The Mission Kids
826 Valencia St., Mission
The powerful brainchild of Dave Eggers, 826 Valencia is the flagship for his childhood literacy project—and also home to the pirate store. Here, you'll find after-school writing programs for under-resourced kids, along with all the gear you need for any Peter Pan/Captain Hook fantasies. There are similar concepts—all wonderful, all life-changing—all over the country.
Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids
766 Valencia St., Mission
Its parent store, Paxton Gate, is devoted to natural oddities and artifacts, whether it's taxidermied animals or other-worldly looking air plants. At the little kid's store, you'll find old-fashioned toys for screen-free tactile play, along with plenty of science-minded finds, including edible chemistry sets, rainbow makers, Korg synth kits, and build-your-own volcano sets.
745 Treat Ave., Mission
Established in 1937 by Josephine D. Randall, who received her masters degree in zoology from Stanford in 1910 before going on to become S.F's first Superintendent of Recreation, this incredible resource offers a wood shop, arts studios, a science lab, a greenhouse, and more than 100 animals who cannot survive in the wild. It's currently being remodeled, so the animals and exhibits have taken up temporary residence in the Mission. Fun fact: She Josephine Randall also organized the first Girl Scout troops in the United States.
19th & Dolores St., Mission
The recently re-opened Helen Diller Playground is the stuff of children's fantasies. For one, there's a 40-foot long slide, built into a hill, rock climbing walls, sand pits, and a shipwrecked boat; for two, there's a separate zone for the littlest ones, so everyone can run around without fear of collisions. If playground-ing isn't your thing, there's also a soccer field, six tennis courts, and a basketball court.
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