There’s no better time to reconnect with family from afar than the holidays. But entertaining a multi-generational crowd can get a bit tricky. Fear not, we’ve got you covered with these stroller-friendly, easy-to-manage activities that tots to octogenarians will enjoy! Read on to find some fun ideas that’ll please the whole crew.
photo: Melissa Bouse
1. Take a Ferry. The San Francisco Bay Ferry is a great way to get around and sight-see at the same time. It’s easy to board with strollers and there is plenty of seating. Routes drop you right at some of the best tourist spots (Pier 39, The Ferry Building, Jack London Square) so those with mobility issues won’t have to go far for fun
2. Create an Ice Cream Crawl. One thing grandparents and grandkids seem to agree on: dessert. So let them have their cake and eat it too by visiting a few of the coolest ice cream shops in one day. Create a taste test at each stop and compare your findings. (Ice cream not your thing? How about donuts or cupcakes?)
3. Make a Day of it at Fort Baker. Stop at The Bay Area Discovery Museum first and then fan out to explore the rest of what Fort Baker has to offer. There is something for every age and ability: from boat rentals to moderate hikes to fishing (no permit needed) to a history tour you can hear via cell phone. You can recharge with a bite to eat at Cavallo Point Lodge, or picnic on their grounds.
4. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge to Fort Mason. Double down on your fort fun and spend some time at Fort Mason, too. The former Army post is now a mixture of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants and art spaces. Try to visit on a Friday evening when Off the Grid rolls in with its bevy of food trucks and live music.
5. Take a Hike. Entertaining guests often means lots of eating. So switch things up by going for a hike. This list of stroller-friendly trails has a variety of options with varying difficulty, but most offer paved paths and plenty of beautiful sights.
6. Go Back in Time. Show your visitors how people used to live in your ‘hood. Restored, historical homes dot the Bay Area and can offer fun for all ages. At the John Muir House in Martinez, kids can ring the giant dinner bell in the cupola and explore the orchards. Volunteers at Ardenwood Historic Farm guide visitors through the beautiful Victorian there, and they host a variety of activities and events on the grounds. And those are just two examples! Check this site to find a historic home near you.
7. Explore the Gardens. Our mild weather makes the Bay Area prime real estate for Botanical Gardens. Your family could easily spend hours at the bigger gardens like UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley and The San Francisco Botanical Garden at Golden Gate Park (not to mention the million other things to do at Golden Gate Park). For something more low key, check out the Berkeley Rose Garden. A little tunnel connects it to Cordonices Park, which has a playground and a 40 foot (!!!) hillside slide.
8. Ride the Rails. Getting there is half the fun when you take the train! You can go big by taking Amtrak to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, or scale it down with a ride on the steam train at Tilden Park (or maybe something in between). Peruse our list of Bay Area train adventures to find one that’s just the right speed for your party.
9. Make Time for Tea. The holidays are a great time to explore some of the best family-friendly tea parties in your area. Create a new tradition with Grandma and Grandpa and enjoy some light bites and civilized conversation, too. Check out this list for special holiday teas.
10. Catch a Show. Going the the theater can be a magical experience for families. You’ll find tons of all-ages shows around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Aladdin is playing at the Orpheum through the New Year. And The San Francisco Symphony has several family concerts on the calendar, including the beloved A Charlie Brown Christmas—LIVE! If you’re not sure if your little one is ready for those big venues, check out this list of productions aimed at kids younger than five.
What are some of your favorite things to do with visiting grandparents?