Amazing (& Super Cheap) Things to Do With Kids This Summer in SF and the Bay Area


cheap things to do with kidsIt’s about that time in the summer when we officially run out of new things to do with our kids.

Summer trips have been taken, the house is full of sand from days at the beach and we still have 35 mornings for our kids to jump out of bed and ask what are we going to do today?

I know I’m not the only parent who moonlights as a personal concierge to tiny humans, so here are a few things to do this summer in and around SF with your kids.

Pick-Your-Own Dahlias in Pescadero ($10)

Pescadero is the sweetest little seaside town an hour south of San Francisco. At the main intersection off Route 1, to your right is the beach and to your left is the main street. For $10 (or more if you want), stop, smell and pick the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen at The Pescadero Flowery. Some dahlias are the size of your palm ($2/stem) and others are as big as dinner plates ($4/stem). U-Pick begins August 2nd. After picking, we grab amazing and super cheap tacos at the local gas station (they sell gas, too) and never leave town without grabbing the crazy good artichoke bread from Arcangeli Grocery.

Tilden Park Steam Train ($3) & Merry-Go-Round ($2)

Over the Bay Bridge and through the redwoods to Tilden Park we go, about as often as we can each summer. Tilden Park is beautiful. We all love the majestic steam train ride which brings everyone a sense of calm with the hilly, winding path and ridiculously amazing views. The nearby merry-go-round is also inside the park, a short drive away and is just as great for my kids (makes me a little less calm and a little more dizzy). We always pack lunch and with endless grass for a picnic, the kids don’t even have to sit through a meal.

Decorate Your Refrigerator – Glen Park Library ($0)

Library events may be free but sometimes I feel like they should pay me just for suffering through them. After many misses, our favorite hit is the simple, sweet and thoughtful craft class Decorate Your Refrigerator at Glen Park Library every Thursday from 10-11:30am. It says it’s for kids 18 months to 4 years old, but I bring my 2-year-old and his 5-year old sister and so far they haven’t carded her at the door. After crafts, we check out some books and head over to Glen Park playground – just the right size park to keep my sanity while trying to keep track of my crafty kids.

Kids Yoga (4-10 years old) at The Yoga Tree ($10)

Every Friday from 3:30-4:15pm, The Yoga Tree on Valencia offers Kids Yoga – really part storytelling, part imaginative play and just the right amount of yoga for the most reasonable price I’ve seen in the Bay Area. Parents can stay at class, or it’s about the cheapest childcare you can find while you fill your empty hands with a good read and sip on a cold brew just two blocks away at Ritual Coffee.

Fairyland in Oakland ($10)

My kids LOVE Fairyland. I am shocked at how many native San Franciscans have never been to this magical place. The first time we stepped through the entrance gate to Fairyland I was absolutely horrified. The place looks like it was designed and built by a very high, very Grimm’s-fairy-tale-obsessed weirdo way back in 60’s (and has not been updated since). But lemme tell you, that high guy was no dummy. Kids don’t need much. Throw a few rides at them (they are actually tall enough to ride) + life-size statues of every Disney character there is (pre-1960) + an authentic super creepy puppet show = your kid’s daily, “What are we going to do today?” magically turns into the daily, “Can we go to Fairyland again?!”


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Amy is a technologist by trade and a writer by nature. Wife to a dashing web designer, mother to a beautiful, thoughtful daughter, adorable, slightly less civilized son, and a Yorkshire Terrier who came first and is still waiting for the non- furry babies to leave. As a work-from-home mom, she believes work/life balance is not a concept but a daily (sometimes exhausting) goal. She is always in search of a community that fosters her belief that sameness is boring, money is only a means to see the world and there are no rules we should impose on one another in this life other than Be Kind. She loves her family, lives to travel, and firmly believes that a homemade meal, a handmade cocktail and an episode of the Bachelor (a day late because she doesn’t own a tv) can cure almost anything.


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