Sure, 2016 had its challenges and not so pleasant surprises, but try telling that to Bay Area kids. The kid scene was all swank bowling alleys, delicious dessert shops and brand-spanking-new playgrounds. It was a banner year for littles around here, and to wrap it up, we round up our favorite new haunts, hits and highlights from 2016. Happy New Year!


1. The newly renovated San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) opened to the public May 14, complete with new kids’ programming and free admission for everyone under age 18.

2. South Bay and kids rejoiced at the re-opening of Park Valencia— the kids’ play area that makes shopping with the shorties at Santana Row an enjoyable experience.

3. Powder Shaved Snow opened on Divisadero and serves the light, creamy and slightly magical icy delight from Taiwan in a few only-in-SF flavors.

4. Parents of stylish littles have even more incentive to swing by the hip Hayes Valley. The recently-opened Kira Kids is happily curated with organic kids’ clothing and accessories, all made in the USA.

cirque_LUZIAPhoto: LUZIA

5. In the latest Cirque du Soleil production, LUZIA, the beauty and magic of Mexico melds with the heart-stopping, high-flying performances of the very best acrobats in the world. (Shows in the Bay Area through March)

6. Campbell is home to this new kid on the frozen yogurt block: PennyLane Yogurt and Candy Shop. 

7. Five, count ’em, FIVE new indoor play spaces opened up in the Bay.

8. The family favorite, Disney’s The Lion King took the stage at SHN’s Orpheum theater, and if you thought the film was incredible, be prepared to be blown away by the Tony-winning live production, which runs for just two more days, through December 31.

9.It was a big moment for LEGO fans, as the final bricks were laid and the doors finally opened at SF’s new (and only) LEGO store. 

tipping teapot saratoga caPhoto: Kate Loweth

10. It’s tea time! Put on your tea party hats and head over to The Tipping Teapot by Satori Tea Company in Saratoga for some tiny sandwiches, tons of tasty teas and a festive atmosphere.

11. Used kids’ clothing shop, Hunter’s Threads offers a plethora of second-hand scores for your children, and doubles as a resource for families seeking therapy for developmentally delayed kids.

12. As if easting ice cream couldn’t get more interesting in this city, Uji Time Dessert opened in Berkeley, serving up a cool Japanese treat it hot fish-shaped cones.

13. At the the playful yet perfectly styled Neve in Hawk in San Anslemo, families can learn block printing, design and create their own tee shirts or simply shop a selection of quality brands.

14. At the San Francisco Dungeon, a 25,000-square-foot Fisherman’s Wharf attraction, visitors plunge to their escape via the new, Escape Alcatraz drop ride.

culinary artistas

15. The newest addition to the kids’ cooking class scene is Culinary Artistas in San Francisco, which starts kids as young as 24 months on the path to making their own healthy, homemade meals.

16. In San Francisco’s newly developed Mission Bay are two recently opened outdoor spots perfect for a kid-filled afternoon, including one seriously awesome playground and a little slice of foodie heaven.

17. San Francisco’s new resale clothing boutique in the Inner Sunset, Monkei Miles offers a well-cuarated shopping experience on par with the prettiest retail shops.

18. Popbar has landed in the Bay Area. At their very first NorCal location in Saratoga, this cult favorite offers gourmet frozen popGelato, popSorbetto and yogurtPops that you can truly make your own.

19. 826 Valencia brought its magic to the Tenderloin, opening up a beautiful and whimsical new outpost that offers reading and writing workshops for kids, as well as a place where the imagination can’t help but run wild.

20. Bowlero has fun to spare for youngsters and grownups. Pull on your lucky bowling socks, get everyone into the car, and head to Bowlero to get the good times rolling!

21. From hosting international kiddie film fests to screening their favorite PBS shows on the big screen, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in the Mission District has something for everybody.

Did we miss your favorite kid-scene arrival for 2016? Tell us in the comments below! And bring it on, 2017! 

–Erin Feher

All images courtesy of the author unless otherwise noted