Category Archives: adventures

Meeting Reindeer at the SF Zoo

Looking for sometReindeer Romphing fun to do this holiday season?  Consider introducing your tot(s) to some of Santa’s reindeer.  They’re at the SF Zoo.  Just follow the red signs to their location.  Both of my boys loved watching the reindeer prance about.  In fact, we could have probably spent most of the day just observing the reindeer do their thing.

After visiting the reindeer, we stopped by to see the penguins.  Luckily for us it was feeding time which happens at 10:30am and again at 3:30pm.  Bobby laughed as the penguins lined up to be hand fed their breakfast.

We then strolled about for awhile checking out the zebras, monkeys and even the rhino.  Bobby though was most amused by the peacocks that were free ranging along the paths.

We ended up stopping for lunch right near the carousel, which proved to be a great way to encourage Bobby to enjoy some veggies. Of course after his lunch, he got to ride the carousel.  He picked out a pig to ride on and loved trying to figure out how the pig moved up and down.  I totally loved admiring the beauty of the carousel which is made out of wood and dates back to the 1920s.  Total perfection.

Of course a trip to the zoo would not be complete without stopping by the children’s petting zoo with goats, horses and ducks.  My boys loved petting the goats. I loved watching them. For older kids, there is a tack barn with creative activities like drawing for kids to enjoy.  My boys aren’t there yet, and were more into taking the mini tractors for a spin around the grounds.

Tips – If you can swing it, I highly recommend going on a weekday it is a much more relaxing experience. Avoid the first Wednesday of the month as it is the free day for SF residents. I also highly recommend bringing a picnic lunch as well as some extra layers.  Oh and kids 3 and under are free.  So enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Patch Roundup

Along with fall, comes pumpkin lattes, jack o lanterns and of course Halloween!  Halloween is such a fun holiday to prepare for with kiddos.  Of course there is one tradition that is a treat to kids and adults alike — finding that perfect pumpkin.  Sonoma County has many amazing pumpkin patches to visit.  From neighborhood patches to full blown farms, there is something out there for everyone.  Here are a few suggestions:

Adobe Pumpkin Farm, Old Adobe Road, Petaluma.  Driving into Petaluma from Sonoma, you’ll likely pass by Adobe Pumpkin Farm.  With rusty old tractors decorating the pumpkin patch, kids can have fun running from tractor to tractor.  After kids find the perfect pumpkin, then you can do other things like harvest veggies, taste some local goodies, or shop for holiday (even Christmas) goods.  If you plan your visit on a weekend, then you will benefit from additional kid friendly activities such as pony rides, face painting and jumpy houses.  http://www.adobepumpkinfarm.com/

Peter Pumpkin Patch, Petaluma, 4235 Spring Hill Rd., Petaluma.  This pumpkin patch is out by Spring Hill Cheese Co. (also known as Petaluma Creamery.)  Let kids explore the patch, go for a hay ride, dig potatoes, milk cows, and climb pyramids made from haybails.  Then, treat them to some organic ice cream while you try some of Spring Hill’s organic cheese.  Definitely a trip worth making! http://www.springhillcheese.com/holiday.html

Petaluma Pumpkin Patch – Right off of the 101 is another pumpkin patch – the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch.  This patch has a fun corn maze (and animals too!).  So, hurry up and pick your pumpkin, then get lost in the maze.  http://www.petalumapumpkinpatch.com/

Petersons Pumpkin Patch, 636 Gossage Avenue, Petaluma – Pumpkins, animals and bees are on the agenda for those visiting Peterson’s Pumpkin Patch.  This farm is stacked with things for kids to do.  From a kid friendly exhibit on bees to feeding cows and watching chickens, this farm has lots to offer.  http://www.petersonsfarm.com/index.html

Stanly Lane is another local gem.  It has lots to offer in addition to pumpkins, including baby pigs!

Tolay Fall Festival has loads of fun on the menu.  Tractor rides, creatures barn, petting zoo, lawn games and crafts are a few of the things to do.  This festival has only select hours, so make sure to check the calendar before you go – available at http://www.sonoma-county.org/parks/pk_tolay_fallfestival.htm

A, B, C, D – Acrobats, Bikes Clowns & DRAGONS (free tickets too!)

Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey is bringing the Greatest Show on Earth to Sacramento and Stockton.   This means that you can take the little ones to see acrobats, motorbikes, clowns and dragons all in the same place!   Keep reading and you may be able to score some free tickets.

Ringling promises that if you go, you’ll “Experience circus spectacles so incredible that once again you will believe in the unbelievable! Dragon tribes from the far reaches of the earth are brought together in a single performance, displaying their breathtaking skills in a circus tournament of champions. Each tribe must prove that they have virtues of Courage, Strength, Wisdom and Heart to arouse dragons which appear right before your very eyes!”

SHOW DATES:
September 6 – 9, 2012 Sacramento
September 13 – 16,2012 Stockton
Kids under 2 get in for FREE?
WANT TO WIN FREE TICKETS?
Modern Mama will be giving away a family pack of 4.  How to enter to win:
1. sign up to follow this blog- Modernmamamary.wordpress.com. If you already follow this blog, then move on to step 2.
2. leave a comment that you’ve done so
3. Get an extra entry by referring a friend.  When they subscribe, have them put your name in the post! Get one extra entry for each friend you refer!!
4. Winner will be chosen at random on August 30
Good luck!

Adventures About Town: Boyes Hot Springs

If it is one of those days when you want to stick around town rather than spend time in the car searching for an adventure, why not venture down Highway 12 to Boyes Hot Springs.  There is a ton of fun to be had at minimal cost and with air conditioning!

For your first stop visit Barking Dog Roasters.  If your night was like mine with a baby waking up ever couple of hours, then you’ll want to start off at Barking Dog Roasters.  This family owned and operated neighborhood gem makes coffee drinks a form of art.  With an eye for detail, Barking Dog even makes their iced coffees with coffee ice cubes as not to dilute the flavor.   During the holidays the list of flavored coffee drinks is literally a page long.  If you prefer tea, then try their chai made by a Sonoma County local with either a sweet or spicy flair.   I highly recommend one that is half spicy and sweet.

With a tot spot for little ones, Barking Dog is completely kid friendly.   Rather than enjoy the toys or kiddie sized table, however, Bobby prefers to climb on the bags of beans or marvel at the super huge robot (coffee bean roasting machine).   On Tuesday and Thursday mornings you can even see the huge coffee roasting robot machine in action.

Come mid-July, we’ll be stopping by the Barking Dog for pulled pork, brisket, tri-tip and chicken sandwiches with the usual BBQ sides.

For your second stop take the kids thrifting!  You can even bring a few things to donate thereby creating an opportunity to teach the kids about recycling.   During your visit have the kids find a couple of books or toys to take home.   I recommend visiting either The Republic of Thrift or Church Mouse.   Of course if you prefer new things, there is always the Dollar Tree, another spot filled with affordable treasures.

For your third stop enjoy a sweet treat.  Michoacana Natural Ice Cream offers deliciousness at every turn.  The treats here are not to be missed.   From fresh fruit popsicles to light creamy ice creams, Michocana has something for everyone.  Bobby highly recommends the chocolate; its subtle flavor is wonderfully refreshing on a hot day.

If the weather has cooled down by the end of your sugar stop, then let your kids run off their sugar high at Maxwell Park and call it a day.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It’s Off To Tilden Park We Go!

Above the hustle and bustle of Oakland lies a park waiting to be explored.  Tilden Park is home to many kid friendly adventures.  Last week, I packed up my boys and headed over the bay and through the woods to Tilden Park.  It was well worth the trek (especially since it was one of those hot Sonoma days).

In general, Oakland’s weather is cooler than hot Sonoma.  It has been ranked first for having the best climate in the U.S., based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.

Tilden Park is a great destination for days of fun.  Steam trains, botanical gardens, farm animals and a carousel are a few activities within the park.  Hiking, fishing, picnicking and swimming are other options as well.  There is even a golf course where young golfers can practice swinging their clubs (hopefully at a ball rather than each other).

Since Bobby is huge fan of trains, our trip revolved around the steam train and then the Little Farm both in Tilden Park.  Since I am a huge fan of all things with sugar, our trip ended with a stop by Fentons Creamery.

Our first stop was the Little Farm.  Nestled within Tilden Park, the Little Farm is home to loads of friendly animals.  Bobby spotted cows, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks and chickens.  With nice grassy areas, the Little Farm is a great for a picnic.

Tips –  Dirt paths surround the Little Farm, so it can be a bit of a pain to negotiate a stroller through the area.  Also, don’t forget (like I did) to pack food for the animals!  Some folks fed celery to the cows and bread to the ducks.   Also, this spot does have bathrooms, although be forewarned that they are extremely rustic.

Our second stop was the steam train (www.redwoodvalleyrailway.com).  This was the highlight!  It alone was worth the drive.   Weaving through trees across bridges and through tunnels, the train provides much to see.  We even passed another train along the way.  Our ride lasted about 20 minutes.  After which Bobby got to marvel at the big steam engine and meet the conductor who was well versed in Thomas lingo.

With $3 tickets per ride for adults and children over 2, this train is a bargain.  Children under 2 are free!  Be sure to check the train schedule before you go as the trains start running late morning.

Tips – The train whistle is rather loud so sit towards the back of the train if your kid(s) are sensitive to loud noises.  Also, if your tots are young, then you’ll want to sit next to them on the train as the ridge is a bit sketchy at times.

Our third and last stop was Fentons Creamery (www.fentonscreamery.com).  After working up an appetite at the Little Farm and the train, it was time for a creamy snack.  So, we ventured to my all time favorite spot for ice cream, Fentons.  I Indulged in Swiss milk chocolate ice cream as a tribute to my late grandfather (he was Swiss).  Bobby indulged in a chocolate ice cream sundae with hot fudge which I took as a tribute to the massive amount of all things chocolate he enjoyed in utero.

Tips – This is a great place for kids with food allergies.  Just tell your waiter, and they will be extra careful.  If the wait isn’t too long, then wait for a booth.  The tables have bistro chairs that while charming are a bit wobbly for little movers and shakers.  If the wait is long, then take your treat to go and enjoy it on the patio or down the street at St. Leo’s church where there is a nice lawn for kids to expel that sugar rush before packing it up for the drive home.

Tomales Bay – A Cool and Kidfriendly Seaside Adventure

Summer is here, and the weather is as well.  On these hot days, the local parks are a bit torturous to visit.  If you’re looking for a place to go, why not head to the beach.  There are many great beaches out there waiting to be enjoyed by little explorers. 

Last summer, I was in love with visiting Salmon Creek; this year, Tomales bay.  Without crashing waves, these beaches are ideal for tots.  Situated on a gentle bay, these beaches are completely kid friendly.   In fact, one of the beaches, Hearts Desire, even provides shade on sunny days.

Although a bit of a drive, Hearts Desire beach is well worth the trek.  With a parking lot steps away from the shore, it is a convenient option.  Bring $8 (cash or a check) for the parking fee.  There are decent bathrooms so pregnant moms and potty trained kids don’t have to worry about finding a restroom.  With BBQ pits and a grassy area, this beach offers space for group gatherings.

Ideal for explorers of all ages, the water at this beach is calm and shallow.  Young explorers can look for small crabs, seaweed and seashells!   Older explorers can walk to deeper water and swim out to a floating platform.

The sand, perfect for castle building, encourages tots to spend hours creating whatever their imaginations desire.   Last week Bobby and I used diggers to build a road for race cars.  We decorated it with flags made from seaweed and trees made from acorns. 

If your tot is a boat lover, then you are in luck.  Bobby has spotted sailboats, kayaks and canoes at this spot.

If your tot likes to roam, then check out one of the short hiking trails around the beach.

You can bring a picnic or grab goodies on your way.   Why not grab a bag of oysters at Tomales Bay Oyster Company? You can shuck them when you get to the beach. Prefer to grab a snack after your beach adventure?  Then, drop by Point Reyes Station.  There are a few darling kid friendly cafes to visit.  Consider stopping by Café Reyes home to a kid friendly patio.  Relax on the patio while enjoying fresh oysters and wood fired pizza.

Then enjoy a leisurely drive back home.  If you’re lucky, your little one(s) will snooze on the way.

Also published at SonomaNews.com – http://www.sonomanews.com/News-2012/Tomales-Bay-A-cool-and-kid-friendly-seaside-adventure/index.php?previewmode=on#.T9-suoa0KEU.facebook