Skip to main content
Arts & Entertainment

Brunch is for suckers. Here are some fun Mother’s Day alternatives

A person in a wetsuit balances on a paddleboard, with pedal boats in the background on calm water.
If your mom’s the sporty type, challenge her to paddleboarding on Shoreline Lake in Mountain View. You can even try to strike a yoga pose. | Source: Courtesy Shoreline Lake

Are you dreading the fight for a last-minute Mother's Day brunch reservation this Sunday? There’s no rule that you have to stick to the same old routine to honor the matriarch in your life. 

From a sail on an 80-foot schooner to a folksy music festival in Mill Valley, here are seven non-obvious ways to celebrate Mother’s Day in the Bay Area.    

Two women on a boat with drinks, one laughing with a city skyline in the background.
City Cruises takes Mother's Day brunch to the water. | Source: Courtesy City Cruises

Take Mom on a booze cruise 

Does anyone really want to eat breakfast in bed? Instead, why not do Mother’s Day brunch on the bay with bottomless booze to boot? City Cruises hosts two brunch cruises on Sunday, featuring decadent menu items like Scottish smoked salmon and hand-carved steak tri-tip as well as live entertainment and as many bloody marys or mimosas as your mom can put away. In addition to “free-flowing champagne” and sparkling cider throughout the two-hour cruise, every mom will receive a flower to commemorate the voyage. (Dinner cruises with live DJ entertainment and a full bar are also available if you want to turn Mother’s Day into a romantic date night for your significant other.) 

Four people are toasting drinks at a table by a window with a bridge and water outside.
A family of four enjoys brunch on a City Cruise in San Francisco Bay. | Source: Courtesy City Cruises

🗓️ Sunday | 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
📍​​ Pier 3, Hornblower Landing, San Francisco 
🎟️ $133-$161

Rock out with Mom in Mill Valley

Calling all kids with cool moms. The Mill Valley Music Festival may be just the ticket if your mom—or the mother of your children—has a playlist that’s cooler than yours. 

Multi-Grammy Award-nominated indie-folk band Fleet Foxes headline the festival’s opening on Saturday, while jam band Greensky Bluegrass closes it out on Mother’s Day. Thee Sacred Souls, Margo Price, Fruit Bats, St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Rebirth Brass Band round out the musical lineup. 

A child in a red shirt and headphones sits on an adult's shoulders at an outdoor festival, facing a stage with a heart logo.
Kids with cool moms can take the matriarch in their life to the Mill Valley Music Festival. | Source: Courtesy Mill Valley Music Festival

This year’s festival features a “Mama’s Grove,” with mandala rock painting and henna body art, where you and the matriarch in your life can get matching temporary tattoos. Or take in a “Women of Rock Art” poster exhibition in a relaxing listening lounge sponsored by Dipsea Records and Amaro Montenegro or treat mom to a massage in the festival’s wellness lounge, where she can also brush up on proper stretching techniques from Stretchlab.  

🗓️ Saturday and Sunday
📍Mill Valley Community Center, 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley
🎟️ $145+

Set sail with Mom on the high seas 

History-buff moms with a sense of adventure will appreciate this almost three-hour sail of the San Francisco Bay on the Freda B, an 80-foot gaff-rigged coastal schooner. The tour by tall ship features views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fort Mason, Fisherman's Wharf, Coit Tower and the Bay Bridge, as well as tales of some of the Bay Area’s greatest dames. Sit back and learn about the exploits of local ladies such as Sally Stanford, the infamous Tenderloin madame who became mayor of Sausalito in 1976; vaudevillian performer Lotta Crabtree of San Francisco’s eponymous Lotta’s Fountain; and socialite Alma de Bretteville—who coined the term “sugar daddy.”   

A sailboat's bow with a furled sail, polished wood, riggings, and a blue sky with clouds above.
Learn about local history during a Mother's Day-themed sail around the bay on Sausalito's Schooner Freda B. | Source: Courtesy Schooner Freda B

🗓️ Sunday | 12:45-3:30 p.m. 
📍 Sausalito Yacht Harbor Slip 465, Sausalito
🎟️ $99

Take Mom to an outdoor DJ drag brunch

Mamas and mamacitas who love to party are sure to enjoy this colorful fiesta featuring performances by drag artists Dulce de Leche and Per Sia with DJ Stanley Frank Sensation spinning beats. Hosted in the rainbow-hued “margarita garden” at Nido’s Backyard in Oakland, the event features an array of seasonal Mexican cuisine and cocktails as the performers amp up the crowd for dancing after brunch.

🗓️ Sunday | 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. 
📍 Nido's BackYard, 104 Oak St., Oakland
🎟️ $10-$15

Get Mom on a boat at Shoreline Lake 

If your mom’s the sporty type, head down to Mountain View’s Shoreline Lake for brunch and an assortment of water vessels to choose from. You can start the day with brunch at the lake’s bistro, featuring a variety of French and American pastries and sandwiches for Mother’s Day, or head straight to the water for a wide array of diversions

Two people in life jackets are paddling a green kayak on calm blue water.
Shoreline Lake offers double kayaks for rent for Mother's Day excursions. | Source: Courtesy Shoreline Lake

A family of four can rent a pedal boat for $35/hour or join Mom in a double kayak, rowboat or canoe ($35-$40 per hour). Landlubbers can instead opt for a tandem bicycle ($30/hour) or a kid’s scooter ($12), while the really adventurous moms can windsurf ($50/hour) or cruise across the lake on a standup paddleboard ($35/hour). 

📍 Shoreline Lake, 3160 North Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View
🎟️ $35+

Paddle Mom around in a double kayak

For a scenic marine adventure that’s a little less strenuous, head to Alameda for a scenic tour of the bay in double kayaks. The two-and-a-half-hour Mother’s Day-themed coastal excursion will give you plenty of time to admire local marine life and enjoy a one-on-one catch-up with the first lady of your life.

🗓️ Sunday | 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m. 
📍 Encinal Boat Ramp, 190 Central Ave. Alameda
🎟️ $75-$140

Celebrate Mom with paper flowers 

You don’t have to spend a fortune to show mom you care. The Exploratorium opens its doors for a pay-what-you-can community day in honor of moms and the many ways motherhood shows up both in nature and culture, particularly in Latin America. The day of bilingual programming features mariachi and folklorico dance performances as well as paper flower-making workshops, storytelling sessions in Spanish and Yucatec Maya and tastings of traditional Mexican hot chocolate to sweeten the day.  

🗓️ Sunday | 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
📍 Pier 15, Embarcadero, San Francisco 
🎟️ Pay-what-you-can