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San Francisco with Kids – Golden Gate Park

We picked a fabulous day to visit the city, with blue skies and a warm sun. Although San Francisco is famed for being warmer in the fall than in summer, usually by November the chill is setting back in. Not today.

landscape photo of the children's playground on a sunny day, blue skies, lots of children playing, and a few people picnicing on the grass.

What to do with kids in SF? Bring them to this gorgeous children's playground at Gold Gate Park, with sandpit, climbing wave wall, bridges, swings and climbing frames, surrounded by tall, tall trees and a beautiful blue sky. That's our blue picnic rug in the front on the left, with my best friend sitting on it.

We spent most of our time sitting in the sun at the childrens playground, which is a fairly large space with everything from a climbing web to a long slide, and a sandpit for the littlies.

It also has four bucket style baby swings, three big kid swings (the flexible kind that even my hips can fit in), and a full chair style swing with back. Since the swings are always such a hit with my girls, both if whom could swing for hours, it’s always good to find the rare place when there are enough of them.

A large blue and green mosaic lizard edging a large sandpit

The sandpit was pretty big, and had this awesome lizard (or dragon?) guarding us, inevitably reminding us of Barcelona and Gaudi's lizard.

I actually spent most of the time we were there sitting on our picnic blanket on the grass chatting to my friend, keeping half an eye on the kids, while chris was good enough to follow Elli around. But, we placed ourselves near the sandpit where she was happy to spend a lot of time.

a large map of golden gate park, mounted on a sign

Click to enlarge

When we’d eaten our picnic and judged that the kids had had enough time playing not to stage a mutiny (a bit over 2 hours) we packed up and went exploring. The Japanese Tea Gardens were our goal, but we didn’t tell the kids that at first, just in case we didn’t make it – there are maps around the park, including one right next to the children’s quarter, but we weren’t quite sure of our bearings, nor of how far it was.

In the end it took us about an hour and a half to get down there, though only about 20-30 minutes to get back (we’d driven, and parked up at the children’s playground), and without meandering five year olds I reckon it could be about a ten to fifteen minute walk.

We walked via the flower conservatory, which we didn’t go into since you had to buy tickets, but we stopped outside and bought hot chocolates and coffees all round. They weren’t terribly good, but they were warm and the guy was kind enough to give me an extra cup half filled with whipped cream for Eliane, which made her very happy.

The kids also had fun climbing trees, running around like fairies, and generally exploring as we went, so I was happy to take the time.

In the end we got to the tea gardens with only an hour to go before they closed, which was okay, though we could easily have spent more time there. The kids enjoyed exploring the paths, crossing the streams on bridges and stepping stones, and admiring the fish in the large pond and the water falls. We enjoyed all that and the serenity of the atmosphere besides.

large pond with trees and autumn foilage reflected in it, and stone bridge or path to one side with a small boy in it

Tea Garden Serenity

There is a Japanese tea house in the gardens which sells four kinds if Japanese tea, various small Japanese dishes including a very good miso soup, and some small cookies and soft drinks if you need something ‘regular’ for the kids.

We had a pot of tea which Liam and I shared (they brought two cups automatically, though the other three teas were all sold by the cup for the same price), and a plate of 9 little Japanese cookies which the children shared, and Chris had the miso soup. By the time we finished there they’d locked up the front gate of the Gardens, and we had to go out a side gate.

Japanese style gate house structure

This was the front gate - the side gate was a little less imposing.

It cost $7/adult to enter the Tea Gardens, and $2/child of five and over. That seemed reasonable, but still added up to $20 for us (we had an extra five year old with us). They do have three periods of free entry during the week however, though all at morning times on week days.

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This entry was posted on November 10, 2011 at 7:57 am and is filed under 2011 Round the World, Destinations, Personal Blog, Things to do at.... You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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