Spend a CHEAP week in San Francisco

Karen Solomon, author of The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to San Francisco, used to work with Whitney years ago when the Internet was fresh and before they were both mamas (when I still lived across the Bay in San Francisco and dated all the wrong guys *sigh*).

If you’re coming to BlogHer with children next week, we hope you enjoy Karen’s suggestions!

These days Karen shares with us Seven CHEAP Things To Do With Kids in San Francisco (many of them approved by Baby Emmett):

Sunday: Whip Cracking and Juggling Classes at Circus Center
Crack that whip. Juggle that ball. Ladies, gentlemen, and children of all ages are welcome not just to watch the circus arts at this full-time school offering a myriad of classes, but also to participate and learn a few tricks. And Sunday evenings, real circus knowledge can be yours for the price of a bag of peanuts. At 6:00pm, anyone is welcome to get their whip cracking skills cracking, and at 7:00, an additional four dollars buys three hours of juggling instruction. Drop-ins are welcome. You may not fly through the air with the greatest of ease, but hey, it’s better than being shot out of a cannon…

755 Frederick St., SF
(415) 759-8123
Sundays, 6:00 and 7:00pm
$4 per class ($8 for both)

Monday: A Yerba Buena Gardens blowout
Spend a day in penny-pinching splendor in SF’s multifaceted Yerba Buena Gardens area. Picnic or relax on the lawn between YB and the Metreon, making sure to check out the Martin Luther King, Jr. waterfall. A brief stint in the Metreon – the City’s own failed mall-of-the-future, will yield free video games in the Sony Playstation store. If you can pry the kids away, there’s an excellent playground on the rooftop of Yerba Buena – with a nearby ice skating rink and bowling alley if you’re up to a splurge. If not, the $3 antique carousel in front of Zeum is an equally entertaining tryst.

Centered around Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Mission between 3rd and 4th, SF
(415) 978.2700
Mostly free

Tuesday: Baby Brigade movies at the Vogue
Comedy or tragedy, someone is bound to cry at this film screening…or laugh so hard they wet their pants. The beauty part is that it’s OK, because you and your infant are in the company of other parents and babies who understand. The volume is a touch lower, the lights a touch higher, and you and Junior can embark upon a Hollywood escape without the risk of being shushed.

Vogue Theatre
3290 Sacramento St., SF
11am, but always call to confirm

Wednesday: The Koret Children’s Quarter (formerly the Children’s Playground)
Four million dollars later, SF has a brand spankin’ new (July, 2007) enormous playspace in one of our biggest parks, and it’s getting school-aged thumbs-up reviews at every turn. State of the art climbing rope structures, top-notch play equipment, and loads of green space make this a must-visit for the season. And, carousel aficionados will certainly want a spin or two on the kaleidoscopic relic nearby.

Golden Gate Park
Martin Luther King Drive and Bowling Green Drive
(415) 812-2725 (for the carousel)

Thursday: Randall Museum

In addition to being an extremely cool museum geared toward preschool kids with a good playground, a nice outdoor hike, and lots of hands-on activities, they also offer regular and drop-in arts and craft classes in clay, woodworking, and magic lessons by the barrel. In addition, kids are welcome to come feed their small animal petting zoo of bunnies, birds, and reptiles, jiggle and wiggle in the earthquake simulator, or operate their impressive model train city (Saturdays only).

199 Museum Way, SF
(415) 554-9600
Free admission, most classes $4

Friday: Musee Mecanique
Laughing Sal, an eight-foot mechanical puppet behind glass form the turn of the century, is just downright creepy as she cackles away. But this entirely unique arcade of automated flip books, hand-powered robots, and entire carnivals made from lit-up toothpicks is completely fascinating, and a wonderful historical window into how people got their jollies along the waterfront before the advent of electronic video games (though a few of those are on hand, too). This is absolutely a must-see, not just for kids of all ages, but even for adults. It’s even worth braving the tourism and traffic of Fisherman’s Wharf – yes, it’s that good. Best of all, it costs nothing to walk in the door, pocket change to make the magic happen, and, better still, if you time it right, you can enjoy the player pianos on someone else’s coinage.

Pier 45, Shed A (at the end of Taylor Street), SF
(415) 346-2000
Free admission; most amusements $.25

Saturday: Cartoon Art Museum Cartooning Classes
Included in the price of museum admission, the class fee also covers instruction and all material costs. Kids aged 8-14 are encouraged to come learn about this exciting, kid-friendly medium, one panel at a time. Topics covered include character design, storyboarding, and the creation of their own mini-comic book. The calendar changes often, so call to inquire about upcoming classes. Also note that weeklong summer camps are also offered for roughly $100 for five days of instruction.

655 Mission St., SF
Most Saturdays, times vary, and reservations are accepted

More Cheap Bastard City Guides (like New York, Chicago, and Boston) available at thecheapbastard.com