Parents frazzled by weekend sports schedules may feel too overwhelmed to think of stimulating things to do with their children afterward. One local mom has a solution.
Sara Rao, a Los Altos Hills engineer, creates memories for her family by coming up with detailed itineraries for day trips that she prints out ahead of time for her 12-year-old daughter, Shilpa, and 7-year-old son, Aditya.
“Kids learn so much from planned activities,” she said. “Anticipating what’s to come makes it more fun for the kids.”
Rao’s photography hobby was almost a career – except that her father is “an Indian, and he said engineering will make you money, but photography is a fun hobby.” She got her first Nikon DSLR just after her son turned 1.
She posts both the itineraries and resulting photos on her Facebook page to inspire her friends, who often comment on the fun-filled activities.
“Many families get stuck in a rut of some game on Saturday, then linger around the local downtown or go home,” Rao said. “But with just a little planning, Saturdays become like mini-vacations and become a great educational tool for the children and a bonding session for family and friends.”
Rao suggests that families “load up the car with slippers, rain boots and destination-specific stuff – like Frisbees and badminton gear for a beach trip, jackets for Tiburon – by Friday evening, and salvage the rest of Saturday after a child’s game or class.”
Combining her love of travel with photography, Rao said, helps her to “explore areas right here in our backyard – within a three- to four-hour drive time.”
Recently, Rao, her husband Gou and their kids her brood visited the sleepy coastal town of Pescadero.
“Pescadero is full of treasures, surprises, world-famous soup, gorgeous beaches,” said Rao, who will continue to visit the town on weekends.
Following are some of the family-friendly places the Raos visited.
• Duarte’s Tavern, 202 Stage Road. Rao recommends the restaurant’s bean-chili soup.
• Harley Farms Goat Dairy, 205 North St. Children can wander around and see goats being milked, the source of the cheeses for sale in the farm shop. Rounds festooned with edible flowers, chèvre logs and many other cheeses and habanero jam are available.
“Walk up to peek inside the stunning hayloft, where they serve seasonal dinners and host private parties,” Rao said. “The loft is rented out months in advance.”
• Cascade Bar and Grill at Costanoa Lodge, 2001 Rossi Road. Enjoy dining, camping and local nature exploration.
• Stage Road Shops, 248 Stage Road.
• Downtown Local, 213 Stage Road. The cafe features a silent-movie theater in the back. The shop also sells vintage clothing, motorcycle paraphernalia and old records.
• San Gregorio General Store, 7615 Stage Road. Try the coffee and browse the souvenirs. Take in the live local music on weekends.
• Bean Hollow State Beach, a short drive south of Pescadero on Highway 1. The site boasts “clean, sandy beaches for relaxing or barefoot running on the beach,” according to Rao, who spent a good hour chasing the waves with her daughter.
Although Rao said she purchased souvenirs at the General Store, the best ones “have been amazing pictures. No trinkets or paintings or sculptures can compete with a perfectly composed photograph capturing the moment of the culture or destination traveled to.”