4 reasons we love Cavallo Point

The view from our room at Cavallo Point.

The view from our room at Cavallo Point.

Because those three weeks in the Pacific Northwest simply weren’t enough, we’re spending the night tonight at Cavallo Point, the Lodge at the Golden Gate.

In case you don’t know it, the lodge is an old fort—named, coincidentally, Cavallo Point—that was renovated back in 2007 into a luxury resort. The place has 142 rooms in all, and the company that owns it is the same company that owns Post Ranch Inn, one of the swankiest resorts in all of California.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder we never want to leave. Here are the things we like best so far:

The room

Renovations to the property turned some old officers’ quarters into new hotel rooms. There are about 70 of these “historic” rooms. To double the size of the resort, owners also built 70 new (they call them, “contemporary”) rooms in 11 standalone buildings. Our room is one of the latter types. On the first floor.

Without question, the best thing about the room is the view—we have an unobstructed view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Little R, who loves the bridge, has been literally staring and smiling at it since we checked in.

The rest of the room is above average. Features are modern and sleek; because the new buildings are LEED-certified, I believe most of the furniture and built-in work is made from recycled bamboo. The bathroom is tremendous and has a deep tub which I’m sure the girls will love. There also is a mini fridge in the room—always a bonus when you bring your own snacks like we do.

The red-carpet treatment for kids

Shortly after we checked in, a bellman knocked on our door with a gift from the concierge. The gift was for the girls. Inside this bag were two coloring books, two sets of crayons, two jump ropes, two chocolate lollipops, and two sticker sheets. I wandered down to the front desk about an hour after the present arrived and asked the concierge if we received the bag because she knew I was a journalist. She explained that every kid who checks in gets a similar set of goodies.

The bar

In addition to room service, the resort has two dining options: Willow Circle, a restaurant, and Farley Bar. At night Willow Circle can be a bit formal and stuffy, so tonight we chose to dine with the girls at Farley Bar.

Original tin ceilings, a built-in wooden bar, roaring fireplaces, and period lighting fixtures set the scene here and made Powerwoman and me feel like we had stepped back in time. Our server, who seated us in a corner booth near a fireplace and indulged the girls by calling them princesses, made us feel like we were the only patrons of the night (trust me, we were not).

The Farley menu was limited—I mean, it *is* a bar—but reliable and good.

The kids’ meals, grilled cheese and chicken strips, came with berries and were $9 apiece, and our server brought them each Arnold Palmers the way they like ‘em, with no ice. Powerwoman ordered a bit of an eclectic meal: soup and macaroni and cheese. My burger was spot-on.

Perhaps most important, we were comfortable. Sometimes dining with kids in a hotel bar can be riddled with dirty glances and uncomfortable feelings. At Farley, we fit right in. In fact, while the kids were enjoying ice cream sundaes for dessert, I looked around and noticed four other families dining in the bar. The takeaway: Families and the Farley coexist nicely, which makes it a place to try.

The parade grounds

Yes, the view from just about anywhere at Cavallo Point is amazing—depending on the angle, you can see both spires of the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as Alcatraz, the San Francisco Bay, and more.

Still, we liked the Parade Grounds even more. This is the giant open space between the officers’ quarters on the main lawn. Years ago, when the area was an operational fort, the men stationed here would use the greenspace to train, play baseball, hold parades, and more. Because the property has such a colorful past, the name stuck.

Before dinner, L met some other kids climbing a giant old conifer across from the main entrance to the resort. After dinner, L and R ran laps around a flagpole in the very center of the green—a flagpole I’m sure has been there for at least 50 years.

While the girls were running, Powerwoman and I sat on the steps to the bar, drinks in hand, watching from afar. We liked knowing that the girls were safe, that we could just let them run without fear of them being hit by a car or a golf ball. The girls certainly liked it, too—R, after running a grand total of 12 laps, declared she wanted a Parade Grounds at our house. (We’re working on that.)

Of course we also love the hotel’s proximity to the Bay Area Discovery Museum, a fantastic children’s museum in more former fort structures right near the Bay. Our plan is to spend most of the day tomorrow down at the museum. Unlike previous visits there, which have started with a 75-minute drive from home, this time we’ll be able to stroll down in five minutes or less. That’s the kind of commute I could get used to.

Talking about adventure travel with kids

11008331_427287300759512_1056352386_nMost of the time, the virtual pages of this blog comprise my most prominent platform for discussing family travel. Sometimes, however, I get golden opportunities to present my perspective in other formats. Namely, talking. On a stage. In front of a room full of people.

That’s the way things will roll this weekend, when I participate in a panel discussion as part of The Great Baby Romp, held at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito on Sunday, March 1.

My panel, which kicks off at 11:45 a.m., will focus on adventure travel with kids. I’ll be asked to talk about our family’s experiences in faraway places such as London, Ireland, Hawaii and Vancouver Island. I likely will mention some of the very same anecdotes that first appeared here. Heck, I’ve even shared a few snapshots that many of you have seen once or twice over the years.

The other panelists certainly are esteemed. I’ll be speaking alongside Katie Hintz-Zambrano, the co-founder and editor of Mother Mag; as well as Jennifer Latch, another freelance writer. Our panel will be moderated by Erin Feher Montoya, who is the Bay Area Editor of Red Tricycle.

Perhaps the biggest treat for me on Sunday will be the audience. Organizers are expecting a crowd of mostly families. And at least one of those families in attendance will be my own, making this the first time my kids ever have heard me speak publicly (provided they pull themselves away from the exhibits long enough to see Dad on stage).

Our panel isn’t the only educational session of the day, either. Between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., The Great Baby Romp will sponsor a host of other talks, covering issues such as making baby food and toddler snacks, navigating household employee contracts and California taxes, and baby sign language.

The event will conclude with an all-ages dance party.

If you’re in the neighborhood, come check us out! If not, stay tuned for a recap post and some pictures from the event.

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