We all know

Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids

the Mission is famous for taquerias, colorful murals and nightlife—but a destination for kids?  Who knew?  There is plenty for the little ones to do, but we’ve collected a list of the “must-see” places to stop along Valencia Street between 16th and 21st Streets.  Take a stroll with the kids for an eclectic and inspiring tour of the Mission neighborhood.

Start your walk with dessert first at Bombay Ice Creamery at 552 Valencia.  This Indian treats shop features over 25 ice cream flavors with intriguing selections such as saffron-pistachio, cashew-raisin and chai tea.  The house specialty however is the falooda, fun to say and fun to eat! Split a falooda with the family, a dessert drink made with ice cream, milk, rose syrup, vermicelli noodles and tukhmalanga (basil seeds).  This is the treat famously featured on The Food Network, so it’s worth trying!

Next stop is Community Thrift Store between 17th and Clarion Alley, a great place to pick-up vintage clothes for a “dress-up” wardrobe or gently used housewares for your kid’s play kitchen that were donated by locals to benefit over 200 different charities.  Better yet, do that long-overdue spring cleaning at home and bring your own donations to Community Thrift and let the kids select which local organization to support.

Afterwards, head to Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids at 766 Valencia.  This kid-friendly spin-off of Paxton Gate, a unique gardening store that also dabbles in fossils and fine tea, also sticks to “treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and natural sciences.”  You’ll find a great collection of toys from throwback wooden yo-yos and marbles to more interactive projects like a solar system planetarium model and indoor gardening kit.  They also offer fun events each month, so call or email to see what is next on the roster.

If books are what you fancy, you must pay a visit to the Mission institution Dog Eared Books on the corner of 20th Street.  Dog Eared defines indie bookstore perfectly with nooks and crannies filled with hard-to-find books, magazines, comics, and music. They have a sizeable children’s collection where you can pick up the classics while showing the kids that the cool “big kids” in the Mission like to read. Across the street is Currents, a bath and aromatherapy store that has a surprisingly large collection of baby and toddler gear.

Finally, grab lunch or dinner at vegan restaurant Herbivore at 983 Valencia.  You won’t miss the meat here with their tasty sandwiches and noodle dishes.  Skip the macaroni and cheese and definitely order some of the seasoned potatoes.  Here ends your tour of Valencia Street with a healthy meal and a different side of the Mission!

—Sarah K. Choi