Depending on where you live in the Bay Area, our kids have between one and two weeks of summer vacation left. Which means, we have just a few more days of sleeping in, playing all day under the sun, and experiencing some of the best Bay Area destinations before jumping back into a regular routine.
To make the most of your time, we put together a guide to the last days of summer. Get the kids together and see how many of these you can check off before the first day of school. And, if you don’t get to them all, don’t worry; you can still hit the town on the weekends!
Visit a local museum
“Number 197” by Leonardo Drew Installation | Image Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
With the sheer variety of museums in the Bay Area, there are plenty of opportunities to ease kids into the school year with a day of learning. First things first, check out the fun, interesting and downright hilarious museums featured on 14 of The Bay Area’s Quirkiest Museums. Then, spend an afternoon perusing a few of our favorite options below!
OMCA first opened its doors more than 40 years ago and has since become East Bay’s destination for inspiration, learning and creativity. With a collection of over 1.9 million objects including seminal art works, historical artifacts, ethnographic objects, natural specimens and photographs, it’s the perfect way to experience California before school starts!
De Young is one of our favorite museums in San Francisco because it features exhibit after exhibit of fine arts and a view to match! Located above the exhibitions, you’ll find the observatory tower where you can take in a 360-degree view of the city, the Bay and the surrounding landscape.
CuriOdyssey is a nature and science center located in San Mateo’s Coyote Point Recreation Area. Perfect for kids, the museum has exhibits on bugs, local wildlife, creeks, gadgets and more! Then, you can see the wildlife in action around the park.
Venture outside San Francisco
As a local in the Bay Area, you probably know by now that San Francisco isn’t the only place to find food, entertainment and kid-friendly activities. Venture south into the Peninsula or across the Bay Bridge and find out what to do with our handy guides: What to Do in Oakland if You Only Have 24 Hours and Things to do in The Peninsula.
Our guide to the Peninsula includes such stops as the Computer History Museum in Mountain View and the beachside burger stop, Dad’s Luncheonette in Half Moon Bay.
And in our Oakland guide, you’ll find bakeries, restaurants, parks and more — including local destinations Sweet Bar Bakery, Tilden Regional Park and Firebrand Artisan Breads.
Be a tourist for the day
There’s a reason San Francisco and the Bay Area attract thousands of tourists every year. We have one of the most recognized tourist sights in the world (hint: it rhymes with shmidge) and hundreds of other parks, landmarks and neighborhoods to explore. But as locals, it’s easy to miss out on many of those tried and true tourist spots. Use our guide, 26 Places to Take Out of Town Guests in the Bay Area, to track down the go-to tourist sights and the local hotspots — from Musée Mécanique in SF to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose!
Shop at a nearby farmers’ market
Photo courtesy of Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association
The Bay Area — from South Bay all the way up to wine country — hosts more than 100 farmers’ markets every day of the week. With The Ultimate Guide to 120 Bay Area Farmers’ Markets, you and your kids can find the closest markets to your home or explore a different region via its local growers, makers and artisans. Then, head home for a fun cooking lesson with the entire family!
For the most iconic San Francisco experience, bring your shopping bags to CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday, Tuesday or Thursday!
Spend a day at the beach
Though our Bay Area beaches may not be as famous as SoCal’s we still have some of the best beaches for hiking, camping, photographing and more. Check out our guide, The 12 Best Beaches in the Bay Area, with details on everything from the best beach for beginning swimmers to the best beach for beachside entertainment and everything in between!
Scream for ice cream
Photo courtesy of Milk & Wood
There’s no better season for ice cream than summer (though we’re strong proponents of year-round ice cream). Take advantage of the sunnier days and visit a few of our favorite local shops!
Smitten started eight years ago as a freshly churned creamery serving treats out of a red Flyer wagon in the Mission. Now, there are nine locations throughout the Bay Area and parts of SoCal. At each one, you can taste flavors inspired by California’s bounty of produce — including summer’s Fresh Mint Chip made with organic, fresh spearmint leaves!
At Bi-Rite Creamery they make ice cream, soft serve and baked goods by hand in small batches to taste like the stuff we grew up with. It’s the perfect place to take the kids and rediscover the kid in you! When the team began making ice cream in 2006, they were the first ice cream shop in San Francisco to use Straus Family Creamery organic dairy, the first certified organic dairy west of the Mississippi.
Icicles is a trendy shop with locations in Willow Glen, Newark, Cupertino, Pleasanton and San Mateo. Their Thai Rolled Ice Cream is made daily in house and rolled right in front of you as you order. Then, you can top it with fruit, sprinkles, chocolate drizzles and more! Check out the flavors here; but if you can’t decide, we recommend the Gotcha Matcha or Oreo rolls.
In Northern California, Milk & Wood has locations in San Jose and Santa Cruz. Choose one of 25 different popsicle flavors — from sweet and silky gelato bars to refreshing fruit bars. Hand crafted daily, their pops can be topped with cereal, nuts, pretzels, fruit and much, much more.
Sleep under the stars
If you haven’t camped yet this summer, time is running out. To help you find the best spot for your family, we rounded up the 10 most spectacular camping destinations near San Francisco — and they’re all within two hours of the city!
Grab a snack at Cat Town Café
Photo courtesy of Cat Town
If you’re looking for something completely out of the ordinary, take the kids to Cat Town in Oakland. This non-profit rescue has been helping Oakland’s most vulnerable shelter cats since 2011 and since 2014, they’ve been operating the Cat Town Cafe! As the first cat cafe in the US, visitors are invited to mingle with up to 20 free-roaming adoptable cats in a relaxed setting — a bonus for the kitties and the kiddies. Grab a coffee for yourself at the RAWR Coffee Bar, a snack for your kids and, who knows, maybe you’ll go home with a new family member!
Go to the zoo
The zoo is always one of our go-to activities any day of the year, but it’s a must-do in the summer. Watch your kids faces light up as they encounter giraffes, grizzly bears, kangaroos, lions and more. You can experience it all in the city at San Francisco Zoo or in East Bay at Oakland Zoo!
Track down a local food truck
Photo courtesy of Off the Grid
It’s no secret the Bay Area knows food and that knowledge translates perfectly into street food. Take the kids on a scavenger hunt to find our 15 Unique Food Trucks in the Bay Area You Need to Try. Or, opt for a scheduled community event with Off the Grid or SoMA StrEat Food Park.
Off the Grid hosts food truck events in San Francisco, East Bay, Peninsula and South Bay every day of the week. See the full schedule here and see how many you can get to before the first day of school!
The SoMa StrEat Food Park describes itself as “a culinary carnival and urban playground with a rotating lineup of culinary curiosities that are sure to amaze, delight and astound”. The park features food trucks, carnival games, WiFi, TV screens and more. Bring the dog along so the whole family can join in the fun!
How are you saluting summer?
Let us know what you’re doing in the Bay Area before school starts!