Here's the problem with this state: there are just too darn many places to visit. Two years is not enough time to do it all. I am happy to say that along with many of the 'biggies' (Tahoe, Muir Woods & Yosemite), we have also visited many other parks and areas that might be lesser-known. The second issue I have with there being so much to do in so little time?
One visit is never enough.
While some may feel one visit to a local attraction (say, Muir Woods) is enough, I often feel that I need at least two or three visits to really get a feel for the place and soak in all that it has to offer. In fact, we may feel required to 'join' some of the organizations, as we feel we will be there quite frequently. Suffice it to say, I could not say no to our second meet-up at the Redwoods today. Even more exciting? I technically got part of the way there without using the GPS (after I was GPS-ed, of course).
I thought it was odd that it had directed me take 680 vs. Crow Canyon to 580, but it is an easier drive in some respects. I realized that I have been so many places lately, that I wasn't sure that landmarks I saw were actually from our recent visit to the Redwoods (remember, we carpooled and my friend drove) or from a visit to another Oakland site. After the GPS told me twice that the park was in the middle of someone's front lawn, I pulled over, cleared my mind, really thought about it, quit fretting about being lost and late, and realized I knew where I was. Once I hit the next main road, I turned left and there was a tiny sign indicating that the park was straight ahead.
We missed most of our playtime with his buddy, Cy, due to our late arrival, but not with the rest of the group. We had a long, leisurely walk through trees and enjoyed stopping at the water-go (again of the creek sort). We reveled in the wildflowers, decided trucks were not meant for water-gos, and found more walking sticks* than Nicholas knew what to do with. After a good 20 minutes, we met up with the rest of the group at Trail's End. The boys ran around, the parents chatted, and we eventually headed back for some playground time.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: this truly is the place to be on a warm day. It was fairly breezy when we arrived, but the sun was blazing down by the time we left. There easily had to be a 10-15 degree difference between the shadier woods, and the playground in the middle of the sunny field. Despite the fact that we had to get going at some point, it was very hard to gather our lunch bags and hats and be on our way. Each time we leave a park or museum, I wonder if it's the last time we will visit before we depart for good. Then again, it's only a 20 minute drive and the movers don't come until next Thursday....
Note: Like many places in Northern CA, you can be fanning yourself in the sun then freezing in the shade. Don't forget your light jacket, snack, water, sunscreen and hats. I don't think the walk from the parking lot is more than a mile round-trip, but if your toddler tires easily, an Ergo or stroller wouldn't hurt.