With Mother’s Day (May 8) just around the corner, now is a good time to start looking for a nice gift. For some, Mother’s Day means choosing a familiar gift or experience that she always enjoys, no matter what the occasion. But for others, it might be a good idea to mix things up and shop for something different, maybe even a little unique. Fortunately, the Bay Area scene offers plenty of options for all mothers, young and old.
75 Arbor Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
This Bay Area institution, nestled in the outskirts of downtown Menlo Park, has been home to unique shops, artists’ studios and a charming café since 1929. It’s worth a shopping trip just to tour the beautiful gardens at any time of year. The Guild houses working artists whose space doubles as a retail outlet for their work. Handcrafted jewelry from local artist Davide Bigazzi (who hails from Italy), imaginative color etchings from Esther Baran, or special furniture from the Barn Woodshop are just a few of the items for sale in this treasured and unique facility.
1544 15th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
If your mother has a sweet tooth or just a fondness for chocolate, then Sixth Course is a good place to shop. Gianina Serrano and Bridget Labus have taken their decades of experience making desserts for some of the finest restaurants in San Francisco and brought them all together in this artisan chocolate store that opened in 2014. Handmade tartlets, miniature gelato pops and layered mousse cake are displayed like the works of art they are. The caramel truffles are the award-winning, signature delight here and chances are good one of them will be in your mouth as you bring them back to mom.
582 Grand Ave.
Oakland, CA 94610
Specialty teas and spa treatments make excellent Mother’s Day gifts by themselves; combining the two makes them even better. Scented candles and burbling waterfalls contribute to a sense of peace and serenity at the Foot Spa & Tea Bar next to Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Foot and body massage, acupressure and aromatherapy are just a few of the soothing services offered here. The loose leaf teas are grown in the mountains of China and are complimentary with a spa service. Gift certificates are available.
354 Pine St., Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94104
This is an opportunity to shop for someone else, but your mother might appreciate it even more. For a struggling young mom with a baby, probably the most appreciated present is one of the simplest: diapers. This San Francisco non-profit was started in 2009 when Lisa Truong and Rachel Fudge — both new moms themselves — organized a Mother’s Day diaper donation drive that now covers the entire Bay Area. There are drop bins in all of the Bay Area counties, and also ways to donate. Sometimes the best gift you can give on Mother’s Day is the one that helps someone else.
San Francisco, CA 94100
You don’t need to purchase a ticket to shop in the Exploratorium Store. That won’t matter anyway if you happen to bring your mother there on May 8, because admission will be free that day! There aren’t many stores where you’ll find a cherry-red Art-O-Mat vending machine dispensing original artworks for $5. Unique gadgets, games, tinkering items, a stylish yoga jacket and innovative cookbooks are just some of the items to be found at this unusual store on the Embarcadero’s Pier 15. The museum is pretty cool, too.