Mary McQueen is a fitness guru among moms in Oakland. Formerly overweight herself, she now teaches Baby Boot Camp; runs a Kaia F.I.T. program; and coaches women on healthy eating and exercise. She has three children, and today she's sharing some of her favorite activities for Bay Area parents.
What's your favorite family restaurant in Oakland?
We were so sad when Marzano on Park Blvd. closed because that was our fave family-friendly neighborhood spot, but Park Burger next door is also great. Yummy burgers, good local beer on tap, delish salads, really friendly staff, and local sports games on the big-screen TV's. Another great spot if you want something fancier but still family-friendly is Rumbo Al Sur – their Taco Tuesday is hard to beat!
What's your favorite place for one-on-one time with your daughter?
I love to give my little girl some mommy and me time since we are the only two gals in the family (and because being the only girl AND the middle child can be tough for little ones sometimes!) so we head up to Montclair to Isabella Nail Bar for mani/pedis every few months. I love Isabella because it is really clean and because they don't do acrylic nails or use yucky chemicals, so, though it is a little pricier than most nail salons, I feel good about bringing Sinead there with me. They also always make sure to draw little tiny flower designs on Sinead's nails, which is just the icing on the cake for her.
What discovery do you want to tell every new-in-town parent about?
OK, this one is tough, because I kind of don't want anyone to find out about this, so keep this on the hush hush, k? Pack up your car with your kids' bikes, skateboards, scooters, and a few snacks, and drive down to Jack London Square. Head to Heinhold's First and Last, Jack London's old hang-out with the super slanted floor, order a pint or two for yourself, sit outside in the sunshine, and let the kids tear it up on their bikes outside. No kids are allowed in the bar (I even tried to sneak Liam in one time when he was, like, a month old in the Ergo and they told me no go), and if they try to go in with you, the appropriately grouchy bartender will drop a toy bat from the ceiling over the doorframe to scare them, which my kids always get a kick out of. This is one of our favorite things to do – beers, happy kids, people-watching, boats, the farmers market on Sundays…what more could you ask for?!
What's your favorite summer camp?
The summer camps through Montclair Rec Center are really awesome. The camps are reasonably-priced, last all day long, and my kids are dirty and exhausted when I pick them up – just what summer camps are supposed to be. Every Wednesday they take the kids on a field trip…on a bus…which my oldest, Liam, was way more excited about than the actual field trip!
What's your family's favorite Bay Area day trip?
For weekday fun for the kids, we love going out to the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. Such an awesome, hands-on museum in a gorgeous location. For weekend day trips, we love getting out to the ocean, even on cold, foggy days. Crissy Field is lots of fun – pack a picnic and the kids' bikes and bike out to the warming hut for a cup of hot chocolate – so cozy! A couple other faves are Rodeo Beach in Sausalito, Muir Beach (grab a pint of beer and hot chocolate for the kids after a cold beach trip at the Pelican Inn), and going out to Point Reyes and hiking around the lighthouse.
And Bay Area day trip sans kids?
We love a trip out wine-tasting in Livermore – so much more laid-back and low-key than Napa!
What's your favorite toy store?
I love the Toyhouse in Montclair. It's been there since I was a kid – good selection of toys, free gift wrap, and I love supporting local businesses. And though not a toy store, I also love getting gifts right across the street at A Great Good Place for Books – they have cookies for the kids to munch on while you shop, and a lovely little children's nook in the bag where the kids can cozy up on a bean bag and read a book.
What's your favorite Mary-time outing?
I love going hiking up at Redwood Park with girlfriends or my sisters on Sunday mornings; or running around Lake Merritt, depending on how motivated I am! Driving out to the Alameda naval base and doing a tasting at St. George Spirits or getting a pint next door at Faction is another fave, as is getting a pedicure at Isabella Nail Bar. All. Alone. Bliss!