(credit: Joey Foley/Getty Images)
If your growing child needs athletic sneakers, cool brand sneakers, Mary Janes, tennis shoes, gym shoes, dance slippers and more in their closet, a proper expert fitting makes a nice change from browsing discount warehouse shelves. Combine your kids’ shoe shopping with in-store play areas, an ice cream treat, Golden Gate Bridge views and perhaps even a new pair of running shoes for yourself.
3307 Sacramento St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
Bordering Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights, this neighborhood store location is a 30-year-plus fixture. Parents who came here as children now get their children fitted here for Stride Rite, Merrell, Crocs, See Kai Run, Naturino, Puma, Nike, Converse, Tsukikoshi and Ecco. It’s busy at back-to-school time, so stop in on a weekday for a quieter moment. Best tip: Check out A Runner’s Mind while you’re on Sacramento St. They have “only a few pairs” for kids, but they’re great for grown-ups who’d like a proper fitting.
2206 Union St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
Do you have a future Margot Fontayne or Billy Elliot at home? Long-respected brand names like Capezio, Bloch, Creed Studio and Gaynor Minden are on the shelves in this one-stop-dance-shop near the corner of Fillmore St. Budding ballerinas can experience the excitement their mothers and grandmothers used to feel when prepping for a role in the school production. For a quarter-century, everyone in the local dance world has known about this place; men and boys come here as well. Call with questions, as there’s no website. Best tip: use public transportation.
659 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
Is there an up-and-coming Olympic gymnast or hip-hop star in the family? For more than 35 years, this downtown shop has specialized in footwear for all kinds of dance and movement, including kids’ shoes, for flamenco, salsa, ballet, jazz, tap, character, pointe and more. The Oakland location is now merged with this one where you can get children an expert fitting with your purchase. Best tip: view the selection online before coming in.
540 Hayes St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
We can’t call it a hidden gem, since most San Francisco parents already know about this destination clothing store for kids where they also have toys, caps and accessories. The range of shoes for children goes all the way up to size 13. Popular brands Morgan & Milo and Livie & Luca are in-store. Following an interior 2014 renovation, Fiddlesticks and their play area is more fun than ever. Best tip: after shopping, patient kids might be ready to break in new shoes. Take a little walk for a handmade ice cream where you can watch it made before your eyes at Smitten, facing Patricia’s Green.
60 Old Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94129
Fans say they feel like a kid in a candy shop at Sports Basement. Think of a brand and find it here or at the Bryant St. location. A couple more awesome details make the Presidio location a good choice for kids’ athletic shoe shopping in the city: fabulous views of the Golden Gate Bridge outside and a spacious, well-kitted out play area inside. Although Presidio renovations are underway, the present location remains in place through 2016. Best tip: check out their calendar for activities such as baby boot camp, Breakfast with Enzo entertainment and children’s yoga.