We are so fortunate to be close, less than one-hour from San Francisco with so many attractions for family and friends, yet we become complacent living here in Sonoma County, we hardly pay attention to the fun across the bridge.
One big family fun excursion is a visit to the de Young and the Legion of Honor; www.deyoung.famsf.org. Where else can you find a collection of eighteenth century fans (baseball type or movie type?) or an exhibit of Weapons of Mass Seduction, the art of propaganda. The main exhibit is The Cult of the Machine, a view of machines from an artistic point of view. On the same website you will find the Legion of Honor, an excellent museum with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. Both museums will host child workshops during the summer aimed at entertainment and appreciation of creativity.
With 15-minutes less drive time and no parking fees is the incredible Presidio Trust: www.presidio.gov/. It begins as soon as you cross the bridge. As soon as you jump out of the SUV you’re hit with clean salt air fresh from the ocean. There you will find another ‘free’ feature, the shuttle system. There are small buses in two loops with more than forty stops, so you can jump on and off any time. Bringing along a picnic hamper is a great idea, but the hard part is deciding where to eat. There are so many choices. On the main website you will find a link to the PresidiGo shuttle page with an excellent map of the routes and stops. The Disney Museum is very cool and the Marina Green or Chrissy Field are both excellent picnic sites. Drop the hamper back at the car and get back on the shuttle. Comfort stations are clearly marked on the map. Bikes and wheelchairs are welcome on the transit system. Locally, the list of museums is as long.
One kid favorite is the Old Bale Grist Mill: http://napavalleystateparks.org. Although it is about the same drive time as it is to the Presidio or the de Young it feels closer to home. You become young again as you watch, fascinated as the wooden water wheel powers the two giant stones that grind grains to make the coarse flour of yesterday. There is a small fee there and great picnic facilities.
Do plan a trip to The Hageman Ranch Trout Farm: www.hagemannranch.com Your kids can catch trout until they are tired of it or you go broke. The Farm is 30 minutes from home. FYI the Smith Trout Farm was a victim of the Pocket Fire last year. A favorite spot for kids is the Fort Ross State Park: http://www.parks.ca.gov/fortross/. Plan a whole day at the park and do pack a picnic hamper. You will love the living history aspect of the fort and the beauty of one of the finest coves on our coast. Right now the resident seal population is full of this year’s pups. You can bark back at them from the ocean cliff. One word of caution, the drive is 30-minutes north of Jenner, with twisty, curvy roads, so take motion sickness precautions.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a dedicated sportsman. He is the former president of the Mycological Society. Look for his column in the Community Voice each week.