Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings and anyone who’s become the primary childcare provider/teacher amid this pandemic, I’m with you.
It’s been a challenging few months having my daughter at home full time while still trying to work. And, to be honest, the thought of an entire school year with all of us at home makes my eye twitch a little. But I’m trying to keep my composure. And it definitely helps to know that I’m not alone — that many of us are facing these same challenges together.
With the upcoming school year in flux for most kids, many of us parents and childcare providers are left wondering how we’ll keep our kids engaged while classes go virtual. We know that getting outside is healthy and puts everyone in a better mood, but where can we go when those walks around the neighborhood aren’t cutting it?
The places listed below work well for kids of all ages. They are short, flat (often paved) trails with plenty of room to maintain social distancing. They also offer opportunities to spot wildlife and get your little ones excited about nature. So, what are you waiting for? Get those cooped up kids outside to blow off some steam (without blowing out your back in the process)!
Aside from being a world-class location for birdwatching, Bair Island offers a nice flat trail for peaceful walks with views of the surrounding wetlands. The two observation decks are also fun and provide a good incentive for children to make the entire walk.
Kids will love learning about Bair Island — the largest island in the South Bay and a part of the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country (the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge). And it’s not only birds that call this place home — Bair Island is a refuge for hundreds of species of wildlife, including some that are endangered.
Looking for some educational content that will get your little ones excited for your visit to Bair Island? Download the awesome “Junior Refuge Ranger” adventure booklets below. Designed for the Fremont and Alviso sections of the refuge, they have fun, educational activities and info that also applies to the environment at Bair Island.
If you’re looking to head to the coast, Pillar Point Bluff County Park just north of Half Moon Bay is a great hiking destination to take the family. Kids love this place because there is so much to see, including the best views of the world-famous Mavericks surf break.
There are lots of trail options at this park that twist and turn through seasonal wetlands and coastal bluffs overlooking the ocean. But the Jean Lauer Trail, named after a former POST staffer, is an easy hike with low grades and beautiful views, making it great for kids of all ages. It’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible with a gravel surface, making it also convenient for a heavily loaded stroller.
Nestled in the southern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains is Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve. This preserve, with spectacular 360-degree views and wildflowers in the spring, takes you through dramatic hillsides and along a glistening creek.
The half-mile Llagas Creek Loop Trail, right next to the main parking area, is flat and paved making it wheelchair and stroller accessible. It loops through a large grass field and follows a creek edged by trees. There is plenty of wildlife to spot on this section of trail, including wild turkeys, deer and, if you’re lucky, even bobcat.
If you’re feeling up to it, a walk up the Longwall Canyon Trail is also a great route to take with the family. It follows an old, mostly flat ranch road, perfect for a stroller and wide enough for social distancing. About half a mile in, the trail crosses a creek, which gives the kids some time near the water. We usually turn around a short distance past that point, before the trail starts to climb.
Happy trails and stay well!
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 80,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more