Summer breaks call for breaking out of our city's borders and enjoying all the Bay Area has to offer. Shaheen Bilgrami has your plans squared away with these 12 road trips, all within an easy drive of SF. Grab your keys or book that Zipcar and get outta town!
With travel times under an hour, these outside-the-box adventures are easy to squeeze into a pre- or post-nap window.
Kids will love learning about animal rescue and seeing the adorable “patients” of this marine mammal hospital.
PLACE: 2000 Bunker Rd., Sausalito
This is a great place for family hikes. Little ones will marvel at the huge redwoods and older kids can take part in the Redwood Discovery Quest. Note that advance reservations are now required for parking.
PLACE: 1 Muir Woods Rd., Mill Valley
COST: $10 (children under 16 free)
This former highway, now a paved trail, is perfect for strollers, scooters, and bikes. It’s also rich in flora and fauna ranging from local birds to sea life. Depending on the season, you can look for gray whales, seals, and sea lions off the coast.
PLACE: Off Highway 1 between Pacifica and Montara
This lighthouse with a view of the Bay is open for just three hours on select days and is accessed via a half-mile walk. The hike is part of the fun, including a rock-cut tunnel and a suspension bridge that kids will love.
ADDRESS: Point Bonita Trailhead Field Rd., Sausalito
These destinations also have travel times of an hour or less, but there’s a lot to see and do, so plan to spend three to four hours if you go.
Allegedly the oldest theme park in the U.S., this charmingly nostalgic park is ideal for the 2-year-old and up crowd. It includes live animals, rides, and puppet shows.
PLACE: 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland
COST: $10 (children age 1 are free)
This beautiful old house and its picturesque grounds are perfect for picnicking and hiking. They offer family-friendly guided walks, including a Bird Walk, an Orchard Walk, and a Saturday Nature Hike.
PLACE: 86 Cañada Rd., Woodside
COST: $22 (children under 5 free; children 5-17 are $11)
This delightful little farm tucked in the middle of Tilden Regional Park is a fun way to introduce your little ones to sheep, cows, pigs, and chickens. Don’t forget to take along your own celery or lettuce to feed the animals!
PLACE: 600 Canon Dr., Berkeley
Elementary-aged kids in particular will enjoy hands-on learning about science as they browse the exhibits at this unique “science playground.”
PLACE: 1651 Coyote Point Dr., San Mateo
COST: $12.50 adults, $9.50 children (under 2 are free)
If you want to stay indoors, try this fun museum specifically designed for children up to age 6. Take along spare clothes, as kids are likely to get wet in the Waterworks exhibit!
PLACE: 2065 Kittredge St., Berkeley
With travel times of one to two hours and plenty to see and do once you arrive, these out-of-town destinations are great for a full-day escape or even an overnight excursion.
Train enthusiasts will love to ride on the miniature railroad, which is the main attraction at this quaint, train-themed park.
PLACE: 20264 Broadway, Sonoma
COST: FREE admission (purchase ride tickets separately)
This beautiful garden theme park is perfect for families with young children, ideally under the age of 8.
PLACE: 3050 Hecker Pass Hwy, Gilroy
COST: $35+ (children under 3 are free; parking is $15)
This classic beach amusement park has rides for all ages and plenty of boardwalk food. Check to see which rides are operational before you set off.
ADDRESS: 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz
COST: $39.95+ (varies by entry type)
Fruit Picking in Brentwood
Brentwood is the Bay Area’s fruit picking hub. Depending on the season, you can pick a variety of fruits in addition to nuts and vegetables. See www.harvest4you.com for more information on locations and pricing.
BIO: Shaheen Bilgrami is a freelance writer and editor, and the mom of an energetic preschooler. Contact her through her website, www.shaheenbilgrami.com. This article originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of GGMG Magazine. Photo via Flickr.
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