Category Archives: adventures

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 (  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 (  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.

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