1-2-3 Things — A San Francisco Holiday Stroll

Hello Adventurers!

Did you get out to Lake Merritt last week? Wow it was chilly out! We had some family in town and our plans changed at the last minute to spend a bit more time with them. I promised the kids we would go over the school break. 

This week’s adventure is to the city, a wonderful place to visit during the holidays. It’s changed a lot since I was little, but I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to bring the kids to let them experience all there still is here. One vivid memory I have is that Macy*s would have these amazing animatronic windows they would spend all year making and they would tell a story as you walked down Geary, rounded Stockton, and around on O'Farrell. 


We still enjoy the SPCA window on the corner of Stockton and O'Farrell. It's a good chance to do a little giving by leaving a donation, and all the puppies and kitties are really cute. Also the Winter Walk pedestrian promenade they've set up on Stockton is amazing. This street once overly impacted by too much traffic is now a beautiful wide green space you can stroll up and down. 

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
project from aSmarterParent.com 


1-2-3 Things — A San Francisco Holiday Stroll

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

From kiddiewalks.com 

  1. Winter Walk & Union Square

  2. Velveteen Rabbit by the ODC Dance Company

  3. Historic Looff Carousel at the Children's Creativity Museum, Yerba Buena Center 

Winter Walk on Stockton and lunch at Lefty's 

Winter Walk on Stockton and lunch at Lefty's 

Winter Walk & Union Square


The tree lighting was just after Thanksgiving, but Union Square is an incredibly picturesque and popular visit all month long during the holidays. Last year as construction was shutting down for the winter months on the new transit tunnel under Stockton Street, the adjacent retailers got the idea to open it up as a pedestrian promenade and spent a lot of effort removing construction equipment and barriers, setting up a remarkably lovely open space. This year they have already set it up again and it’s totally worth the visit as this typically busy loud street is now a quiet tranquil spot with holiday flavor. 

We generally take pictures with the tree in the background, although there is also a large menorah too. The palm tree’s all lit up are pretty picturesque too. Stopping in at the St. Francis to see the gingerbread creations is fun (and a good bathroom stop). And a stop at the old City of Paris Department Store (now Neiman Marcus) to see the tree in the rotunda, riding the escalators as far up as we can to see it from all levels. As a kid my father used to ask me how I thought they got the tree in there and we would come up with all kinds of wild stories, which I now do with my kids.

A couple of tree's from the City of Paris Department store (now Neiman Marcus) from the 40's and 50's 

A couple of tree's from the City of Paris Department store (now Neiman Marcus) from the 40's and 50's 

We tend to avoid actually ice skating in the square, the rink is really small and they overcrowd it, plus there is usually a wait (pro tip: check out the indoor rink at Yerba Buena gardens, or is you are really set on the outdoor experience head to Justin Herman Plaza by Embarcadero 4 and the Ferry Building as they have a larger setup). 

Typically we have lunch at Lefty O’Doul’s, a total old school San Francisco classic, this is the kind of spot Dashiell Hammett would have had lunch dreaming up Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon (although it was founded in 1958 long after he wrote the story - still this place feels like a by-gone time in the City).

Be sure to stop by the SPCA corner Macy*s set up, on the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell, and have the kids leave a donation for them. Be aware that the pets are up for adoption and you might want to be ready to face the question “Papa, can we have a dog!?"  

Waiting for the show to start

Waiting for the show to start

Velveteen Rabbit


I mentioned a couple weeks ago (in the Jet Playground letter) about the Velveteen Rabbit performance. The ODC Dance company. Its a big fundraiser for their efforts during the year, and this year they are also making a donation to aid Syrian Refugee’s. 

This performance was created with families in mind and is really a wonderful show for all ages. The first act runs about 40 minutes and the second act about 20 minutes with a nice intermission between. And since the audience is mostly families, if someone starts to cry you won’t get those glaring angry stares from people around you. We have the book at home and will usually read it all together before the show, and the kids will dig out their rabbit ears from Easter and wear them to the show (you can also buy them there too). This has become a holiday tradition for us, and we are all looking forward to the performance. Above there is also a link to a PDF you can color, cut out, and wear to the performance too to receive a special button and 10% off bunny ears. 

Looff Carousel - originally at Playland at the Beach till 1972

Looff Carousel - originally at Playland at the Beach till 1972

Historic Looff Carousel at the Children's Creativity Museum, Yerba Buena Center 


Constructed in 1906 the Looff Carousel originally intended to be installed in San Francisco, resided at Luna Park in Seattle due to the 1906 earthquake,moving down the coast a bit later. From 1913 to 1972, the Looff Carousel was at Playland at the Beach over on the western end of the city. In 1998 the City of San Francisco bought the carousel, restored it and opened it in its current location, again being restored in 2014. 

This is a lovely place to visit thats bound to put a smile on your face. $4 for 2 rides (per person). Next door there is also a pretty fun playground, Childrens Creativity Museum, bowling alley, and an ice rink. 



  • We love going to Lefty’s for a bite, make sure you check out all the paraphernalia on the walls, and the bar stools made of baseball bats. The corned beef is pretty good http://www.yelp.com/biz/lefty-o-douls-san-francisco-2
  • Bring some single dollar bills to let the kids donate to the SPCA and Salvation Army bell ringers you’ll find all over.
  • Take some time to work your way up to the rotunda in Neiman Marcus, the tree seen from all the different levels is really fascinating. 

Feeling Adventurous