Here Are The BEST Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved Spots In The Bay

In a place where creativity runs rampant, there’s no shortage of mamas who are whizbang pros at raising their kiddies and hip to all the about-town happenings, to boot. And, since we’ve been noticing a major baby boom of late, we thought it’d be helpful to catch up with some of the coolest moms and get the skinny on where they kick it with their little ones — just in time for Mother’s Day!
Read on as these nine ladies divulge the Bay Area's best kid-friendly restaurants, parks, boutiques, and more. Whether you’re looking for a place to tote your babe around or a new eatery to take your niece and nephew, consider this list the absolute mother lode.
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1 of 9
Names: Eva Kolenko and Parker, 5 months
Gig: Photographer

Spot #1: Boot And Shoe Service
Why She Loves It: "I won't apologize for becoming a bit of a coffee snob. With so many amazing, local indie roasters I think it's allowed. I've written about Boot And Shoe Service more than once on my blog because it's been my go-to spot for years. Now that I have a baby, the cafe is where I hang out the most. In the mornings, with the kiddo in tow, it's super easy to find parking and pop in for a quick Four Barrel coffee and a house-made pastry. On days when I'm itching to get out of the house, I will wait for Parker's nap time, tuck her into the car seat, and grab the laptop for a little work session."
Boot And Shoe Service, 3308 Grand Avenue (between Lake Park and Santa Clara avenues), Oakland; 510-763-2268.

Spot #2: Oakland Mountain View Cemetery
Why She Loves It: "You might think I'm weird or that it sounds morbid, but one of my favorite places to walk with Parker is the Piedmont Cemetery. My friend Lynsey turned me on to this place years ago, and I'm so grateful she did. It's gorgeous! Plus, pushing a stroller all the way up to the top of the hill is a pretty decent workout, the reward being the stunning view of the Bay. Surrounded by tombstones, in such a tranquil setting, definitely inspires reflection. It's a great reminder to cherish all that is important in your life and let the rest go."
Oakland Mountain View Cemetery, 5000 Piedmont Avenue (at Ramona Avenue), Oakland; 510-658-2588.

Spot #3: Marzano On Park
Why She Loves It: "My husband and I have become regulars at Marzano On Park. We used to frequent the bar, but now we come early for dinner and are grouped with the rest of the families in the recently completed, second room expansion. It's perfect for kids — lots of space for car seats and strollers — and the staff is super easygoing. For the grown ups, it means adult cocktails and some stellar food! We go at least twice a month!"
Marzano On Park, 4214 Park Boulevard (between Edgewood Avenue and Hampel Street), Oakland; 510-531-4500.

Photos (from left to right): Courtesy of Eva Kolenko and Oakland Mountain View Cemetery.
2 of 9
Names: Kelly Tunstall and Aengus, 2 weeks, Brixton, 3 1/2
Gig: Artist

Spot #1: Baker Beach
Why She Loves It: "We spend a lot of time here. It's what I believe to be one of the most beautiful places I've ever been! You can romp for hours and wear the little dudes out — and, I think it's because we always turn left instead of right at the parking lot, but I've never seen naked folks (except for my own little dude, on occasion!). There's generally decent parking, too."
Baker Beach, Gibson Road (near Lincoln Boulevard); 415-561-3000.

Spot #2: Matching Half Cafe
Why She Loves It: "Jason and Lauren are the sweetest — they always love to see Brixton, make a killer cappuccino, and have a kid-friendly menu. It's our favorite coffee-date spot. I also enjoy the fact that you can have a small-batch beer or carefully selected wine. The vibe is a little slower, and more neighborhood-y, with an eye for design and outdoor seating, to boot. I recommend the yogurt bowl with fruit to share."
Matching Half Cafe, 1799 McAllister Street (at Baker Street); 415-674-8699.

Spot #3: S.F. Art Openings
Why She Loves It: "We started taking Brixton to art events early, and I expect to do the same with Aengus. This means we get to bed on time and won't wreak too much havoc with fewer people around. We've been taking him to shows at FFDG, White Walls and Shooting Gallery, Park Life, ever since he was tiny. We also go to SFMOMA often and have a treat from Blue Bottle in the sculpture garden as bribery to get through the whole museum without one incident. The kid commentary is priceless: While touring the Cindy Sherman show, two-year old Brixton, in a completely silent room says, "Nipples!' Worth the price of admission, I tell you."

Photos (from left to right): Courtesy of Kelly Tunstall, Matching Half Cade, National Parks Conservatory
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3 of 9
Names: Janette Crawford and Viv, 18 months
Gig: Writer and stylist

Spot #1: Tantrum
Why She Loves It: "This toy boutique is a mid-century-loving parent's dream — filled with everything from Blabla dolls and French wooden blocks to vintage children's clothes. The two young, mom owners are so authentic; I think they've been wearing double-knit every time I've seen them. Also, if you sign up for the newsletter, you can get a heads up on events."
Tantrum, 858 Cole Street (between Frederick and Carl streets); 415-504-6980.

Spot #2: Cotton Sheep
Why She Loves It: "Though I haven't splurged on a baby garment here yet (all pieces seem to be in the $100 range), this boutique is the only place I've ever seen the Japanese kid's line, Fith. It's cool-mom eye candy at its best."
Cotton Sheep, 572 Hayes Street (at Octavia Street); 415-621-5546.

Spot #3: Children's Fairyland
Why She Loves It: "After just one visit, this is a new favorite. Opened in 1950 as the only theme park for kids eight and under, it has retained all of its mid-century, toddler-centric charm."
Children's Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Avenue (between Grand Avenue and Perkins Street); 510-238-6876.

Photos (from left to right): Courtesy of Janette Crawford, Children's Fairyland, Tantrum
4 of 9
Names: Lauren Goodman and Nate, 1 1/2
Gig: Stylist and Fashion Director at 7x7

Spot #1: City View Restaurant
Why She Loves It: "City View on Commercial Street is the best. On certain days, young Nate eats as many dumplings as me."
City View Restaurant, 662 Commercial Street (between Kearny and Montgomery streets); 415-398-2838.

Spot #2: Evolution Fresh
Why She Loves It: "It has juices for everyone. My current favorites include Sweet Burn and Green Julep. Coconut Zen is perfect for the little dude. My husband likes the blueberry one and it's a much healthier alternative than coffee. And, Nate likes this place as much as the playground."
Evolution Fresh, 2201 Fillmore Street (between Sacramento and Clay streets); 415-922-1751.

Spot #3: Mudpie Clothing Store
Why She Loves It: "This is one of the most beautiful children's stores in the world. The owner Cheryl has a great eye. We buy many of Nate's clothes here and they last and last. Also, Gary, who works there, sells divine antiques. I have my eye on a Cocteau drawing — to die for."
Mudpie Clothing Store, 2185 Fillmore Street (at Sacramento Street); 415-771-9262.

Photos (from left to right): Photographed by Andrew Paynter, Courtesy of City View, Evolution Juice
5 of 9
Names: Jeanne Chan, Hadley Hu, 4 months, Hayden Hu, 2 1/2
Gig: Blogger at Shop Sweet Things

Spot #1: Dolores Park Playground
Why She Loves It: "After discovering that this park had been fully renovated, it's becoming one of our favorites! For my 2 1/2-year-old who is super active and curious, this playground keeps her occupied for hours. We usually like to grab a bite at Namu Gaji before the park or get a cone at Bi-Rite for an afternoon treat."
Dolores Park Playground, 18th and Dolores streets; No phone.

Spot #2: Off The Grid Picnic at The Presidio
Why She Loves It: "With the weather getting nice and warm, a picnic at The Presidio is super ideal for the kids. They can lay out in the sun or run wild on the green, grassy field. Accompanied by Off the Grid food trucks and more, this is my type of picnic!"
Off The Grid Picnic at The Presidio, 103 Montgomery Street (at the Main Post in The Presidio); 415-339-5888.

Spot #3: Tilden Park Little Farm
Why She Loves It: "This one is not exactly in S.F., but it's a really nice spot to bring the kids. Just a little outside of the city, you can bring your kids to a farm where they can get up close and personal with the animals and feed them. Bring your own lettuce and celery and you're good to go. There's also a steam train nearby so you can take them for a choo choo-go-around afterwards!"
Tilden Park Little Farm, Central Park Drive (near Oxford Street), Berkeley; 510-544-2233.

Photos (from left to right): Courtesy of Jeanne Chan, Off The Grid, Dolores Park Playground
6 of 9
Names: Trina Papini and Augie, 4, Lalou, 2
Gig: Stylist

Spot #1: Delfina
Why She Loves It: "This was our pre-kid date spot and now we bring them along for an occasional fancy family dinner. The Delfina folks are happy to make pasta with butter and cheese for picky eaters, although my daughter makes a meal out of the mashed potatoes alone. If things start going south, the dessert is a momentary savior while I down the last few sips of my Prosecco."
Delfina, 3621 18th Street (between Guerrero and Oakwood streets); 415)-552-4055.

Spot #2: Toy Boat Dessert Cafe
Why She Loves It: "There's ice cream, random toys from the '80s, and a coin-operated horsie. And, a kiddie scoop for them; affagato for you."
Toy Boat Dessert Cafe, 401 Clement Street (between 5th and 6th avenues); 415-751-7505.

Spot #3: Green Apple Books
Why She Loves It: "Green Apple Books has an amazing children's section — complete with little chairs!"
Green Apple Books, 506 Clement Street (between 6th and 7th avenues); 415-387-2272.

Photos (from left to right): Courtesy of Trina Papini, Green Apple Books, and Toy Boat Dessert Cafe
7 of 9
Name: Liz Thayer and Pepper, 4 months
Gig: Designer at Claflin, Thayer And Co.

Spot #1: Mr. Mopps
Why She Loves It: "This North Berkeley toy store has been open since 1962 and hasn't changed much, even under new ownership. (I used to save my allowance and buy My Little Ponies here.) Nowadays, they have bins with the coolest stuff for 25 cents as well as great selection of higher-end toys for all ages. There's something for everyone."
Mr. Mopps, 1405 Martin Luther King Jr Way (between Rose and Vine streets), Berkeley; 510-525-9633.

Spot #2: Adventure Playground
Why She Loves It: "This crazy playground in the Berkeley Marina rules! Your kids can grab a brush and start painting something, build a ramshackle fort, or take a ride on the zip-line. They will come home dirty, tired, and happy. I'm so glad this place still exists in the sea of swing-and-slide playgrounds."
Adventure Playground, 160 University Avenue (at the Berkeley Marina); 510-981-6720.

Spot #3: Stonemountain And Daughter
Why She Loves It: "This is my favorite fabric store! They have a great selection of fashion fabrics and I like to walk around with the baby, showing her all the color and patterns. She loves it! I hope that means she will like sewing someday, too."
Stonemountain And Daughter, 2518 Shattuck Avenue (between Blake Street and Dwight Way), Berkeley; 510-845-6106.

Photos (from left to right): Courtesy of Liz Thayer, Mr. Mopps, Adventure Playground
8 of 9
Names: Lauren Podoll and Dashiell Quinn Podoll, 20 months
Gig: Designer at The Podolls

Spot #1: California Academy of Sciences
Why She Loves It: "We became members just after Dashiell learned to walk and have really enjoyed exploring the Steinhart aquarium, rainforest exhibit, and the Early Explorers Cove. It’s a great outing for rainy days."
California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive (near John F. Kennedy Drive); 415-379-8000.

Spot #2: Flora Grubb Gardens
Why She Loves It: "We are lucky enough to have a garden at our house and I've been planting more succulents, so I love getting inspired at Flora Grubb. Dashiell likes playing with pebbles in the kids playhouse and weaving through the fun paths while I sip on a Ritual latte."
Flora Grubb Gardens, 1634 Jerrold Avenue (between Newhall and Phelps streets); 415-626-7256.

Spot #3: Linda Mar Beach
Why She Loves It: "I've been taking Dashiell on walks at the beach ever since he was just a few weeks old, and now we have fun together collecting sticks, digging in the sand, and dipping our toes in the ocean."
Linda Mar Beach, 5100 Cabrillo Highway (near Roberts Road), Pacifica; 650-738-7381.

Photos (from left to right): Courtesy of Lauren Podoll, California Academy of Sciences, Flora Grubb
9 of 9
Names: Catherine Chow and Amani, 1 year
Gig: Store owner at Welcome Stranger, Rand + Statler, and Azalea

Spot #1: Alemany Farmers' Market
Why She Loves It: "Amani loves eating fresh bread and seasonal fruit every Saturday morning from the market."
Alemany Farmers' Market, 100 Alemany Boulevard (near Peralta Avenue); 415-647-9423.

Spot #2: 24th and York Street Mini-Park
Why She Loves It: "There is a mosaic serpent that shoots out water from its tail! It's great during hot days."
24th and York Street Mini-Park, (at 24th and York streets); No phone.

Spot #3: Precita Park Playground in Bernal Heights
Why She Loves It: "It's a hidden gem in the neighborhood and has plenty of swings for babies and toddlers. The playground also has a satellite spinner — a rare find for kids to play on."
Precita Park Playground, 348 Precita Avenue (at Bessie Street); No phone.

Photos (from left to right): Courtesy of Catherine Chow, Alemany Farmers' Market, 24th Street Mini-Park
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