10 Reasons to Book a Sitter in January


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With winter “vacation” in full swing and the kids climbing the walls, now is the time to give yourself something to look forward to in January! Get your date night or night out with your BFF on the calendar and the babysitter booked. January is full of non-kid-friendly activities and you know you want be there. Scroll down to see our recs!

Tim Williamson/California Academy of Sciences

1. Spend a Night at the Museum

While you likely have taken the kids to the California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium, both offer a totally different experience when you head there at night.

On Thursday nights, the California Academy of Sciences NightLife program brings you music, creatures and even cocktails with a new theme each week. On January 11, learn all about the mysterious mushroom at Fungus Among Us. Then, LOL on January 18 when SF Sketchfest takes over the Academy for a night of comedy that includes a panel of brilliant scientists put to the test in a hilarious drinking game.

To attain the ultimate in VIP status, grab a VIP ticket that includes early express entrance, behind-the-scenes tours, two complimentary drinks plus light bites and a reserved pass for the Planetarium show. Pro tip: make sure to make the rounds to all the different bar areas as each features its own seasonal cocktail.

California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA
Dates: Thursdays, 6-10 p.m. (except Jan. 4)
Tickets: $12/member, $15/non-member. 

Thursday is also the night for the Exploratorium’s After Dark program, which brings all the hands-on discovery to an 18 and older crowd. The theme changes each week and the second Thursday of the month brings an extra-special night of Pairings: Cultivating a Taste for Science Through Food. January 11’s event is Pairings: Bivalves where you can learn all about how these organisms that include mussels, clams, oysters and scallops are at risk in our Bay due to global warming. Other January After Dark events include Bright and Shiny, Iron and The Florestine Collection, and Radioactivity, Shawn Thwaites Rebel Quartet and Drink Lab.

The Exploratorium
Pier 15
San Francisco, CA
Dates: Thursdays, 6-10 p.m.
Tickets: $14.95/daytime member, $17.95/non-member. $45/full-year After Dark membership. Additional $10/person to visit the Tactile Dome.

Carol Rosegg

2. Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of RENT

It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years since Jonathan Larson first brought the rock musical RENT to the stage. This show, which has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award, brings to life the story of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams. RENT is perfect for a kid-free night out as some of the content tends toward the mature. Grab a drink at nearby Tanq bar in the Marriott Hotel before the show or a meal at any number of restaurants in downtown San Jose like Olla Cocina or The Farmers Union.

Center for the Performing Arts
255 Almaden Blvd.
San Jose, CA
Dates: January 23-28

Emporium SF

3. Play Like a Kid, Without the Kids

If you want to relive your arcade and foosball days without having to share your tokens with the tikes, Emporium SF should be on your night out list for January. This arcade bar took over the 100-year-old Harding Theater on Divisadero Street and opened its doors in a soft opening in early December. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for the January Grand Opening date that will certainly be the place to be. You can expect all your favorite old-school games like pinball, foosball, skeeball and even shuffleboard. Plus, Emporium has a full bar focusing on local and regional craft beers. Expect to find DJs spinning your favorite jams, loads of awesome art on the walls and giant movie screens. May we suggest that the kids spend the night at Grandma’s house so that you can fully enjoy your night out at Emporium?

Emporium SF
616 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA

SF Sketchfest/Doughboys

4. Tickle Your Funny Bone

For an uproariously funny night on the town, check out the lineup at SF Sketchfest and get ready for some serious comedic relief. Venues all over SF are hosting comedic geniuses from January 11-28. Some fan favorites include Fake TED Talks, podcasts stars the Doughboys and improv from The Groundlings. (Pro tip: The second week of SF Sketchfest overlaps with the beginning of SF Restaurant Week so if you time it well, you can get some good eats at bargain prices before your show.)

SF Restaurant Week/Gamma Nine

5. Satisfy Your Foodie Dreams During Restaurant Week

January is California Restaurant Month which means there are tons of great meals to be eaten and deals to be had. 

Plan a night in the City by the Bay from January 22-31 and enjoy a multi-course meal during SF Restaurant Week. Participating restaurants offer special lunch and dinner menus at parent-friendly prices ($15-25/person for lunch and $40-65/person for dinner). The prix-fixe menus feature house specialties, new menu items and must-try delectables. Lunch options come with a minimum of two courses while dinners have at least three. Check the SF Restaurant Week website for participating restaurants, menus and reservations. 

Looking to head farther north? Napa Valley Restaurant Week happens January 21-28 and all your farm-to-table favorites are ready to welcome you. Lunch will run you $20 and dinner is $36 or $46. Grab a spot with a view for lunch at the restaurant at Auberge du Soleil or dinner downtown at Torc, Ca’ Momi, Angele and the recently-opened Charlie Palmer Steak. For all participating restaurants, view the Napa Valley Restaurant Week website

If SF and Napa are too much of a trek for a night out, check to see if there’s a restaurant week going on near you. Berkeley Restaurant Week runs January 18-28, Alameda has theirs January 12-21, Oakland is January 11-21 and San Jose Eats takes place for two weeks—January 15-28. You can view all the NorCal spots here

Tarah Beaven

6. Root for the Home Team

Don your fan gear and head out for a night that’s more about cheering on your favorite team and less about constant bathroom and snack breaks. The Warriors will be at the Oracle Arena January 8, 10, 23, 25 and 27 for all you hoops fans. The San Jose Sharks have Saturday night games on January 13 and 20. Or, cheer for your alma mater at a game that will bring you back to the days of kegs and all nighters. 

Lars Ploughmann via Flickr

7. Dine on Delicious Crustaceans

Enjoy local Dungeness Crab at an all-you-can-eat Crab Feed at Mountain Winery on Saturday, January 20. This South Bay spot in the hills above Saratoga offers stunning views and Mountain Winery’s own estate wines to accompany your meal. This splurge night will run you $105/person (drinks not included). Five seatings are offered starting at 5 p.m. Reserve your tickets here

Silicon Valley Auto Show

8. Test Out Some Sweet Rides

The Silicon Valley Auto Show is in town from January 4-7 at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center. Whether you are in the market for a new minivan or just want the opportunity to sit inside a Bentley, a trip to the auto show without the kids in tow is the way to go! Tickets are the bargain price of $11/person which definitely leaves room for dinner after you hit the show. 

Beach Blanket Babylon

9. Enjoy Pop Culture and Outrageous Hats at Beach Blanket Babylon

With so much comedic (and not-so-comedic) fodder in our daily news, now is the perfect time to plan a night at Beach Blanket Babylon. This musical revue that has been a San Francisco staple at Club Fugazi for over 16,000 performances is the perfect addition to a night on the town. Beach Blanket Babylon follows the story of Snow White as she takes a fast-paced journey around the world in search of her “Prince Charming.” Along the way she encounters a star-studded, ever-changing line-up of hilarious pop-culture characters, including Donald and Melania Trump, Vladimir Putin, Beyoncé and more. Fantastic costumes and outrageously gigantic hats add to the festivities. Tickets run $25-155 and can be purchased here

Body Worlds Decodes at The Tech Museum of Innovation

10. Explore Augmented Reality at The Tech Museum of Innovation

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Body Worlds Decoded exhibit at The Tech Museum in San Jose, put it on the calendar for your next kid-free night. While the exhibit is totally something you should bring the kids to see, you will definitely get a different insight when you visit sans kids. This exhibit combines the plastinated human bodies that are included in other Body Worlds exhibits with the Silicon Valley addition of technology. Augmented reality lets you walk around a 3D beating heart before “stepping inside” to see how it works. The museum closes at 5 p.m. daily so get your babysitter to come early, head over at 3:30 p.m. and the grab some dinner afterwards. Better yet, combine your visit with a prix fixe meal during San Jose Eats restaurant week, January 15-28. 

Do you have a babysitter booked in January? Brag about your plans below!

—Kate Loweth


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