The America's Cup wraps up this week after months of sailing around the San Francisco Bay. The race came to town with no shortage of controversy, and never really took off as a "can't miss" event--if you aren't already into sailing, this probably wasn't going to change your mind dramatically. But, once the racing ends and the boats head on to their next destination, the America's Cup Park on Embarcadero will be left behind for us to enjoy for a while longer.
My family has serious sailing roots, so we were excited to check out the action, but I wasn't sure what to expect with a baby during actual race days. I took M to America's Cup Park on two separate non-race day afternoons, and found it to be a really relaxing venue in the heart of the Embarcadero. I loved walking around the huge space with plenty of room for my stroller. Now that its summer time in The City, its a great moment to check out this new space.
Entrance to the park is free and as soon as you get in you'll see why--this is a corporate marketing dream. Logos and sponsorship are all over the place, which makes sense because these boats need millions of dollars in support to operate. There's been no expense spared and each space has a unique design that is totally ramp accessible, so getting a stroller in and out is a breeze.
There's a kids zone that's actually really fun for people of every age, with a replica race boat, a "grinding" station, and lots of technical background about how the boats work. Since my baby is too small for all that stuff we took advantage of the green-screen photo opp and moved on! When the races are off a lot of the space is completely open to the public, so we jumped on the stage where the teams receive their trophies to take our own pictures, and checked out some of the massive yachts in attendance, like Larry Ellison's super-yacht.
Part of the controversy around the race was its environmental impact, so the AC team has made sure to feature their plans to support the Bay before during and after the races all over the place.
Food & Drink
There's plenty to eat and drink all over this place, but none of it is cheap. Nespresso is a sponsor and there's a swank coffee bar here with all manner of fancy coffee drinks at premium prices. In true San Francisco there is a cocktail program, and if you enjoy an adult beverage there are multiple bars throughout the space--you can enjoy drinks in a bar on top of the Puma store, in the beer and wine garden toward the back of the Park along the water, or get one at the concession stand near the front gates and stroll the grounds with it--they were hawking margaritas on our last visit.
On the food front, there's a cafe with indoor/outdoor seating that has plenty of room for strollers (and a great view of the yachts that accompany the race if you sit outside). The menu is a mix of snacky items (bacon studded hot dogs, anyone?) ceviches and salads. There isn't a kids menu but M loved snacking on the cucumbers that came with the ceviche.
Every good sporting event has its fair amount of schwag and the America's Cup takes it to the next level. There are multiple shops with tons of branded items--t-shirts and hats are like the most basic items available. I saw crystal barware, and of course tons of incredible sailing gear with from Oracle and Puma. (There is an online store has a lot of the goodies available at the Park.) If you're looking for more SUPER high end gear, head to the Louis Vuitton pop up store at the end of the Park. The Louis Vuitton Cup was part of the competition this summer, and they have tons of fancy bags for men and women, along with sailing inspired clothing and attire.
While we never went to the Park on a race day we did catch a race from a friend's house with great views of the Bay and the Park, which satisfied my sailboat racing quota indefinitely. If you missed the races but want to get outside with your babies, take a trip to the America's Cup Park before it closes!