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zina's avatar

Good Bay Area activities for a mom-in-law birthday weekend? (spas, outdoor, day trip, non-hotely places to stay)

Asked by zina (1636 points ) August 2nd, 2008

She’s from the Midwest, but we’ve done the SF tour on previous visits. We’re thinking getting a bit out of town would be good, and we’ve got a car to use. Due to some health things, we’ve got some restrictions: no far-out new foods (and no seafood at all), no alcohol, nothing too physically taxing, no more than a couple hours in the sun. Overall she likes to be comfortable, but loves seeing/experiencing new things and having fun. Our goal is to have lots of quality talking time while doing some memorable fun and relaxing things. [and not spend a fortune – particularly for a place to stay]

WITHIN SF, I’m thinking Greens restaurant, maybe a visit to the Ferry building farmer’s market, maybe something in Golden Gate Park (Sunday morning w/good weather) or Land’s End trail or a picnic in Dolores Park, the 49 mile drive?, is the Exploratorium fun as an adult? ........ would do KABUKI spa (that would be PERFECT) but she’s here Fri-Sun and it’s clothing optional those days (which she would be uncomfortable with). Any similar ones? Could be in the greater Bay Area?

OUT OF SF, we’ve thought of Mendocino (would be PERFECT but too much car time for such a short visit – but great combo of nature, shops, restaurants, all new to her, and alternative but not too funky), Napa / Calistoga (but she can’t have wine, so that’s torture), Monterrey / Carmel (haven’t been in years… aquarium sounds awesome… where to stay?), maybe Western Marin somewhere? (that seems great), redwoods – Muir or East Bay – sounds like a good short activity, ..... maybe a ferry ride to Angel Island or Sausalito or Tiburon (it’s be great to get ideas of fun things to do in those places – no rigorous hike, not wild about yuppy window-shopping, but I’m sure there’s fun to be had – like the Tiburon Friday night street party?), ... too bad it’s a little too early for Apple Hill. mmmmmm

Comfy outdoorsy stuff would be great. Ideally I’m thinking a fun group activity like Burke’s canoe trips on the Russian River but shorter/milder. A walk on Mt Tam? Something more interesting/new/fun than that? I’d really like to come up with creative not-every-day things—like bowling or ice skating (summer, obviously), Chile-tasting festival, mud bath (can’t with her sensitive skin, but wouldn’t that be fun), ...

A cabin in the woods somewhere? Not a big hotel chain but not too rugged?

Hopefully this is enough info to throw some ideas out there!

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11 Answers

hoteipdx's avatar

Try the hostel at a lighthouse in Half Moon Bay. Up the road from there, you can find a small airport w/ a great breakfast joint.

zina's avatar

cool! never heard of that.

jaredg's avatar

If the suburban-y nature of the peninsula doesn’t bother you, it’s possible to get not exorbitantly high hotel rates in Palo Alto on the weekends because those hotels are mostly used for business. The hotels I’m thinking of are chains, though (the Sheraton and Westin on El Camino)—the boutique ones downtown are always pretty expensive. I like wandering around Stanford campus, but that’s just me. There’s the Cantor arts museum there, too.

There’s a spa a few blocks off the main drag in PA that everyone raves about, Watercourse Way that would probably work if you want a spa day. They book up wicked far in advance on the weekends, though.

I’ve enjoyed visiting Moss Beach in Half Moon Bay for the tidepools and Pescadero for just sandy beachy-ness further; they’re pretty close by car and would make for okay day trips.

You can also take Caltrain up to the city (I still find the train to be reasonably entertaining unless I’m/it’s late) and then work your way to the farmers market which sounds like a good reason to get up early on a Saturday.

This isn’t exactly what you’re looking for but I wanted to show a little bit of love to my part of the Bay Area.

tinyfaery's avatar

Muir Woods, definitely. Its just across the golden gate. Then drive up the 101 to Stinson Beach, get lunch here., browse the shops. Its a great, relaxing day trip. Muir Woods, really, you will not be disappointed.

Seesul's avatar

If you go to Half Moon Bay, as suggested above, you can circle round back via 17/880 and stop at Big Basin and see the redwoods there.

MissAnthrope's avatar

You know, you don’t have to do winery tours in Napa/Sonoma.. there are lots of hot springs in the area. We used to go to Calistoga with some frequency and there are all sorts of spas, mineral baths, and hot springs. The hotel we stayed at (the name escapes me now) offered your standard array of spa activities, plus the pool was fed directly from a mineral hot spring. The water felt different and it was very nice.

There are lots of good restaurants in the area, even some owned by famous chefs, plus there are hot air balloon rides, air glider rides.. I’m sure you can find lots to do up there.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I second what hoteipdx, tinyfaery, and Seesul said. In addition, there’s always Santa Cruz (for the boardwalk, beaches, and mountain forests) and Monterey (beaches, restaurants, the world’s most awesome aquarium).

Man, I miss the Bay Area. :)

Response moderated
babygalll's avatar

That’s the longest description I have seen yet!

Half Moon Bay, Monterey and Carmel are all nice places.

amurican's avatar

Why not spend the day at Harbin Hot Springs just outside of Middletown a little beyond Calistoga. No cars just peace and quiet on 1500 acres of sanctuary. You can even go au-naturale or not. People of every shape and size from every background phylosophy and culture can be found there. Hike the many trails in the hills or sun bathe. They have a natural foods store and cafe for some heathy simple food. Get a massage or attend a free yoga class. When you leave you will feel light as a feather having possibly gone beyond your old comfort zone and into a new one. Many people with tight schedules often find ways to extend their stay once they find that there is no other place that they have to be. It’s a heart consciousness kind of place.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Don’t mss Muir and the redwoods.

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