You’ve booked the family trip and camp for the kids, but what about those unplanned summer days when everyone’s itching to get out of the house? In the Bay Area, you can drive an hour or two in any direction and find a full day — or night — of fun.
TIDE POOLS AND BEACH
One of the best ways to learn more about the incredible ocean life right under our noses is up close and in person. And one way to experience that is to stick your fingers, literally, into tide pools — those beachside puddles teeming with marine creatures. The Duxbury Reef Tide Pools in Bolinas are known as some of the best in California, so it’s worth the drive to explore the biological microcosm they contain. They’re only accessible during low tide, though, so check tide tables carefully before heading out. Once there, you can often spot anemones, starfish, snails, crabs and even a small octopus if you’re lucky. Drive time from San Francisco: approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
USS HORNET OVERNIGHT
None of us want our kids’ brains to turn to mush over the summer, so how about mixing a history lesson into the fun? The USS Hornet in Alameda is World War II’s most decorated naval aircraft carrier, and it’s chock-full of beautifully restored planes, space capsules, wartime artifacts and almost unlimited nooks and crannies to discover. Book one of the overnight trips for the ultimate experience: your family can dine in the original mess hall, sleep in a naval bunk room, visit “top secret” compartments like the torpedo chamber and submarine intelligence center, and stroll the exterior flight deck. Overnight tours are docent-led, but be warned: there’s some military-style directing, so your kids won’t be able to pull any funny business. If they try, the ghost story hour before bedtime should be enough to scare ’em straight. Drive time from San Francisco: approximately 30 minutes.
PREMIUM POOL PARTY
Summer just wouldn’t be summer without quality time at the pool. For a sumptuous daylong experience that’s miles away from fogbanks and fleece jackets, get up to Geyserville and Francis Ford Coppola Winery. This is no ordinary swimming hole; guests can make a reservation that includes a private pool house, lounge chairs and, a favorite perk, a mini-size can of Sofia sparkling rosé for ages 21 and up. A full food and bar menu is available poolside, including kid-friendly paninis and burgers, or you can lunch at Rustic, the winery’s on-site restaurant. Take a turn at bocce ball or one of the board games around the property, or peruse the Movie Gallery museum. The pool is open daily all summer beginning May 24; reserve ahead for a guaranteed spot. Drive time from San Francisco: approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.