I only ask for two things when planning a summer family outing. I want a place where kids can easily entertain themselves and the option to bring my own food and drinks. (It helps to have nice weather, but I live in SF and have accepted my utter lack of control over that one.)
Over the years we have become pros at getting out around town, and these are just a few of my favorite places for family outings.
Off the Grid: Presidio Picnic
This is the perfect mobile picnic for families. Every Sunday afternoon during the summer from 11-4pm, caravans of delicious food trucks descend on the Parade Grounds in the Presidio. Kids of all ages can run freely, and there is an easy, laid back feel to the whole day. The views are amazing, and you can graze all day at the wide variety of gourmet food trucks or bring your own money-saving cooler filled with food and drinks from home.
BBQ in Golden Gate Park or Crissy Field
With one simple phone call, you can reserve a BBQ in Golden Gate Park and invite other families along who are craving a fun day out. The grassy spaces are immense, everyone can spread out blankets and chairs, and no one’s house gets trashed! Kids can bring bikes and balls, and parents can bring the meat. If this sounds like a great idea but you didn’t plan ahead, change the location to the West Bluff Picnic Area at Crissy Field where the BBQ pits are first-come, first-served, and the views are supreme.
If you don’t get a BBQ at either spot, don’t worry! There is plenty of space at both locations to spread out elsewhere and picnic without a hot fire.
Vintage Baseball at Big Rec in Golden Gate Park
Pack up a picnic and catch a baseball game played by “A gentlemanly league dedicated to 1886 rules, equipment and etiquette.” This league seems to be a well-kept secret in San Francisco but shouldn’t be missed by you or your kids. The uniforms are wool and the gloves are little more than a scrap of old leather. The rules include seven balls for a walk and the ability for batters to call where they want the pitch. The cost is free but the education is priceless.
Yerba Buena Gardens
Hop aboard your closest bus and head downtown to the lovely Yerba Buena Gardens for free entertainment and a nice afternoon outside. Every summer they offer a variety of shows throughout the week and on weekends. Bring your own picnic and revel in music, mimes, dance or circus acts while ensconced in an urban setting.
What’s your favorite SF summer outing? We’d love to hear so please share!