Hi there. I have a 13-month-old son. He is super busy. If we aren’t out and about by 9am, he is literally screaming the house down. I would like to do some new things with him because I am getting quite bored of the same stuff every day. This is what we do (if you are also looking for different things):
-Palo Alto Junior Zoo
-Johnson park (the water feature is a big hit)
-Burgess swimming and park
-Menlo Park library
-San Jose Zoo (kind of far to drive)
Any fresh ideas? He loves the outdoors. Bonus points for things that might be fun for me, too. Thanks!
- Mitchell park splash pad
San Jose Childrens Discovery Museum
Palo Alto kids library (train table)
Mountain view library (GREAT story time for under 2)
Parents place drop in playtime (did this when my son was 1-2)
- 1) Stanford campus — watch your son very carefully during the regular school year because the kids drive their bikes really fast and don’t have much understanding of a toddler’s darting movements. It can be dangerous with all the bikes zooming around.
2) When I lived in Redwood Shores it was so much fun taking my kids for walks and trike rides on the paved trails. Again, watch for the occasional fast bicyclist, but overall it’s very safe and you can go a long way without having to cross a street. Start by heading down either Redwood Shores Parkway or Marine Pkway all the way toward the bay. You can park on the residential streets and start walking. The paved walkway is part of the Bay Trail and also partially winds around the back of some housing developments. The best part is along the bay from RWS Parkway at the very end toward Marine Parkway.
3) When I had one child and he was a toddler, we would do playgroups in the morning, or take a class. If he napped early, we would have lunch and then head out far far away to the Childrens Discovery Museum in SJ or Happy Hollow to spend at least 4 hours. Then he napped again on the long drive home. Happy Hollow or CDM is also a great place to spend the wole day as well — so much to do and you can just space out when you get tired because they will play for a very long time in one little spot at the CDM.
- Your son sounds just like my kids. I started my website www.outdoorsparent.com to document all the great, outdoors activities we found to do in the Bay Area. Hope it helps.
- Hidden Villa
Rancho San Antonio Farm
I’d also recommend Hidden Villa — great place to take little ones to see the farm animals (check their calendar, as they are closed much of the summer for camps). The Stanford Campus is also a great place to explore with little ones. Try the Rodin Sculpture Garden, the Quad, or the Stanford Barn to see the horses. We also love walking around Lake Lag — it’s dry this time of year, but it’s fun for little ones to run around the dry lake bed and look for rabbits, ducks, etc. If you’re looking for a fun place to grab a bite with a little one, I’d recommend Bumble in Los Altos or Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park. Both are great for kids (Bumble especially). Your son may be a bit young for it, but Happy Hollow is a great place for little ones — feed the goats, take in a puppet show, ride the dragon train, etc. And if you want some indoor time, UME in Menlo Park is great for kids. Lots of space to run around, slide, jump on the trampoline. And they have a little cafe where you can pick up kid-friendly meals or snacks.
Run the errands you need to run – they love sitting in the shopping cart at Costco, grocery store – or keep him in the stroller to go to the bank, Starbucks, Walgreens, post office, etc. If you’re out at lunchtime, I’ve gotten sushi and eaten at Whole Foods – and put my baby in one of their high chairs and brought his lunch. It was a fun date!
Bring stroller to Sunset Magazine gardens. They’re open M-F 10-4 or something (you should confirm) and you just walk in the front door and straight to gardens. He can run around…
Stop by your local fire station to check out the fire trucks. If the firemen aren’t busy, they’ll show you around…
Bring stroller to Stanford Shopping Center. Stores open at 10am. You can get a Starbucks and duck into a few stores and your son can walk and look at fountains.
During summer the MV library has a music in the park series. Concert for little kids in park behind the library. Bring a blanket and some snacks. It does get crowded, but lots of fun.
- Just like my little guy!- Oakland Zoo
- Beach – either in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay or Pescadero
I also set up some classes. I found having a few days of structured activities relieved the burden for me to have to plan something new everyday.
- Kindermusik classes – we did one out of Mountain View, but I’m sure there’s others if you search online.
- Together w/ Toddlers classes at Ventana School in Los Altos – LOVED these classes. They are off for summer but will start again in fall. They do fill up so maybe call to get on a waitlist?
- I also joined two playgroups through PAMP. You can either join an existing one or start your own. It was nice for me to form friendships with those living near me with kids around the same age. I think you can join Las Madres groups as well.- Long walks – we got a great jogging stroller and I’d take baby on long walks almost everyday. Great exercise for me, but he liked seeing the world too.- Local parks were great too. I’d just pick random ones and we’d drive there and he’d get tired just running around. In a couple more months this will be a great option for you too (bring some sand toys and he could be occupied for a long time while you take a breather). Shoreline park in Mountain View is also great for stroller walks.- If you really need a break, try Bumble in Los Altos.
- Rinconada pool in Palo Alto is a big hit with the little kids.- Not sure what city you’re in, but the city of Mountain View offers free preschool classes as part of First 5 California. You have to live in MV though, but maybe other cities offer the same? We actually attend the one in Spanish on Thursday mornings so my kids can practice their Spanish, but they have an English class in the afternoon.- Mercy Street Family Resource Center in MV also offers free classes for MV residents. http://www.first5kids.org/frc/location_09Lastly, there are preschools that enroll kids starting at 2 years old. Many are play-based, so the kids just sing songs, do art projects, read books, etc. It’s not really school. My little one was crawling up the walls and as soon as he started his school at age 2 he was so happy to be out of the house for a couple hours a week, doing his own thing and making new friends. You are probably at the stage where you can start looking into schools if you’d like to have him start a part time program.
Gosh, I always feel there’s just too much stuff to do, there isn’t enough time. I have to remind myself some downtime is good too.
My son was a get-up-and-go kind of guy, too, and we did almost all the activities that people have suggested. I don’t think I’ve seen these places yet on the lists that have been submitted:
The Reading Bug in San Carlos (an AWESOME children’s bookstore with sweet, whimsical nooks to sit and read; a play area, Mommy and me yoga and other classes, great author events, etc.) Great for rainy days.
Ardenwood Farm in Fremont (right over the Dumbarton Bridge). Feed the animals, chase the peacocks!
On rainy days, we would visit the friendly, local toy stores (back then, I called them “toy museums!”) Cheeky Monkey, Talbots Toyland, Ambassador Toys: at all of these shops, kids can play at train tables and other play stations!
- Peers Park in Palo Alto
- going to see trains near a railroad crossing during rush hour
- Luane’s Little Explorer (for 18 months and older though)
- The Third Place at Ventana School (though not in session during summer)
- CDM in San Jose
- PLAY in Los Altos
- Mitchell Park
This might be a trek for you, but it is totally worth it, in my opinion — Habitot in Berkeley. The place is small, but the activities are super educational and fun. There is a special section for crawlers, a water station, a art painting wall, and other stations.
My son loves the place and I personally think it is WAYYY better than U-Me.
- Check out PAMP’s events page… They now subsidize with U-Me in Redwood City and we LOVE that place!! Looks like there’s swimming classes now through PAMP too!Lots of parks in San Jose – Jack Fisher has a water feature. Central Park in Santa Clara is great & huge.Libraries, Shoreline Park has a pirate ship play structure, U-Me, Cuesta Park, CDM in San Jose is fabulous, cooking class in Sunnyvale, art class through city of Los Altos, check out parks & rec for LA and Mountain View.
- Hello again, this list is looking really great. We went to Arastradero preserve and really enjoyed the ‘wildness’ of it. Then yesterday, we went to Shoreline park to watch kites and boats and geese and baby squirrels. Lots of fun also! Good to have such a long list of activities. Thanks again.
- Has no one mentioned the Bay Area Discovery Museum yet? It is heaven. Yes, it’s up in Sausalito, but I can’t imagine that would be harder to get to than Berkeley. It is so awesome. Used to live in the city and take the kids there once or twice a week.
- For those who don’t know, if you have Palo Alto library card, you can get free passes to Bay Area Discovery Museum, Aquarium of the Bay and many other venues. See here fore more details, including the list of participating venues:http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/lib/econtent/museum_passes.asp