Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Toddlin' on the Green in Los Altos

Toddler X gives two sticky, chalk covered thumbs up to State Street Green.

I had planned to spend my first week of blogging working on playground reviews (Toddler X and I are on quite a streak right now -- five different parks in five days!), but slides and swings have to take a backseat to today's discovery -- State Street Green in Los Altos.

If you've traveled into downtown Los Altos in the past few months, you know that it's something of a mess right now. They've razed the old Safeway across from Bumble to build a parking structure, and the attendant street work and construction make getting around and parking quite a nightmare. But rather than wallow in a noisy, dusty, construction-induced stupor all summer, Los Altos made lemons into lemonade and created a "pop up park" in the heart of downtown called State Street Green. It's open now through August 13th.

In short, Bumble + construction equipment + State Street Green = toddler heaven.

We had a previously planned brunch date with another mommy/toddler pair at Bumble this morning (I'll definitely review Bumble later -- it's quite a find -- but for right now the 100 or so 4 and 5 star reviews on Yelp probably sum up my opinions on the place). Having gotten a good parking space, I was reluctant to leave when the eating/sandbox time was done. I had seen a post about State Street Green and was interested, so I decided to stretch Toddler X's naptime a bit (risky decision, mama!) and check it out. Good call.

Basically, Los Altos has closed off a full block of State Street, laid down astro-turf, put out dozens of cute tables and Adirondack-style chairs (in both adult and kid sizes!), and set up fun play areas that are PERFECT for toddlers. The large planters that they've used to block off the street are -- brilliantly -- chalkboard material on two sides and metal on two sides. Plenty of sidewalk chalk and magnets (including letters/numbers and some really cool moving gear magnets that I need to find on Amazon, stat) are provided. If I had let Toddler X stay there all day, he probably would have (and Los Altos would be down quite a bit of chalk, because it's one of Toddler X's favorite snacks).

But we decided to move past the entry way to the Green, and that was quite fun too. There are huge areas of open space for toddlers to roam (I imagine balls and bubbles would be acceptable for the pre-school age crowd) and the aforementioned Adirondack chairs are a great place for a toddler follower to R-E-S-T (I have to spell it -- if they hear you saying that, they know it's time for a meltdown). The Peet's store has the good fortune of opening up directly onto the Green (sorry, Starbucks -- got you this time!), and people were chatting and enjoying coffee in the partial shade afforded by the buildings. Toddler X sat down with a sippy cup of water to wash down the pink pancakes from Bumble and all that tasty chalk.

There is a calendar of events posted and many of the activities seem super toddler-friendly. Linden Tree Books, a darling locally-owned children's bookstore, is hosting story hours and Adventure Toys is hosting activities as well. There are weekly "Exploratorium on the Green" events (I'll review for toddler-friendliness once I get to one, but how could something with that title not be?), Family Concerts (again, sounds promising), and thrice-weekly "Imagination Playground blocks" events (??, but also sounds good).

So brunch at Bumble, some playtime at State Street Green -- what's the final piece of the equation to make Los Altos into toddler heaven this summer? That's right -- TRUCKS! And lots of them! And they're doing all the stuff that those truck books we read say they'll do -- digging and lifting and dumping and smoothing. They're loud and dirty and so very real. If your toddler isn't terrified, he or she will be transfixed.

So while we live about 20 minutes away from Los Altos (add 10 minutes of trying to find parking, and it's quite a haul), we'll still be heading up there quite a bit in the next few weeks to experience this very cool "pop up park" and all the toddler fun that goes with it. Hope to see you there!

P.S. Wanna know how I was able to write this whole post in peace and quiet? Toddler X is passed out cold after all the excitement in Los Altos this morning. If you don't think that's reason enough to make a trip...well, you clearly don't have a toddler.


  1. What a great suggestion for summer fun! We love Bumble (and Play!); it's wonderful to hear they're making the best out of the construction.

  2. SO great to hear about this! I haven't been to Bumble (love it, though) in a while, and didn't know about all of the construction. Excited to check this out.


Hmm...what to do today?