I don’t have any kids. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want kids someday, but in the throes of trying to get a photo career off the ground, it’s just not my time. But I do love them! So I was excited when I got the chance to join up with some of San Francisco’s hippest dad and kid duos (and trios) and tag along with them to some of the city’s coolest family-friendly spots.
I learned a few things on our adventures. Dads love the great culture, the energy, the education, and especially the burritos and tacos of this fair city. And the kids are just kids. They love everything! Especially tacos.
Nish Nadaraja of Giftly and his son Dash are big fans of Seesaw, an innovative and design-conscious coffee shop opened by Sabrina Gabel in Hayes Valley that serves fresh grub and strong coffee, with a work space for parents and a playroom for the kids! The playroom is kid and adult friendly with lots of modern toys. It’s become the new hot spot for young parents – most of the dads in these photos do play dates there!
Greg Rotter, a long-time Missionite, spends the weekends with his daughter Ovidia at San Francisco’s only independent pirate store, which is a part of nonprofit 826 Valencia. We had fun pulling the drawers out of the wall, which each hold different objects, like sea glass and feathers. There is even a tub of lard you can dig into if you dare! The space also offers small writing classes, which Greg plans to enroll Ovidia in when she gets a little older. It really is a dreamy place for kids.
Just down the street from the pirate store at 826 Valencia is Paxton Gate's Curiosities for Kids. I met Jonah Buffa of F.S.C. Barbershop and his son Gibson there for a little romp. The space has an organic feel and is full of goodies. Gibson made his way into every corner to check out the blocks, the trucks, and the Catamaran sailboat. His favorite toy? The kid-sized wooden train, which he hopped right into for a little ride!
Noel Chandler and his daughter Brighton are big fans of the newly constructed Hayes Valley Playground. It was designed to be socially responsible and kid-friendly, especially with its thick, spongy rubber surface. Also, the playground boasts a small outdoor gym for the adults to get in a quick workout while the kids play. Perfect for killing two birds with one stone.
Rob Collinson of Lowcard and his son Ryder love to skateboard. Ryder (only two years old) showed me his “Watch This” trick, where he dropped his board onto the concrete and then jumped onto it. Next we popped into the Randall Museum, a small sanctuary for the desert tortoise, great horned owl, some honeybees, and a variety of amphibians. It was our good luck to stumble into Saturday’s “Meet The Animals” gathering – a small outdoors petting session – where the wrangler brought out an owl and a hawk.
Dean Rader and his son Gavin love Ocean Beach! They spend a good amount of time there, where Gavin rides his trike and they chase each other around in the sand. Gavin especially enjoys the Beach Chalet, where the lobby exhibit tells stories about San Francisco's history through colorful murals and dioramas of Golden Gate Park. It feels quite Diego Rivera-esque when you step into that place.
Jay Lara takes his son Lucas to the Ferry Building, which for some may not seem like a typical hot spot for a toddler, but it’s their favorite place to visit because Lucas loves to people watch. And he did just that while getting his photo taken! It’s also an exciting San Francisco spot for the parents, known for its diverse culinary goodies and rocking farmer’s market on Saturdays.
Mike McCarthy and his kids Sean and Siobhan have a Friday ritual. They ride their bikes from school to the newly renovated Haight Ashbury Market for snacks and groceries. Then they hang out in the Panhandle Playground, a spot they have been frequenting since the kids were born. Sean even has a sign hanging on the playground fence that he made with his teachers.
For some one-on-one time with the little one, make your way over to Hayes Valley for a work/play date at Seesaw or to hit up the newly-designed Hayes Valley Playground. If you want a more hands-on adventure, show up to one of the Randall Museum’s "Meet The Animals" events, or dig through pirate booty at 826 Valencia. There's also good fun to be had at the Beach Chalet and the Panhandle Playground. But nothing beats a little people watching at the Ferry Building.
Note: Thanks to Seesaw for introducing me to so many hip dads!