San Francisco: Seesaw in Hayes Valley
January 25, 2012
It’s been raining a lot lately in San Francisco, which means limited activities for the little ones. My search for places to go with Astrid that are not just child-tolerant but actually FOR kids has turned up surprisingly few results. Maybe it’s because San Francisco usually has pretty stable weather so it’s not a great business to cater to rainy-season kids. Whatever the reason, it’s making me want to open up my own play space!
Someone did just that over in Hayes Valley: on Sunday, we finally checked out Seesaw.
I’ve been meaning to go for a while, but I didn’t quite get their concept. I’d heard it was a cafe with a play space, so you could meet a friend for a coffee and your little one wouldn’t have just the crayons and sugar packets to play with while you talked. That seemed nice but not a destination for A. and me on our own.
Turns out I didn’t have the full picture. It’s a cafe + play space Friday through Sunday, but the rest of the week, Seesaw is a “studio” for a variety of play groups and kid activities. (Note: the cafe isn’t open to the public Mon-Thurs as a result, although it does sound like it’s open to studio attendees.)
It’s a great space: very Scandinavian, blonde wood, high ceiling, cozy, open. The play space is open to the seating area but separate and has drawers of stuff for all kinds of activities – Lego, dress-up, kitchen – and there’s a wooden doll house, a train set and a rocking crocodile seesaw. Books as well and lots of nice, small touches like the recycling, compost and trash bins being toddler height. The menu is Danish and Korean, which I presume reflects the owners’ cultures. It’s a weird combo, but whatever: get a rice bowl and those tasty Danish pancake balls, who’s counting?? The coffee (Four Barrel) is surprisingly good for a kids place, which is also a nice surprise.
The age range of the kids was pretty wide: one baby, several toddlers and a group of older girls I’d put at 6-ish. Everyone seemed to have found their thing to play with and were getting along well. I’m sure part of that is the wide range of toys they provide (none that make noise, thank God!)
We haven’t been to any of the classes yet, but I’ll report back when we do. It’s a pretty eclectic schedule, ranging from developmental play for toddlers to French, Korean and German sing/play times (separate classes, not all together!) to some unique ones that sound super-helpful for specific ages and situations, like grief counseling for young children, manners (including netiquette) for older kids, and a workshop series on social skills called Be Friends. Most classes seem to be sold as a series (albeit short ones: 3-4 classes per set), so not a lot of drop-in options, but there are some. Check the schedule on the home page.
If you’re looking for a pre-nap destination on the weekend, definitely check it out and get some play time with your coffee. We liked it a lot. (It was getting crowded by 10:30/11-ish on a rainy Sunday so go early!)
Seesaw, 600A Octavia St. (a block and a half north of the Hayes Valley shops/restaurants), cafe open 9-5 Friday and Saturday, 10-5 Sunday