Keeping your kid happy on a long weekend

Well, I already spoke about the SF Zoo. On Sunday we decided to take the plunge and use our membership at the Aquarium, or California Academy of Sciences. There’s more than the aquarium, but that’s the biggest attraction, so we just like to call it “the Aquarium“. When you’re a member you get to go during the special “members hours” that is 8:30-9:00 on Tuesdays and 10:00am-11:00am on Sundays. Since getting up and out the door on Sundays for the 10 am opening is easier we decided on that.

What we discovered about going to the Aquarium on 4th of July was that everyone had somewhere else to be. It was great. There were only two other families in the Aquarium for about the first half hour and we had the place to ourselves. We actually got to see things without having to push or be pushed by other people there.

When we headed up to see what was not “the Aquarium” we got to walk through their new extreme mammals exhibit which was small, but fun. I used to spend a lot of my time as a kid there so I thought I had seen everything, but they found a few things to display that even had me saying, “what the heck is that?”

As we toured around the rest of the “not the Aquarium” we noticed some new exhibits were in place or maybe they had been there, but we couldn’t see them for the throngs of people pushing by us. They were kind of interesting, but nothing in the blow you away sort of style. In some ways I miss the old Academy of Sciences because it was separated into labyrinthine hallways they forced you to focus on the exhibits. Now it’s all open and airy which is the design style of the day, but it also makes it harder to focus in my humble opinion. It’s still got a lot going on, it just doesn’t seem as much as before.

Now finding that our daughter (she’s 3, but the size of a 6 year old) still had some energy left in her that she needed to disperse we went over to Early Explorers Cove which means essentially that it’s an indoor play area. It’s a cool indoor play area with a boat mock up and a little treehouse like area that kids and climb all over and inside of. There’s puzzles to do  and puppets and toys to play with, just remember to remove your shoes when you go in. Since everybody was somewhere else we practically had the place to ourselves which was good because our daughter doesn’t do well in big crowds.

Once she was worn down we decided to splurge and visit the Academy Cafe. It’s a bit pricey, but the food is of the total eco-friendly locavore style. We got a brownie for my wife, a cookie for our daughter, chocolate bread pudding for myself, a coffee and a Virgil’s Blackberry Cream Soda. Total came to  close to $13. A bit steep, but the food was really good.

As things were winding down we decided to leave and it was a little after 11 am. Now what were we going to do for the rest of the day? Luckily on the drive home my wife received a phone call from a friend who was coming to the city and wanted to get together at a playground later in the day. GREAT! We now had our whole day planned out with very little effort.