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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Tots on a Tear: Randall Museum and Walter Haas Playground

Walter Haas Playground
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
The kids and I had a great time today on a spur-of-the-moment fieldtrip to San Francisco. I've been meaning to check out the Randall Museum so that's where we went first. After that, we found an amazing playground in the Diamond Heights neighborhood, the Walter Haas Playground.

We got to the Randall Museum around 1:00 PM, which is a great time to visit a children's museum if you want to avoid running into other kids. Most parents and schools tend to take kids on outings in the morning; the Randall Museum this afternoon was almost completely empty. The museum is free, but there's a donation box inside the front door.

The museum has a nice collection of animals and birds, including an indoor petting zoo with ducks, rabbits, and chickens. The kids fell in love with the hands-on lego earthquake exhibit where they built towers with legos, then pressed a button to simulate an earthquake in order to see if their structure would remain standing or not.

Every Sunday, the museum hosts The Buddy Club, which presents magicians, musicians, and other entertainment to children. They also offer a variety of art classes for preschool and elementary school-aged kids. [Update: My friend Mary reminded me that they have art classes for adults, too!] There's a class schedule on their website.

We spent the most time in the Toddler Treehouse room, which was empty of kids during the time we were there but filled with wooden trains, large stacking blocks, books, and assorted other toys that could entertain kids from 1.5 to 5 years of age. The room was large and bright with sunlight from the gorgeous San Francisco winter day streaming in through the wall of windows. I took a lot of photos in the great natural light.

After hanging out at the museum for a couple of hours, we headed home. For the heck of it, I decided to detour off Market Street on our way to the highway to check out the Diamond Heights neighborhood. I was stoked to find a park with a playground at the top of Diamond Heights Boulevard and Addison Street.

The Walter Haas Playground was completely restored less than two years ago, and it is amazing! I've never seen a nicer playground in San Francisco with the exception of the Yerba Buena playground downtown. [Updated: The playground I'm referring to is called The Rooftop Playground and it's on top of Moscone Center, across the street from Yerba Buena Park.]

The Walter Haas Playground is completely fenced and gated (a plus if you've got a toddler!) and filled with great playground equipment that was ideally suited to my two-year old and three-year old. They were in playground heaven. Outside of the playground is a grassy area with a view of The City suitable for a picnic lunch or a snooze in the sun. The whole area was clean and there were no homeless sleeping on benches: two things that appealed to me as a pampered suburban SAHM venturing into The City with her kids. There's also a fenced dog park area, Tutu!

The only parking at the playground is street parking, but Diamond Heights is a San Francisco neighborhood that's off the beaten path so I was able to find parking right away.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the best part about the Randall Museum: It has a parking lot!! Free and plentiful parking in San Francisco is rare and definitely helps to make the Randall Museum a hidden gem, even for moms outside The City who are looking for an excuse to visit.