50 Things Bay Area Kids Must Do Before They’re 10

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If you’ve spent your first decade in the Bay Area, there are a handful of things you must do before you blow out those ten candles in order to be considered a true NorCal kid. We’ve rounded them up for you, from eating Indian food to playing ancient arcade games at the Wharf. How many have you already checked off?

girlkayaking_woodleywonderworksPhoto: Woodleywonderworks via Flickr

1. Get out on the Bay. The fleets of ferries making the trip under the bridge aren’t just for the tourists. If you’re the adventurous type, ditch the ferry and rent a kayak or go fishing.

2. Jump on your bike. Don’t bother with the lycra, just stabilize with training wheels (if necessary) and put your foot down.

3. Go to the Cable Car Museum and look in the heart and belly of this feat of San Franciscan engineering.

4. Explore American Indian history at the Ohlone Village in Fremont’s Coyote Hills Regional Park, or a Miwok Village in Point Reyes.

5. Eat in Chinatown. Make this vibrant city neighborhood, with low-slung lanterns and highly delicious dim sum, your sensory playground for the day.

6. Set off for a gold panning adventure within a few hours of the Bay Area. If you can’t make it to Gold Country you can still step back in time and see nuggets the size of gobstoppers on display in Berkeley and San Francisco.


7. Dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean.

8. Find your favorite museum. Cal Academy, Oakland Museum, Exploratorium, SFMOMA, Lawrence Hall of Science, Bay Area Discovery, the list goes on…

9. Eat ice-cream! Swensens, Smitten or Humphry Slocombe? Pick your favorite and add sprinkles.

10. Hear the sound of a Wave Organ.

11. Sleep under the stars. Go camping (or glamping). The Bay Area has so many options from beaches to redwood forests. Don’t forget the s’mores.

12. Built a fort in the Presidio. While you are there check out the land art of artist Andy Goldsworthy. Tick two things off your list and set up camp here.

13. Catch some live music.

Saturday, October 10 at 11 am: Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band As featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, Latin GRAMMY Award winners Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the release of their bilingual album Adelante with this performance. Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis, a married couple based in Los Angeles, have been named ‘THE face of kindie music’ by the Washington Post, ‘Superstars’ by Red Tricycle, and‘The Rolling Stones of Kids’ Music’ by the Style Network. They duo and their band create hip-shaking, head-bopping indie music sounds rooted in their whimsical child-friendly imaginations. “Viva la pachanga!” It’s a dance party for all ages. Visit Luckydiazmusic.com for more information. Tickets: $15 ($13 members)

photo credit: Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

14. See the Golden Fire Hydrant, credited with saving the Mission District from the fire that followed the 1906 earthquake. Then head over to fabulous Mission Dolores playground, grab a bite and take a look at the famous murals in this vibrant neighborhood.

15. Play 100-year old arcade games at the Musée Mécanique. Don’t forget your quarters!

16. Climb aboard the historic ships at San Francisco’s Hyde Street Pier.

17. Visit the San Andreas Fault walk at Bear Valley Visitor Centre near Point Reyes Station.

18. Do a fun run. A great way to explore a new ‘hood.

crissy field, san francisco, stacking stones

19. Stack stones at Crissy Field.

20. Learn the difference between seals and sea lions. Visit Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marine Mammal Center for clues.

21. Spend the night at a museum. Unroll your sleeping bag for the ultimate slumber party!

22. Hike a trail. See if you can name some of the wildflowers and spot some of California’s wildlife on the way.

23. Visit Mrs Grossman’s sticker factory in Petaluma.

24. Eat fish and chips at the Pelican Inn followed by an afternoon on Muir Beach.

Roy’s RedwoodsPhoto: Yinghai via Flickr

25. See the Giant Redwoods.

26. Get out to a ballgame.

27. Walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge.

28. Visit a farm. Some will even let you stay the night, others give you the controls to a hydraulic tractor!

29. Get your geek on in San Jose at the Tech Museum of Innovation. While you’re nearby, check out the tech capital of Palo Alto.

boudinPhoto: Boudin’s

30. Eat sourdough bread, then see how it’s made.

31. Catch a crab in the Bay Area’s wonderful tide pools, from Santa Cruz to Bolinas.

32. Visit the San Francisco zoo and get up close and personal with some furry friends!

33. See the fog roll in. If you want to feel it too, the Exploratorium has a Fog Bridge installation mocking it up for those who need yet more summer gloom.

34. Watch an outdoor movie. Stretch bedtime and settle in under the stars for family film nights with your favorite movie characters.


photo credit: Pizzaiolo

35. Eat Pizza. Make Little Italy your starting point and let your taste buds lead the way.

36. Fly a Kite.

37. Visit a Lighthouse. Point Bonita is within a few miles of San Francisco. Further afield is Point Pinos in Pacific Grove, or Point Santa Cruz – home to the first ever surf museum. Or go one better and stay the night at one of the oldest nightlights on the west coast, Pigeon Post near Pescadero.

38. Watch elephant seals at Ano Nuevo State Park.

chabotspacesciencePhoto: Chabot Science Center

39. Stargaze at the Cabot Space and Science Center in Oakland. Look out for special sleepover offers in partnership with Red Tricycle.

40. Watch for whales.

41. Watch the Blue Angels’ dare-devil maneuvers in the skies above the bay during Fleet Week celebrations. A Bay Area tradition for 34 years.

watching the blue angels

42. Climb some steps. And descend in style. Pick your favorite life-sized chutes and ladders from around the Bay Area.

43. See the monarch butterflies when they overwinter in Pacific Grove. October to February, the kings and queens of the butterfly world arrive by the thousands. If that’s too far to go, check out these other Bay Area butterfly sanctuaries.

44. Take a spin on a carousel.

45. Plan a trip to Yosemite. Get prepped before you go with some high octane athletics and maybe some climbing practice.

46. Build a sandcastle. Go one better and enter a castle building competition.
chino_sf_girls_eatingPhoto: Chino

47. Eat sushi, saag or carne asada—prove your kiddie foodie cred at one of the Bay’s great international restaurants.

48. Take a road trip.

49. Visit 826 Valencia for pirate gear and story telling.

50. Go behind bars at Alcatraz.

Can you add to the list? Let us know what you’ve tried, tested, tasted or traversed in the comments below.

—Emily Myers

Photos are the author’s unless otherwise credited.


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