We rented a houseboat for a week on Liberty Dock, in Sausalito, just north of San Francisco. The houseboat (which we found on HomeAway) was in this funky little community a few blocks away from the Heath Ceramics factory and store. Sausalito itself is a hybrid of tourist traps and California hippies; our houseboat dock was on the hippie end of the spectrum. Some are lived in year-round, while others are rented out to folks like us. It was such a fun and crazy and different vacation for my kids (then 8 and 4); they loved the idea of sleeping in a boat on the water, the daily kayaking, the semi-stray cats who followed us up and down the dock. And though it was small, we had all the advantages of a house as opposed to a hotel room: a roomy patio, outdoor space to run, a kitchen. The city—with kid attractions like Golden Gate Park (Koret playground was amazing), the Exploratorium, great divey Asian food—was just over the bridge. Muir Woods was just north. And we spent our last California day driving down to the Monterey aquarium and Point Lobos. But the houseboat was definitely the most unusual and coolest part.

Nadya lives in Bethesda, MD, and is the author of the blog Blue Locket.

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