Adult Getaways

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello! I’m hoping to take a 1-2 day solo trip in late December/early January within 2 hours driving distance of Oakland as a way to reflect and practice being along from my first child before giving birth to baby #2 in a few months, and would love recommendations. 

    Here’s what I’m looking for:

    -beautiful location/scenery, ideally near a body of water or forest 

    -has delicious food either on site or nearby (I’d love a bed and breakfast or charming hotel!)

    -ideally lodging has a pool and outdoor space 

    -max two hours driving distance (not too remote as I’ll be 24-26 weeks pregnant and want to be near hospitals should anything go wrong)

    -I’m hoping to rest, read, journal, eat delicious food, and maybe go for some easy hikes 

    If you have recommendations for couples trips, I’ll take those too! Thank you. 

    I stayed at Olena House at Point Reyes once and it was a lovely, charming solo retreat for a mom. The gardens were beautiful but would be nicer in the summer maybe. Food in the area was good, along with some really excellent bakeries.  

    Monterey sounds perfect for this! Don’t have a specific option but there are a bunch of cute bed and breakfasts there.

    When I was pregnant with my first, I did a babymoon in Calistoga. I love hot tubs and missed being able to go in them, so I found a place that had a mineral pool that was set to 90 degrees so that I could float around :-) The town is very cute with lots of good food and the surrounding area is beautiful.

    Asilomar (in Pacific Grove, just south of Monterey) may be just what you are looking for. It's a conference center that consists of a campus of buildings, including many lodging buildings, a social hall, a dining hall, and a chapel. It's a naturalistic setting and you will often see deer on the conference grounds. There is a boardwalk that takes you across the dunes to Asilomar State Beach, which lovely. More boardwalk loops through the dunes. Some of the rooms have fireplaces, and some of the lodging buildings have common areas. What they don't have is TVs in the rooms, because it's not that kind of place. The food at the dining hall is good. Tables seat 8, I think, so you'll have opportunities to meet people at meals. There are also great restaurants in the area (Passionfish, Red House, and Crystal Fish are favorites). The social hall has a big fireplace, pool, maybe ping-pong, and open jigsaw puzzles.

    Sadly, I think the pool is closed at this time of year. But other than that, I think it fits your asks.

    It’s slightly outside the 2 hour window but Asilomar in Pacific Grove meets most of your criteria. Beautiful space right next to the ocean and sand dunes. It’s used as a conference grounds a lot, but they also book rooms like a hotel does. Rooms are NOT fancy and no TV but the lodge is gorgeous and they do have some sort of cafeteria (plus easy access to the yummy food of Monterey). Get a room with a fireplace if you can! Designed by Julia Morgan. They have a pool but you won’t want to use it in winter, if it’s even open this time of year. 

    I did a women's writing retreat at the Green Gulch Zen Center for this purpose and had a great experience. Got lots of solo time.

    Sonoma Mission Inn?
    Near Jack London State Park for relatively easy walking.

    Indian Springs in Calistoga - great hiking in the area, lovely comfy rooms, access to the (famously wonderful) hot springs pool (and it's warm - not so hot that you can't have a float while pregnant). Maybe even get a prenatal massage while you're there. 

    I love the area around Pt. Reyes and Inverness, which is about an hour away. In winter it's all lovely and foggy and gray, perfect for sitting in front of a fire and relaxing. There is the ocean, which holds many delights, and there is also Tomales Bay, surrounded by flat woodsy walking trails.  There's an old dairy farm at Pierce Point that's fun to explore, and the little town of Pt. Reyes Station is picturesque and has cute little shops - a great way to while away an afternoon. And there are food options galore, from roadside oysters at Tony's or Hog Farm, to picnic table sandwich places (Side Street Kitchen!)  to nice restaurants (Saltwater Oyster Depot, Olema House, NIck's Cove)  to a very nice little grocery store in Pt. Reyes for fruit, cheese, snacks, etc.

    Places to stay ... Close to Pt. Reyes is Olema House. I haven't stayed there but it looks beautiful and it has a restaurant. Over on Tomales Bay there is Nick's Cove - the rooms look cosy and delightful and it has a good restaurant right on the water, plus there are a bunch of oyster places down the road. Try the clam chowder at Tony's - yum!  Across the bay from there, in Inverness, is Tomales Bay Resort which is more like a casual roadside motel, not a resort so much. But last year we stayed in a room there that had a fireplace and a view of the bay - very comfortable and enjoyable. I think they have a restaurant (it was closed when we were there last year.).

    If you drive north another 30 minutes there is Bodega Bay, with several lodging options. We stayed at Bodega Bay Lodge a few months ago - it was on the expensive side but it is right on the bay, has beautiful grounds, has a heated outdoor swimming pool and a decent restaurant. There are several other restaurants around Bodega Bay - good food options including wonderful walk-up chowder places down by the marina. There's not a lot to do in Bodega Bay aside from strolling along the bay, which is very nice, but if you really just want to sit and look at beautiful scenery it's a good place for that.

    Have fun!!

    It's pricey, but check out Boon hotel in Guerneville. You can walk/bike to restaurants and a beautiful redwood grove, and onsite they have a pool, nice outdoor space, breakfast delivered to your room, comfy places to read and lounge, and a spa (though I haven't tried it out). Close by and an easy getaway! The one downside is the cell reception is poor (there is WiFi).

    Check out Timber Cove hotel in Jenner! It’s gorgeous and very serene/relaxing. The beds are SO comfortable, too. There are a lot of beaches in the area, and I’m sure plenty of beautiful hikes. The restaurant is good, too. 
    I just had my second child a month ago, and love this idea- wish I had done something similar. Good luck! 

    I recommend going to Point Reyes, and staying in one of the B&Bs in Inverness.  It's about an hour drive from Oakland, and you have lots of options for hiking and food.  You are also close to the ocean! 

    Calistoga is a lovely get away. Congratulations and enjoy!

    If it were me, I'd head south to the Monterey Peninsula - Pacific Grove, Carmel, Monterey - all about 2 hours away, by the beautiful Pacific Ocean, good food, lots of B&B's and quaint hotels and good walking, plus there is a real hospital in Monterey should any need arise. Enjoy!

    Check out Guerneville, CA! 

    It's my happy place: being in Sonoma County means good food and wine, it's near the Russian River, there are hiking trails, and multiple lodging options. 

    I got married there and I plan to have my babymoon there next week. Call me obsessed hahahaa

    I did this at the Inn at the Presidio and it was very nice. Lots of outdoor space to hike and sit in the sun, and a beautiful view of the bay. But it's just in San Francisco, so maybe not far enough! It was earlier in the pandemic, so I got delivery/takeout for all my meals.

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

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A getaway for only one night

Oct 2008

I'm trying to plan a getaway for my husband and I and I'm having trouble finding a place for just one night. I am looking for some place close (1 hour drive). So far every place I found has a 2 night min. stay. Does anyone know of a place that does not have this restriction. I would rather stay in a cottage/house than a hotel. need to get away

Try the Olema Druids Hall. This was a fraternal organization (the Druids) whose building was converted into B/inn. It has a cottage and a small number of rooms. We stayed in the Grand Suite a couple of years ago and it was, well, grand. It's also a minute away from the Olema Inn, which has a wonderful restaurant.

Have you looked at Costanoa near Pescadero? Nicole

A long time ago, my husband and I stayed at the Pelican Inn for only one night. Not sure what their policy is now, but you should check it out. It is an old fashioned, English-style inn right at Muir Beach. The restaurant/pub is good too, so you can just hang out at the beach and the inn and not spend your time driving around.

Also, we have done one-nighters on weekends at some of the bigger hotels in San Francisco . Most recently, it was the W. We have also stayed at the St. Regis. Both of these are nice because they are near good restaurants and the museum. We did one night at the St. Francis on Union Square before, too.

Wow. Sounds like we have a lot of one-night stands, but that isn't the case. This is over a 20 year period.

I know you didn't want a hotel, but this place is a real find. My husband and I just had a 24 hour getaway for our 10th anniversary. It's the Beach House in Half Moon Bay , about an hour from here (you can go through SF, or over the San Mateo Bridge and across to the ocean). It's right on the beach, with lovely, clean, warm outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, and spa treatments available. Really nice rooms, with 2 TVs, microwave, fridge, fireplace, down comforters, and stereo system where you can hook up your iPod. Daily afternoon wine & cheese reception, a real treat upon arrival, away from our 3 kids! Right next door is Sam's Chowder House, a comfortable, family friendly, but also potentially romantic beachfront restaurant, with very good food. Be sure to sip wine in the adirondack chairs out by the fire pits at sunset... Have fun! heidi

We've stayed in a B in Marshall (across Tomales Bay from Pt. Reyes) for a single night and had a great time. The place was a little funky but comfortable and private, and the breakfast was really excellent. Sorry I can't remember the name of it, but Marshall is pretty small. It's probably a little more than an hour drive, but once you get beyond the freeway part, it's beautiful country highways.

Pelican Inn , Muir Beach. Private, romantic, and a short drive north of the GGBridge. Alex

I know just the place! Laurel Ridge cottage in Inverness ( or email irwinsegal [at] or call 415 663 9584). Inverness, which is next to Point Reyes, is just over an hour's drive from San Francisco (but feels quiet and remote). There's great hiking and dining nearby. The cottage is up in the hills and has a private outdoor hot tub. It's quiet and spacious and has the most cozy, comfortable flannel sheets I've ever encountered. They will take one-night bookings on weekdays. Hoping to stay at Laurel Ridge again soon

Long weekend trip for 50th birthday

Nov 2006

My husband will be 50 this summer and I would like to take him somewhere to celebrate. His family will probably be with us as well. We both love outdoors and would enjoy a bit of luxury for this occasion. I have never been to Montana or Wyoming and have always wanted to go. I have done a quick search online to look for cabins or resorts but either I didn't get a good sense or they were too expensive (like $3000/weekend!). Any ideas about nice places to go to spend a weekend with family? I would also appreciate any weekend trip ideas in CA as well. Thank you Elif

You mentioned you like the out-of-doors... Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone Park and Jackson Hole would give you many choices. There is the Jackson Hole Lodge (Mike the moose usually drops by early AM for his drink of H2O from the bird bath), Jenny Lake is tranquil for hiking or kayaking, Yellowstone Park is magnificent and Old Faithful Lodge is walking distance to the famous geyser, buffolo are back on the plains in great #'s in the park, and Jackson Hole is a fun Western town to enjoy. Whatever you do Congrats to your hubby on pluging over the hill =)) Love US National Parks

Locals and visitors always seem to enjoy a weekend in Napa or Monterey/Carmel. 1/ In Napa, there's walks, wineries, art, great food, shopping and the DiRosa Art Preserve. 2/ In Monterey, there is breathtaking nature at it's best, great food, small town atmosphere, all kinds of outdoor activities (swimming, biking, hiking, gliding), not to mention an event nearly every weekend from Laguna Seca to jazz festivals. ALWAYS something Have fun! Signed, Envious!

In Montana, Glacier National Park is well worth the trip, although just a ''long weekend'' might not be enough. When we went (parents and two school-age kids, six years ago), we stayed at one of the lodges there (East?). It was fine for a family, and convenient, but not so ''romantic'', if that's what you want. So, I can't make specific lodging suggestions, but the park itself is spectacular. As for a weekend here in California - try Occidental R.K.

Place for one-night getaway in SF

March 2006

I am planning an overnight trip with my partner, the first time both of us will be away from our toddlers. I want it to be very close, SF or possibly Marin, a nice hotel in a fun location, possibly with restaurants and/or movies that we can walk to. My partner doesn't like B's too much -- I think they feel too much like being at Grandma's house, and not enough privacy -- so a hotel might be better. I don't know SF neighborhoods well enough to know where to stay. I checked the postings but there were only a couple of recs. Any suggestions much appreciated!
Looking forward to a night away!


  • The Argonaut Hotel, Fisherman's Wharf

    For a getaway in SF, it depends in part how much you enjoy being in the midst of urban hustle and bustle. There are any number of hotels (from just nice to super fancy) around Union Square, from which you could explore shops, museums (around Yerba Buena Gardens), restaurants and bars. There are movie theaters at the Embarcadero or Metreon, or you could even go see live theater at ACT or a few other venues. Another option is to stay in one of the hotels in Japantown, from which you can explore not only J-Town but the upscale Fillmore neighborhood to the north, also home to many nice restaurants and fancy boutiques. (Note: Fillmore to the south gets a little more gritty.) Japantown also houses the AMC Kabuki movie theater, and I believe there may be another theater nearby, as well as a few jazz clubs. You can also check out the baths at the Kabuki Springs & Spa.
    Auntie M

    Week-long bike trip dor 10th anniversary?

    August 2005

    My husband and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary next May and we want it to be something special. Grandma has offered to watch the kids for a week, so wahoo! We were thinking of going on a Backroads biking/backpack trip, or a chartered sailing cruise (that's more my idea than his...) Has anyone used Backroads before? We were considering an independent backpacking trip but we find we can only go for about 4 days before we start jonesing for a shower and a soft bed. We really want to take advantage of Grandma's generosity and go for the whole week. Having Backroads staff cook our meals for us sounds very appealing as well. Backroads is very pricey -- is it worth it? Thanks for any tips! laurel

    In addition to Backroads, consider another company called Bicycle Adventures. We took a week long bike/hike trip through the Canadian Rockies and enjoyed it. Also, REI offers trips, though I think they contract out to companies like Backroads & Bicycle Adventures to actually lead the trip.

    I researched a whole bunch of different companies before we took our trip. The prices really varied depending upon the style of the trip. The cheapest were the ones where you camped each night and everone pitched in to cook, clean and set up camp. The most expensive was Backroads, where you stay in nicer places and all your food is included. Bicycle Adventures was just a smidge cheaper than Backroads. There were a few priced in the middle where your lodging wasn't quite as nice (can't remember the companies).

    There was one company that was seriously hardcore in that you were riding 100 miles a day for a week. Our trip averaged about 40 miles/day. Pick a trip that matches the miles you want to ride.

    Surprisingly, there was not a whole lot of free time each day (and I'm not saying that was a bad thing, more of an observation). Basically a day was like this: have breakfast, get packed and take your stuff to the van, ride some, have lunch, ride some more, arrive at the hotel, have about an hour to clean up and relax, and get dinner. Then you have some time. Some people went out exploring or sitting in the jacuzzi if the hotel had one. We were pretty tired at the end of the day, so we ended up going to bed early. What was nice about the trip being a bit more expensive was that we didn't have to deal with setting up camp or cooking at the end of the day when we were beat and just wanted to relax.

    Long answer to a short question. Hope it helps.

    10th Anniversary romantic getaway

    May 2005

    My husband and I are going to celebrate our 10th anniversary on December 30. We would hope to have a 2 night getaway Dec 29 and 30. We want to go somewhere very romantic and special. We prefer privacy (cabin over hotel) but don't want to be so isolated that there is nothing else to do but be romantic. We love Indian Springs in Calistoga but want something a bit nicer. We do ski and would consider a snowy retreat, but prefer not to have snow. We are willing to fly but not far as we only have 2 nights. As this a very special occasion, we want to splurge. Lisa


  • Auberge Du Soleil, Rutherford 2
  • Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles
  • Big Sur: Post Ranch Inn or Ventana resort 2
  • Brewery Gulch Inn, Mendocino
  • Milliken Creek Inn, Calistoga
  • Rosemary Cottages, Point Reyes
  • Russian River
  • San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara
  • Sunset Inn B, Cayucos


    Wedding night romantic getaway in the Bay Area

    March 2005

    Hello, I have a friend getting married this summer. As a surprise, a group of us want to treat her and her husband to a romantic first wedding night at a hotel or bed and breakfast in the East Bay or S.F. I've read the past postings but most deal with other accommodation needs. We're looking for a romantic place appropriate for a wedding night! Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
    Friend of the Bride


  • Claremont Hotel, Berkeley
  • The Clift Hotel, San Francisco
  • Cottage Inn and Spa, Sonoma
  • Manka's in Inverness
  • Majestic Hotel, San Francisco
  • Redwood House, Oakland
  • Rose Garden Inn, Berkeley
  • San Remo Hotel, San Francisco
  • Sherman House, San Francisco
  • The Inn Above Tide, Sausalito
  • Whale Watch Inn, Bodega

    More advice

    One of the best wedding presents we received was a gift certificate from an organization called something like North American Association of Bed and Breakfasts and it was good at many, many B's so we got to chose where we wanted to go. If you are interested and can't find the association, email me and I'll ask my friend who organized the gift. roxanne

    I don't know of any romantic overnight places but here's an alternative. I hired 2 massage therapists to come to our honeymoon suite the morning after. It was pricey (~$200 which included travel and tip) but it was worth every penny! It was a great way to recover from wedding planning and wedding reception partying! If you do this, make sure it's later in the morning (around 11:00am) so they have time to sleep in and do what honeymooners do! susan

    One-night getaways

    November 2005

    My husband and I are going to go away by ourselves for the first time since our daughter was born for our anniversary. We don't want to be gone two nights from our daughter, so we're trying to find a place where we can stay just for Saturday night. Can anyone recommend an inn/hotel that allows one night stays on a weekend close to the Bay Area? We thought of the Hostel at Pigeon Point, but want something with a little more ''ambiance''. We're more of the artsy/outdoorsy type, so someplace situated near hiking spots is ideal. Golf courses and the like are out (not my husband's cup of tea). This would be within the month, so during the beginning of off-season. Any recommendations would be most appreciated.

    Try the Golden Hinde Inn on Tomales Bay (great location, standard motel) or the Beach House in Half Moon Bay (great location and really nice rooms). Both places take one night stays over a weekend.
    October 2003

    My partner and I want to get away for one night (without our son) somewhere on the Marin/Sonoma Coast. Any recommendations?
    Needs a Break


  • Inverness B (2)
  • The Inn at Occidental
  • Point Reyes Inns 2
  • The Inn Above Tide, Sausalito

    Other advice:

    Have you checked This is the ''vacation rentals by owner'' website and it has a wide selection of available properties listed by area. You can generally see several photos of each place you are considering as well as prices, amenities, etc. Hilary

    Weekend of solitude for mom

    April 2003

    I'm looking for a place to get away from everything for two days. I have looked into Wilbur Hot Springs, and it looks great. But I want to go somewhere where I won't have to talk to anyone and no one will talk to me. I envision some sort of retreat in the woods where I can go on a hike, read a book, sit by the river, and be alone for a while. It would have to be a weekend because my husband will need to be available to watch the kids, and I'm worried that popular retreats will be too busy. I'm yearning for complete quiet. I'd love to hear your suggestions.
    Gotta Get Away

    Recommendations received:

  • Green Gulch Zen Center (3)
  • Harbin Hot Springs
  • Mendocino
  • Orr Hot Springs
  • Spirit Rock
  • Steep Ravine Campground
  • Wilbur Hot Springs (2)

    Other ideas:

    Vacationing alone sounds great! I have a friend who has spent time in Desolation Wilderness by herself (and her dog). It's on the way to South Lake Tahoe past Strawberry, in the mountains before you go into the Tahoe Basin. It's a National Forest. There are places to stay on the way and there is a great river along the road (I can't rememeber the name of it). I don't know if you can camp there, but you can also stay at nearby hotels and go there for day hikes. There is Echo Lake, Lake Aloha and others. It's high desert. I've been there in July and it can be warm to hot in the day and chilly to downright cold at night. I thought it was a great place to be private and alone in nature. You might check with the City of Berkeley as they have a camp at Echo Lake. You can sometimes rent a tent cabin for the night before summer camp actually starts. Have fun! anon

    March 2003

    Baby number 3 is due in July, and I'm looking for a solo weekend away while I still can. Does anyone have any great recommendations? I'm looking for a place to stay that's drivable from Berkeley (3 hours max.), where I can enjoy nature and quiet, sleep in a comfortable bed, hike in gorgeous scenery, play my guitar, write in my journal, have a nice meal, and maybe get a massage. Since I'm pregnant, hot-tubs and wine-tasting are irrelevant, and since it'll just be me, romantic B are also superfluous. I'm not interested in shopping. I don't want to stay at a big corporate hotel. I'm looking for someplace like Wilbur Hot Springs, only not centered around hot springs, if that makes any sense, and with a nice restaurant nearby. Oh yeah, and I'd like some sun! (Maybe a pool or a beach?) I'm sure I'm asking too much. But if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear. Judith


  • Asilomar
  • Cambria
  • Costa Noa
  • Green Gulch Zen Center
  • Rio Villa, Russions River
  • Sea Ranch
  • White Sulphur Springs

    Adventure getaway for Mom

    June 2003

    I am a working mom who gets to take a trip in early September each year after my husband returns from his ''boys'' adventure. Usually it is to a spa or some other tame, expensive location for a few days with a girlfriend. This time, I'm looking for a challenge and some thrills. Any advice on adventure trips not too far from the bay area? Ideally I'd like to be able to drive to this place (so maybe 3-5 hours max) and spend a few nights somewhere. I am athletic and outdoorsy, so seeking a trip that would challenge and invigorate me -- maybe some sort of hiking, rafting, horseback riding combo? Any ideas would be most welcome! Thanks. Jennifer

    Hi. I think you would have a blast in the Gold Country in California. It's kayaking, rafting hq. around here. At least that's what I was told by a pro rafter/kayaker. Not only is there good rapids, but the scenery is beautiful. You could go hiking, or hang out. It's truly part of the wild west. It's affordable and if you don't like what you see, you can go East, West, North, or South and still have a great time. If you belong to AAA, you can ask them for your very own awesome adventure getaway. Oregon is also a great place to go for adventure. Don't forget Utah! If you haven't been to Utah, you don't know what you are missing. I loved Brice Canyon, and the Tri Corners area. The most important thing is to go out and HAVE A BLAST!! beth kagel

    Romantic Getaway for Couples

    March 2003

    My husband and I are looking for a close-by (60-90 minutes away max) romantic getaway weekend, either hotel or B I've read the website recs but I am looking for more ideas. Any good recommendations and what did you like about it, as well as its location. Thanks!

    Recommendations received:
  • Alexander Valley, near Healdsburg
  • Carmel River Inn, Carmel
  • Chateau Tivoli, San Francisco (2)
  • Costanoa
  • Evergreen B, Pleasanton
  • Inverness B
  • MacCallum House, Mendocino
  • Manka's, Inverness
  • Pelican Inn, Muir Beach
  • St. Orres B, near Ft. Ross
  • Wine Country Inn, St. Helena, Napa

    Favorite hideways for parents-needing-a-break

    August 2001

    Any recommendations on favorite hideaways (places to stay) in Monterey, Napa, or Calistoga? This is for parents-needing-a-break, i.e., w/o kids. Vern

    Recommendations received:

  • Orr Hot Springs
    We just came back from North Vancouver, BC where we stayed at Seaside Lookout Bed & Breakfast in Deep Cove for 3 days. It was wonderful to get away to their beautiful house, lush garden with upstream trail, gorgeous seaside view, and the location just walking distance from good food and boutiques. The hosts, Rudy and Marijo are friendly and interesting (but not intrusive), and their breakfasts are amazing (omelettes, crepes, quiche, homemade scones, fresh fruit). See for yourself by visiting their website at Deep Cove is an interesting place for those who love to hike or do water sports such as sea kayaking and canoeing. The U.S. dollar goes pretty far in Canada. They welcome children if you want to bring them along, and can provide a suite that has kitchen amenities. angela
    Just returned from two nights at Sand Rock Farm in Aptos--just south of Santa Cruz, about half hour north of Monterey. It is a very lovely historic house, beautifully restored, with gardens all around. Some of the rooms have a 2 person jacuzzi in the room; two rooms share an outdoor hot tub. Scrumptious breakfasts! In the interests of full disclosure, my brother's in-laws own the B, but I promise I would recommend it anyway :) Deborah

    Date Night ideas for a couple with child(ren)

    Jan 2003

    Hi, We have finally arranged to have a babysitter come twice a month so that we can go on some badly needed dates! Now, I could use some suggestions on where to go! East Bay and San Francisco are both locations that interest us. I would like recommendations for both Romantic Dates and Fun Dates... (restaurants, music venues etc...) Thank you for any suggestions that you might have, Michelle

    ok I know this sounds wierd. But the alcatraz night tours are amazing! Especially if you get a clear night. The sunset and then the light around the bay are undescribable. WOW. We did it with our 2 and 4 yr old ,with another friend to help with kid wrangling, and it still rates as one of the more romantic things that we did in the last 5 yrs. We did manage to grab about 20 minutes to ourselves. Tons of fun. Looking forward to hearing other ideas, maragaret
    Albany Hot Tubs anon
    one of my husband's and my own favorite date nights is this (need about 3 hours): rent a hot tub at the albany sauna & hot tubs (525-6262) on solano ave (west of san pablo)--you could also get separate massages, instead--and then go eat sushi at the great sushi place (can't remember name!) on the north side of solano JUST east of San pablo. Then, if we have time, and we usually do, we go over to Celadon, the new tea house that's a block east of the sushi place, also on solano, for tea and a little dessert. this whole night is very relaxing (but pricey!).

    if you're spending most of your money on babysitting and not on yourselves, a friend of mine says that taking a walk up albany hill and sitting outside at night up in the little park up there (maybe with a picnic or bottle of wine?) is also very nice and low-key. jessica

    A really fun date is to take the ferry from Jack London Square to Pier 39. One time my husband and I were the only ones on the boat besides the crew! Park at the structure across from the movie theater. I believe parking is validated. Then hop aboard the ferry at sunset. There is a bar on board, but I suggest bringing your own drinks. Then have dinner at Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, or around the Embarcadero. Then catch a cab to BART. Exit at Oakland 12th street and either walk or take a cab back to the car. Taking the Ferry is a very relaxing way to get into the date night mood. Have fun! Helena
    Try the Parkway theater for movie, pizza and beer. Get there early so you can get one of the good comfy sofas. Enjoy! Ariel
    One of the most fun, and inexpensive, dates my husband and I went on was to the batting cages in Emeryville. I forget the name of the place, but it's off Shellmound right by the Borders bookstore. They have batting cages, air hockey tables, etc. It was fun and silly, but we had a really good time. It was a nice change of pace from always going out to dinner and a movie. Jennifer
    We have played pool at Albany Bowl for a cheap date. Also as the weather is warmer, we sometimes pick up a pizza from Nino's and eat at the berkeley rose garden. anon
    I would like to hear recommendations/ideas for weekly dates for married couple with young children. Not family outings type (takes too much time) or a dinner at Chez Panisse (too expensive), but creative and affordable ideas for things to do/places to go for a weekly date without the children. Ideas for having a date with the presence of the children or after children's bed time are also good (do these things exist?). As a related note, what arrangement for temporary childcare do you find the best? I know these ideas/arrangements are personal and may not work for every family, but they should be beneficial/inspiring for other people to hear. So, if you have some good ideas, please write/recommend. Many thanks.
    I am married, and we have two kids. One is a teen who is going to boarding school during the year, and the other is a 2 1/2 year old.

    About childcare: We have developed a relationship with one of our teen's friends who lives near us. She's willing to work quite long stretches at a time, and our younger daughter loves her (we've joked about moving her in!). Check local high schools, churches, or network with your other friends to see if you can find someone like this. We also do the occasional childcare swap with our other friends with kids. And some of our friends without kids are sometimes willing to watch her, just because they are wonderful people!

    About places to go: You didn't say what sort of things you are interested in. Of course, there's always the dinner and/or a movie thing. We often find that one or the other is preferable to both, just because there's not that much time in an evening, and we don't like giving up our potential for SLEEP to stay out late!

    Another thing we have been known to do occasionally is go Country Dancing. This type of dance includes some of the well-known Square dancing, and more of the less-well-known Contra dance (from New England; usually in two long lines), English Country Dance (vintage, from Renaissance through 19th C, usually; most often in small sets of 6 or 8 people in two lines), and other forms of country dancing. These dances are held periodically around the Bay Area. There's a Berkeley Contra Dance every 2nd Friday night, for instance. For a calendar, and a description of what this stuff is all about, go to the web page for the Bay Area Country Dance Society: These dances cost about $6 or $7 per person--less than the price of most movies these days! They hold instruction before some dances, and they always start with easy ones and work up to harder ones. And most of these are called dances, so someone is telling you what to do every step of the way. Their motto is If you can walk, you can dance! (Golly, I'm getting all excited about it myself--I guess I should arrange to go to a dance again soon!)

    This, by the way, is not just for Married Couples--several couples I know met each other at these dances; it's a great place to meet other singles!

    Happy dating! Dawn

    I have been amazed at the number of people who have thought it is cute that my wife and I go out on dates after 4 kids and almost 20 years of marriage. I tell them several different things, some echoed from my parents who have been married for 40! First of all is the fact that, after the children are grown and gone, we (hopefully) will still be together as a couple. This means taking time to keep that part of our life alive. Dates don't need to be fancy. Find a neighbor or someone you trust to watch your child or children for even 20 mins at a time. This time can be spent taking a walk and TALKING. It is the time spent paying attention to JUST your spouse that is important. Don't let the talk focus on bills or children, but on each other, plans and hopes for the future or current events! Dinners out don't need to be fancy, some our best dates have been over a whopper at the local BK. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't spring for Chez Parisse when you can, but it is more important to take time, with JUST your spouse on a regular basis. Another idea, for anyone in Berkeley, is to stroll around the Marina and out on the Pier. The view is splendid and even among the people you can have intimate conversations.

    It is the commitment of time and energy to each other more than the business of marriage that keeps the relationship alive.

    May God continue to bless you Robert

    Marin B

    From: Deborah

    This has the advantage of being a lot closer--Mountain Home Inn in Mill Valley--but it's not really in Mill Valley, but right on Mt. Tam. Very romantic and great hiking. The cheapest rooms are not cheap and are tiny, but w/o kids, a small room is ok! And the room was charming w/ a lovely view. Great breakfast included.

    Mendocino Trip for Adults

    From: Judy

    About 6 years ago, my husband and I stayed at the Old Milano Hotel in Gualala and really loved it. The inn is, actually, on the ocean. One outstanding feature (for us) was an outdoor hot tub overlooking the ocean. You sign up for blocks of time, so you have privacy. As I recall, we paid about $80 a night for a nice room, but with a shared bath.

    From: Eleanor

    Our favorite spot for an adult getaway in the Mendocino area, and it works well for families also, is the Sea Ranch community on the border of Sonoma and Mendocino counties near the town of Gualala. Many people at Sea Ranch rent out their homes for a long weekend or for weeks at a time. The places range from fairly basic to quite opulent, with a corresponding range of prices. You have the advantage of more space, a fireplace, deck, kitchen, and you can use all the Sea Ranch facilities such as great beaches and hiking trails, 2 pools, golf, tennis. The town of Gualala has several good restaurants and some casual, funky ones. We have always used Ramshead Realty and Rentals on Annapolis Rd because they have the biggest list of rentals. I don't have their number handy, but you can get it through information or look in Sunset magazine for their ad , and they also have a web site. Our kids loved it also when they were small before they preferred to hang out with their friends instead of their parents. My son loved what he called the wood house (all houses are in weather wood), and we loved the bathtub and laundry when the kids had spent all day at the beach. Also, having a kitchen allowed us to make some meals ourselves instead of going out for every meal.

    From: Gabriele

    We became B converts after our first visit to the Joshua Grindle Inn in Mendocino. We've stayed there twice: once in one of their Cottage rooms, the second time in one of the Water Tower rooms and found both rooms to be home away from home. Woodburning fireplaces in the rooms contribute to the cozy atmosphere, but the decor is very tasteful and little touches like reading material on the bookcases really make you feel welcome. Their breakfasts are out of this world. We took home their cookbook Mendocino Mornings and our vegetarian 13 and 15 year-olds love the quiches. Their Website is I highly recommend them and can't wait myself to go back. We try to make an annual visit for a couple of days to Joshua Grindle to celebrate our December anniversary while the kids are visiting with their dad.