1-2-3 Things — Jet to Stern Grove

Hello Adventurers!

Did you get out to Coyote Point last week? We were there Sunday afternoon and wow was it windy.  I had forgotten to mention the wildlife shows the museum puts on in their little theater during the day. We got to meet an opossum, barn owl, a tarantula, and even pet a garter snake. The river otters were a lot I fun to visit too. What were your highlights? 

This week’s adventure is in San Francisco. One of my favorite playgrounds from when I was a kid is re-opening. The Larsen Playground hosted a series of retired fighter jets for kids to play on, however some years back it was deemed unsafe to continue this, even though it was really awesome sitting in the cockpit or crawling through the fuselage. The new playground is actually across the street from the original spot, but has a cool airplane theme to salute earlier efforts. 

Since we find ourselves here, it's a good opportunity to take a stroll through Stern Grove a couple blocks away, and if you are feeling energetic you can hike all the way down to Pine Lake Park. 

On a side note, I'd like to mention one of our holiday traditions, which I'll be going into more detail in a couple of weeks. The Velveteen Rabbit put on by the ODC Dance Company is a delightful alternative to the Nutcracker (a holiday tradition for many). 
I love the Nutcracker having performed in it many times, but it's an incredibly long performance. I wish they would offer some abridged matinee's. The Velveteen Rabbit is a wonderful performance created with families in mind. The first act is about 40 minutes, followed by a decent intermission, then the second act runs about 20 minutes. Just right for those with shorter attention spans, and such a touching story that it will leave you with a tear in your eye. We've bought tickets for the December 5th show, and prices for the cheap seats start at $15/$25 Kids/Adults. http://www.odcdance.org/performance.php?param=2

Also let us know if you go, we would love to hear about your trip. Simply reply to this e-mail. And please feel free to forward this to a friend. 

Chief Happiness Officer at kiddiewalks.com
A project from aSmarterParent.com

1-2-3 Things — Jet to Stern Grove  

Quick inspiration for a day out with the kids around the SF Bay Area

From kiddiewalks.com 

  1. Larsen playground opening

  2. Stern grove

  3. Pine lake park

Larsen Playground Opening


I can only recall a single jet here, but from what I've read there have been at least 3 jets stationed here since WWII. The model I recall had an open cockpit (canopy removed) and you could climb through the fuselage from front to back. There was a slide attached, but mostly kids would climb all over the thing and jump off. It was removed in the early 90's due to a combination of vandalism and worries over toxic substances. The final plane is actually in the process of getting restored for flight amazingly. 

3rd and final Jet at the Larsen Playground

3rd and final Jet at the Larsen Playground

The new playground is located directly across the street from the original location and the parks department and a neighborhood association have worked diligently to pay homage to the original playground, this update has been years in the making. Ask anyone who grew up in the city before the 90's and I'm sure they have a memory of this playground. 

The opening and dedication is between 11AM - 1PM, but come when you want. This playground should be here for years to come. 

Stern Grove


Stern Grove is probably best known these days as a summer concert venue. Since 1938 free weekly concerts and performances have gone on during the summer months. Stern Grove is a tranquil hidden spot containing Pine Lake Park, one of only 3 natural lakes in San Francisco. This a a great spot in any weather to take a hike into a tranquil spot and just let the stress of the city around fade away. I have fond memories of going to Cub Scout camp here in the 80’s, and is a charming spot for any number of events. One of my favorite weddings I’ve attended took place here. It can get cold and foggy, so do come prepared. 

Originally the homestead of Alfred Green who settled here in 1847, who started a family farm here extending all the way to the beach, growing potatoes and barley. In 1876 David Mahoney obtained a land grant for the Rancho Laguna de la Merced tried to extend his holdings to include the Green Homestead and tried unsuccessfully to evict the Greens with federal marshals. The Green family fortified their property and held authorities off for 3 months till the case could be heard before the supreme court, where the Green family won. In 1892 George Green built the Trocadero Inn Roadhouse that attracted the Bay Area Elite, a remote escape from city life without a long journey. There are many stories about this place, including some rowdy episodes which you can still see evidence of by bullet holes in the front door of the Inn. The Inn was closed in 1916 and became the Green family home. 

In 1931 Rosalie Stern purchased 12 acres from the Green family which included the Trocadero Inn, donating the land to the city for a park named after her late husband Sigmund Stern (a nephew of Levi Strauss). The WPA did much of the original landscaping here. 

Trocadero Clubhouse at Stern Grove

Trocadero Clubhouse at Stern Grove

Pine Lake Park


Following the donation of Stern Grove by Rosalie Stern, San Francisco went ahead and purchased the 50 more acres from the Green Family to include Pine Lake Park. Growing up here, I had never thought of this as a separate park, but just a hidden forest hidden behind houses that went from 19th avenue down to Sunset Boulevard. We walked through here many times on our way down to our home at 45th and Moraga, and it was always a delightful escape from the bustle of city life. 

Fun Fact: George Green started planting the non-native eucalyptus trees here starting in 1871. Look how big they’ve gotten. 

Another Fun Fact: The small manmade lake in the grove wasn’t well taken care of until 1986 when filming the movie Jumpin’ Jack Flash with Whoopi Goldberg needed her to take a plunge into the lake as part of the plot. We watched crews drain and clean the lake at Cub Scout camp leading up to the filming of this scene.  


  • During the summer there is a popular concert series in Stern Grove. It's fun to come find a spot, throw down a blanket and spans the day listening to various artists. It can get crowded an the weather is unpredictable.  
  • The SF Zoo is just down the road if your plans aren't working out, great place to spend the day. 
  • West Portal is a quick drive from here. Nice spot to stroll by the shops, grab a bite, or even watch a movie. 

Feeling Adventurous 

  • Ocean beach is a short dive away, go dip your toes into the frigid water, watch the surfers, and collect some sand dollars.