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SF Union Square a holiday treat for kids

By asoglin
Monday, November 26th, 2007 at 10:09 am in Family Outings.

Cable Car Holiday TourIf you want to get the kids out of the house this month, San Francisco’s Union Square offers a fun holiday-themed family outing. We took BART from the East Bay to San Francisco over Thanksgiving break, and it’s always so fun to see how much kids just love to ride BART, no matter where it’s headed. One tip: Kids under 4 ride free. For older kids (5-12), you can buy heavily discounted red tickets, but not AT all stations. Go figure. Visit for details.

We saw plenty of other families with the same idea, and it was so cute to see the fresh faces pressed up against the windows for a unique view of the scenery that they wouldn’t see from their cars.

Powell is always a good stop if you’re with kids, as it’s all about the food and bathroom locations when you’re on foot in the city. While the BART restrooms were unfortunately closed the day we were there, the food court in the new San Francisco Center upstairs has regular restrooms and a separate family lounge, where dads are welcome, with lots of toys, private nursing areas, plenty of changing areas, a microwave and couches. Bad side: Family room only has one actual restroom (with two stools inside).

But the real reason we were there was to see all the holiday window decorations. Macys%20Tree%20Lighting%2001-225h
We stopped at Macy’s to see the puppies and kitties and Saks to see their towering Christmas tree. Downside of Saks, though, is that some kids might get upset by the graphic bloody anti-fur photos. My 3-year-old was quite excited to point out the pelts hanging from the traffic lights. “Look at those RATS,” he said excitedly.

Don’t miss the Westin St. Francis, which always has an amazing handmade sugar arts castle. The kids’ favorite was probably the Grand Hyatt windows, with a traditional winter-themed little village. This hotel also offers some fun for kids: An ear-popping elevator ride to the 36th floor where (yes!) there are clean bathrooms, a great view of the city and a nice spot for drinks and snacks (if you don’t mind the prices).

Union Square is a nice option for kids in the city because the actual square is roomy enough for them to stretch their legs and bounce around, oggling pigeons and such. And it’s also decked out with an 85-foot fir tree.

For lunch the San Francisco Center food court has awesome offerings, but if it’s crowded head across Market Street to Virgin Records, where you can hit Citizen Cupcake on the top floor for a yummy kid-friendly hot panini cheese sandwich, an Orange Crush and an out-of-this-world cupcake.

If your kids clamor for a souvenir and you want a trinket to keep them happy for the BART ride home, check out the Market Street Walgreens, full of inexpensive goofy touristy S.F.-inspired toys.
— Kari Hulac

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