My Personal Survival Guide for the Bay Area

This page contains an arbitrary collection of answers to typical questions that new comers to the Bay Area ask me over and over, such as recommendations on daycares, where to buy furniture or used cars, etc. After a short period of settling down (really short, this IS America after all), the questions turn to activities, hikes, and restaurants.

So here are all the answers ..



Meta sites (for Israelies in the Bay Area): (click hamlazot);

Another meta site:

Meta links for Parents:

* Golden Gate Mothers Group (

* The Parents Club of Palo Alto and Menlo Park (

• Stanford Park Nannies

• Town and Country Resources

KIDS ACTIVITIES indoor trampolines, awesome indoor bouncy-installations center (like a local "kiftsuba")

jungle gym type place”.

planet granite rock climbing gym (Sunnyvale and other locations)


The link is It serves two kayaking sites---Santa Cruz and Moss Landing (Elkhorn Slough). I did both and strongly recommend Moss Landing, which is much more pristine and isolated. They have several kayaking activities of which I only did the sunset paddle. It starts ~2 hours before sunset and finishes shortly after. You paddle around when the wind dies down, the birds go to sleep, and the entire estuary becomes very serene and quiet. After kayaking you can have dinner at Phils’ fish market nearby, which (contrary to what the site’s look and feel might suggest) is very loud, democratic, and unpretentious

Water polo for boys:

Gymanstics for girls:



Looking for a cafe that is open late at night in the Bay area? good luck finding one ...

Barefoot café 5237 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

has great coffee, and is open till 10pm every day.

Café Society open till 11pm, free internet

Bean Scene open until 10pm on Saturdays (earlier in other days).

The Los Altos Bakery closes at 6pm.

In Palo Alto, University Café and Coupa Café close at 11pm.

Panera Bread store in Cupertino (morning and afternoon only)

And of course, there is Café Netto on Castro Street in Mountain View, a branch of the famous Israeli network.


Indian, nice ambience

Aphgan, two different restaurants (one has two locations), same name: Kabul

Chocolate cafe in San Francisco (really good)

Calafia Cafe & Market a-Go-Go (best known as the former Google chef's place) 

Zeni, authentic Ethiopian, live music
       located in a non-descript shopping center at 1320 Saratoga Ave

Old Jerusalem, 2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110: Middle-eastern food, humus, shish kabak, the works. Never been there yet, but friends recommend it. Crummy location, though. Turkish restaurant in Redwood city,

        מדהימה, חבל על הזמן Ming's (Chinese, all-day dim sum)

straight's cafe (one in Palo Alto, one in Santana Row in San Jose), fusion vietnamese/malesian food, slightly upscale

Fuki Shushi in Palo Alto, best (upscale) sushi

Tamarin, on University Ave in Palo Alto, fusion Thai/??, slightly upscale

Il Fornaio, on Cowper near University, Italian-American, solid and always has room

Pasta ?, one on University in Palo Alto, one on Castro in Mountain View, solid Italian, small place

Cheescake factory chain -- solid fusion America/Mexican/Italian/everything, lots of locations, open till late, can come for dessert only

Indian: Mynt in Saratoga and Saravanaa Bhavan



used cars - Buggy Bank

Use cars dealer especially for Israelies in the Bay Area:

      Zohar Levi: Home (916) 992-8981 Mobile (916) 719-4474 Email

furniture (besides Ikea, of course) – chain, European-style furniture, not too up scale (for good and for bad – some say it has Ikea’s quality with Designer’s Concepts prices..) European style, somewhat more up scale

(Both of the above carry the **extremely recommend** line of recliners/sofas by Ekornes) showroom in SF, higher quality than Scandinavian, yet not too pricy

Scandinavian-looking pieces: EQ3 in SF/Emeryville is a great value and much better quality than Ikea.



Meta site for great information on local hikes:

Ardenwood park (historic farm, kids activities and animals)

Pinnacles State Park “mini Bryce”, two hours south of the Silicon Valley, hikes are about 10-12 miles, too hot in summer, great in spring and fall

Peaks in the vicinity:

- Mission Peak,

- Mt. Diablo,

- Mt. Tamalpais just north of SF, great views, hikes go all the way down from/to ocean (shorter hikes available)

Point Reyes National Park the closest national park to the Bay Area. National parks are usually there for a good reason, as is this one. This one is a favourite hike, gets to a waterfall that ends at the ocean beach, spectacular.

Castle Rock State Park, natural rock formations, nice waterfall, and rock climbing (you’ll see some even if you do not climb yourself). Great place for a picnic, the rock formations are a “natural playground” for kids, full of little caves and place to climb and hide.


Cooking: (Sunnyvale location)

  Sur La Table holds summer camps for youth, Los Gatos/Palo Alto locations: has several locations in the Bay Area, mostly hold single events and cooking parties holds single day workshops


  Palo Alto enjoy

Teen sleep away summer camps:

  for serious gymnasts:

  Stanford Girls Gymnastics Camp

Jewish:  (near L.A.)
Camp Miriam on Gabriola Island

A good camp in the vicinity with lots of one-week options:

A favourite:

music (by audition , need to send a dvd by mail, but not very difficult to get into):

jazz dance and music, not very competitive, close-by:

surfing camp, sleep in tents:




Opthamologist: Susan H. K Ryu, M.D.

Dermatologist (recommendation from a MS colleague): Dr. Ellen de Coninck at Camino Medical Group in Mtn View on ECR. She’s very nice and thorough.

(650) 934-7676



The good:

(1) Heffalump, where the enrollment policy is to register in the March
prior to the Fall you
plan on enrolling your child. The only thing you can do to get
priority for the Fall is try and register mid-year if there is a spot
For children ages 2 years - 5 years, no potty training required
- School session is 9:00am to 2:00pm
- Enrollment open for 3, 4 or 5 sessions per week
- Parent participation once per month
- School year is September through mid-June

(2) Montecito on Grant Road in Los Altos, which "has a great
environment (amongst trees, lots of animals, and VERY LOVING teachers)."

(3) Children’s Corner and it’s in Los Altos.

(4) WesternMontessori (

(5) Montecito (

(6) Mitiko's Family Child Care has openings for children ages 2 to 3½ years old. We are a mother/daughter team, both college graduated with credentials in early childhood education. We provide quality childcare, age appropriate activities, healthy food, a preschool program for ages 2 and 3, and lots of fun. We are located in the Mountain View/Los Altos area. For more information, please call (650) 917-9501 or email us at

(7) The Children’s Pre-School Center (CPSC) in Palo Alto. CPSC is an NAEYC accredited, full service child development center with programs from infants to young 5s.The staff and teachers are all educated and trained in early childhood development. Don’t let the ugly website scare you J First they renovated the classrooms; now they are giving the website a facelift, too. 650-493-5770

The recommendation I received from a MS colleague says: They have very low turnover which means consistency of care for the children and families. They provide healthy snacks for the kids and you can opt-in to an organic lunch program. They also have a nurse on staff and the teachers enforce good practices to keep the kids healthy at school and parents know when not to bring sick kids in to infect others. Even if you end up selecting another place, this is a very good standard to compare to.

The bad:

I also received one recommendation against Hobbledehoy, which is off
of Rengstorff near the Monta Loma elementary school.