick, here’s a list of the most popular Warrior-isms:

  • Dub Nation: “Dub” is the truncated pronunciation for the “W” in Warriors and “Dub Nation” is how Warriors fans refer to themselves as a whole.
  • Splash Brothers: refers to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson because their shots are all net.
  • Steph gonna Steph: means that Stephan Curry does what he does best on the court.

Getting There
Parking in the arena lot is $40 at the gate or $35 when you purchase online in advance. Better yet, beat the crowds and arrive via Bart. Get off at the Coliseum stop and it’s a seven-minute walk to the arena.

To purchase tickets visit: warriors.com

Which Golden State Warriors player are you most excited to see play? Let us know in the comments!

photos and story by Tarah Beaven

Museum Events Around the Bay for the Entire Family

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Have you ever noticed that after a visit to the museum your kids look smarter, more enriched and their imaginations are brimming with ideas? Keep that feeling going and check out these special events offered by museums from around the Bay Area. From sleeping with penguins (seriously!) to events dedicated to showcasing different cultures, there will be something for the littlest in your family to the oldest child. And we promise parents are in for a treat, too. Read on to learn more.

photo credit: Megan Kalkstein

San Francisco

Children’s Creativity Museum
This interactive multimedia arts and technology museum is perfect for your little engineer or fledging artist. Every Thursday 2-6 year-olds do hands-on explorations in science, art, crafting and storytelling. Insider tip: dress in clothes that you don’t mind getting a little messy. Creativity is clean – said no one ever. Read more about what the Children’s Creativity Museum offers.

Visit Children’s Creativity Museum:
Early Explorers happens every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
221 4th St.
San Francisco, CA
Cost: $12.95 for ages 2 and older (please note there is an additional fee for the Blue Bear School of Music).
Online: www.creativity.org

photo: Tarah Photography

Academy of Sciences
Have you dreamed of sleeping with penguins or have you thought that the Academy of Sciences would be spooky late at night? You’re in luck! The Academy of Sciences hosts special events year round. And yes, one of those events is the popular Penguins + Pajamas Sleepovers. Dates and details listed the website – this is an experience the entire family will be talking about for years to come.

Ready to get spooked? On October 28th Academy of Sciences is hosting a Werewolf, Vampire, and Mummy Party from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. with general admission from 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. These are just two of the handful of special events the Academy hosts. So check the Academy of Sciences’ calendar and plan your next visit. Insider tip: buy tickets in advance as tickets sell out regularly.

Visit Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94118
Online: www.calacademy.org

photo: Academy Of Sciences

Randall Museum
Keep your children’s minds exploring on the weekends with Randall Museum’s Saturday Science and the Afternoon Art workshops. The drop-in and hand-on workshops, kids will explore concepts through simple investigations and crafting. If you’re looking for weekday events, you’re in luck! Randall Museum also hosts their Active Art workshop for infants and toddlers on Fridays; and the Tiny Artist Studio on Tuesday for children 2-5 years old. Be sure to check the Randall Museum calendar for updates on new future events too. Read all the details about Randall Museum and what it offers. Insider tip: Arrive early as classes fill up quickly.

Visit Randall Museum at their temporary location:
745 Treat Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Cost: $5 for an adult/child combo and $3 for each additional person
Online: www.randallmuseum.org

photo: Randall Museum

Exploratorium
The Exploratorium likely tops your list of places to visit with the kids, but did you know the Exploratorium has a special event for kids ages 7 and older? Spend an evening at the Exploratorium after it has closed it doors to the public on select Fridays and Saturdays for the Tactile Dome experience. If you’re afraid of the dark or claustrophobic, this event is not for you (there are other restrictions so please see the website before purchasing tickets). The lights turn off in the Tactile Dome requiring you to use only your sense of touch to crawl, slide and bump your way through the maze. Surly it’ll be a kid favorite. Insider tip: Even though it’s dark, wear clothes that you can climb easily around. No full moons in the Tactile Dome please!

Visit the Exploratorium
Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green St.)
San Francisco, CA 94111
Cost: In addition to the cost of admission, Tactile Dome visits are $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers for one-hour daytime excursions and on select Friday and Saturday evenings
Online: www.exploratorium.edu

Museum of Craft and Design
A hidden gem in the heart of the Dogpatch District in San Francisco, the Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) offers regular art and craft workshops during the year. Get ready to make Tessellated Tile Placemats, Sorcerer School Supplies and deck out your Halloween costume with MCD’s spooky Hats and Headwear workshop. Check MCD’s calendar for upcoming events that take place year round. Please note, not all events are hosted onsite, so be sure to check their calendar that has all the details. Insider tip: These art workshops are next level cute so be ready to pull your phone out to snap some pictures of the work table and the finished product.

Visit the Museum of Craft and Design
2569 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Cost: Prices range from free to $5; please check each event for details
Online: www.sfmcd.org

Museum Events Around the Bay

Cantor Arts Center
With endless opportunities for your budding artist to try new mediums and learn new techniques, there’s something for everyone here. An artist favorite is Second Sundays, a drop-in painting class that encourages exploration of color. Cantor Arts Center also offers a monthly drop-in studio that is perfect for introducing your little one to new art mediums and letting them try it out. You never know, they might just find their calling. Need a little inspiration? No problem! Take a stroll through the museum that features 24 galleries and sculpture gardens. Draw outside the lines and learn more about the Cantor Arts Center for your next visit. Insider tip: even though aprons are offered for children to wear while painting, dress them in their best painting clothes.

Visit the Cantor Arts Center:
Second Sundays at The Cantor Arts Center happen on the second Sunday of each month, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

328 Lomita Dr.
Stanford, Ca
Cost: Free
Online: www.museum.stanford.edu

photo: Meghan Kalkstein 

Habitot Children’s Museum
Perfect for infants and toddlers, Habitot Children’s Museum in Berkeley offers special events every month typically tied to a major holiday such as Halloween in October or Let’s Go Vote Day in November. If you’re looking for weekly events, Habitot recently brought back its popular Storytime on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. Also, the family can join the fun every weekend at the Family STEM Saturdays with hours of kinetic sand play. With so many special events every month, this is sure to be a family favorite spot. Check Habitot’s calendar for their monthly special events. Insider tip: Habitot also offers date nights for parents. Drop the kids off and take a few hours to yourselves.

Visit Habitot Children’s Museum
2065 Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA
Cost: $12 Adults and Children; Free for infants under 12 months
Online: www.habitot.org

photo: Habitot Children’s Museum

Children’s Discovery Museum
Celebrate your own culture or introduce your child to a new culture with Children’s Discovery Museum’s special events. Events include El Dia de Los Tres Reyes Magos a celebration of Latino culture, Lunar New Year a celebration of Chinese and Vietnamese culture, Children of the Dragon Weekend a celebration of Vietnamese culture and Diwali a celebration of Indian culture. CDM also hosts special events to stimulate children’s thinking, imaginations and more. Check CDM’s calendar for upcoming events. Lastly, with 150 exhibits to explore, get the full scoop about the Children’s Discovery Museum. Insider tip: Get in the spirit of things and dress your kids in the traditional clothing of the event.

Visit Children’s Discovery Museum
180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
Cost: $15 Adults and Children; Free for children under 1 years old
Online: www.cdm.org

photo: Scott Wardell

What museum event will you attend first? Let us know in the comments!

—Tarah Beaven

One Final Vacation! Last-Minute Local Getaways

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Summer is slipping away and weekdays spent with your toes in the sand or splashing in the pool are numbered. May we suggest squeezing one more adventure before the school bell rings again? RedTri has put together a list of the best nearby places for an instant, easy vacation before summer is over. Leave your passports at home and pack light for a day or overnight trip—there’s something for the entire family—no plane tickets required. Soak in the last days of summer at one of these local spots.

1. Spend the day getting carried away down the Russian River. Grab your favorite floatation device, kayak or inner tube, and life vests for the kiddos and hit the smooth water. For a 3-4 hour floating adventure, start at Steelhead Beach and float to Mother’s Beach. Most of the river will be shallow but be aware of afternoon winds so start the journey early and float the day away. Get the full scoop on the Russian River and don’t forget to arrive early and stay late.

 Photo Credit: Russian River Recreation & Parks

2. With three outdoor pools, a whirlpool AND a children’s activity pool with water features you’re sure to beat the heat in style with a swim day at the Claremont Hotel. But wait, there’s more! They also provide complimentary lounge chairs and umbrellas so you can soak in the sun and stunning views of San Francisco. There’s one caveat however, you need to be either a hotel guest OR you can become a Club member to gain access to the pool facility. With yoga, tennis, swimming, childcare and more – as a Club member the Claremont Hotel will become your daily summer staycation.

Photo Credit: Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel

3. Pack the car and make the short drive down the peninsula for a day of sun, novelty food, rides and games at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. With rides for all ages, each kid and adult in your family will have something fun to do. Purchase the all-day rides wristband to save money and let your kids have unlimited fun. Or if you think you’ll be heading to the Boardwalk more than twice this summer buy the season pass for additional savings! Get more tips to really make the most out of your day at the Boardwalk.

Photo Credit: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

4. Escape the cool San Francisco summer weather and head to Lake Tahoe for some sun fun. Hiking, biking, or good ol’ fashion water play, Tahoe is the perfect kid-friendly staycation destination. Check out one of the many sandy or pebble beaches, or rent a kayak to see the “hidden” coves on the east shore. Get more planning tips on where to stay and dine and what to do for a perfect summer staycation.

Photo Credit: Tarah Photography

5. San Francisco may be urban, but did you know you can go off the grid with an overnight camping trip in the Presidio at Rob Hill? If packing for a camping trip so close to home sounds overwhelming don’t fret. RedTri has you covered! Check out these tips from renting gear to having food delivered right to your tent door.

Photo Credit: Erin Feher 

6. Want to hit the beach but escape the cold coast of San Francisco? Look no further than across the bay to Crown Memorial State Beach. With 2.5 miles of sandy beaches and warm water you’ll be transported to southern California without the flight or 8-hour drive. The beach is perfect for the littlest of kids too with the shallow water and calm tides near the shore. Be sure to pack a picnic and claim a bench on the grassy area nearby for a lunchtime break. Also, Crown Memorial State Beach is known for sand castle creating so be sure to pack the sand toys and get those creative juices flowing. After a day of beach sunning and sand art, you’ll feel like you’re on an island in the middle of the Pacific.

Photo Credit: Gary Graham Photography

How will you be spending the last days of summer? Let us know in the comments!

 

–Tarah Beaven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Individualize your children’s wardrobe with local designer clothing that will make them standout regardless if they’re riding Muni or cruising Dolores Park. From nostalgic throwback inspired clothing to modern lines and designs, your mini-fashionistas will surely find a style that fits their personalities. RedTri has curated a short list of some of the hippest and coolest kid clothing from Bay Area designers that you’re sure to fall shirt-over-pants for. Click through the photos to check them out:

Couture Dresses for Fashionistas: Alivia Simone

If your precious daughter has a flair for dresses and the nearby big box store just isn’t cutting it, Alivia Simone is for you. Bright and fresh dresses for the edgy girl and subtle and soft dresses for your romantic girl – there’s something sure to fit every style. <strong>Online:</strong> <a target="_blank" href="https://aliviasimone.com/">aliviasimone.com</a&gt; &nbsp;fuck

Do you have a favorite local kids’ clothing brand that you love? Tell us in the comments below! 

—Sonia Gandiaga, Erin Feher and Tarah Beaven

All images courtesy of the companies

10 Things to Do Before Summer Is Over

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Is it your imagination or are the days getting shorter? And why the heck are the big box stores stocking back-to-school backpacks and lunch boxes on the shelves already? It’s because summer is indeed starting to wind down. But before you say bon voyage to wet swimsuits and sand in the bed sheets check out these 10 things you must do before summer is over:

1. Be sure to take advantage of the warm evenings and late bedtime curfew by watching an outdoor movie under the stars. Grab blankets, popcorn and your kids to enjoy the last remaining warm, late summer nights.

Photo credit: Redwood City

2. Soak in every last drop of summer with a camping trip on the beach. Bring a tent or glam it up in an RV. Either way the kids will love hearing the ocean waves and feeling sand in their toes right from their beach homes.

Photo courtesy of Jenny B. via Yelp

3. Nothing screams “It’s SUMMER” like spending the day at the County Fair with your favorite little humans. Get your fill of novelty food, fun rides and exhibits for the entire family before summer is over.

Photo credit: Monterey County Fair

4. We all know that the beaches in the Bay Area are notorious for being frigid. So don’t miss this one time of year when you can strip down and take a dip at one of these kid-friendly beaches.

Photo: Erin Feher

5. Don’t let a grumbling belly get in the way of your summertime fun. Instead, dine “sunny side up” and soak in the remaining rays (and days) of summertime at an al fresco eatery.

Photo by Sonia Gandiaga

6. Speaking of grumbling bellies, throw caution to the wind and spend a day (or more) checking out the best ice cream shops in the Bay Area with the kids. Happy bellies + happy kids = happy life.

Photo: courtesy of Smitten

7. Get the kids moving and jigging under the sun at a summer concert. Leave your worries behind of upcoming

Photo: Kidchella via Redwood City Events

8. Cool off from the hot temperatures at a local Splash pad where kids and adults can enjoy the summertime vibes before it’s over.

Photo: Shari Wargo Stamps

9. Get your littles excited for the August solar eclipse and do some stargazing at a museum or planetarium to quench their curiosity of atmospheric happenings.

Photo: Shari Wargo Stamps

10. Do you want a change of pace before the hubbub of school starts again? Summertime is your chance to unplug and make memories with the family. And what better way than staying the night at a local farm where the kids can feed the livestock and go on adventures right from your front “barn” door.

Photo by Kate Loweth

How many summer activities have you checked off your list? Let us know in the comments!

–Tarah Beaven