model boats at Spreckels Lake

Golden Gate Park & Lands End

the new visitors center at Lands End in San Francisco

On Saturday, we spent the day exploring Lands End and Golden Gate Park, two local treasures of the National Park Service.

First up, the windmill at Queen Wilhemina’s Garden. Both windmills have recently been restored. The one behind the Beach Chalet, with its ever-changing garden, is perfect for picnics.

Next, we headed over to Spreckels Lake to watch the Model Yacht Club guys steer their boats around the lake. Eavesdropping is good here, as the men get pretty competitive about their motors. We even got to see a model hydroplane take off.

From there, we walked past Marx Meadow to the next lake, where my son quickly made friends with another boy his age, and they spent a good hour racing twigs down the stream and watching them go over the waterfall. If you ever feel as though your kids are missing out on the whole Mayberry experience, find a stream and let them go wild with the twigs. Very zen.

Next stop:  a walk along the cliffs of Lands’ End and a stop at the new visitors’ center. The photos and video of the old Sutro Baths and numerous versions of the frequently burned-down Cliff House are fascinating.

No trip to our old neighborhood would be complete without a stop at Louis, an unassuming diner that arguably hosts the best views of any diner in the world. Naturally, we got the BLT and the milkshake.

model boats at Spreckels Lake

 

 

Read More

Golden Gate

National Geographic Traveler magazine recently asked me to name my favorite Golden Gate Park destination. I chose the playground at Koret Children’s Quarter. Pick up the December issue of National Geographic Traveler to see what other Bay Area folks have to say about the park: San Francisco Symphony Orchestra Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, artist Maya Lin, floral artist Stanlee Gatti, California Academy of Sciences Senior Curator of Botany Frank Almeda, local yoga celeb Janet Stone, and Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. Or visit the interactive Insiders Map on the magazine’s website.

As my husband and I contemplate moving to the sunny burbs, I know that one of the things I’ll miss the most if we move is the park. My kid loves the slide and the carousel, so the Koret playground has become one of our more frequent haunts. Mommification aside, my own favorite spots in the park are Stowe Lake, Spreckels Lake, the less trodden trails near the horse paddocks behind the big soccer field, and, of course, the North Windmill in Queen Wilhelmina’s Tulip Garden, across the street from the Park Chalet. (The cap of the South Windmill, which has spent the last several years being restored in the Netherlands, appears to be set to make a grand return very soon.)

Read More