We were right on track.
All the orange items on the to-do list (things that absolutely had to be done before we left) were checked off.
Kids were relaxing with a movie.
Bags were packed and sitting in the driveway ready to be loaded into the car.
All was calm.
Then, about 40 minutes before our ride to the airport was scheduled to show up, Aurora threw up all over herself, her clothes, and the bed she was sitting on.
We managed to bathe her, wash and dry all the clothes and bedding, and get out the door on time with smiles on everyone’s faces.
Then AJ threw up in the car.
And at the airport.
And on the plane. A few times.
Seriously. Welcome to traveling with kids.
The poor girl kept an amazing attitude through all this, and while she was certainly exhausted by the ordeal she was generally happy and soldiered through it.
Jasper kept up his end by holding napkins and passing airsick bags when needed. Go team!
Both kids passed out a few hours into the flight and all was smooth from there until we got to San Francisco.
Fun things to do with kids in the East Bay
We found the East Bay to be a great base for exploring the rest of the Bay Area. Downtown San Francisco is a short BART ride away and it’s easy to jump on the freeway and head north to wine country.
We also really enjoyed spending time in East Bay itself. Mostly through great advice from our local friends we found some really fun activities that the whole family enjoyed. Here’s our list of things to do with kids in East Bay.
1. Temescal Farmers’ Market
The day after we arrived our amazing, hospitable friends and hosts Chudi and Nicole showed us around their beautiful East Bay neighborhood and we loved walking along the quiet streets lined with lush flowering trees.
Coming from an early onset of cold weather in New England we eagerly soaked in the warm temperatures and sunshine, though apparently it’s a little chilly for locals!
We found our way to the Temescal Farmers’ Market, which was packed with vendors selling freshly made meals and delicious local produce.
We snacked on samples from a fruit stand including some sweet persimmons which we had never seen before. We bought a couple before our friends could tell us they have a persimmon tree in their backyard! What?! California is amazing.
We grabbed delicious tacos for lunch from one of the vendors. They had pork and tilapia varieties and we enjoyed a few of each. Combined with some fresh strawberry and mango juices it made for a terrific meal.
2. Smitten Made-to-order Ice Cream
After our lunch at the farmer’s market lunch we made a quick stop for ice cream at Smitten, where they custom make each order on the spot using liquid nitrogen.
I don’t know if it was the liquid nitrogen methodology or something else, but it was the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever tasted so they may be onto something.
There are several stations set up, each for one of the unique flavors available that day. The creation of each order of ice cream is accompanied by a big cloud of gas evaporating as the frigid liquid nitrogen is pumped through the tubes to put the “ice” in the “cream”.
I highly recommend the “brown sugar with cinnamon cookies” flavor. The chocolate is pretty special as well, though super rich so a little goes a long way!
3. Oakand Public Library Story Time
We always loved the library programs at home, but the program at the Rockridge branch of the Oakland Public Library sets a new standard.
The program is scheduled to run for 30 minutes, but the one we attended actually lasted 45 minutes because the librarian storyteller and the children were so engaged. It included at least a half dozen books as well as interactive games and songs.
There is a program for preschoolers as well as one for babies and toddlers that run concurrently in different parts of the library. There are also additional programs on different days of the week.
See the links section below for more information.
As an added bonus, nearby the library is Rockridge Market Hall, a fancy market with artisan pasta (ever had squid ink spaghetti?), seafood, wine, and cheese among other treats.
We stopped in for a quick walk around and the kids thoroughly enjoyed snacking on the many samples available throughout the store.
4. Frog Park
This Oakland park is set along Temescal Creek in the Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt. The greenbelt is a stretch of gardens, benches, and shady trees that runs for several blocks.
There are winding paths between creek beds and big boulders, with lots of areas for kids to run, jump, and play.
At one end of the park is a large playground with sandbox, train-shaped play structure, and several towers, bridges, slides, and tunnels.
Jasper and Aurora had a great time on the playground and searching for “treasures” (flowers, critters, coins, etc.) along the path while we walked.
5. Zachary’s pizza
After building up an appetite with all the running and jumping around Frog Park, why not grab a pizza for dinner?
Zachary’s in Oakland (also in Berkeley, Pleasant Hill, and San Ramon) serves up hearty Chicago-style deep dish pies that hit the spot for us on a Friday night when no one wanted to cook.
We tried a spinach and mushroom as well as pepperoni and mushroom. Both were spectacular.
These pizzas are dense, with lots of good stuff packed into that deep crust. We ordered one small and one medium pizza for four adults and two hungry kids, and we had plenty of left-overs.
6. Star Grocery
We picked up awesome sandwiches from the deli at this Claremont grocery store on the way to a local playground for a picnic.
There are a variety of selections available from the large chalkboard menu above the counter, or you can make a custom order to suit your taste.
Both sandwiches we ordered came on delicious crunchy-outside-soft-inside rolls that were a cut above the typical sub roll.
The store also boasts all kinds of organic and local foods to supplement your sandwiches and round out a nice picnic lunch.
7. Temescal Regional Recreation Area
The Temescal Regional Recreation Area consists of both paved and unpaved walkways and large greenspaces around a small lake.
There are numerous picnic tables and charcoal grills available, as well as two playgrounds, a beach, and public restrooms. There’s also plenty of parking (free when we were there).
We planted ourselves at a large table beneath a stand of redwoods adjacent to one of the playgrounds. There was a creek nearby too, and the kids entertained themselves for quite a while by throwing giant baseball size nuts that were lying around into the water.
It was too cold to use the beach during our visit, but it was a large sandy area that looked like it would be a lot of fun during the summer.
Overall we had a blast in East Bay. It is a great base to explore San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area, but also has plenty to offer without ever crossing a bridge.