3 super day trips with a one-year old

We are happy to introduce you to Jennifer Saranow Schultz (AKA Hintmama), the San Francisco parent to Hannah. As of the time of this interview, Hannah was 13 months old. Jenny offers a few local picks for young toddlers here and on Rookie Moms.

What is your favorite discovery you want to tell every new-in-town parent about?

The California Academy of Sciences is a great spot for toddlers and the membership is worth every penny. Not only does the museum offer tons of exhibits broken up into easily digestible pieces that you can save for various visits (i.e. do the rainforest one visit and the aquarium another), but you can cap each visit off with the “Early Explorers Cove,” which is basically a toddler playroom where the little ones can get some social time while maybe learning a bit about science.

Cal Academy for toddlers
Hannah, age one, on an aquarium day

The Early Explorers Cove at Cal Academy
Closing out the day in the Early Explorers Cove

If that weren’t enough, the museum is located within Golden Gate Park, which has a host of other fun kid-friendly activities, including what I think is the best playground in San Francisco. If you like to run with your kid in a stroller, one of our favorite things to do is to jog around the park with our daughter, stopping along the way to smell the flowers (literally at the Conservatory of Flowers) and visit the other kid-friendly park spots, and then grab lunch at a nearby restaurant called Pacific Catch.

Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park
Stopping to smell the flowers

What are your favorite half-day trips to do with your young toddler?

My sister, who lives in Palo Alto, has a daughter two months younger than Hannah so we’re all about finding toddler-friendly spots nearby where we can meet up for a few hours and then grab lunch.

Our latest finds are two zoo children’s museum hybrids: CuriOdyssey and the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo.

CuriOdyssey is a science and wildlife center at Coyote Point in San Mateo specializing in touch science in the early years. [Editor's note: those of you with older children might remember this museum as Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education; it was renamed in 2011]
CuriOdyssey in San Mateo offers hands-on fun for very little ones
The girls loved touching the plants

The Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo also focuses on hands-on science and lets little ones get right up close to animals (with a protective window in between).

Palo Alto Jr Museum and Zoo
So close you can touch them!

I’ve also heard great things about taking a day trip to the pool at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, where you can supposedly wine taste and lounge with the kids, so taking a trip out there is on my to-do list.

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your Bay Area picks! Read more from Jenny on or her blog, HintMama, where she’s reporting the best hints she comes across for making parenting easier, cheaper — and maybe a bit more humorous.

[All photos provided by Jennifer Saranow Schultz; all rights reserved]