Hayes Valley, an area known for its wealth of stellar restaurants and cultural offerings, is also a remarkably family-friendly neighborhood. In some areas that are steeped in high-end options, youth activities can sometimes take a backseat. But the opposite is true in Hayes Valley, where thriving arts and culinary scenes embrace all ages with an array of youth programs and family events. Residents of the new Hayes Valley condos at Fulton 555 live right around the corner from innovative centers of education, vibrant and interactive art pieces, beautiful parks, and (perhaps most importantly) great ice cream.
The Open Air
Koshland Playground and Learning Garden
Koshland is far more than your typical playground. Sure it has contraptions for climbing and tires for swinging as well as a place to shoot hoops, but what distinguishes Koshland is its stunning garden. The large and lush green space consists of 54 plots (18 of which are designated exclusively for educational use) and is open every day. When the entire expanse is blooming, it functions as a breathtaking natural marvel in the middle of the city. Kids and adults can stroll through the garden, breathe in the fresh air, and take in a lesson about how fresh food and flowers are grown.
Patricia’s Green is not the city’s largest park, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in character. A small playground and grassy areas provide ample space for picnics or a simple spot to lay down a blanket and relax with a book while the kids run around a bit. A myriad of shops and restaurants surround the park, so a great cup of coffee or an ice cream cone is only a stone’s throw away from a foray in nature. Named after neighborhood activist and Hayes Valley hero Patricia Walkup, the park also features revolving and permanent art installations including the gorgeous, interactive Temple by internationally renowned sculptor David Best. Temple is, unsurprisingly, a temple: a massive, intricate, wooden structure designed to be interactive. Visitors are invited to draw directly on its surface and help make the piece a collaborative entity. In this way, Temple perfectly embodies its neighborhood’s appeal as a stunning, world-class creation that captivates children and adults alike.
The Seesaw Studio offers some of the most unique and fascinating classes for children in all of San Francisco. Categorized as a “well-being studio,” Seesaw doesn’t just impart learning skills and knowledge to children; it nurtures a therapeutic approach to learning and growing. The studio provides opportunities for parents to learn alongside their children, and family consultations are available as well. Seesaw teaches children to be more comfortable in their own skin and to recognize their strengths through development classes and therapy sessions. Innovative music classes as well as French, Japanese, Mandarin, and sign language courses are also offered.
Fiddlesticks is a vibrant little boutique that stocks an array of kids’ clothing, educational toys, books, and knickknacks. It’s a charming little shop run by an impossibly knowledgeable and friendly staff. Everyone at Fiddlesticks takes the role educational toys can play in a child’s development very seriously, and the store selection reflects this focused dedication to education and fun.
We All Scream for…Molecular Gastronomy
Smitten Ice Cream
This place is not only an ice cream shop, it’s a scientific marvel. Never heard of made-to-order ice cream? Then Smitten Ice Cream will change everything you know about ice cream technology. Smitten founder Robyn Sue Fisher developed the Brrr machine, which uses liquid nitrogen to make fresh, irresistibly creamy ice cream in a matter of seconds. Best of all, the Smitten technique is not a gimmick. The result is ice cream that’s more fresh than any you’ve ever tasted with a certain velvety texture unlike any other. Come for the ice cream, stay for the science lesson.