The road trip is a summertime tradition in which families pile into their cars to see the sights and end up visiting every fine rest stop the highways have to offer. But there isa way the kids can experience a cross-country trek without you having to hear an endless chorus of "Are we there yet?"
Travel the USA Day allows would-be Lewises and Clarks to plan their own road trips. Each traveler is assigned a state, and teams race to correctly complete a cross-country "journey" from state to state on the American highway system. Meanwhile, the contest's tiniest tourists battle each other to be the first to finish a jigsaw puzzle of the U.S. Winners take home versions of the games and puzzles, and all participants get prizes. And when the kids have to go to the bathroom, you won't even have to pull over. Travel the USA Day shifts into gear at 1 p.m. at Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial and Grizzly Peak, on the UC Berkeley campus. Admission ranges from free to $8; call (510) 642-5132 or visit www.lhs.berkeley.edu. -- Jack Karp
Though many adult cinephiles occasionally watch foreign flicks, kids' moviegoing experiences are generally confined to American behemoths from Disney and Pixar. But cinematic xenophobia just won't do in this most international of cities. Expose cosmopolitan children to cross-cultural flicks at the two-day "Films for Children of the World" festival, which brings together features from all over. Selections tackle topics not found in mainstream U.S. kiddie pics -- an African child's first look at snow, the discipline required of a young Danish ballerina -- yet the presentations are calculated for American attention spans, with a subtitle-free Saturday show for very young ones and an emphasis on shorts. Screenings start at 11 a.m. both days at the Balboa Theater, 3630 Balboa (at 38th Avenue), S.F. Admission is $5 for kids, $7 for adults; call 221-8184 or visit www.thebalboatheater.com. -- Joyce SlatonBabes in the Woods Birds, Maybe, But Hopefully No BeesTHURS 7/17 Let's face it: Kids love dirt. They love to smear it, throw it, even eat it. Yuck! Parents can show little ones other uses for the grimy stuff, like growing beautiful flowers and plants, at Pre-School Explorers Days, during which the Botanical Gardens are battened down and prepared for tiny attackers -- and future nature-lovers. Children ages 3 to 5 are welcome today (also July 31 and Aug. 14) at 10:30 a.m. at the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, Ninth Avenue & Lincoln Way, S.F. Admission is $4-5. Reservations are required; call 661-1316 ext. 307 or visit www.strybing.org. -- Hiya Swanhuyser