Dear parents of snotty-nosed wild things,
Say goodbye to another Friday night of pathetic leftovers, whiney kids and quirky documentaries on Netflix. Instead, how would you like a night out with art, culture, music, delicious food and refreshments not served in sippy cups? And no, you don’t need to spend those precious babysitting dollars (hello, it’s $75 o’clock.)
What’s the hitch? Turn down the volume of your former single-bad-ass self and listen up. A great Friday night date can include your kids. Say what?! Finding the right venue is half the battle. “Family friendly” doesn’t have to scream suburbia—Oakland boasts some of the best spots for getting your groove on with kids.
Summertime is the ideal time for breaking old routines and injecting fun and excitement back into Friday nights. Warm weather and culture can bring out the best in all of us. Rule No. 1: no clowns or bouncy castles. Rule No. 2: no insane crowds and traffic.
Oakland’s First Friday’s Art Walk was fab with baby No. 1, and a nightmare after baby No. 2 (combined with wild toddler No.1). Now, we’ve downsized to First Friday’s at Temescal Alley, which rocks for families with young kids.
It’s lively and hip without trying too hard. There’s groovy indie shops, affordable art, pop-up foodie vendors and Dona Tomas margaritas for $5. You’re likely to run into friends who will watch your kids while you devour a Pizzaiolo burger (if they happen to be grilling that night). The downside is that it only happens once a month.
Recently, my heart was stolen by the sweet lovin’ food truck party at Off the Grid: Lake Merritt@OMCA. What’s not to dig about a fleet of gourmet food trucks (yum: sweet potato tots from Little Green Cyclo), Blue Oak’s beer and wine garden and incredible live music? The museum hosts crafts for kids and admission is half-price (free for members).
My boys jumped into the free Afro-Jazz lesson with other giggling kids, hipsters, singles, partners and dashing senior citizens. Once the music starts, kids go crazy. The dance floor turns into a baby mosh pit with impromptu breakdancing by two year olds (oh wait, that was my kid.)
There was a great view of the band from the steps surrounding the ground floor. The crowd was brimming with cool vibes and style. I pretty much wanted to hang out with everyone I saw there, including (and especially) my husband.
Which brings me back the most important rule for Friday night date night with kids—Rule No. 3: remember to flirt with your sweetheart, the way you did before you had kids. After all, how do think those snotty-nosed wild things ended up here in the first place.
Off the Grid@OMCA takes place on Fridays, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The food trucks line up on 10th Street — the block is closed off to traffic – between Oak and Fallon.