Where to Go with Babies
I'm looking for more places to take my 5-month-old on weekdays, especially afternoons, because I go buggy if we stay home all day. I've been to malls and the Emeryville public market, bookstores, the zoo, parks etc. With winter coming I'd like to get a bigger indoor repertoire. I need places where you can hang out at a table for a long time without being glared at, where changing the baby's diaper won't involve a long trek, and where there's enough going on that a fussy baby won't be the center of attention. Thoughts?
One of my favorite places to take my son -- babyhood through the present -- is the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Babies/kids LOVE marine life, and it is fun for mom and dad, too. There is just room after room of fish, penguins, etc. (There is a pretty awesome snack bar and gift shop/s, too.) Generally, it is pretty much a free to be you and me environment. There is even an Africa-themed baby/toddler play area, where you can really let your hair down. If you like it there and want to go often, the best bargain is the annual pass with unlimited visits. You may want to wrap it up there at around 3?, though, so you don't get trapped in traffic back to the East Bay.
-- When my son was an infant I would also take him to museums. This is more risky if your baby has a fit and there are some serious art-lovers around, but I was surprised at how often my son would look at everything and then fall into a nice Baby Bjorn sleep, allowing me to wander.... Museums usually seem to have great bathrooms and cafes.
-- In the East Bay, I like the Circus Pub on Kensington Circle (in Kensington), which is TOTALLY kid-friendly. You could have a nice shepherd's pie (for instance) while you play with your baby in the bona fide play area. There are always other parents and kids, so you could eat a meal and meet some nice folks.
-- In Marin, my favorite place is the Discovery Museum. Some of it is outdoors, but lots is indoors. Some of the stuff may be too old for your baby, but there is one building with sort of a waterbed play area, etc., that was perfect for my friend's twins recently.
-- If all of this sounds like too much traveling in rush hour, another thing you might consider is Kindergym, which I think? offers classes for babies.... I took Debra (sp?) Bonet's wonderful class in Albany, which was Wednesdays at 4 or so. I think classes are offered all over the East Bay, though. Both of us got exercise and to hang out with a nice group of kids and parents. Debra is a swell teacher, calm and patient, very creative with music and dance. Good luck and have fun!