San Francisco: Lands End by Kate Brightbill

Lands End #sanfrancisco

Every new year, we get a few Mondays off school. We usually plan small weekend trips - usually Tahoe or south a little to Santa Cruz, but this year we’ve stayed local. We have a big trip planned for spring break, so we’re holding off on the wanderlust for now, and appreciating our own backyard.

Yesterday we realized it’s been forever since we’ve done Lands End and it was time. :) We’ve always parked by the Sutro Baths when we’ve gone (I LOVE the Sutro Baths), but since our kids tire before we finish the whole loop (it’s between 3.5 & 4 miles total, and it takes a lot of extra time when you have kids who like to veer off the path and spend plenty of time climbing rocks at the beach), we decided to start on the other side of the loop near Seacliff & down the hill from Legion of Honor. HERE is the spot on the map.

LandsEnd #sanfrancisco

If you’re in town for only a short bit and all you want are quick pics of views and then to move on to something else, the views are RIGHT there. Walk a few steps and get more views. All the way around it’s a new angle of the pretty bridge.


Jack kept up pretty well. The hike is honestly not hard for anyone but Jack, and he’s three so that feels fair. He did great getting there, but back to the car was a trek with a little guy going uphill and up stairs two hours past his nap.

#sanfrancisco #landsend #sfwithkids
San Francisco

I love how lush and green it is right now. There were puddles and areas where it was slightly muddy, but not bad considering how insanely rainy it’s been all month! Sunshine in the forecast for the week and I can already feel all of our moods getting collectively brighter. I love rain in moderation, but since our state needs rain in bulk, I’m doing my best not to complain about it… definitely appreciating every bit of sun when it does come out!

Lands End, San Francisco
San Francisco

Ok, so in general, this isn’t any sort of challenging hike, but if you DO want to see the Labyrinth from the top, it’s a slightly treacherous outlook. My kids love risk and love keeping my heart pounding, but I only kept Maggie there with me to see it this time, and didn’t let her get near the edge like she wanted to. She wanted the best view so she could sketch it. She takes sketching supplies with her everywhere, and I love it. Brian took the other two down to try the maze while she sketched. :)

San Francisco

Ate some snacks by the rocks, then ventured down to the beach. It’s not like a “lay-out and sunbathe” beach… not that any SF beaches really are except on those heat wave weeks when they’re packed out. This one is mostly rocks. We had a competition boys vs. girls to build the best rock towers. Girls won easily, of course.

San Francisco

Sophie wanted to climb on one of the massive boulders at the ocean, but we restricted the kids to a nice giant rock right beside it where they could see thousands of mussels and massive starfish in the water as the waves crashed.

San Francisco
San Francisco
San Francisco

Allll those black shells on the rocks are mussels. It’s so crazy how many are just clustered there!


Sophie was first to get her feet accidentally wet, but Maggie got it BAD- up to her ankles. She wasn’t thrilled about it, but honestly, she was pretty chill considering how freezing her feet were the whole walk back. I’m resisting posting the shot of her adorable sad face when she realized how soaked she got.

It’s funny because when I told people I was pregnant with my first, second, and third child, we got the question throughout, “when are you going to move out of the city?” I know we have postage stamp backyards, and we have some definite gritty sidewalks and everything else, but ohhhhh, we are finding it is a GOOD place to raise a family. So many open spaces and beautiful history and everything else to explore, and yesterday reminded us again.

  • Verdict on the day: 5/5 of us had fun and that’s a good percentage.

  • Total time out there: about 2.5ish hours.

  • Total mileage: only about 3 miles.

  • Total $ spent: nothing.

  • Total Band-Aids used: None (it’s a miracle!)!

We’ll come back to Lands End Trail again sooner rather than later. :) And when Jack is a little bigger, I want to do the full loop.


Travel: Portland with Kids by Kate Brightbill

#portland #travelwithkids #portlandwithkids #stylesmallertravel

I haven’t been to Portland since I was a kid and made a brief stop (I think?). I don’t even remember that so I don’t really count it. I’ve been hearing great things for years, but we’re always more inclined to go south to warmer weather than north to chillier weather. Some of our dearest friends just moved up there though, so we decided to put on those heavy coats and head north for a visit during our winter break.

Portland is a ten hour drive from San Francisco. It sounds daunting to do with kids, but it honestly wasn’t terrible. Brian and I like to leave while it’s still early enough for the kids to fall back asleep, but not too early for us to be alert enough. I took the 4:30 shift (which I prefer!), and he filled our Yetis with hot fresh coffee before we headed out the door. All good. We stopped twice (three times if you count the time the officer pulled me over for speeding near the Oregon border… delayed us 10 minutes, haha, but he didn’t give me a ticket!! Brian will never let me live it down) and we arrived at around 2pm.

I’m the type who would be totally cool sipping coffee and eating pastries all on a rainy Portland day x4, and not getting out at all because obviously- it’s winter and not warm, but between our AMAZING Portland friends/hosts and our own kids, we have seven little wild ones who need to run out that energy, so we had to A-game.

Here’s everything we saw, loved, and ate as a little summary, and more detail on everything below:

Day 1: Oregon Zoo & Blazers Game

Our first excursion was a Saturday misty trip to the Oregon Zoo. It’s stunning, compact, clean, and gives beautiful views of the animals. I’ve been to our SF Zoo more than I can count, and to the San Diego Zoo once, but I honestly think this one was the favorite of the three. It was totally manageable with 7 kids, and - maybe because there was misty rain falling- it was not even slightly crowded.

StyleSmaller #travelwithkids #portland #portlandwithkids

I LOVE giraffes.

StyleSmaller #travelwithkids #portland #portlandwithkids
StyleSmaller #travelwithkids #portland #portlandwithkids

We stopped at Trader Joe’s before we went so that we didn’t have to buy zoo food (overpriced and usually just meh anyway. :) They apparently have a Christmas lights exhibit through the holidays in the evenings, which looked like fun, but we had plans to watch basketball on a double date that night!

Brian is a Warriors fanatic and they were playing the Blazers WHILE we were there. Best luck ever. We had a quick bite at Wayfinder Brewery. Generally speaking, breweries aren’t known for their food, but in Portland it’s actually common for the local breweries to have amazing food, and this one totally did. I highly recommend the banh mi and the fried cauliflower. Craving that cauliflower now actually, so I might try to make it at home.


Five minute drive to the game from there, and into the super clean, #local arena. Like, all the food options were so legit and local. I had this random thought right after halftime that some soft-serve sounded good, and so I went up and two booths away was local Tillamook soft serve. Check and check. Had soft-serve in hand and was back to my seat in 5 minutes. I’m into this Portland vibe. The Warriors won, and we were VERY happy. The fans didn’t even heckle us for being Warrior fans. ;) Oregon people are generally SUPER nice.

Day 2: Hawthorne Bridge

An hour scooting across the bridge and back and up and down the riverside was perfect for getting energy out on day 2. A double rainbow made it extra cool. I won’t pretend I loved having the cars on one side and the heights on the other side, but between four grown-ups, we corralled all the kiddos safely around and they LOVED it. I’m the same when I take my kids on the Golden Gate. It’s SO high and so many cars. Gives me some panic, but honestly, if you’re not a stressed out mama like me, it’s a good little activity, and gorgeous.


We drove across more bridges to visit family in Vancouver, Washington after the bridge adventure, so day two was perfectly mild and relaxing.

Day 3: New Year’s Eve on the 4T Trail

The hardest things can sometimes be the best things. We learned it when we took 7 kids on a hike to the Hollywood sign last year, and we learned it when we took the same 7 kids on the 4T trail this year.

The 4T trail stands for Trail / Tram / Trolley / Train. In my head it was more of an urban experience than a woodsy one, but in real life it was more of a woodsy experience than an urban one. ;) The trail starts at the Oregon Zoo (kind of a weird starting point right off a freeway onramp), and you hike up the stunning mountains through the trees, winding around in muddy terrain… for four miles. The big kids (5 & up) were in their element, running ahead the whole time and having the BEST time. The grown ups loved it. The 3 & 4 year olds loved half of it, and were in tears by the end of it, poor babies! We had a BOB which was a bit tricky to maneuver, but necessary. The top of the trail about 2/3 in had the most beautiful view of Mt. Hood.

Oregon 4T Trail #oregon #stylesmallertravels
4T trail #stylesmaller #stylesmallertravels #oregon

Pro Tip: wear shoes that can go in the washing machine. hahaha.

The tram was the highlight because of the satisfaction of accomplishment, the warmth, and the views. The kids also liked the little lurch as it went down to the ground.


Caught the trolley and found the nearest stop with good food. Another brewery, this time Deschutes. Perfect for a big group. Waited only about 15 minutes, but I took the 10-year-olds for a quick shop across the street where there were the CUTEST little spots.

stylesmaller #portland #travelwithkids

We were BEAT by the end of the day, in the best possible way. I loved ending 2018 exploring with every bit of energy we had. We went home and everyone got clean and in pj’s. Set up some sparkle photobooth fun at the house for the kids (Jack went straight to bed), while we watched the ball drop at midnight east coast time. ;) Best New Year’s strategy for west coast kids ever.

New Years

Vacuumed a lot of sparkle that night… and the next day… and the next day we left. Our hosts are probably still vacuuming sparkle.


Per the recommendation of my Vancouver cousins, we had lunch at PokPok on New Year’s day. We actually had so many amazing food recommendations from my cousins that I was grateful it was New Year’s Day so the restaurants being closed helped us make up our mind. PokPok did not disappoint. It’s my favorite Portland meal, actually, and I keep wishing I could get their chicken wings in San Francisco because they were THAT good.

oregon #portland
IMG_0705 2.jpg

So when I go back to Portland (when, NOT if), I will 100% be stopping back for PokPok again. It’s legit. SO. After lunch, we went to McMenamins. McMenamins is this super interesting group who bought several unconventional spaces of real estate in Oregon and I think Washington too, and reinvented their use. The McMenamins we visited used to be a school, and now it is a space with restaurants, bars, and a movie theater playing old movies. We watched The Sound of Music in the theater, and the guys went and grabbed a drink and chatted while we were in there eating popcorn. Kind of a win for all, and the vibe in the spaces is so cool.

Portland #portland #travel

SO. If you’re thinking about a trip to Portland, just do it and I’m pretty sure you’ll love it. Get your fill of allllll the local coffee, breweries, and ice cream, and don’t be afraid to bring the kids with you.