Birthday excursion for 14 year old boy in SF Bay Area
December 26, 2018 5:16 PM   Subscribe

I am a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for a boy who will be turning 14 in January. Help me come up with a great activity/experience in the San Francisco Bay Area to make his birthday extra special.

The CASA organization will provide $100 toward an activity for us to do together. Some activities we enjoy on ordinary weekends - playing pool, playing dice or board games, getting tacos or donuts, going bowling. He has ruled out the two ideas I came up with - horseback riding on the beach and whale watching, he didn't specify why so no insight there. He likes art, creating things with his hands. He's not a very adventurous eater, so a fancy restaurant probably wouldn't be of interest. I'm looking for an activity that can be done on a weekend day. I don't mind adding some of my own money if it exceeds the $100 price tag though would like to keep it close to that. And he's deaf. Ideas?
posted by ms_rasclark to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Exploratorium is not just for kids, if that's why you didn't mention it. SFMOMA is about the price of a movie, and maybe there's something going on at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts across the street. Palace of Legion of Honor is good for classic art if he's into that, and there are great galleries in the few blocks above Geary and Market.

Dorado tacos and burritos at La Taqueria are life-changing. If that's too far or too weird, Pier 23 is a great spot with history, an outside section with a great view, and normal food like Fish and Chips and Hamburgers (bring a jacket). Exploratorium and Pier 23 are fairly close to North Beach as well, for teen-friendly Italian (US Restaurant next-door to -- and better than -- Calzone's, Stinking Rose, or other tourist traps. Get a cannoli at Stella afterwards.
posted by rhizome at 5:32 PM on December 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

Probably way over budget - but a seaplane ride over golden gate? The 30 min tour is 170 for a kid.

I wonder if you can get a discount if you explain the circumstances (not sure here the full context of why he has a court guardian but sounds like he deserves a special treat). I’ve had luck in the past when I call small businesses and ask for discounts.
posted by treetop89 at 5:38 PM on December 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Maybe he doesn't care about good food, but would he like Top of the Mark -- top floor of a very tall building, fancy? Maybe not.

On another note, what about taking 5 of his friends to laser tag or one of those trampoline-land places?

An escape room?

Ball game?
posted by salvia at 6:56 PM on December 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure if it counts strictly as an activity, but a visit to Paxton Gate in San Francisco maybe? They do ethically sourced taxidermy, and sell all sorts of wonders from single bones to terrariums to fossils and other wonders. My sister bought my daughter (now fifteen) a mounted bat skeleton from there on a trip several years back, and my daughter loved the whole excursion. You could definitely get something cool for $100 if this was something the kid would be into.
posted by yhlee at 6:56 PM on December 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

If he likes doing art with his hands, surely SF has one of those make-your-own-pottery places?
posted by praemunire at 7:42 PM on December 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

Things I would consider:
- A board game cafe (a good pairing with anything else near or in Golden Gate Park, like the de Young).
- Urban Putt
- If you go by Paxton Gate, Borderlands Books is nearby
posted by feckless at 8:11 PM on December 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, and:
- Finding all the Goldsworthy stuff in the Presidio
- Alcatraz!
posted by feckless at 8:15 PM on December 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pinball Museum in Alameda or the Musee Machanique in SF.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:34 PM on December 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is happening at the de Young museum soon:
Teen Studio Series \ Collage
January 12, 2019, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Join us for free monthly art workshops for high school teens! Each workshop explores themes of self-expression, identity, and activism. Teens make art in the studios and gather inspiration from our collections. This month, you can assemble images and text to share your truth. All materials will be provided. Meet in front of the deYoungsters Studio.

If you cannot leave your ward on his own, there are also family art activities every Saturday at the museum. Both the Teen Studio events and the family art events are included with admission. Which is free for high school students with a current student ID but he may be too young. ("Everyday the museums are open, teens ages 17 and under with ID receive free general admission to the de Young and Legion of Honor.")

The Exploratorium is a place I have enjoyed taking younger people to. I have never made it to the Tactile Dome (which requires reservations, costs an additional fee, and is closed between January 22 to 25) but I would love to do it sometime. Perhaps he might enjoy a dark voyage?

Note: I have written about CASA for a client but never met an advocate. Kudos to you for doing a really wonderful thing.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:33 AM on December 27, 2018

Glass blowing class? 14 is old enough if he is capable of paying attention. I assume you could translate to sign? The pottery thing sounds great too, and has less potential for injury (though glass is safer than you’d expect). Good luck with your search.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 7:34 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

To add to glass blowing - the Crucible has lots of neat classes involving glass, welding, casting, etc. But, most of the current ones seem to extend for more than one day.

A picnic on Angel Island can be a fun day trip, with a nice mix of moving history and natural beauty. I've chaperoned a group of very cynical high-school students there in the past, and they loved it.

Cheers for doing this!
posted by eotvos at 9:17 AM on December 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

Glass blowing is perfect - good location, it involves fire and a hint of danger (always a plus for a 14 year old boy), he gets to make something creative to keep, and there's a groupon! Plus it's an experience he's not likely to have elsewhere, and may spark an interest in pursuing the skill further. So many other great ideas for outings at another time.
posted by ms_rasclark at 10:07 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

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