Places to Go With Kids in SF

How do you keep four kids, ranging in age from 4 to 12, entertained for a day in San Francisco? Equipped with the cards “City Walks with Kids: San Francisco: 50 Adventures on Foot,” we explored Chinatown, discovering new places and unfamiliar parts of the city one cool winter day.

China Town

We visited a tiny fortune cookie factory, where we sampled and bought a bag of cookies.

Fortune Cookies

We walked by a building where a dragon in the window reminded us that Chinese New Year was just around the corner.

China Town

We listened to a Chinese band as the kids played on a jungle gym in Portsmouth Square. We shopped at a small market, bought trinkets, listened to street musicians, and ended our adventure with lunch at the Far East Cafe, a family favorite from my childhood years.

Far East Cafe

Trip taken: December 2010.

Tootling Around Truckee

Truckee still has the same sense of community that it had when I first moved here, the woman behind the counter said. “In the 18 years I’ve lived here, the population has grown from 4600 to 16,000, but it’s still the same.” And when I mention her quote to others who’ve been visiting Truckee for at least that long, they agree, though they tell me that the week between Christmas and New Year’s the winter enthusiasts have elevated the population to 50,000 or so.

It’s been years since I’ve visited Truckee. So long that I didn’t remember it’s charm. Most of what the tourist visits when they’re not hiking or snow shoeing or skiing is on one long street in downtown Truckee filled with boutiques, a fudge shop, and local artisan galleries.

Truckee

There are old railroad tracks and tiny bungalows just a block away, and plenty of places to spend money.

Truckee RR Tracks

We ogled and coveted the beautiful locally crafted items at Riverside Studios and Bespoke, wishing we could add to our Christmas list. We ate burgers and sampled beer at Fifty Fifty Brewing Company. We drank coffee at Coffee Bar, trying its lavender and chai spiced lattes, and gluten-free desserts. We enjoyed the uniqueness, the character, the charm of this mountainside community.

Coffee Bar

Mocha Latte

Trip taken January 2016.

Hiking in Marin

One of my favorite things about Marin County, just north of San Francisco, is its accessibility to hiking. Within an hour or less from urban life, you can be hiking on challenging trails with a view of the ocean or in the shade of redwood trees.

On my last visit to Marin, a friend and I went for a hike in the Tennessee Valley area of the Marin Headlands.

Trail head

It was a blustery but sunny day. We hiked along the Tennessee Valley Road to the confluence of the Old Springs Trail and took a left, eventually turning on the Wolf Ridge Trail toward Hill 88.

MH Trail

What was once a former Nike Missile Radar Station, Hill 88 is now graffiti covered buildings with incredible views of the city.

SF View

After exploring Hill 88, we hiked back along the Wolf Ridge trail, wondering about the cannon we could see far below (but without the time or the inclination to discover it for ourselves).

Instead we headed back down the Coastal Trail, toward Tennessee Valley Road and our car. Soon we were back in civilization, eating tacos for lunch (see Tacos in Sausalito), and going about our day.

For a map of the trails in the Marin Headlands click here.

Trip taken: January 2014.

World’s Largest Sculpture: It’s Not What (or Where) You Might Think

So you thought Mount Rushmore was big! Well, wait until you see Crazy Horse Memorial. This memorial, paid for by private donations, not public ones, is worth more than a drive by. Not only is there a sculpted monument in progress to observe (you can take a bus to get near the site), there are museums and gift shops as well.

Crazy Horse Memorial

How big is the carving? Imagine a 35-foot tall hand or a 219-foot tall horse’s head. Crazy Horse’s head is 87 feet 6 inches high. When complete, the entire carving will be 641 feet long by 563 feet high! (The faces of Mount Rushmore are just 60 feet high.)

And why is it there? Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear asked Korczak Ziolkowski, a sculptor who assisted Gutzon Borglum on Mount Rushmore, to create a monument “to honor the culture, tradition, and living heritage of North American Indians.” According to the website, “Native American leaders chose Crazy Horse for the Mountain Carving because he was a great and patriotic hero. Crazy Horse’s tenacity of purpose, his modest life, his unfailing courage, and his tragic death set him apart and above the others.”

Crazy Horse Model

Work on the world’s largest mountain sculpture officially began on June 3, 1948 and continues. In 1976, the Indian Museum of North America opened which includes artifacts and art from a variety of American Indian cultures. In 1996, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center was added. It includes artifact collections and Native American vendors and artisans.

Cost of admission is $11 or $28 per carload. It’s an extra $4 to take the bus up close to the bottom of the mountain. Crazy Horse Memorial is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation.

Trip taken July 2013.