Places to Go with Teenagers
Archived Q&A and Reviews
A friends has her 16-year-old nephew in town through early September and is looking for some good structured activities for him during the day--either camps that are winding down, but still have space or, perhaps, after-school activities. Interests include music, cars, and golf. Thanks for any insights you can share. Valerie
The Tilden golf course has very inexpensive youth lessons. While taking lessons he can use the course for $1 per round. My son loved his class and only had 2 kids in it. Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. Stinson Beach. Russian River. Lessons or full moon paddle at cal adventures at the marina. cocosar
My daughter just turn 11 this month. I have been looking for some group activities to do with her together, but haven't had much luck. In the past, I have seen or heard some libraries offer mother-daughter book club, hospitals offering puberty classes, but I have not found any around Berkeley/Oakland area. We are also interested in any singing or dance group. It can be an ongoing thing or a one time thing. Thanks for everyone's input in advance. Sherry
We've taken a cooking class, a sewing class, started a mother/daughter book club, manicure/pedicures, movies, dance class, yoga class. tween mom
You mentioned you might be interested in a singing group. ''SingThing'' is a weekly family singing activity which I did with my daughter for 3 years. It's led by Sandi Morey, who is really knowledgeable about folk songs as well as a fun song leader. Very good quality music experience. There are weekly get-togethers in Albany and Oakland. See http://sandimorey.com/
If you decide to start your own mother-daughter book club, I highly recommend the book, Deconstructing Penguins, written by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, a couple of writers who have successfully led a parent-child book club for years. It's really great for helping such a group learn how to look beyond plot and story and know how to talk about a book.
You could also look ''outside the box'' for opportunities. For example - volunteering at a regional or state park together. My daughter and I went through docent training at a state park together when she was 10, to become co-docents who gave tidepool tours. Organizations are often willing to work with a younger person if the parent will do the program or activity along with her.
Have fun! Jennifer
One of our favorite mother-daughter activities was to go to Brushstrokes in Berkeley and paint pottery together. We would pick a night in the middle of the week, go get Mexican at Picante first, and then paint for a couple of hours. Best of all, I still have lots of nice cups and plates to commemorate those happy times with my now-20 year-old daughter. It Goes By Fast - Enjoy!
Mothers and daughters who enjoy cooking can do sort of a ''Julie and Julia'' using the book ''Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T.'' Shopping for recipe ingredients and making a meal together is great mommy-me time... learning the words is the bonus. jennie
The other day, I was reminiscing about an outing I'd taken with the kids, and then I began to think about the many places we used to go when they were younger, this camping trip and that ski trip and that long hike down to the ocean, etc., and the fact that we really no longer do these sorts of day/weekend trips. Now, filled with great nostalgia, I've come to realize that the kids (now 16 and 14) have other things going on and other interests. I'm not planning things like I used to, but maybe I'm not planning things because they don't really seem to want to go. So I'm wondering, are there other parents out there whose kids have ''outgrown'' your family outings? And if so, what are you doing about it? Is this another lesson in letting go? A little forlorn here
I'm afraid it's normal, and probably healthy as well, for this age group to start pulling away from their families, especially when it comes to public life. (I vividly remember imagining that people would stare at me and wonder, ''Can't this girl find someone to hang out with besides her--ewwww!--MOTHER? Has she no friends? What a loser.'')
Possible ideas: Have them bring a friend along to the park or beach or wherever. And be prepared to jump at last-minute opportunities: e.g., one of your kids wishes aloud to go someplace the family used to enjoy together. Breakfast/brunch out as a family can also work, and is another opportunity to sneak in some activity, especially if you are clever and go to a restaurant near a regional park or beach. Family vacations do become difficult; again, consider inviting a friend for a long weekend trip.
Last, one of the most introverted teenagers I know became very excited about the Obama campaign and asked his parents to take him to Nevada for a weekend rally, volunteer training, and neighborhood canvassing. He still talks about it, and according to his mother, he was in a great, loving mood all three days. So keep in mind what they're enthusiastic about, and see if you can build on it.
(It also helps to redefine and maybe downsize your idea of an outing. My girl, who had been laughed at by her friends for being so close to me when she was 12, pulled away as well, but around 16, she started saying that Berkeley was ''not safe,'' and asking me to walk with her to the drugstore or library at twilight. Now I think it was just an excuse to have my company; we used to have very good talks then, and would sometimes stop for a smoothie or coffee--kind of a mini-outing.)
Good luck! This age group can make you feel pretty forlorn and lonely now, but they'll want your company again when they get over themselves a bit. Melanie
Hi, the key to family outings with teens is to let them bring a friend each. And another thing to think about is making some outings optional and some required. And let them pick sometimes. Like my 15 yr old wants to go to Alcatraz and last year asked us to take her and her friend to the Greek Festival in Monterey (which was not very fun, but it was her choice...)
My older teen who no longer lives at home was a real downer on family outings and I realized I stopped planning them for that reason. But now we do it again and it is a lot of fun. Recent things we have enjoyed--kayaking in Monterey Bay, hiking, King Tut, Cartier exhibit, Santa Cruz boardwalk. She would like to go camping but I don't have the energy to plan it! have fun!
Answer to your question - yes and no. Both of my kids are adults now,18 and 21, and we still end up doing outings, though they are not as well planned as they were when they were little. When they were younger teens, we would ask them to invite their friends on day trips. Many times, their friends had never ventured to the places we had, so it was new to them. Last year our youngest daughter invited a friend from school to have dim sum with us in the city. We ended up at Golden Gate park and Ocean Beach, then shopping in the Haight.
Now my oldest daughter lives in Sacto. We go to have brunch with her and end up in a new part of town she wants to show us, or shopping! Your kids will have a nostalgic feeling for the places they went as little kids, and they will want to show their friends. You can be a part of that. Jenny
We've recently returned to the Bay Area after an extended absence - our kids are now teens and have yet to either reconnect with old friends or develop networks of new friendships - therefore, they are looking to us parents to help them spend a good deal of their free time. This is fine with us and we love spending time with them, but I need to develop new activities that don't cost us $25- 50+ every time we leave the house. Movies, the mall, restaurants, bowling, baseball games, it all just adds up and I feel the dollars draining from my wallet on a constant basis. And, being teens, they are not all that into walks/bike rides/frisbee tossing. I would therefore really appreciate new ideas of how to spend quality time without spending the big bucks. My daughter loves drama and music, my son loves history; both kids enjoy museums, theater,and travel. They both enjoy the outdoors on a limited basis, but are not into, say, hanging out at the beach. I'm hoping to get them into biking, but that hasn't happened yet. Thanks so much for your ideas and suggestions. On a budget
What about volunteering somewhere? Or getting a part time job? You didn't say which high school they are going to but many schools have clubs where the kids would meet like-minded friends. There are also sports teams to join outside of school. Good Luck! anon
The Bay Area IS expensive. I also feel the drain when I'm out and about. Just a quick Jamba Juice or Starbucks visit can easily set one back $20.
- All of the museums have a ''Free'' day/eve once a month. Take advantage of those.
- Some performing centers (Mountain View Center for Performing Arts) and/or universities (Cal, Stanford) offer free concerts by lesser known artists, often on weekdays or Sundays. You need to be keep an eagle eye out for such freebies.
- Bookstores or schools host readings by authors, often to promote a new book. We stood in line one Friday evening at a local high school for free reading by Neil Gaiman. Have also heard Amy Tan and David Sedaris read at various community readings. Very entertaining!
- Volunteer as an usher at a local performing arts center or at a museum. Means free admission and a chance to meet new people or usher with friends!
- Volunteer at a local shelter (animal or human) or soup kitchen.
- There are still a few museums that are free, like Cantor Museum, Stanford. Beautiful campus. Bring a picnic lunch to complete the outing.
- Cook in the kitchen.
- Radio. Love NPR. KQED offers some excellent listening adventures.
- Start an edible garden.
- Library. Read. Our local library is a GREAT resource for dvds, books and even some video games. Check it out!
- Join a club. Find an interest or a hobby or sport and there's a club waiting for you to join.
Just a few ideas. Thinking lean can help you find resources you didn't know existed. You are not alone. Another Frugal mom with teens
Many museums have a ''free day'' once a month. Check their websites.
Goldstar online is a great source for lower cost theater tickets. You & your daughter might enjoy ushering at various theater venues. Then you would get to see shows for free. Depending on her own taste & skills, she might also want to try out for various shows-- Alameda Civic Light Opera, Contra Costa Civic Theater, Pinole Valley Players are East Bay, and there are many other theaters in the Tri-Valley area. Go to websites to get notice of tryouts. Note: Several other local youth musical theater opportunities charge the participants!
Check the SF Folk Music Club website (or folknik newsletter), or BASCD website, for weekly and low-cost events involving music or dance. Monday nights there's Irish group dancing taught at the Starry Plough on Shattuck in South Berkeley, which I think is free. They also serve food, and you can play darts or just listen to the music.
Things that cost money: If I want some time with my teens, I invite them out for ice cream or lunch, like at Fenton's on Piedmont Avenue or Rolling Rock on Shattuck, or a bakery on Solano. The Freight & Salvage coffeeshop(now in downtown Berkeley) charges half price for people under 18, so less than $10 each. Also, check the City of Berkeley recreation webpage. For instance, they have the inexpensive West Campus pool just off University near Bonar. I was charmed to see you can rent kayaks for $15 an hour at Jack London Square. You can also rent wind-surfing equipment at the Berkeley Marina, I hear. another parent
My mom would like to take my 12-yr-old twin daughters on a trip. She's in her early 70s, active and healthy. This would probably be next summer, so we are just starting to plan. Has anyone had any experience with something like this? Does anyone have any ideas or leads on cruises, resorts, tours or other programs that would work? I'd also love to hear any advice on what worked well and what didn't. Thanks! Iris
My mother has taken my son and her other grandchildren on Elder Hostel inter-generational trips: http://www.elderhostel.org/programs/intergen_list_domestic.asp Everyrone had a great time. She has also come with us to family camp. Good luck. Deborah
Check out alumni trips from your university. Berkeley, for example, offers family trips through Cal Discoveries Travel Program using reputable tour groups that are enjoyable and educational. Also consider an ''off-time'' travel schedule, because the rates are considerably lower, the pace is less frantic, and the kids could arrange to ''get ahead'' on homework if that is an issue (usually not a problem for middle school), plus it's educational. The key is ''be flexible''. There's a neat trip to the Ashland Shakespeare festival in September 2009, which fits right in with reading 9th grade ''Romeo and Juliet'' or 10th grade ''Hamlet''. The cruise along the Rhine, visiting castles and the Lorelei rock, and then going by rail to the Alps in June sounds pretty neat too. All tours have academic escorts. Good luck! Lynne
My 13 year old nephew is going to be visiting next week, and I want to plan a lot of fun activities for him. I'd like to find some kind of performance or theater/interactive show to take him to, but I haven't found anything. I'm new to the area and could use some help. Any suggestions? Thanks. lynn
Good things to do with 13 year olds: Alcatraz, Exploratorium (thought he may be a little old for that), Tech musuem in San Jose, Cable Car, Telegraph Ave, Haight Street in San Francisco, Metreon, Muir Woods, Pt Reyes, if he likes being in nature at all. m
Looking to plan ahead for a potential summer abroad (2009) with RN mom and 16 year old couch potato/video game loving son. Mom is super adventurous, son would rather stay in the house. Best possible scenario: no tv, lots of kids/animals, TOTAL cultural immersion. Best if mom can work as an RN (highly unlikely), volunteerism a possiblily too. We welcome all ideas/input/advice. Help me show my kid that there is more to life than Wii! susan
Though summer is not the optimal time (it's rainy season), Costa Rica is a wonderful active place to go. It's relaxing, beautiful, lots of wild animals and fun activities. With our six-year-old son I traveled there and went on a river-raft float to view animals, a ''rainforest zipline tour'' (where you fly between trees in a harness attached to a zipline some 100 or more feet off the ground), a tour of a butterfly reserve, a hot springs spa warmed by an active volcano (the lava flow visible from the pool), a dolphin viewing outing, etc etc. People were friendly, it was safe and clean, English was spoken by most people, and the tourist industry is low- key and often locally owned and run. I would get the book Key to Costa Rica and have your son help you plan. Rainy season means essentially that most days will be beautiful, but the rain will start to pour at around three or so every day. If you get in much of your activity before then, you're fine.
Another option might be a walking tour in Europe. If you are of European origin you might select the country of your family's origin, but really good walking countries are Ireland, England, France, and Germany. This is because they are densely populated, and you can walk between villages at a leisurely place, with only six to ten miles between them in many areas, sometimes less. Carrying backpacks and walking on small byways you will see a lot of small details and be able to stop when something interests you. You and your son could sit down and map out a couple of areas that interest you.
Just a couple of notions... good luck with getting him off the Wii! fellow traveling mom
I've taken my video-addicted couch potato teen sons on a few trips and here's my recommendation for you and your son: Ask him where he'd like to go and what he'd like to do. Make a deal that you two will spend half the time on activities of his choosing, and half on yours, and you both will do this without complaining, and agree to stick to the agreement! My family is not very outdoorsy - my idea of a good time is all day at the museum and dinner and theater in the evening. Teen boys tend not to like this! But I have found they will go along with me if they get to do what they want, too. So, when we had a trip to Germany planned, my sons wanted to go to Amsterdam. We agreed that they'd have wandering-around time there without me, but they'd go with me to the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum. We found other fun stuff to do that we all liked - a canal cruise, sitting in a cafe and watching people. They politely tolerated boring all-day visits with German friends, and I politely tolerated them skipping out on a Rhine boat trip halfway through to take the train back to the city by themselves. In London, my 18-year-old couldn't get going till noon, which ordinarily would make me crazy, but I figured out I could do fun stuff by myself in the morning, then we'd go together to my choice of theater or etc. in the afternoon/evening, and then he could go out at night after I went to bed. We both enjoyed the flea markets, a walking tour of spooky London locales, and just walking around looking at stuff. A work trip to Tokyo with a 14-year-old boy was fun for everybody (electronics, manja, video games, bullet train, sushi). We spent a day wandering the Akihabara district trying out weird new video games, and then he came with me to the (boring for him, not for me) farmer's market. He went along on temple and castle tours and even worked up a little enthusiasm for this!
One thing - when I ask my sons ''what would you like to do?'' they can not think of anything. But if I ask them more specific questions like ''would you like to visit the Tower in London?'' or ''Do you want to stay at this hostel in Amsterdam?'' then we start making progress. Have fun! Loves to travel
Subject: Re: Suggestions for 11 yr old birthday?
Last year for my daughter's 11th birthday we held an overnight, with the main attraction being a trip to the 10 pm Laserium show in SF (the particular one was LaserRage, but I don't think they show that any more). We provided the usual cake, ice cream etc (and had a contest to see who could eat their cake most neatly with NO HANDS), as well as breakfast for the kids. We asked the parents to pay for the show itself ($5 each for the kids; $7 for any adults who wanted to go). The kids agreed that this was one of the best birthday parties they'd ever been to.
From: Susan (10/98)
I just recently had my 11 year old son's birthday at QSAR Lazer tag in Vacaville. There is one in Concord but it was under remodel. There is also one in Pleasanton. It was a great party for active boys of that age.
From: Deborah (10/98)
Planet Lazer, 24089 Watkins St, Hayward, 888-1738 Don't know anything about the place, but they donated tickets for a school auction!
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 08:03:41 -0700
Popular birthday sites for young teens I know (the only young teens I know are boys, but girls might like these too)
1. LazerX (in downtown Berkeley off Shattuck - just reopened) Have you been to one of these laser gun things? They are really fun, even for moms. Gets your adrenalin going.
2. Grand Slam USA - baseball batting range 5892 Christie Av, Emeryville
3. Raging Waters in San Jose: I like the parties that my child is invited to, not the ones I host!
4. The Underground (video arcade on campus under ASUC building) A couple years ago we had a successful b'day party for 6 boys - we walked to campus, gave them each a handful of tokens, and went to LaVal's after for pizza. They had a great time. (Kids seem to like LaVal's better than adults do.) I think now you'll need to show campus ID to get in - not sure what the policy is for kids.
Here's a fun thing to do with teens and preteens - I've done this several times with my boys and you can even do it on a workday if you can get to the BART station by 3pm or so. It's called ....
\t!!! Shopping and expensive hamburgers !!!
Take the BART to SF and get off at Powell Street. It costs about $5 to go roundtrip from Berkeley to SF on BART nowadays. The Powell Street station has an entrance directly into this vertical mall that contains Nordstrom's, a couple of sports shops and lots of other places to spend money. The top floor of Nordstrom's seems to be devoted entirely to Jr high and high school aged kids' stuff and they often have good sales. But the cool thing about this mall is the circular escalator that goes up about 6 stories, so even if you aren't buying, it's fun to ride up and down the escalator.
Next, walk about 2 blocks and you're at Union Square, which has Macy's and Niketown: ridiculous overkill on the current Nike craze but boys seem to really dig it and - hey Mom - it has some interesting architectural features. Closer to Market St there is also the HUGE Virgin records store - fun for parents too, with listening stations & a huge selection of disks and videos. Nearby is a giant Ross store; this is where we do most of our buying - compare Nike socks from Ross to the ones at NikeTown!
On Stockton up from Virgin there is FAO Schwartz, the biggest toy store ever. Kids of all ages like FAO Schwartz, even jaded 14.5 year old boys. When we were there last week, they had a display of Men in Black toys and propaganda which was thought to be cool, and even the Legos and toy race cars still are interesting. Of course you can't beat it for Star Wars paraphenalia, and the stuffed animal and Barbie selections are supurb.
Just a few doors down from FAO Schwartz is the capper to the day's entertainment: expensive hamburgers at Planet Hollywood. This is a place I would never step foot into unless I wanted to impress teenagers. And boy are they impressed. Let them bring a friend, too, if you want a REALLY good reputation. It's a glitzy touristy place owned by a bunch of movie stars like Stallone, Bruce Willis, I think Arnold, and a few others. It's packed with movie memorabilia like costumes from the Terminator movies and so forth, and there are giant TV screens everywhere playing movie clips as well as ads for the Planet Hollywood chain. Rock music blares from loud speakers. The decor is high Hollywood moderne with fake animal prints, purple, gold bricabrac, etc. Burgers are about $10. There are fancy kids' drinks and also unlimited refills on giant sodas. My kids can't get over this - they think they are really getting a deal. They also can't get over the fancy bathrooms, with colognes arrayed next to the sinks and an attendant who hands you a towel after you wash your hands. Adults should probably stay away from the fancier dishes on the menu like Blackened Prawns with Mango Salsa but the burgers aren't bad and the barfood (pizza, buffalo wings) is OK. This is a good time to explain about paying for atmosphere as opposed to paying for food. Have fun!