San Francisco Family TripA Family San Francisco Treat
Load up the family truckster and head to San Francisco. It’s the simple pleasures in life – running through the parks, jumping at the House of Air and exploring the majestic redwoods – that will set the stage for an active and adventurous vacation your kids will love. California is easy breezy – no frantic pace, so Mom and Dad will be recharged too. And, with the stunning natural scenery, you won’t be hearing “Are we there yet?” because here, it’s the journey as much as the destination.
A Real Fort
What’s better than building a fort in your backyard? Staying in a real one. Here’s your chance: The Cavallo Point Lodge is a former military fort tucked away at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito – a perfect base for exploring the area. While Cavallo Point makes for a romantic weekend getaway, it’s equally family friendly. This is no dinky inn – the Cavallo Point encompasses an entire old army base, set in a sprawling park, of refurbished homes and buildings. You’ll be shuttled by golf cart or you can embark on a walking adventure to navigate the lodge.
The accommodations have been turned into eco-friendly, ultra-comfortable suites. If you’re looking for traditional rooms, book the old, beyond-quaint officers’ residences – all they’re missing is the white picket fence. If your family likes modern – and wants to take in direct views of the Golden Gate Bridge – then go for the contemporary rooms. Either way, the sizes are generous; a family of four can very comfortably stay in one room if you don’t want to spring for an extra suite.
The concierge services are unparalleled – they love your kids and pets, and offer a wealth of resources in managing all the logistics.
Explore the Outdoors
San Francisco is a natural setting for good, clean living: Go boating in San Francisco Bay, hike in Golden Gate State Park and explore Muir Woods. Splurge on renting a boat – whether sail or motor – and take the family out for a morning excursion. The splurge doesn’t mean you need to hire Paul Allen’s yacht; rental with a good captain can start at just around $130/hour. From the vantage point of the water, you’ll see why so many have left their hearts in San Francisco. Ask the Cavallo concierge to make arrangements; it likely won’t be any more expensive than a thoughtful gratuity for their efforts.
At Muir Woods, 11 miles from Golden Gate Bridge, kids can run free and embark on a scavenger hunt to learn more about the park and its majestic redwoods. A car is a necessity to take in all the area has to offer.
Also, explore Sausalito and Oakland, where many young families live and child-friendly options are abundant. The city of San Francisco has many attractions as well, but we’re focusing on the outdoorsy activities, with Cavallo Point Lodge as our base. Sausalito, with its colorful candy shops, ice cream vendors, and lively atmosphere is a kid’s dream, and a lot less hilly than the city.
A huge crowd-pleaser is the House of Air, a newer trampoline park in the Presidio. Here, your kids, and you, will be lighter than Air Jordans as you jump to your heart’s content.
And after all that exercise, balance it out at the Cavallo Point Lodge Cooking School, where they host kids-only classes. Your little tykes will learn to make everything from pizzas to baked goods. Soon you’ll be asking them what’s for dinner.
Local Eats and Treats
You couldn’t set a healthier standard for eating than the farm-to-table restaurants in California. Even the pizza is healthier, with organic dough, local cheese, and fresh sauce. At Cavallo, the food is exceptional, where somehow even the basic eggs and French toast taste deliciously gourmet – especially when enjoyed at the porch tables on a crisp morning.
Our restaurant recommendations are for the family who wants to experience Sausalito and the East Bay like locals. Quick Feast on locally sourced food at Pizzaiolo in the hipster haven of Temescal in Oakland. It’s optimal for kids – plenty of diversions and loud enough to conceal meltdowns (of other kids, of course.) Their sister restaurant, Boot and Shoe Service, also serves yummy pizza.
More mature kids will enjoy Wood Tavern; head there on the earlier side. While Mom and Dad fill up on truffled egg toasts and bay scallops, the kids can sink their teeth into one of the best Niman Ranch burgers around. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself “helping” the kids with their fries. Wood Tavern's neighbor to the south, Southie (hence the name), is a more casual version with bar seating for quick sandwiches.
California is a melting pot of cultures, and it shows in their food. If your kids enjoy international eats, try Soi Four, which some claim is the best Thai outside of Thailand – a bold statement for its low-key digs. Either way, you know it’s going to be something special. Also for international palates: Burma Superstar, whichhas several outposts throughout the city. They don’t take reservations, so come early; kids love the Burmese “ravioli,” lightly fried pockets of goodness filled with chicken and potatoes.
If your kids are craving basic cooking, not much beats pizza and ice cream. Better than even Chicago deep-dish pizza is Little Star, which is quite the social scene for kids. It’s only beaten out by Ici, the hot-spot for ice cream and dessert. Lines can be around the block so go early or when it’s raining.
A family vacation is all about quality time, and San Francisco and the Cavallo Point Lodge deliver. You’ll leave your heart here, so this will be one treat you’ll want to revisit every year on your family vacation circuit.