Everyone knows Hayes Valley for its posh designer boutiques, one-of-a-kind interior design stores, and great restaurants (pre-show dinner, anyone?), but this same trendy neighborhood has also become a haven for hip parents. In fact, the busy block of Hayes Street (between Laguna and Octavia) is a bustling commercial corridor that feels like a slice of Manhattan in San Francisco.
Start off your tour at Frjtz at 581 Hayes, a spacious café that easily accommodates strollers and energetic kids, and features some of the best Belgian eats in the city. They have savory and sweet crepes, salads, and sandwiches, but the star is their paper cone filled with thick-cut frites (also known as French fries) and myriad dipping sauces. After you polish one off, head east down the street to Flight 001, a fun travel boutique with all sorts of gadgets and guidebooks you didn’t know you needed. The kids will love the aero-dynamic store design that mimics the inside of an airplane (or better yet a spaceship!) and the miniature travel games collection that might make your next road trip a bit smoother.
Next, pop across the street to Fiddlesticks, at 540 Hayes, where you’ll find an amazing selection of toys that the kids can test out. (We love their large selection of earth-friendly, non-toxic toys.) They carry clothing for newborns up to kids by local designers Tea Collection as well as many others like Pink Chicken and Wonderboy. If you need to accessorize a new outfit, be sure to check out HUF. Sneaker enthusiasts of all ages will love this store (their second SF location—they’ve got one in L.A. as well). They’ve got an amazing display of the most colorful sneakers you’ll find on planet earth, not to mention Vans slip-ons for newborns and Air Jordan sneakers for toddlers!
Take a minute and eyeball the crazy cool Japanese imported socks and kids clothing at Cotton Sheep. The prices are high, and the owners can be brusque, but the socks are to die for.
Finally, head to the corner of Hayes and Octavia Street where you’ll find Patricia’s Green, a neighborhood park with a kids’ area and dome play structure, public art, wooden benches and tables for picnics and getting a breath of fresh air. The perfect last stop is Miette Confiserie, a candy store that makes both adults and kids eyes pop! They have every type of candy you can think of as well as an amazing selection of vintage candy, all beautifully packaged and ready to devour. All these Hayes Valley gems are within easy walking distance for even the pokiest toddler, so wander around and start exploring!
—Sarah K. Choi