Search for kid friendly places:
Kids Play Guides:
San Francisco Bay Area
New York City
Washington DC ,
Salt Lake City
- Squaw Kids Snowsports School
It was my daughter's first time on skiis and she did the snowcubs half day session. We were able to watch her ski behind the main building. They make the process simple as you just drop your kids off and they will assist them with boot/ski fittings, etc. Lessons are pretty pricey ($116 for half day at Snowcubs not including equipment rental cost) but skiing is an expensive sport. Our daughter enjoyed it and we will definitely be back next year.
- Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden
Set in a quiet oak & cedar grove on the Stanford University campus, the Papua New Guinea Sculpture garden contains some 20+ wood & stone carvings.
Kids can have fun spotting the faces, birds, snake, crocodile drum. It is a relatively small space, but cool & calm and there are some picnic tables.
- Redwood Grove
Redwood Grove is a small nature preserve located next to Shoup Park in Los Altos, within walking distance from downtown (maybe 10 minutes). Parking is on the residential street & then you walk down a path into the park - no cars allowed. Although it's billed as being almost 6 acres, the main area is fairly small. There is a wooden walkway which does a loop through the redwoods - it's a good length for toddlers/small kids to walk & explore.
- Davenport Roadhouse
Davenport Roadhouse is a great place to stop for something to eat along Highway 1. The restaurant is large and kid-friendly with a large adult and children's menu. The only one thing to keep in mind is that they don't serve the lunch menu till noon so if you arrive before noon, you will have to order from the breakfast menu.
- Costanoa Lodge
Costanoa is an eco adventure lodge located on highway 1 between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. It has a variety of accommodations available depending on how much camping you want to do. The grounds are spacious and they have a playground and restaurant on property. They have various kid friendly activities including face painting, pancake breakfast, live music, horseback riding, and a kids program that starts at age 6.
- The Cottage
Breakfast offerings are varied and include an array of Benedicts, as well as delicious oatmeal pancakes. It is a popular place and rather small, so a wait is not unusual. They offer a cart outside for those in the queue, loaded with fresh brewed coffee and delicious coffee cake. Excellent food, great service. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/dHfNNu
- The Huntington Botanical Gardens
The best bit for young kids though was the Children's Garden, an interactive area intended specifically for the 2-7 year old crowd to explore the elements of fire, earth, water & air. There are fountains, pools, paths, tunnels, grottos, sand, pebbles & of course, lots of plants. It's all low-key, charming & aesthetically pleasing - think botanical gardens not theme park. The kids had a great time! Take water shoes & a change of clothes for them. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/hyKZ9q
- Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria
It is a large restaurant with lots of items on the menu to suit everyone. We found our experience mediocre in every way. The food wasn't stellar and the service was poor. On the positive side, they have a kids menu and it is quick. Be sure to make a reservation as the lines start around 6pm. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/fHarF5
- Zimmer Children's Museum
The Zimmer Museum is a great museum to take young kids to. It even has a space for babies/toddlers that is a room made up entirely of pads (floors, walls etc) so the babies can crawl, walk - and fall - without getting hurt! It also has "fun mirrors" so baby can see themselves looking distorted. For older kids there is a play ambulance, a play grocery store, kitchen etc. and they often have art classes going on. Highly recommend! See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/hZIwvU
- La Brea Bakery Cafe
La Brea Bakery Cafe is a great convenient choice in downtown Disneyland located right outside the main entrance to the park. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and you can get things to go or be served. They also have outdoor dining which is great on a nice day. They have an array of sandwiches, soups, salads, pasteries, etc. It's a good option as a break from Disneyland dining and pretty quick too. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/eLDG8j
- Storytellers Cafe
The menu includes salads, sandwiches, soups, pizza for adults and several kids choices such as pizza, pasta, etc. They give kids the option to make the pizza at their table and they will bring it back to be cooked. The restaurant is ok in ambiance and has murals that tell California stories such as Mark Twain. Service was a bit spotty. You should make reservations for the character breakfast but we didn't have to wait for lunch. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/gts0cl
- Yeurba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens is an absolute gem for preschoolers and school age kids in San Francisco. The Gardens themselves - a large open space surrounded by cityscape, and honestly it has everything. A large grassy park with trees, the MLK Jr. memorial fountain and waterway, large whimsical sunken playground, terrace top outdoor dining (three total dining options, adult and kid friendly), ice skating rink, carousel, mini hedge maze, puppet shows, and Zeum (a hands-on digitial kid museum - kind of hard to describe, more suitable for school age kids). See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/ftDCZG
- Beach Hut Cafe
It's a small, bright & airy space, furnished with reclaimed & recycled materials, looking out over the Crissy Field beach & marsh to the Golden Gate Bridge, Needless to say, a wonderful view! They serve hot & cold drinks (including coffees & smoothies), soups, salads & sandwiches. There are some specific sandwiches for kids - PBJ, turkey & cheese, grilled cheese etc. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/gZVBTz
This is a great place to take the kids. It's very popular with the locals. The food is great and a very kid friendly atmosphere. A little on the loud side, but that doesn't bother us. Located on a great street with lots of shops. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/hFXk4M
- Flour + Water
The main dishes are innovative pizzas with eggs and interesting toppings on them. The pasta sauces are also very original such as pork bolognese. Unfortunately, it was a bit too fancy for my kids palettes, but I would definitely recommend it for a nice lunch or dinner with friends. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/hRTBgn
- Canton Dim Sum and Seafood Restaurant
The decor is rather outdated, but the food is tasty, authentic, affordable and the service is pleasantly unassuming. No one minded either when our baby got fussy and we had to get up and walk him around the restaurant in his jogging stroller. Another plus is that there's never a wait even though they remain quite busy throughout the dim sum lunch times. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/g7eK7U
- El Dorado Kitchen
Despite the trendy atmosphere, they have a great kids menu so both adults and kids can enjoy the good food. Additionally, there is a gourment cafe (El Dorado Kitchenette) with casual seating which is convenient with kids - you can go there for breakfast or grab a gourmet sandwich/pizza (and truffle fries) for lunch/dinner and return for ice cream and dessert! See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/hMWCqd
- The Girl & the Fig
This probably isn't the most child friendly restaurant in Sonoma but they welcome children so if adults want to indulge, I'd highly recommend coming even with the kids! Brunch is also excellent there. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/flI0OX
- Carneros Bistro
This restaurant gets rave reviews so we were surprised that they couldn't get the kids pancake (it was hard) right and the adult food was also just average. The ambiance is ok and is nothing spectacular. It is kid friendly as they have an extensive kids menu. However, I doubt we would go there for lunch or dinner given all the other restaurant choices in Sonoma. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/e4YumP
- Alpha Omega Winery
If you're in the Napa area with kids (or without) & looking for a picnic stop, Alpha Omega Winery is great. Opened in Rutherford just a few years ago, the tasting rooms right on Highway 29 were renovated with a spacious, wooden beamed room & nice outdoor space with a large fountain, comfy patio seats & a good picnic area. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/fPvn0d
- Alpha Omega Winery
Note, you need to keep an eye on your kids (especially tottering ones) since the fountain is basically an enormous pool with no edge. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/fPvn0d
- Castello di Amorosa
Set on a hill with views out over vineyards, it is a replica of an Italian medieval castle, with towers, moat, drawbridge, courtyard, great hall, chapel, dungeon, cellars etc - they've done a good job in making it feel authentic & it's surprisingly un-Disney. The kids were suitably impressed and even more excited when they got to leap around on the ramparts with their newly acquired knight accessories (courtesy of the store in the cellars by the tasting room). They do tours of the whole castle for 5 years old & up. Entrance fee, which includes wine tasting. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/gGV1zL
- Ariel's Grotto
We did a character dinner at Ariel's Grotto when we were visiting Disneyland. The restaurant is located in Paradise Pier and surprisingly, the food was decent. You are greeted by Ariel when you arrive and have an opportunity to take a picture with her that you can purchase later. On the day we went, we met Snow White, Belle, Aurora and Cinderella. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/hpr1am
- Balboa Park
Of the 15 museums in the park, the San Diego Automotive Museum, Model Railroad Museum, Natural History Museum and Hall of Champions Sport Museum appeal most to the younger set. There's also plenty of fun activities to enjoy outside: a carousel, miniature railroad, and acres of beautifully manicured gardens, with fountains in which to splash and play. We spent the afternoon here and wished desperately that we had arrived earlier, so we could spend the entire day. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/h9aRuJ
- Balboa Park
Of the 15 museums in the park, the San Diego Automotive Museum, Model Railroad Museum, Natural History Museum and Hall of Champions Sport Museum appeal most to the younger set. There's also plenty of fun activities to enjoy outside: a carousel, miniature railroad, and acres of beautifully manicured gardens, with fountains in which to splash and play. We spent the afternoon here and wished desperately that we had arrived earlier, so we could spend the entire day. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/rPZuc
- The Prado at Balboa Park
The Prado is a great restaurant to stop and refuel - delicious food and charming ambiance. It is very popular, so reservations are recommended. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/rPZuc
- Centreville Amusement Park
It is set amidst 600 acres of land and has lots of rides as well as a petting zoo. The rides include a small roller coaster, ferris wheel, bumper boats and bumper cars, tea cups, etc. This isn't Disneyland but has enough to keep toddlers and preschoolers happy all day.
Filoli is a country estate established by a prominent San Francisco mining family in the early 20th century - a Georgian house set on 16 acres of landscaped gardens. Whilst this is not a run wild kind of outing, there are lots of paths around the gardens which kids enjoy. And it's a good place to visit with grandparents. Most of the paths are okay with a stroller.
- Getty Museum
Kids will love taking the tram up and down the hill to get to the museum. The museum is spacious with lots of outdoor space and fountains so that kids can run around. If you have younger kids in strollers, make sure to budget extra time to see the exhibits as they are housed in multiple buildings on different floors and you will need to take the elevator several times. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/eP839v
- Samovar Tea Lounge
The menu is an eclectic mix of Moroccan, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Russian, English, American & obviously a large selection of teas. There were so many delicious sounding things I had trouble deciding - naturally an excuse to return! If your kids will only eat the likes of mac 'n cheese then this isn't the place for them, but our lot were happy with the turkey sandwiches, ginger quinoa waffles & jasmine lemonade. Good pit stop combined with a nearby performance, exhibition, Zeum children's museum, the Zeum carousel or just hanging out in the Yerba Buena gardens. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/gz8X5T
- San Francisco Zoo
We love going to the San Francisco Zoo as there is so much to see and do for kids of all ages. Our favorite section is the African section at the front with the giraffes. The kids also love the petting zoo area, the train and the carousel. There are lots of options for dining but it does get crowded so either go early or late. Remember to bring your fleece even in the summer as it gets cold by the ocean. It could be sunny a few miles away but freezing at the zoo.
- San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo is one of the best zoos I've been to - nicely laid out with meandering paths, lots of trees & vegetation, a mere 4,000 animals, with well done & generally spacious exhibits. When you arrive, check any special events, shows & feeding times & then to get your bearings take a bus tour for an overview (40 minutes) or a ride on the Skyfari tram for an aerial view. The zoo is pretty big and not all completely flat, so expect to do some walking (if you have babies or small kids, definitely bring a stroller). See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/gzrPPr
- Aquarium of the Bay
It was a weekday so it wasn't jam packed but still, the lines were long. The space is small and the exhibit is "ok". This definitely isn't the Monterey Aquarium. And they charge a pretty big fee for the small size. The plus side is that you can fit in other activities since you won't be there that long as there are really only three exhibits. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/idYzeB
- California Academy of Sciences
If you have young kids, this place is probably worth coming to once to check it out but there are many other places they'd probably have more fun at with less crowds. I think this would be more fun for older kids who can appreciate all the exhibits and read up on everything. There are several cafes with lots of food choices as well as outdoor and indoor dining areas. If you are planning a visit here, buy your tickets in advance (AAA offers discounts), arrive early, and be prepared for the crowds. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/e5cScT
- Crissy Field
We love going to Crissy Field beach on those special days when the weather is warm (over 75 degrees) and beautiful. There are shallow wading pool areas that are formed by the currents and sand that make it perfectly fun and safe for children to splash around in. Plus, you get a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge while you're enjoying some fun in the sun. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/g7eK7U
I haven't been to Disneyland since I was a child and it's amazing how much it has changed with new rides, characters and the addition of the California Adventure theme park. What is great is that all the traditional favorites still remain and they add on to the old. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/fHJ7W6
They have lots of interactive exhibits that include mist, magnetic sand, air, and water which younger kids like. The first floor is geared towards older kids. There is also a tactile dome for age 7+ where you feel your way through darkness. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/hEfqhR
- Hiller Aviation Museum
Hiller Aviation is a great little museum just off 101 on the Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's small, but a nice size for kids & interesting for adults too. There area a few planes they can sit in (a Blue Angel, a helicopter etc). And there is the front part of a Boeing 747 which you can go into, sit in the cockpit & pretend to be the pilot - a winner each time!
- Legoland California
I found the park more pleasant and enjoyable than expected - it's nicely laid out, with trees & winding walkways, not too too big, not overly crowded & relatively calm. We were there on a weekday though so I'm not sure how busy it gets on the weekend.
Tip for the beginning: don't bother with VIP parking, regular parking (which you still pay for) is only 5 minutes further to walk to the entrance.
Tip for the end: avoid the shop just before closing time - it was a panic-inducing frenzy! See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/gCMGYV
- Please Touch Museum
The museum moved to this location a year and half ago and is spacious, new and clean. They have several interactive exhibits including City Capers which is a mini city with a large supermarket, restaurant, hospital, etc. What is great is how spacious the area is so everyone has a cart to push, doll to play with and you don't need to wait in line. There are also staff members to help straighten stuff up.
- Sonoma Traintown Railroad
Traintown is on the main road in Sonoma and offers a 1.5 mile train ride as well as a few other rides for the kids. They have both diesel and steam engines depending on the day of the week. The train makes a pit stop at a mini town with a petting zoo and kids can feed the pets while pretending to go to a church, jail, police station, etc. See more at bigbluetrunk: http://bit.ly/f0G1nU