One of the best parts of summer for kids is the sense of freedom that comes with it. With no school bell to worry about, families get about 10 weeks to set their own schedule. For many families that means traveling and camps. Omni Hotels & Resorts is out to make the two synonymous. I spent a weekend with my girls at the Omni San Francisco Hotel, and when Sunday rolled around, none of us wanted to go home.
Located in San Francisco’s Financial District, the Omni is a magnet for business travelers, but it was clear from the moment we arrived, they enjoy having kids as guests. Darrell, the hotel doorman, struck up a conversation with my kids almost instantly. By the time we made it into the lobby he knew our plans for the weekend.
Family-Friendly Omni San Francisco Hotel
My girls probably would have talked for much longer if they hadn’t noticed the appearance of two colorful backpacks on the counter next to our room keys. The Camp Omni program caters to younger guests. At check-in, kids receive a drawstring backpack. My girls’ bags were filled with s’mores flavored marshmellows, a lanyard kit, $10 gift card good anywhere in the hotel, and a camp newsletter complete with scavenger hunt.
Spoiler Alert: If you’re kids do the scavenger hunt, schedule completion accordingly. The prize is a generous, rich and sweet serving of the classic dirt & worms dessert.
The Deluxe Room my husband and I shared was much larger than the typical San Francisco hotel room, but the adjoining Kid’s Fantasy Suite stole the show. At 13 and 11, my girls may be bigger kids, but don’t tell them because they don’t want to hear it. They were thrilled and quickly settled into what they considered “their space.” The Kid’s Fantasy Suite is bright and colorful with bunk beds, beanbag chairs, a comfy sofa and an assortment of books, toys and numerous stuffed animals. When the milk and cookies arrived, it just sweetened the deal.
Best Things To See in San Francisco Around the Omni
After a fabulous night’s sleep (I love the plush down comforters that were on my bed and the bunk beds) we headed to the lobby to take a morning walking tour of Chinatown. Every Saturday, in conjunction with the San Francisco City Guides group, the hotel offers a free walking tour of their neighborhood. I learned about it when I received a call at home from one of Omni’s Camp Counselors, better known as the concierge.
The tour runs an hour ½ to two hours. That’s a long time for little ones, but it’s flexible and you can easily leave and go it on your own when the kids have decided they’ve had enough. If you take the tour though, you’ll learn how to get to the playground just a few blocks away at Portsmouth Square and find the alley that is home to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Go inside. Samples are free, but photos cost 50 cents.
The Omni’s proximity to Chinatown is a nice perk. With so many things to do and see with kids in San Francisco; Alcatraz, the Children’s Creativity Museum and the California Academy of Sciences, Chinatown often falls off many lists. It’s so culturally different that it naturally provides a large learning curve for kids and often parents too.
At some point, the kids will cry “eww” or “gross” whether it’s because of a bin of smelly, dried fish or glimpse of roasted, headless ducks in a restaurant window. But they may also learn they love tapioca bubble tea and dim sum. Seeing the controlled chaos that goes hand in hand with grocery shopping in Chinatown is something most families never forget.
The Omni is a short walk to Market Street where you can jump on a vintage street car and head to the Ferry Building. Inside there’s an assortment of fabulous restaurants to make any aged palate happy. The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a great place to sample and purchase local veggies and produce and grab all the fixings for a picnic lunch. It happens every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
If you’re feeling energetic you can stroll along the waterfront, or simply hop on a Muni train to AT&T Park. If the Giants are in town, catch a game and you just might come home with a game ball like my daughter. Giants games and families go hand in hand. Inside the park at the Coca-Cola Fan Lot, kids can play ball on a mini-version of AT&T Park, or glide down one of the numerous slides that twist their way down through a giant Coca-Cola bottle. No Game? No worries, the Fan Lot is open almost everyday during the summer, even when the Giants aren’t in town.
If you’re not in a rush, go the long way back to the hotel. Take a Muni train to Embarcadero, walk a couple blocks to California Street and jump on a cable car. No one should come to San Francisco and leave without riding a cable car. It just so happens, the California cable car line stops in front of the Omni Hotel.
After a busy day, dinner at the Omni was a great way to go. Texas-based Bob’s Steak & Chop House has the beautiful look and feel of an upscale steak house, but don’t let that scare you from bringing the kids in for dinner. They were happy to let my girls split a small filet mignon and didn’t blink an eye when my oldest ordered a Caesar salad with Ranch dressing on the side.
About halfway through dinner my kids caught sight of what is apparently a Bob’s trademark – a candy dish filled with sour balls. The manager kindly gave them a paper cup to hold their new found loot and they returned to the table with two sourballs, one for each of them. I was impressed with the restraint and apparently so was the manager, because moments later he appeared at the table with another paper cup, but this one was filled to the top with sour balls.
It’s attention to details like sour balls that stood out during our Camp Omni weekend. Often simple details like books in the room and cookies and milk that make for happy kids, happy parents and guests with many reasons to return again.
Dana and her family received complimentary accommodations at the Omni San Francisco Hotel and complimentary tickets from the San Francisco Giants, but as always, her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos by Dana Rebmann
Mother-daughter family fun at Omni Berkshire Place Hotel New York City
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