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100 things to do around San Francisco and the Bay Area that showcases the beauty, originality and downright fun that makes our city a great place to not just visit, but also live

We’ve revamped our epic list of 100 best Bay Area activities the whole family will love, and bonus? You’ll definitely discover somewhere and something new that you and the family can explore, even for those in-the-know locals. Whether you’re looking for stroller-friendly hikes to try around the Bay Area, must-go museums in SF that delivery epic and learning, or family-friendly dining with a twist (we are a foodie destination after all), we’ve got something for you. Pro Tip: Bookmark this page for easy access for things to do during unexpected days off, summer and winter vacations and for when the grandparents come to town to visit

1. Play tourist for a day and explore PIER 39 including riding the carousel which is hand painted with famous San Francisco landmarks. Don’t forget to visit the sea lions and grab some edible raw cookie dough from DOUGHP! Also check out The Flyer, an epic virtual flight that takes you on a tour of San Francisco.

2. All aboard! Ride the rails through the redwoods on a real steam train in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Roaring Camp. This is a fun trip anytime, but is especially exciting during the days of the year when Thomas the Tank turns up.

3. Keep it simple with a day at one of San Francisco’s innovative playgrounds, like Hilltop Park in Bayview. Bigger kids will love the thrilling concrete slides (bring cardboard for extra speed), while little ones will enjoy the tree-shaped merry-go-round.

4. No matter the season, it’s always ice cream weather in the Bay Area. Whether you love the high-tech creamy creations from Smitten or prefer a traditional experience at Fenton’s (the ice cream parlor featured in Pixar’s Up), there’s always room for a frozen treat.

5. Get your STEM fix at these museums where science is all around you like our fave, The Exploratorium. Channel that kid energy into creating art, making mega bubbles or even creating a mini-tornado by running around.

6. There’s more to Monterey than just the aquarium. Take a road trip south and visit the Pacific Grove, where you can see Monarch butterflies in their winter home, or stroll around the storybook cottages of charming Carmel.

7. Do you detect a chill in the air? Then grab your camera and take the fam to these gorgeous Bay Area spots where you can see fall foliage in all their glory.

8. Level up family game night with a trip to a family-friendly arcade bar! One of our favorites? The Detour in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood on Sat. afternoons when the bar opens its doors to kids of all ages.

9. Did you know your library card can get you free entry to 200 state parks across California? Visit your local library and check out an entry ticket to outdoor fun all year long. 

10. If your little ones love petting zoos, they’ll go wild for a nearby farm stay. Here you can hit the hay (literally and figuratively) at these local farms where you can also spend time with goats, alpacas and even giraffes for a memorable mini break.

11. Spend some time on the islands—Alcatraz and Angel Island, that is. A quick ferry ride will get you there and you can learn all about the history of these amazing spots in San Francisco Bay. Be sure to book Alcatraz way in advance though—it’s one of the most popular things to do in San Francisco and weekends often sell out.

12. Cross the majestic Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands, where you can have a blast exploring Kirby Cove and stunning Sausalito. Plan to stop by Lappert’s Ice Cream for a taste of Hawaii in the Bay.

13. San Francisco might be all about that sourdough, but there’s plenty of neighborhood bakeries for those with a sweet tooth. Grab a giant donut (like, bigger than your head giant) in classic flavors from Bob’s Donuts or another one from our list of favorite donut spots around the Bay Area.

14. Don’t let the weather get you down. We love indoor play spaces when it rains, especially Peekaboo Factory in San Francisco’s Richmond district. This amazing multi-level indoor playground is suited to kids from babies to 12-year-olds—and offers date-night drop offs!

15. Go visit the whimsical sculptures at Cayuga Park. This is one of our favorite hidden gems in SF that only locals know about.

16. You don’t need to splurge on expensive gear to take the kids camping. Book a weekend at one of these glamping spots that offer campfires without having to pitch your own tent. We especially love Wildhaven Sonoma, which has comfortable tents available right on the Russian River.

17. The best things in life are free—especially these cool and quirky local museums! Learn about the space race at The Space Station Museum in Novato, cable cars at the Cable Car Museum in San Francisco, or even play vintage coin-operated arcade games when you visit San Francisco’s Musee Mechanique.

18. Speaking of free, there are loads of free things to do, right in Golden Gate Park. Home to the first public playground in the country, Koret Children’s Quarter still provides plenty of fun with slides, play structures and an ocean-inspired climbing wall. While you’re there, search out the secret waterfall, spot ducks on the lake and check out the authentic Dutch windmill.

19. Make your way to wine country with the kids for a family adventure the whole family can enjoy. These wineries are all set up to welcome everyone, tots included. Early fall is the best time to visit, when many wineries host family-friendly events like grape stomping.

20. We’re always excited to find a restaurant offering more than chicken tenders on the kids menu. The mini bento boxes from Oh Baby Sushi in Redwood City, and the kid-size curry and rice burritos from Kasa Indian Eatery in San Francisco are easy ways to introduce your kids to new flavors.

21. Muir Woods isn’t the only grove of old-growth redwoods in the Bay Area (although it’s also a must-do). Take the little ones for a hike in the tall trees at one of these Bay Area parks.

22. Meet some animals up close and personal at these 22 wildlife centers across the Bay Area. Animal adventures also await at San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences (check out the amazing albino crocodile!), or learn about farming life at Tilden Park Environmental Education Center.

23. Sleep in the trees! This San Jose treehouse has views of the Bay Area—you will not be disappointed.

24. Swimming’s not just for summer! Grab your goggles and dive into one of these indoor pools that are open year round. We love Silliman Center in Newark for its lazy river and water slides, or the Great Wolf Lodge in Manteca if you want a weekend of splashing.

25. Take a San Francisco Big Bus Tour and get to know the city better. Our guide includes the best stops for young kids, including fun playgrounds, museums and, most importantly, where to get the best coffee.

26. Cast your fishing line at these local lakes and piers where dinner is waiting. If you’re a newbie, the Golden Gate Park Anglers Club offers lessons once a month to anyone who wants to get started.

27. Kids love dim sum and who can blame them? These hot spots are where dumplings are king. YUM.

28. Where’s the only place you can visit an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum, all under one “living” roof? Our California Academy of Sciences guide is all you need to make the most of your visit.

29. Plan the best picnic and explore all that the Presidio has to offer (think abandoned batteries, in-city camping and the Lucasfilm Headquarters). 

30. Take some time to smell the roses at these worthwhile botanical gardens. We love Bean Sprouts Family Days at San Francisco Botanical Gardens, where kids can get stuck into gardening activities and bug hunting.

31. Help your children become Junior Park Rangers at a nearby national park like Muir Woods National Monument, Alcatraz Island or at Point Reyes National Seashore. These fun and educational programs get kids learning about nature, with a badge as a reward.

32. Visit Japan without getting on a plane. You can get all the ramen, taiyaki and Sanrio you want in San Francisco’s Japantown. Plus an ice cream in a waffle cone shaped like a fish!

33. Spend the afternoon exploring these bike paths and bike parks that are perfect for the tiny two-wheelers. There are plenty of safe, car-free bike paths across the Bay Area—Shoreline at Mountain View is especially popular with families.

34. Ding ding! Hop on a cable car and explore San Francisco’s neighborhoods with our guide to exploring Main St. Our top tip: hop off the Powell Mason line at Columbus Ave. and grab a slice at Golden Boy Pizza.

35. Learn how to meet the lemurs and other animals with our insider’s guide to the San Francisco Zoo—especially great on hot days, as it’s always comfortably cool at this ocean side location.

36. Make your next meal out a memorable one (in a good way!) at a themed restaurant where there’s more than just burgers and fries. Embrace the retro-kitsch vibes at the Fairmont’s Tonga Room where you can sip cocktails (mocktails for the kids) around a lagoon while listening to a live band for a tropical staycation.

37. Every kid deserves a spot where they feel welcomed. These playgrounds and play spaces offer resources for special needs kids so that they can join in the fun with their peers.

38. Kids, the dinner is on you! Let the kitchen pros teach them the ropes at these local cooking classes. Make your own single-origin dark chocolate from scratch at San Francisco’s Dandelion, or make farm-to-table pizza at Hidden Villa in the Los Altos Hills—all great ways to teach kids about where their food comes from.

39. Elevate your camping experience: these 35 glamping spots near San Francisco are a must-know for locals.

40. Head to Corona Heights and check out the must-visit Randall Museum. With a model railroad, toddler playground, art studio and LEGO building, it’s fun for kids of all ages. Bonus, admission is always free!

41. Visit the shore at low tide and explore the sea urchins, sea stars and crabs that live in coastal tide pools near San Francisco

42. Visit CuriOdyssey for its interactive museum and zoo, climb the dragon-themed playground at Coyote Point and enjoy the uniquely-delicious waffles at Eggettes when you visit kid-friendly San Mateo.

43. These spots are perfect for your next mom getaway to recharge your batteries—whether you want a wellness retreat or a wine-tasting weekend—you deserve a break.

44. Did you know you can explore SF’s local waterways on a kayak? There are guided tours and self-guided adventures available and dventurous kids as young as three can head out on the water at Elkhorn Slough, the wildlife haven near Monterey.

45. Looking to gift memories instead of more stuff? Here are our recs for experience gifts for Bay Area kids. Included are gifts for adventurous kids who want to try climbing or skydiving (indoors!), tech aficionados, animal lovers, and more.

46. Seek out all of the secret fairy houses hidden across the Bay Area

47. We absolute love our San Francisco Bay Area independent toy stores! Stop by one of these beloved small businesses like Wooden Horse in Los Gatos, where assistants will not only help you find the perfect gift, they’ll wrap it for you too.

48. Plan a trip to Santa Rosa and book a night at Safari West, an animal park where you can stay overnight in safari tents for a wild weekend away.

49. Head to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco for a history lesson on the water. Here you can visit a World War II ship and submarine, plus take a ranger-led tour aboard a 1907 steam tug for an educational day out.

50. Bring Fido along when you dine out at one of our favorite dog-friendly eateries. Good to Know: Not only will 7 Mile House in Brisbane welcome your furry friend, the historic eatery offers a dog-only menu and a “yappy hour” where they can score a free peanut butter biscuit.

51. The Children’s Creativity Museum located in SOMA is ideal for kids ages 2-12. With a mission to nurture creativity and collaboration, the highly interactive exhibits encourage kids to make music, animate, innovate, build and learn in order to develop creative confidence. Of course the LeRoy King Carousel is a must stop for everyone in the family.

52. Hit the trails for a family adventure at these hiking spots that are good for the littlest hikers. From ranches to redwoods, we’ve rounded up all our favorite stroller-friendly trails to get your family outdoors.

53. Get your little guppies in the water to learn how to swim at these favorite swim lesson spots

54. Take your kids to a playground they can build themselves! Shorebird Park Nature Center & Adventure Playground in Berkeley is built by and for kids. This unique space is best suited for six years and older. Check out this plus all these other awesome parks in the east bay.

55. Settle in with a good book at one of our favorite independent bookstores in the Bay Area. We love the children’s bookshop Linden Tree in Los Altos, especially on author visit days, when kids can meet their favorite writers.

56. LEGO lovers unite! No need to drive all the way to LEGOLAND in San Diego now that we have a LEGOLAND Discovery Center right here in the Bay Area in the Great Mall, Milpitas. 

57. San Francisco’s first bike park, McLaren Park, is pretty epic. With beginner, intermediate and advanced bike tracks, it’s perfect for families who want to learn BMX or mountain biking.

58. Meet baby animals at these local Bay Area farms that offer tours. Spring is the best time for a farmyard field trip, where kids can learn about where their food comes from. Hidden Villa offers a ton of great classes for everyone, including the opportunity to milk a cow!

59. When the temperature soars, grab your swim gear and enjoy some outdoor water fun at a local favorite Bay Area beach. Cull Canyon in the East Bay is one of our favorites for young kids, with plenty of shade, a shallow gradient and lifeguards in summer.

60. In the summer it’s u-pick berry season and then, in the fall, u-pick apples are on the menu. Create a new family tradition and go fruit picking at Gizdich Ranch and pick up one of their famous pies for dessert!

61. Celebrate Black History in the Bay Area and learn about the people who helped build our communities like Sam McDonald who donated 400 acres of land to the public on his death.

62. Go for some foodie family time at these kid-friendly Bib Gourmand spots. We’re lucky to have so many great restaurants in the Bay Area that are welcoming to parents, like Nopalito, which serves delicious Mexican dishes within walking distance of Golden Gate Park.

63. Pitch a tent at campsites where you can hear the crashing waves as you curl up in your sleeping bag. From the beautiful Big Sur coast to Bodega Bay, book these campsites when you need a night with cool ocean breezes.

64. Sometimes, you really can have it all. On those occasions when no-one can agree on what to eat, head to a Bay Area food hall and everyone can choose a dish. If you pick Public Market Emeryville, the kids can play on the ocean-themed playground before or after they eat.

65. Located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and set on 7.5 acres of National Park land in Sausalito, the Bay Area Discovery Museum is dedicated to imagination and where kids are encouraged to run wild. Perfect for kids 6 months-8 years old, it’s a kid paradise with so many things to discover and interact with.

66. Spend some time exploring California with these bucket-worthy California road trips with insider tips on the best places to stop for family-friendly fun.

67. Check out Bill’s Backyard, the awesome outdoor discovery area at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. Kids love the playground and fort-building activities—all included in your admission to the museum.

68. San Francisco ain’t cheap but our constantly updated round-up of free things to do around the Bay Area is a godsend for parents and visitors alike. 

69. Stanford’s famous fountains aren’t the only place in the Bay Area to cool down on a scorching day! Discover a full list of amazing urban fountains near San Francisco with our epic round-up.

70. Another way to get wet? Head to these nearby lakes for a day on and in the water. Lake Almanor is always fun for a weekend of swimming, or rent a paddle boat at nearby Lake Chabot.

71. Holiday splurge alert! Dress up in your finest and enjoy a holiday tea party. There’s fancy food at the Ritz, or you can visit the famous gingerbread house at the Fairmont, or step back in time at a historic house—all bucket-worthy.

72. Look to the stars and learn about the world beyond our atmosphere at these Bay Area stargazing spots for a nighttime family adventure. From the planetarium and powerful telescopes at Chabot Space and Science Center, to star parties across the Bay, stargazing is an amazing way to get kids interested in astronomy.

73. Calling all groms! These totally rad skate parks around San Francisco are ready for you. Check out the skate park in SoMa that legendary skater Tony Hawk helped build or the beautiful community-built park at 43rd Aven. that is perfect for littles.

74. Add another carousel to your list. Take a spin on an Alice in Wonderland-themed carousel at Children’s Fairyland—Oakland’s whimsical theme park. 

75. Chase after waterfalls and let the kids explore on these amazing waterfall hikes in the Bay Area. (PS: Usually at their peak after springtime rains arrive).

76. Explore the Presidio Tunnel Tops, with 14-acres of space to play, is all the excuse you need to visit San Francisco’s national park site.

77. Italian submarine? Pastrami on rye? Classic BLT? Sandwiches are the perfect on-the-go lunch, park and picnic snack, not to mention, is a favorite meal option when you just don’t want to cook dinner that night. Good thing the Bay Area has some amazing delis.

78. Uncover Chinatown’s best kept (or most well-known?) secret: The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.

79. Donuts are slowing becoming to the go-to dessert of the day. We’ve rounded up the best donut shops around the Bay Area so you can focus on eating and treating rather than googling.

80. Everyone knows that brunch is the best meal of the day. Bonus, these spots open super early so you don’t have to wait until mid-day to get your brunch fix. Your kids will love the Mickey Mouse pancakes from South Bay gem Los Gatos Cafe

81. Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center has great, free programs for mini artists. Check out their online craft-along videos for at-home fun, or visit in-person for their twice-yearly family fun days, which include guided tours and hands-on art making.

82. Discover the hidden staircases and colorful murals of San Francisco with our guided to scenic hikes that include colorful stairs and scenic murals. This is a fun, free activity that will provide you with spectacular family photographs as a souvenir.

83. Have the kids tried all of these iconic San Francisco desserts? Maybe you’ve heard the buzz about the cruffin at Mr Holmes Bakehouse but you should also try old-school favorites too like the Russian Honey Cake at 20th Century Cafe.

84. Check out the Junior Museum and Zoo, a playground, interactive museum and zoo all rolled into one. Ideal for families with a range of ages, there’s something for everyone at this beloved Palo Alto space.

85. To become a certified local, a visit to the Seward Street Slides is a must. 

86. Bike rides, kayaking and awesome eats are waiting for you in family-friendly Healdsburg. This charming town is just over an hour from downtown San Francisco but feels like a world away from city life.

87. Take a micro-vacation to  Mendocino to kayak, horseback ride on the beach and explore the gorgeous coastline just north of San Francisco. With a three-hour drive from the city, it’s ideal for a quick weekend away anytime of the year.

88. Check out our neighborhood guide to Outer Sunset—not just for surfers anymore and is a fun SF neighborhood.

89. Did you know you can go ocean crabbing from San Francisco? Generally speaking, kids under 16 don’t need a fishing license. You do, but the exception is fishing from a pier and that’s actually the best place to catch crabs. From any pier inside the San Francisco Bay, you can only keep red rock crabs. You will likely pull up some Dungeness but you have to throw them back — it’s their breeding ground. Outside the San Francisco Bay (Pacifica Pier, for instance), you can keep Dungies (in season only).

90. Got grandparents in town? Spend some time exploring these spots that please both the younger set and the older generation. The San Francisco Botanical Garden is a local favorite, but we’ve got more ideas for multi-generation days out.

91. Cheers! These kid-friendly bars around San Francisco are perfect for dining out with friends and kids. Relax in Steins Beer Garden in Redwood City, or play bocce and eat pizza at Campo di Bocce in Los Gatos—neighborhood gems that are ideal for a sunny afternoon.

92. If the days are warm and the kids want to get wet, head to one of these amazing splash parks in the Bay Area. If you’re in San Jose, Hellyer Park is the spot for hot days!

93. The Bay Area also has several fun water parks nearby. Whether you’re looking for something low-key for little ones like Aqua Adventure, or a day out the tweens will love at Raging Waters, water parks are a classic summer day out.

94. It’s always the perfect day for pizza and we have a list of the perfect pizza pies around San Francisco here. Whether you’re into sourdough crust, deep dish or New York-style slices on-the-go, the Bay Area delivers.

95. Batter up! These Bay Area batting cages will let you tune up your swing in no time. And, this being the home of Silicon Valley, you’ll find high-tech pitching machines with HD resolution video at Future Pro Baseball in San Francisco—but you can also book live pitching from a staff member at South Bay Sports Training if you’re looking for the real deal.

96. Want to dine with views of the Golden Gate Bridge? Yes, please! Here are the best outdoor dining spots, including ones with million-dollar views to impress visiting friends and family.

97. The next time you’re looking for that outdoorsy experience without straying too far from home, visit Rob Hill Campground, located just a hop, skip and jump away from Immigrant Point Overlook and Baker Beach.

98. No trip to San Francisco is complete without a stop at the iconic Ferry Building. And whether your just visiting or a local, there’s always something new, fun and exciting happening here.

99. Visit the totally-free deYoungsters Studio in Golden Gate Park, an interactive play space designed to spark kids creativity. Did we mention it’s free?

100. You may have heard of this free-to-enter oasis in the sky but if you haven’t, cancel your plans and head up to the latest urban park that sits 70 feet above the street, is 4 blocks long and features a living roof, walking trails, dancing fountains, a children’s play area and an amphitheater. Salesforce Park will amaze both young and old.

—Additional reporting by Sarah McDonald

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Get lost (and found again) at one of these epically fun corn mazes all located in the Bay area

Getting lost in a corn maze or a hay maze is practically a childhood rite of passage (along with a road trip to leaf peep some nearby fantastic fall foliage) and with these locations in the Bay Area, there’s so many fun mazes to choose from. Try your navigation skills at a world-record holding maze that (might) take you and the kids hours to find your way out. Or, for something a little less intense, check out the assortment of mini mazes created especially for shorter legs.

And don’t forget, there are night mazes and a minotaur maze that will increase the fall fun factor. A bunch of these spots also double as u-pick fruit and veggie spots, pumpkin patches as well as your go-to source for festive fall activities so if you want to get your fall fix all in one spot, these family-friendly farms featuring corn mazes and hay mazes were made just for you.

The Best Hay Mazes in San Mateo County

Webb Ranch: Haunted house inside the corn maze? Yep, this spot has that plus more! In addition to the maze, there is over 30 acres to explore, and kids can let off steam in the jumpy houses before picking their pumpkins. They also offer train rides, hay rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, a bird zoo and a reptile zoo. Weekend visits are by reservation only. 

When: Sept. 23-Oct. 31
Hours: 10 am.-6 p.m.

2718 Alpine Rd.
Portola Valley
Online: webbranchinc.com

best hay maze near san francisco
Arata's Pumpkin Farm

Arata's Pumpkin Farm: See if you can beat the Minotaur's Labyrinth two-acre hay maze! A visit to Arata’s Farm in the Bay Area's pumpkin capital, Half Moon Bay, is a whole day event with train rides, a petting zoo, pony rides and more. Combine all the attractions in an all-access pass or pay for individual tickets but make sure to take a pumpkin home.

When: Oct. 1 through the end of the season
Hours: Sun.-Thur. 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

185 Verde Rd.
Half Moon Bay, CA
Online: aratasfarm.com

Related: Fall Road Trips from the Bay Area

The Best Hay Mazes in Alameda County

G & M Farms: Nestled in gorgeous Livermore Valley, G & M Farms has a 6-acre corn maze plus an enormous pumpkin patch and fresh produce you can take home. Weekend activities include pony rides, a cow train, pedal cart and jumping pillows (think: large, inflatable pillow the kids can jump on till they’re tired).

When: Oct. 1-31
Hours: Wed. & Thurs. 3-8 p.m; Fri. 3-9 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

487 East Airway Blvd.
Livermore
Online: gmfarms.com

Related: The Bay Area’s Best Pumpkin Patches

The Best Hay Mazes in Santa Clara County

Spina Farms: This spot is a South Bay tradition and for good reason—it has something for everyone. Pick a sunflower, get lost in the corn maze (according to the site, “This year our maze has doubled in size and features an all-new layout to find your way out of!”), ride their Spina Double Express Train for the whole family, let a pumpkin rip from their Pumpkin blaster cannon or let your littlest pumpkin have their own ride in their barrel train.

When: Sept. 26-Oct. 31
Hours: 9 a.m-5 p.m and then later hours as the it gets closer to Halloween

Corner of Laguna Ave & Santa Teresa Blvd.
Morgan Hill
Online: spinafarmspumpkinpatch.com

Gilroy Ostrich Farm is currently closed for renovations. Will update once we have more information.
Gilroy Ostrich Farm: This spot is the only only one on this list that involves ostriches—and the largest farm of ostriches in the state of California to boot! Make sure to see the ostriches, get your pumpkin and let the kids run through the hay bale maze.

5560 Pacheco Pass Hwy.
Gilroy
Online: gilroyostrichfarm.com

The Best Hay Maze in San Benito County 

Swank Farms Fall Experience: If there were ever a one-stop shop for fall festivities, this would be it! In addition to a corn maze and pumpkin patches, you will find pig races, a hay jump, gem mining, bouncy houses, a jumping pillow and…. beer!  Still looking for fun? Try the family-friendly Trail of Lights & Field of Frights which is a magically light journey through the farm. 

When: Oct. 1-31
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (Fri-Sun); Various hours on other days

4751 Pacheco Hwy.
Hollister
Online: swankfarms.com/fall

The Best Hay Mazes in Sonoma County

Santa Rosa Patch: Not to be outdone by anyone, this 8-acre corn maze has two different routes so it's perfect for kids of all ages. The short route takes about 25 minutes while the longer route can take up to an hour with night mazes open until 10 p.m. on Fri. & Sat. This spot also has a pumpkin patch, inflatable jumping pillow, petting zoo, hay ride, u-pick sunflower fields to fill your day.

Good to Know: The corn maze closes 45 minutes before the pumpkin patch closes.

When: Oct. 7 through the end of the season
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.–6:00 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.-10:00 p.m; Sat. 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

5157 Stony Point Rd.
Santa Rosa
Online: santarosapumpkinpatch.com

Petaluma Pumpkin Patch & Amazing Corn Maze: Farm animals, a bouncy house, pony rides and food vendors on the weekends will keep the entire family entertained. The 4-acre maze with 10-foot tall corn stalks and only one way out is open daily. If you're looking for something more challenging, check out the night maze—open on Fri. and Sat. nights (kids 15 and under must stay with an adult inside the night maze).

When: Sept. 30 through the end of the season
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; night maze is open 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

450 Stony Point Rd.
Petaluma
Online: petalumapumpkinpatch.com

The Best Hay Maze in Solano County

Cool Patch Pumpkins: Holding a world record for the largest corn maze, every year the corn maze is new and completely unique. This year they are honoring the hard work and dedication that it takes to be a modern day farmer. Did you know that in the 1800s, 90-percent of the US population lived on farms? Today it is around one-percent.

Whether your crew chooses to use a map as a guide or attempts to do it on their own, fun hours are guaranteed. Littles can tackle the mini-maze on site and enjoy the pedal cars. 

When: Sept. 24 until the season is over
Hours: 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. 

6150 Dixon Ave West
Dixon
Online: coolpatchpumpkins.com

The Best Hay Maze in Marin County

Nicasio Valley Pumpkin Patch: We love this spot up north because it has 12-acres to explore plus a massively-fun hay maze for kids age seven to age 97, plus a hay pit for toddlers. Weekends include face painting, live music, and petting zoos—all of which will work up a big appetite for their on-site BBQ and ice cream.

Good to Know: This spot is cash only. 

When: Sept. 24-Oct. 31
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

5300 Nicasio Valley Rd.
Nicasio
Online: nicasiovalleypumpkinpatch.net

The Best Hay Maze in Contra Costa County

best corn maze near san francisco
Three Nunns Farm

Three Nunns Farm: A tractor ride (for a fee) takes your family to this beautiful property with corn mazes and a pumpkin patch. The kids can then be let loose in the five acre corn maze while a mini-maze promises to be more relaxing for the younger ones. In addition to pumpkins, U-pick and pre-picked produce is also on hand for purchase. 

When: Sept. 17-Oct. 31
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

550 Walnut Blvd.
Brentwood
Online: threenunns.com

The Best Hay Maze in San Joaquin County

Dell'Osso Family Farm: This spot is about 90 minutes east of Fremont and totally worth the drive for a day of fall fun. Your daily wristband gets you into the massive corn maze as well as on other attractions like the hay ride, Dell'Osso Express train, tire pile and more. Upgrade your day to try out the ziplines and pony ride. Don't forget to come back here in the winter to ride the snow tubes!

When: Oct. 1-31
Hours: Mon.-Fri., noon-7 p.m.; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

501 Manthey Rd.
Lathrop
Online: dellossofarm.com

 

 

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Favorite fall destinations include Montalvo, Filoli Gardens, and Golden Gate Park

Fall is on its way in and now is the perfect time to pack a picnic and the kids, and head out for some outdoor fun and great seasonal pictures! The Bay Area is known for its redwoods and other giants, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get to see the yellow, red, and orange hues of autumn. Keep an eye on the California Fall Color Map and our list of spots from Napa to the South Bay to know where to find fall colors and roll in some leaves.

Ajay Anthony

San Francisco

The SF Botanical Garden offers an array of colors in the fall, with golden-fanned ginkgo trees, deep purple vine maples, and the Persian ironwood tree with leaves that take on a spectacular rainbow of shades at this time of the year. Be sure to check out the garden’s Facebook page for updates on changing leaf colors.

The Moon Viewing garden with its Japanese Maples is a great spot for a picnic. Or, walk to one of the many kid-friendly restaurants around 9th Ave in the Sunset District.

Showy maples can be found across the street in another park gem, the Japanese Tea Garden. While you take in the autumn scene, the kids can have fun challenging themselves by walking up and down the famous drum bridge and finding their fortune in a cookie at the tea house.

And don't forget to book your tickets on the Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse, Skystar Wheel. Each gondola can seat up to 6 and you can see the changing colors for miles.

Related: What’s New and Open in Golden Gate Park

boy on a man's shoulders walking through fall leaves
istock

East Bay

The Oakland Zoo's gondola is the place to be this fall when the leaves start changing color. Where else can you get a bird's eye view of the zoo and surrounding landscape? During your visit, take the opportunity to view the California Trail exhibit, where you can see grizzly bears, bald eagles, California condors, gray wolves, mountain lions, and even jaguars.

Up in the hills above Berkeley, Tilden Park is another go-to place for fall color. Stroll through the Botanic Garden to find changing colors, or hike around Lake Anza. Keep your eye out (not your hands, please!) for the flaming red leaves of poison oak, which add some of the most striking colors to the park. In November and December, head downhill to the UC Berkeley campus, when it’s ablaze with lemon-yellow ginkgo leaves; maples and myrtles add some flair. 

Slip through the Caldecott tunnel to find canopies of yellow leaves in and around the trees of Orinda‘s Community Center Park (perfect for making piles and kicking) and along Camino Pablo. 

Another great East Bay spot is the Sunol Regional Wilderness which welcomes a kaleidoscope of color as soon as you hit the visitor's center. Find out if they are offering any naturalist-led hikes while you are there or head out on your own. The Indian Joe Creek Nature Trail is a short, self-guided walk that provides loads of information about the park, its animal inhabitants, and the foliage there.

The Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont is another great spot for leaf peeping. Make sure to check out their Naturalist Program page for a variety of seasonal activities including apple cider pressing. 

person hiking through park in the fall
Aaron Burden/Unsplash

Peninsula/South Bay

Driving along Skyline Boulevard as it dips, rises, and weaves through the Peninsula can be visually rewarding on its own, as you pass by stands of sycamores and big-leaf maples. But 5-point harnesses can only contain kid energy for so long. Happily, there are 26 open space preserves in the mid-peninsula region, offering easy hikes, picnic spots, and stunning views. Mount Umunhum offers breathtaking views on non-foggy days. In the Santa Cruz mountains, the Sanborn County Park offers shaded and picturesque trails. And while there, you might catch sight of wild turkey and deer. 

A favorite at this time of year is the Rancho San Antonio Preserve, with its maples, oaks, and flowering persimmon trees. Make sure to visit Deer Hollow Farm for self-guided tours to see cows, chickens, and other farm animals, historical buildings, and a barnyard. 

While you're in the neighborhood, a side trip to Los Altos is worthwhile to see the Chinese Pistache trees (donated to the city by Los Altos Nursery in the 1950s) dropping their vivid orange and red leaves on Main and 2nd streets. 

For a view of the whole valley, head to Montalvo in Saratoga and follow the Lookout Trail to Lookout Point. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the bay. Walk through the grounds on your way down to see some rare trees like the ginkgo tree that turns a glorious gold in the fall.

Woodside is home to the Filoli Gardens and fall is a great time to plan a visit there. Fruit trees abound at Filoli, including pears, plums, apricots, and apples. Check their website before you go to see what colors you can expect.

Marin

A great spot to find that heady mix of fall colors and evergreens is Samuel P. Taylor State Park, with its oaks, firs, and old-growth redwoods. Throw the bikes on the rack, and take a Sunday drive along bucolic Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the park entrance, 15 miles west of San Rafael. Samuel P. Taylor boasts a few great trails for biking and hiking safely with kids, especially the dog-friendly (and relatively flat) Cross Marin Trail that winds alongside Lagunitas Creek. Pack a picnic basket and enjoy a relaxing lunch at the Azalea Picnic Area to complete the day. Or better yet, pitch a tent and stay a while.

Head south for an hour and you will hit Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve, home to redwood, oak, maples, and other deciduous trees. Kids will enjoy some creek romping while they search for the red, orange, and yellow leaves that blanket the floor. Adventurous hikers should make Dawn Falls their destination.

Napa Valley Wine Train

Wine Country

Crush season in the Sonoma Wine Country and Napa Valley is a not-to-be-missed sight, as the rolling green hills of grape vines turn to blankets of burgundy and orange. 

It is a great time to visit Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, where the cooler fall temps make the park's wooded trails ripe for exploration. In addition to its namesake trees, the peaceful scene on the Redwood Trail includes autumn-gold maple leaves fluttering down alongside Ritchey Creek. Rent a bike from one of the numerous outfits around town and try your luck at Napa's Bikes and Sights Scavenger HuntTake in extraordinary views of the county and vineyards at the North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Reserve. Big leaf maples and oak woodlands can be found at Spring Lake Regional Park in Sonoma County, and the kids might enjoy riding their bikes or boating on the lake. 

Related: The Family Guide to Wine Country

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There’s nothing like a family road trip to get everyone excited to check out another area of the country. For your next adventure, up your road trip game with a camper van rental from GoCamp. We checked out the “Airbnb of camper vans” for ourselves and would totally recommend it for your next family camping weekend, especially with fall camping on the horizon. It comes with all the gear you need, plus a comfy spot to sleep away from the bugs. You’re going to love it!

Kate Loweth

1. Your GoCamp van comes with everything you need.

Gone are the days of packing a car full of gear for your next camping trip. GoCamp vans come with literally everything you need to cook, wash dishes and enjoy the campfire. In addition to the sink, our van had a solar-charged Yeti cooler and all the cooking gear needed to make some mean camping tacos. Pots, pans, a camp stove with propane, a French press for the all-important coffee, and place settings for four people were all included. The van's owner even let us use some of his camp chairs. All we had to bring was our clothes, sleeping bags for the kids, some food, and some firewood. That's it! 

Related: Camping Gear That Does Everything (Except Pitch the Tent)

interior of a camper van
Kate Loweth

2. The interior is your mini kitchen on the road.

The main drag of the family road trip is arguably the constant dining out. The GoCamp vans save you the aggravation (and funds) that requires by bringing your kitchen with you. While all the rigs are set up slightly differently, our Sprinter van had a pump-powered sink where we could wash dishes and an indoor area if we needed to cook out of the elements. It also came with a folding table to set up a kitchen outdoors.  

Bedding for the lower mattress was provided and the kids in the upper bunk brought their sleeping bags to make it easy. Sleeping in the Sprinter van was actually quite comfortable, much better than the usual camping sleep that's for sure! 

Kate Loweth

3. A camper van will have you sleeping in style.

There's something about bringing your bed with you that makes traveling in a GoCamp camper van especially epic. The GoCamp fleet of camper vans is anything but cookie-cutter. Scroll through their available rigs and you'll find everything from old-school Volkswagen Vanagons to Mercedes Sprinter vans. Different sleeping arrangements appeal to different families with some offering interior sleeping quarters and some roof-top popups or tents. The Sprinter van offers the largest option with seating for five and sleeping quarters (via a double bunk) for four. 

Kate Loweth

4. No RV spot needed.

Perhaps our favorite aspect of the GoCamp camping experience is that you don't need to search high and low for those high-demand RV campsites. A traditional campsite is plenty large enough to fit your camper van, your kids, and the gear. This gives you the flexibility to book your campsites as you go or try your luck at a first-come-first-served campsite. 

kids walking through trees at Point Reyes
Kate Loweth

5. More time for hiking.

An additional bonus comes when you arrive at your campsite and don't have to spend time finding a (hopefully) flat area and setting up your tent. Your all-weather sleeping quarters will keep everyone warm and happy, and you'll have more time to spend exploring your campground. 

Related: 45 Ideas That’ll Make You a Campground Pro

camper van next to a field
Kate Loweth

6. The ride is a part of the adventure.

We loved tooling around the Northern California coast on our recent GoCamp adventure because the van was so fun to drive and easy to maneuver. No blind spots or special parking spots were needed, the van could take us anywhere we wanted to go. The kids especially loved that our van was named "Vanica Patrick" and they enjoyed talking about our new friend Vanica all weekend long. 

Related: 11 Reasons Why You Should Try RV Camping with Kids

two boys on a tree stump while family camping
Kate Loweth

7. GoCamp is ready to kick off your next road trip adventure.

Your GoCamp rental comes with 125 miles per day included in your rental (with additional miles incurring an additional charge). Rentals range from $105-250/night and are a minimum of three or four days depending on the season. Check the rent-a-van page for current availability and see if there's availability near you. 

GoCamp Camper Vans
Online: gocampcampervans.com

Editor’s note: This rental was provided by GoCamp but the opinions belong to the author. 

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When you’re looking for a weekend getaway that’s a level up from tent camping, these are the best book-worthy spots in CA

Got a hankering to leave city life and go camping nearby, but not convinced that braving the elements and setting up your own sleeping quarters with just a piece of nylon between you and whatever wanders around outside is your idea of fun? Let us introduce you to the good old yurt. “What’s a yurt?” you ask? Well, unlike pitch-a-tent camping, yurts are already constructed structures, adorably, in the round. Yurt means “home” in Mongolian so for those that don’t want to give up some creature comforts (like a good set of walls and an off-the-floor bed) but also want to feel at one with the great outdoors (whether it’s beach camping or perhaps a touch of a luxe campsite), this could be the camping answer you’ve been looking for.

Cachuma Lake Yurts

You'll relax at the lake and roast marshmallows at your very own fire ring while little glampers will have fun at the playground and the swimming pool during the summer months. Add to that, there are guided nature walks, guided lake cruises, and junior ranger programs the kids can join.

Good to Know: The yurts named Lupine, Poppy, and Sage are on the western side of the campground and get a spectacular sunset on most evenings. Oak, Sycamore, Pine, and Redwood (ADA) are on the eastern side and get a beautiful morning sunrise over the lake and boating marina. PS: There's also a country store in case you need any essentials.

Yurt Features: Depending on the yurt, these yurts sleep 3-to-6 people. Expect to find indoor lighting, heating and screened windows. Outside you'll find a deck, picnic table (some are inside), that previously mentioned fire ring, a charcoal bbq and water spigot. Restrooms and showers are located close by while a portable lavatory is located adjacent to some yurts for convenience.

1 Lakeview Dr.
Santa Barbara, CA 
Online: countyofsb.org/741/Yurts

El Capitan Canyon

Camping is downright easy with this adventure yurt at El Capitan. We aren't sure if the best part is the domed skylight for easy stargazing at night or the multitude of deer, birds, trees and other nature-like things that surround you during your stay. Make sure to carve time out for the 30-minute hike to the beach or a walk to feed the llamas and the goats. 

Good to Know: There's a heated swimming pool, along with a playground with a slide, swings and jungle gym adjacent to the pool. And for parents? There is an espresso bar as well as local wine and beer in the Canyon Market.

Yurt Features: Includes a queen bed and a twin day bed with twin trundle, bar-sized refrigerator, microwave, ceiling fan and space heater. Adjacent restroom facilities include private shower stalls with attached changing rooms. All yurts include a private picnic table and firepit with grill. 

11560 Calle Real
Santa Barbara, CA 
Online: elcapitancanyon.com

Santa Margarita KOA

Located halfway between LA and SF (and makes a great pitstop if you're making the roadtrip between the two), this yurt, on 70 acres in the central coast, is an outdoor enthusiasts dream—whether you and your family are into hiking, fishing, boating, bird watching, horseback riding, cycling, horseshoes, swimming, or any number of other outdoor activities, there's (literally) something for everyone. And if just making it to the yurt is the adventure, there's plenty to entertain the kids onsite: There's a giant jumping pillow and the unheated pool is open May through Oct. Make sure to say hi to Kevin, the resident emu who loves being fed.

Good to Know: This spot is located within an hour drive of Hearst Castle, Cambria, Ocean Dunes, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, local wineries, and Pozo National Forest. 

Yurt Features: This 20-foot, yurt comes with a queen bed, two full futons and two twin beds. There isn't a bathroom or kitchen inside and you need to bring your own linens. Fire pit and picnic table are located out front.

4765 Santa Margarita Lake Rd.
Santa Margarita, CA
Online: koa.com/santa-margarita

Related: What a Family Adventure Looks Like in Morro Bay, CA

best yurts to rent in CA
Purty Yurty

Purty Yurty & Mini Me

Located on 5-acres of land in Joshua Tree, expect a star-studded stargazing experience thanks to vast skies and little-to-no light pollution. This is a rustic experience so bring plenty of food and even more water. 

Good to Know: Joshua Tree National Park is 20 minutes away and is a bucket-worthy spot for hikes for the half-pints.

Yurt Features: Sleeps up to four guests. There's no kitchen, the restroom is a porta potty, there's a shower stall with solar shower (bag of water heated by the sun) along with battery and solar-powered lamps. Additionally, there is a solar panel which charges battery packs and you can use them to charge phones and small devices but no more than 110V. If you need a power for anything else, this listing is not suitable. Bring prepared food and plenty of drinking water.

Joshua Tree, CA
Online: airbnb.com/rooms/19860463

Related: Luxury Camping & Joshua Tree National Park All in One (Glorious) Place

Airbnb

The Cazador Yurt

Nestled among 30 fruit trees on a half-acre lot, this yurt exemplifies classic bohemian California living. There are several hammocks hung around the yard, a firepit as well as fruit trees that you're welcome to help yourself to.

Yurt Features: This yurt is 16 feet in diameter and has a conical roof with a skylight directly over the bed. It sleeps four, with one queen bed, one single bed and an air mattress. Included is internet access, a toaster oven, coffee, and mini-fridge. There's an outdoor bathroom with a toilet, sink and an outdoor shower with a tankless water heater that allows infinitely long hot showers. 

Glassell Park
Los Angeles, CA 
Online: airbnb.com/rooms/1688018

Related: Our 100 Things to Do in LA List Is New & Improved

Skyfarm Yurt

Skyfarm Yurt

A glamping bohemian yurt in the neighborhood of Paradise Hill (a 10-minute drive from DTLA). Families will dig this yurt's location on an urban farm where you can visit (and help feed if you wish!) goats, chickens, and a pig next door.

Good to Know: There are steps, so for toddlers, this location may be a challenge.

Yurt Features: This 20-foot yurt comes with a king bed and two single mattresses. A full outside kitchen, hanging chair the kids will love, wifi, an indoor fireplace, a solar-powered clawfoot garden bathtub, plus a coffee maker, microwave and refrigerator and a bbq grill outside.

Paradise Hill
Los Angeles, CA 
Online: airbnb.com/rooms/19012748

Related: Our Favorite Farm Stays for Families across California

best yurts to book in CA
Launch Pointe

Launch Pointe

If your brood loves to have plenty of activities, then Lake Elsinore's Launch Pointe Recreation is a camping hot spot. With splash pads, a playground and a swimming pool, little campers have tons of choices on how to have fun. And if you love to jet ski, boat, or fish, you've got it all here. Even better? There's a restaurant on-site for when the crew gets hungry.

Yurt Features: There are six themed yurts (The Lodge, The BoraBora, The Boho, The Beach, The Rock & Roll, and The Elsinore) that vary in guest accommodations but all come with linens, in-room coffee and a refrigerator. Bathrooms are private while showers and additional restrooms are located within the yurt village.

32040 Riverside Dr.
Lake Elsinore, CA 
Online: launch-pointe.com

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Whether you prefer sourdough crust, deep dish, Detroit-style, or topped with Indian flavors, the Bay Area pizza scene really delivers

Fresh dough, gooey cheese, and just the right amount of sauce—pizza is a recipe for deliciousness for parents and kids alike. The Bay Area pizza scene offers lots of options for little foodies like the curry chicken masala pizza of Curry Pizza House and the potato-topped pizza from Escape from New York Pizza. We won’t say which is our ultimate favorite (because that’s like choosing a favorite child) but you’ll find top spots from Point Reyes to San Jose, perfect for a lazy night with no cooking needed. 

Best Pizza in San Francisco

Long Bridge Pizza Co.
If thin crust sourdough pizza is your thing, Long Bridge Pizza Co. is your pizza place. Actually, if Detroit-style pizza is your thing, then Long Bridge is also your pizza place because they sell that on their popular Square Thursdays. Named for the wooden causeway that connected San Francisco to Dogpatch in the 1800s, Long Bridge is in a neighborhood that’s great to explore, and particularly good for the kind of exploration that involves food. If you still have room after your ‘za, waddle over to Neighbor Bakehouse next door or the Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous ice cream shop a block away.

2347 Third St.
San Francisco
Online: longbridgepizza.com

Escape from New York Pizza
It’s nice to have a good stand-by when you need an easy, no-frills, counter-service meal while you’re in Downtown San Francisco, and Escape from New York Pizza is that place. (There are other locations in San Francisco, but we're partial to the bright and airy Financial District one with seating on the plaza.) See if the kiddos can spot King Kong climbing the wall. You must order their famous You Say Potato! pizza covered in roasted potato slices, copious amounts of garlic (copious!), pesto, and of course mozzarella. It’s worth the stinky breath afterward and your kids are stuck with you so what are they going to do about it?

See all four of their San Francisco locations here.

Pizzeria Delfina
Pizzeria Delfina is San Francisco’s golden child and with good reason. Their pies are perfection, but the crowds and long waits could be a pain for families. There are four Bay Area locations, and we recommend the Fillmore one for its enclosed parklet where the kids can run around.  

2406 California St.
San Francisco
Online:
pizzeriadelfina.com

Arizmendi
This local cooperative serves up some of the tastiest pie around, even if they were the target of parody in Pixar’s “Inside Out.” They only offer one type of pizza per day, and it’s never cheese and pepperoni (more like shiitake mushroom, leeks, and sesame vinaigrette) but even so, they are known as a kid fave. Order by the slice—we also suggest adding a corn cherry scone—and pull up a chair in their Mission location, or grab a spot in the parklet outside of their Inner Sunset location. They offer par-baked (or fully baked) pies for takeout, and the price is right, especially considering the top-notch ingredients.

1272 Valencia St. and 1331 9th Ave.
San Francisco
Online: arizmendibakery.com

Zante
If you haven’t tried it yet, the thought of Indian pizza may leave you scratching your head. But one bite and you’ll be hooked. Zante’s corn-meal-dusted crusts are the perfect base for their incredibly flavorful toppings—spinach, eggplant, cauliflower, ginger, garlic, green onions, and cilantro. The no-frills restaurant at the base of Bernal Hill is spacious, works well for large parties, has high chairs, and rarely has a wait. 

3489 Mission St.
San Francisco
Online: zantespizza.com

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
Tony, an 11-time World Pizza Champion, must be doing something right. His North Beach restaurant is an ode to regionally specific pizza (he has various types of ovens for various styles of pies) and turns out spot-on New York, New Haven, Detroit, St. Louis, Romana, and Sicilian pizzas—not to mention tasty pasta and other Italian specialties. There’s a small take-out shop for quick and easy slices.

1570 Stockton St.
San Francisco
Online: tonyspizzanapoletana.com

Related: Foodies in Training: Best Bay Area Kids’ Menus

Best Pizza in the Peninsula

State of Mind 
Often you find a pizza place with an excellent crust but a so-so sauce, or a to-die-for sauce but a nothing special crust. Not so at State of Mind where both are perfection. They offer round, pan, and gluten-free pizzas, and have curated a can and bottle list showcasing their favorite craft breweries throughout California. Don’t miss their old-school pizza restaurant arcade, which is also available for private parties. 

101 Plaza North
Los Altos
Online: stateofmindpublichouse.com

3850 El Camino Real
Palo Alto
Online: stateofmindslicehouse.com

Blue Line Pizza
The talented pizza lovers from SF’s beloved Little Star are behind Blue Line, which now has seven locations around the Peninsula and East and South Bay. We especially love their Burlingame location, with its spacious back patio lit by twinkling fairy lights. Blue Line is known for their deep dish, but their thin crust, salads, and sandwiches are delish, too. We love that instead of crayons, they provide kiddies with Magnadoodles with the kids’ menu printed on the back! And don’t miss out on their totally adorable heart-shaped pizzas next Valentine’s Day.

See all their locations here.

Rise Pizzeria
Grab a spot outside by the fire pit and enjoy a slice of Neapolitan pizza at Rise Pizzeria in Burlingame. This spot boasts tasty pizza with a healthy twist. Gluten-free crusts and dairy-free cheese are just two of the options that make this a great spot for those who have dietary restrictions. Parents will appreciate that Rise has swapped out the traditional soda machine for options like lemonade, iced tea, and apple juice. There is also a sister restaurant, Rise Woodfire, in San Mateo.

1451 Burlingame Ave
Burlingame, CA
Online: risepizzeria.com

Best Pizza in the East Bay

Square Pie Guys
Square Pie Guys specializes in Detroit-style pizza which means they have what they describe as a “crispy, crackly, caramelized cheese crust.” It’s like the pan pizza of your youth but done deliciously right.

499 9th St., Oakland
1077 Mission St. and 845 Beach St.
San Francisco
Online: squarepieguys.com

Zachary’s
Deep-dish pizza lovers say Zachary’s is the winner. They do a completely balanced deep dish layered "upside-down" to keep the crust crisp. The downside? You guessed it: The wait can be unbelievably long. Because the pizzas take 30 minutes to cook anyway, they have guests order when they arrive, so that by the time you are seated, your pizza should be nearly ready. 

See all five of their East Bay locations here.

Pizzaiolo
If you like your pizza night complete with a craft cocktail, this is your spot. Kids will give the Margherita a thumbs up, while the other creative, high-quality dishes (not to mention the killer cocktail list) will elevate family pizza night to something a little more special. 

5008 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland
Online: pizzaiolooakland.com

Bluebird Pizzeria
It’s hard to decide between the pan-baked grandma pie and the margarita pizza with fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, and basil—so why not get both? If there’s a wait, the kids will be happy perusing the selection of board games and books.

496 E. 14th St.
San Leandro
Online: bluebirdpizzeria.godaddysites.com

Patxi’s Pizza
With many locations around the Bay Area, Patxi’s has become an institution for Chicago-style pizza. Their Dublin location doesn’t disappoint, with a pick-up window as well as a fantastic outdoor patio. Don’t forget the honey at the table to drizzle on the crust. Mangia!

See all of their Bay Area locations here.

Best Pizza in the South Bay

Kate Loweth

Curry Pizza House
If you have a Curry Pizza House in your neighborhood, consider yourself lucky as it's just the break from ordinary pepperoni your family is craving. We recently checked out the carry-out-only San Jose location on Union Ave. and found the staff to be friendly and the pizzas to be full of fresh ingredients with your choice of traditional or Indian flavors. We suggest going for a half-and-half of the curry chicken masala and the curry veggie delight with a side of achari wings and masala chips. They even offer vegan options.

2984 Union Ave.
San Jose
Find all their six Bay Area locations here.

Pizza My Heart
There are dozens of new spots intent on mastering the craft of pizza making, but we have a soft spot for the ones keeping it FUN. Always incredibly family-friendly, Pizza My Heart really wins on Tuesdays, when from 4-8 p.m. they put the kids to work. Kids are given a pre-shaped pizza dough on a mini pizza pan, along with a squirt bottle of sauce, mini-containers of shredded cheese, and their choice of toppings. It’s then whisked away and baked up for a dinner they’ll love. 

Click here to see all of their locations, mostly in the South Bay and Peninsula.

A Slice of New York 
“ASONY” for those in the know was founded by New York transplant, Kirk Vartan, who knows what New York pizza is all about. You know it’s a good pizza when a simple cheese pie is perfection. The garlic knots are sublime and their dessert menu runs the gamut from tiramisu and cheesecake to imported East Coast must-haves like Yodels and Devil Dogs. There are two locations, both covered in fun New York subway decor. The original San Jose location is takeout only so we prefer the Sunnyvale one that includes an entire subway car! Don’t miss the notices on the walls about who has been banned from the restaurant for various infractions, including stealing a Rubik’s Cube.

3443 Stevens Creek Blvd.
San Jose

1252 W. El Camino Real
Sunnyvale
Online: asliceofny.com

Giovanni’s Pizzeria
No self-respecting New York-style pizza place would put chicken on pizza… would they? Any bad taste in your mouth from previous experiences elsewhere will disappear when you come to family-run Giovanni’s. They have all the usual toppings of course, but the stand-out is the Rustica with roasted chicken, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh basil. You’ll be licking your plate if you haven’t already eaten it directly out of the box on the ride home.

1127 N Lawrence Expressway
Sunnyvale
Online: giovannisnypizza.com

Amici’s
Amici’s is a pizza juggernaut in the Bay Area for good reason. Their East Coast style pizzas with a thin chewy crust are the gold standard. Our favorites are the margarita pizza with fresh basil and tomatoes, the hearth-baked breadsticks, and the artichoke Panzanella salad. At the Mountain View location Penny the Robot sometimes delivers the pizza to your table! Amici’s also is a great location for school fundraisers as they give a big chunk of change back to the school. 

See all twelve of their Bay Area locations here.

Bibo’s Pizza
If New York-style is your jam, then Bibo's is your spot. This Willow Glen pizza joint specializes in those giant, thin slices that are best enjoyed by folding in half. They use almost a pound of their special mozzarella on each 20-inch pie—a combo of buffalo milk and cow's milk that will send your taste buds into overdrive. Don't want a whole pie? Swing by for a slice. =

1431 Bird Ave.
San Jose
Online: bibosnypizza.com

Related: Al Fresco Family Time: SF Eateries with Outdoor Seating

Best Pizza in the North Bay

Pizzalina
Pizzalina’s heated outdoor patio is a great place to dig into an app of burrata before devouring a Neapolitan-style pie cooked in a wood-burning oven. They’re serious about their salads and pasta, too, and even sell their homemade dressings. The bambini menu provides some extra kid-friendly offerings. 

914 Sir Francis Drake
San Anselmo
Online: pizzalina.com

Cafe Reyes
Make this cozy small town restaurant a stomach refueling spot on that day trip to West Marin or do like the locals and take the windy half-hour drive when you’re on the other side of Mt. Tam. Once here enjoy the authentic Neapolitan wood-fired oven pizza and fresh local oysters. (That’s so you know you’re in Point Reyes!) And don’t miss their organic salads or the apple pie.

11101 CA-1
Point Reyes Station
Online:
cafereyes.biz

Pizza Hacker
Inside the new biergarten in Tam Junction you’ll find Pizza Hacker, the new outpost of the San Francisco pizzeria that excels at nicely charred, naturally leavened (a.k.a. sourdough) crusts. The Short Bridge pie is a winner with soppressata, housemade sausage, mushrooms, and parm. They also offer a Charles E. Cheese IV pizza which they describe affectionately as “a kid’s cheese pizza” (it’s a margarita without the basil). The salads are serious businessthe Intermezzo is a burst of color and flavor and includes radicchio, rainbow carrots, little gems lettuce, chickpeas, a farm egg, and poppyseed dressing. It’s a spot where vegans can be happy, toofor $2 extra you can get Miyoko’s vegan mozzarella on your pie. 

226 Shoreline Highway
Mill Valley
Online: thepizzahacker.com

Pizzeria Picco
From their perfect pies to their housemade soft serve, Pizzeria Picco wins on all counts. Just a couple blocks away from a magical redwood park so we suggest going to get your hike on and then heading over for an early dinner. Their petite pizzas make ordering multiples a must, which is a good thing because there are typically nearly a dozen choices, each featuring local, seasonal ingredients. The pies come out of the wood-fired oven perfectly blistered and can be paired with equally amazing salads, soups and sides. But the real bonus is the aforementioned soft serve. Our fave: A twist topped with housemade caramel and crunchy sea salt.

316 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur
Online: pizzeriapicco.com

Tamalpie Pizza
This place is quintessentially Marin—the name is an ode to Mt. Tam, and from the thin-crust pies to the sizable beer menu to the dogs lounging near the outdoor, family-style tables to the menu items named after local hiking trails, it oozes NorCal charm. If you visit during the “kid rush,” from 5-7 pm, you needed to be prepared for a playhouse atmosphere, as this is the go-to spot for parents and kids in the area. End on an epic note and go for the banana split.

477 Miller Ave.
Mill Valley
Online: tamalpiepizza.com

 

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Don’t stress about what to do for the long weekend cause your family-friendly fun guide to Labor Day weekend around San Francisco is now live

While summer typically draws to a close with Labor Day weekend for most of the country, things are just starting to heat up on our end. With summer like temperatures that typically extend now through Oct., the fun doesn’t stop. And with the upcoming long weekend, now’s the perfect time to tick off those remaining items on your summer “must-do” list like exploring these hidden gems around SF, finally tackling our SF guide to some of our favorite kid-friendly museums or tackling the 40′-long metal slides in Bernal Heights. From art fairs and concerts to baseball games and movies on the beach, here’s where we’re spending Labor Day weekend in the Bay Area with our kids.

Kings Mountain Art Fair
Sept. 3-5: Enjoy the craft and ware of local, independent artists among gorgeous Redwood forests while kids craft at Kiddie Hollow. Breakfast, lunch and cookies all made by the volunteer fire brigade will complete your day. Event details.

Stanford Football: Cardinal Kids Day
Sept. 3: Kids get in free with a paying adult (tickets start at $15) so cheer on the Cardinals as they face off Colgate with pre-game family activities such as food trucks, games and inflatables. Event details.

National Cinema Day
Sept. 3: Go to the movies on National Cinema Day for just $3 per ticket. Major chains like AMC and Regal Cinemas, along with college campus theaters and some smaller independent theaters, are set to participate. Check the website to find a participating theater near you. Event details.

156th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games
Sept. 3 & 4: Grab your kilt and bagpipes and head to games! The country’s largest and oldest Scottish gathering and games ends with a Grandstand concert with over 600 pipers and drummers for a spectacular show. Event details.

First Sundays at Presidio Tunnel Tops
Sept. 4: Have you checked out the new Tunnel tops? If not, family-friendly First Sundays is the perfect way to do so. Food vendors, live music and performances, a ranger-led campfire talk plus unbeatable views of the Golden Gate Bridge? WINNING. Event details

Bizerkeley Food Festival
Sept. 4: This vegan food festival will feature Soul, Latininx, Filipinx and more cuisines with food samples, live music, a Kidz corner and adoptable cats and dogs in case your family is looking for one. Event details.

Golden Gate Park Band Concert
Sept. 5: Haven’t made it out this summer for a free concert at the bandshell? Now is your chance with Dr. Danielle Gaudry directing-be sure to check out the SkyStar wheel! Event details.

Related: 11 Hidden Gems in San Francisco We’re Pretty Sure You’ve Never Visited

@thelisamichelle

I love my Giants but this coach sure has made it even better to watch 🥵#gabekapler #sfgiants #fortheladies #yourwelcome #mlb #goodness #momsoftiktok

♬ Fantasy – Mariah Carey

SF Giants Baseball
Sept. 2-4: Take me out to the ball game! The Giants host the Phillies in a three game series—catch one (or all three!) of the games this weekend. We're totally just watching the field—promise. Event details.

Movies on the Beach
Sept. 2: Pack a picnic and a beach blanket for the entire family to enjoy Sing 2 on the beach. Event details

Monterey County Fair
Sept. 1-5: Carnival rides (and games!), funnel cakes and live music—it's all at the fair and we can’t think of a better way to spend the end of summer at the fair. Event details

Boogie & BBQ in Bolinas
Sept. 5: Don’t forget the dancing shoes as Bolina’s annual Labor Day fest brings out dancing in the streets, a BBQ, and silent auction. Event details

Free Shakespeare in the Park
Sept. 3-4: Catch a free performance of the delightful, romantic comedy>Much Ado About Nothing this weekend. Event details.

Alameda Point Antiques Faire
Sept. 4: The largest antiques show in Northern California beckons with over 800 booths selling furniture, clothing, jewelry and more. What might you find?? Event details.

Museums with First Sunday Free Admission Days
Sept. 4: First Sun. are always free at the Asian Art museum & OMCA.

Related: Must-Go: Bay Area Museums that Deliver Epic Fun (& Learning)

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There comes a time when camping in the living room with Mom and Dad will no longer cut it. If that’s the case, your kids might be ready for their first sleepover. But, like any new milestone, you may worry if it’s the right time to send them to a slumber party. There are no hard and fast rules about the right age: some 6-year-olds might be ready to sleep away from home, some 11-year-olds might not be. So it’s important for parents to assess each opportunity individually. Read on for six signs your kids may be ready for a sleepover or an epic slumber party, and 10 ways you can reassure them that everything will be A-OK once they get there.

iStock

1. They Know What to Expect
Your kid’s first sleepover is a fun rite of passage, but make sure she knows exactly what she’s getting into before she heads out the door. Go over specifics, like navigating the bedtime routine at someone else’s house, and answer all the questions, like whether or not she can still bring her favorite stuffed animal.

2. You’ve Tested It Out
If you’re not quite sure if your child may be ready for a full-fledged slumber party away from home, try it at your house first. This way, you can see if the kids tire of one another or begin to fight with one another. Also, you can opt to throw a “mock sleepover” with a movie, popcorn, and PJs, but call it quits just before bedtime. Then you’ll know you’ve worked your way up to the real deal, but everyone can go home and sleep in their own beds!

Related: Why I’m Saying Yes To Sleepovers This Summer!

 

A little girl goes to sleep with her teddy bear while a parent comforts her after her first sleepover
iStock

3. They’re OK without You
Have you ever had to spend the night away from your child? Perhaps they’ve had a babysitter walk them through brushing and bedtime or stayed with grandparents while you were out of town? If they are OK being away from you overnight, or at least until they fall asleep, they may be ready for their first sleepover.

4. You’ve Asked Questions
Perhaps your little one is thrilled about the pint-sized pajama game, but you’re still a little uneasy. There is nothing wrong with calling up the other parent and asking questions until you feel more comfortable. Everything from “What time will they go to bed?” to “Do you have pets?” are all fair game to calm your nerves. You’ll also want to address any concerns you have about how the parents will handle situations like arguments or kids being scared in the night. And don’t overlook the BIG question: are there guns in your house, and are they kept in a safe, secure place where the children (ANY children) will not have access to? 

5. They’re Planning One
When your kids come home from school, begging for a sleepover with their BFF, it’s a good indication that they’re ready to give it a go. On the flip side, if they seem cautious about the idea or worried about who will tuck them in, they may need more time to warm up to sleeping away from home.

6. You’ve Talked to Your Kids About Inappropriate Touching
Part of feeling safe is being safe and making sure your children understand not just what is good etiquette at the host family’s house, but what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior from the adults and older siblings in the house. While we encourage our children to be polite and on their best behavior, it is equally important to speak frankly with children in a way that will empower them to say “no” and know when something just isn’t right.

Related: The Best Museum & Zoo Sleepovers in the U.S.

 

A little girl dressed in pink pajamas does a happy dance with her stuffed animal during a sleepover
Gail Adams-Arnold on Unsplash

Related: Goodnight Summer! 11 Epic Sleepover Ideas

Encouraging Words

Here are 10 statements you can make to help your little one feel secure at their first sleepover:

  1. "You can call me to say goodnight before you go to bed.”
  2. “I will pick you up first thing in the morning.”
  3. “You can take a picture of us with you.”
  4. “We are only a phone call away.”
  5. “You will have so much fun with your friend and we’ll see you in the morning.”
  6. “[Friend]’s parents will be there in case you need anything.”
  7. “You can bring your pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal with you.”
  8. “We’ll be home if you need us.”
  9. “I’m so proud of you and I want you to have fun with [friend]!”
  10. “I can’t wait to hear all about it when you get home.”

And if all does not go according to plan and you need to dash out to pick up your child early, a simple “maybe next time!” can help them to feel a little less embarrassed about feeling homesick. Happy slumbering!

 

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If you’ve got a picky eater at your table, chances are there’s been more than one occasion when you’ve let them eat something—anything—just to fill their tummies. If getting some veggies and protein involved seems more like a pipe dream, check out these recipes for picky eaters that just might get your kids to move beyond the buttered noodles.

Three Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos sit on a white plate garnished with coloful strawberry pineapple slaw
Carlsbad Cravings

Fish Tacos

If you’re trying to get more fish into your picky eaters’ diets, these Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos from Carlsbad Cravings are fun to eat and full of flavor. Keep them simple with just cabbage and lime.

A quesadilla on a plate that includes hidden veggies as a recipe for picky eaters
A Mind "Full" Mom

Hidden Veggie Quesadillas

Upgrade those plain cheese quesadillas with butternut squash puree. It’s the same color as the cheese (a.k.a. easily camouflaged) and chock-full of vitamins and other healthy perks. Feeling extra adventurous? Try the Cilantro Lime Cream. Get the recipe from A Mind “Full” Mom.

Pasta carbonara with no cream sits on a white place waiting to delight picky eaters
Scrummy Lane

Classic Carbonara

A classic carbonara has no cream and no heavy sauce because the eggs do all the work, making it both light and decadent at the same time. This recipe, sure to delight picky eaters, is from Scrummy Lane and gives a lot of tips on how to make the perfect carbonara.

A platter filled with chicken wings that were cooked in a crock pot
Intelligent Domestications

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken Wings

Three ingredients and a few hours in a Crock Pot and bam! Now you have killer BBQ chicken wings to feed the masses, all thanks to this recipe from Intelligent Domestications. Plus the kids will get a kick out of the “secret ingredient” sure to intrigue any picky eater.  Check out their other Crock Pot recipes that require only a few ingredients.

A red dish holds a cheesy-looking mac and cheese while it secretly hides broccoli from picky eaters
My Fussy Eater

Mac n' Cheese, Please

Let’s face it, “mac and cheese” are like magic words in Kid World. That’s why we like how this recipe takes a kid favorite and makes a few healthy additions. Broccoli smothered in cheese and pasta can open the gates for even picky eaters—but if your tots just can’t go green, you can always sub in cauliflower instead. Get the recipe from My Fussy Eater.

Lemons & Basil

Sweet Potato Wraps

We’re always on the hunt for healthy snacks that the little ones will actually eat, and these sweet potato wraps from Lemons & Basil get the toddler seal of approval. You can fill them up with butter, cheese or peanut butter for a perfectly balanced snack. 

A large plate of meatballs sits on the table next to a spoon
Kitchen Sanctuary

Multitasking Meatballs

Just think of these meatballs from Kitchen Sanctuary as the secret agents of your dinner table. In addition to a veggie-full sauce, this recipe for picky eaters has a hidden dose of zucchini, onion, and mushrooms. Add it all up and your family will have a favorite new meal that’s actually healthy comfort food. 

 

Related: How to Get Picky Eaters to Eat, According to a Food Blogger

Two pink smoothies are topped with fruit and have hidden cauliflower buried away in this recipe for picky eaters
Simple Roots Wellness

So Good Smoothie

Psst! Can you keep a secret? This pretty smoothie from Simple Roots Wellness has a lot of berry flavor and a superstar veggie ingredient: cauliflower! Once blended, kids will never know about this sweet treat's mystery ingredient—it’s perfect for breakfast or a snack! 

a white bowl holds homemade chicken noodle soup
iStock

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

This delicious homemade chicken noodle soup is a win for everyone, including picky eaters. You can't go wrong with this recipe from Jennifer Tyler Lee. 

An iron skillet filled with One Pot Tomato Chicken Pasta
Maya Visnyei

Eat & Repeat: One Pot Pasta

If your picky eater’s go-to request is always pasta, why not make the most of it? This recipe for picky eaters sneaks in a few mushrooms but won’t overwhelm kids with unfamiliar flavors. Best of all, you’ll only need one pot for the whole shebang! Get the recipe here.

A silver bucket filled with carrot fries, a great recipe for picky eaters
Kitchen Sanctuary

Irresistible Carrot Fries

Do you want fries with that? When it comes to these carrot fries (which are crunchy, cheesy, and baked, not fried) the answer is always yes! They’re a fun way to get kids excited about carrots and a snap to make, too. Get the recipe from Kitchen Sanctuary.

A blue bowl filled with rice topped with Honey Garlic Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry
Kari of Get Inspired Every Day

Your Go-To Stir Fry

Thank goodness for stir fry! This Honey Garlic Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry not only features a good amount of broccoli, it also has sweet and savory flavors that are better than any take-out options. And did we mention it only takes 30 minutes to make? Get the recipe from Get Inspired Everyday.

Related: 15 Trader Joe’s Products Even Picky Eaters Will Love

Two ham and cheese roll ups sit on a plate ready to eat by even the most picky of eaters
It's Peachy Keen

Baked Rollups

Roll up some ham and cheese for a dinner that will have the little ones forgetting about their pre-boxed meat, cheese and crackers (you know which ones we're talking about). You and your kids can whip up this recipe from It's Peachy Keen in less than 20 minutes for a fun, fingers-only meal.

Apple Juice Chicken topped with green onions sits on a white plate garnished with lettuce
Oatmeal with a Fork

Apple Juice Chicken

You know that stockpile of juice boxes your family has been collecting? This sweet recipe from Oatmeal With a Fork, puts them to good use! The juice chicken is flavorful and easy to make—and we’re willing to bet it’ll be a hit with picky kids and grown-ups alike.

A pepperoni pizza casserole sits in a clear, rectangular dish
Bitz & Giggles

Easy Pizza Casserole

How yummy does this pizza casserole look? Any picky person will love this twist on the classic meat lover's pizza from Bitz & Giggles -- it’s the ultimate comfort food.

A pink smoothie that secretly contains healthy veggies is in a jar topped with a strawberry and banana
Kristine's Kitchen Blog

Berry Smoothie

This berry smoothie recipe from Kristine's Kitchen Blog is a great way for picky kids to have more veggies and have no clue about it! The sweet smoothie will be gone before they even realize they are consuming healthy greens. 

Related: High-Protein Meals Picky Eaters Will Love (Promise!)

A bowl of freshly-cooked lasagna soup garnished with a few leaves of basil
Gimme Some Oven

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna soup from Gimme Some Oven is a tasty recipe that anyone will enjoy when they are having those comfort food cravings. This recipe can be made traditional or plant-based, and if you happen to have any leftover soup-friendly greens in your crisper, feel free to throw them in, too.

Dessert Pizza

Even the pickiest of eaters' ears will perk up when they hear the words "dessert" and "pizza" used in the same sentence. You don't have to mention that it's made with light, healthy ingredients like fresh fruit and Greek yogurt —all they'll notice is the taste. This no-bake chilled dessert pizza recipe from Dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade can also stand in for a quick, pretty breakfast. 

 

 

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