Monthly Archives: November 2014

A fun diversion and family afternoon at the San Francisco Zoo

I’ve only been to a handful of zoos to make my comparison – Detroit, Toledo, Binder Park (Kalamazoo), Madison and San Diego – but the San Francisco Zoo is a well-laid-out, compact zoo that packs a lot of punch.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Land's End

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Land’s End

I remember from my youth that walking around the Detroit Zoo could make your feet hurt and have you on the brink of exhaustion. But after a few hours in San Francisco, we were able to see everything we wanted to see have lunch and even have time for the kids to spend at the playscape area.

And speaking of lunch, I was expecting your typical hot dog, hamburger or nuggets selection but was pleased to find sushi, made-to-order salads and even a decent clam chowder at the zoo.

As for the animals, the baby ones are always fun to see, and the baby giraffe and gorilla were no exceptions. The gorilla, Kabibe, stole my daughter’s heart and even though she bought a stuffed zebra at the park, she named it Kabibe after the baby gorilla.

We had grandparents with us who wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was an easy, short drive to Land’s End, where we stretched our legs, used the facilities and walked around a short path to a spectacular view of the bridge. It was a perfect viewing area and saved us time and headaches by avoided city and bridge traffic.

Baby giraffe at the San Francisco Zoo

Baby giraffe at the San Francisco Zoo

Parking was a little difficult to find at the zoo. The side road had a sign that all parking was full, and all of the spaces up and down the street were taken. I remembered seeing an entrance on Great Highway, so we drove back around there and it still had dozens of open spaces

Fun at the San Francisco Zoo

Fun at the San Francisco Zoo

We didn’t try it out on this trip, but you can buy a “key” at the zoo, which gives you information on each animal near the exhibit when you put your key in the slot. It looked perfect for younger kids to keep them engaged and also teach them at the same time.

We’ll definitely come back to this family-friendly attraction, and it’s a great place to bring out-of-town visitors, too.

*Post script: After I wrote this and a month or so after our visit, we found out in the news that Kabibe had been inadvertently killed during a zoo accident. My daughter and I are deeply saddened to hear this.

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Great times at California’s Great America

When we lived in Michigan, I never took our kids to Cedar Point. My son is afraid of heights and my daughter was too short to go on the rides that she wanted to try.

But just after a few weeks in San Jose, we found ourselves at California’s Great America with one of my son’s friends.

I asked my son “What will you do if he wants you to go on the big coasters?” and my son said, “I’ll close my eyes.” And that’s just what he did.

Linus and Sally at Great America

Linus and Sally at Great America

The boys are old enough that we let them explore the park an hour or so at a time and then meet back up with us to check in. Meanwhile, my daughter had both of her parents to herself to explore all of the rides. She’s a swing girl, and she loved the swings there. After watching the Tiki Twirl she decided to try it. Her and I screamed the whole time and she deemed it her favorite ride of the day.

Aerial view from Great America

Aerial view from Great America

We also had a fantastic aerial view of the park, Levi’s Stadium and Santa Clara on the Star Tower

After exploring the park, getting our fill of cotton candy and having lunch, we decided to head to the water park. My daughter is a big fan of wave pools so that’s where we landed for the rest of the afternoon. It also was a great place to dry our clothes in the sun, which were soaked after a few turns on the Loggers Run.

As babies, the nursery for my kids was decorated with baby Snoopy, so my daughter was thrilled to find the Peanuts merchandise at the park. We came home with a big stuffed Snoopy as well as photos with the characters that we found in the park.

The boys found their way to the arcade and won a line-skipping pass for one of the rides.

Snoopy at Great America

Snoopy at Great America

Because we were there on an early fall weekend just after school started, the crowds were low, parking was easy and the lines for rides weren’t too bad.

We may have been spoiled by the off-season day but we decided that it would be one of our go-to places next summer for waterpark and letting-off-steam fun.

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