A father and son fly kites at the Berkeley Marina.

Whether taking in an afternoon hike in the Marin Headlands, kite flying at the Berkeley Marina, riding boats on Stow Lake or sampling small dumplings at a dim sum shop, there are plenty of fun things to do with kids in the Bay Area. What are your favorite local places to take kids?

Recommendations By Guests and the Forum Community

East Bay

Adventure Playground Website says best for kids over 7 years old but all ages welcome

Ardenwood Historic Farm Located in Fremont

Berkley Marina Features a nature center and an Adventure Playground

Blake Garden

Cal Sailing Club Free open houses held once a month; children must be at least 5 years old.

Chabot Space and Science Center

Crab Cove Visitor Center Located at Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda; features aquariums, educational exhibits including one that lets visitors "build a crab from the inside out"

Children's Fairyland Located in Oakland

Cordornices Park Has an underground tunnel to the Berkeley Rose Garden

Coyote Hills Regional Park Located in Fremont; features exhibits portraying the Ohlone way of life

Golden State Model Railroad Museum Located in Point Richmond; currently closed until April 2014

Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center

Jelly Belly Factory Tours

Lake Chabot Located in Castro Valley; features fishing and boating

Lake Elizabeth (also called Central Park) Located in Fremont; features boating, picnics, playground and walking path

Lake Temescal Kid-friendly fishing; planted with trout

Larkey Park Located in Walnut Creek; features a wildlife museum, and a swim center

The Lawrence Hall of Science

Lindsay Wildlife Museum Located in Larkey Park in Walnut Creek

Niles Canyon Railway Located in Sunol

Matteo's Dream: A Playground for Children of All Abilities Located in Concord

Oakland Public Library, Main Branch Multiple branches feature family storytime

The Oakland Zoo

Pacific Pinball Museum Located in Alameda; Admission includes play on machines; have step stools for kids

Play Cafe Located in Oakland

Pixieland Amusement Park Located in Concord

Rankin Park Located in Martinez; features a swimming center, horseshoe pits and playground

Redwood Regional Park Located in Oakland; hiking, camping, picnics; features a forest of coast redwoods

Richmond Art Center Features art classes, camps and exhibits

San Pablo ReservoirLocated in Orinda; good fishing – season opens in February

Sienna Ranch Located in Lafayette; Family Days one Sunday each month

Silliman Family Aquatic Center Located in Newark; features water slides, a lazy river and a children's activity pool

Strawberry Canyon Rec Area Located in Berkeley; features an outdoor swimming pool

Sulphur Creek Nature Center Located in Hayward; wildlife rehabilitation and education facility

Super Franks Located in Pleasanton

Tilden Park Features a steam train, botanical garden, merry-go round and small farm

UC Botanical Garden

USS Potomac Located in Oakland

Watching all the comings and goings in Jack London Square

North Bay

Bay Area Discovery Museum Located in Sausalito

The Bay Model in Sausalito

Duxbury Reef Located in Bolinas; great for tidepooling

Laguna de Santa Rosa Wildlife habitat featuring walks, storytelling, classes and movie nights

Lagunitas Lake Located in Marin

The Marin Headlands

Mrs. Grossman's Sticker Factory Located in Petaluma; reservations required

Muir Beach

Muir Woods

Old Saint Hilary's Located in Tiburon; part of Marin County open space preserves; good for picnics, hiking and views

Phoenix Lake Located in Marin

Sonoma State Historic Park Includes the Mission San Francisco Solano, Sonoma barracks and General Vallejo's home

Ragle Ranch Regional Park Located in Sebastopol

Train Town Located in Sonoma

Tule Elk Preserve at Tomales Point Located in Point Reyes National Seashore

San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences

Crissy Field

The Exploratorium

Family Dance Class at ODC Dance School Offered the last Sunday of every month

Family Storytime at San Francisco Public Libraries Offered at multiple branches; bilungual storytime offered

Fort Funston Dog and child friendly hiking and beaches

Free concerts from San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Concerts are held around the Bay Area and last 20 minutes

Lands End Great hiking, walks and a beach

Randall Museum Science, natural history exhibits and classes

SS Jeremiah O'Brien A fully functional Liberty ship from WWII

Visiting the animals at the SPCA

Watching the San Francisco Police Mounted Unit

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Features a bowling alley, a kids museum, ice rink, bowling alley and carousel

SF Zoo Features a newly remodeled playground, giraffe feedings, and a stream train

South Bay and the Peninsula

Bay Badminton Center Locations in Burlingame, South San Francisco and Milpitas

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Children's Musical Theater San Jose

Coyote Creek Trail Located in San Jose; great for bike riding

CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point Located in San Mateo; formerly called "Coyote Point Museum"

Deer Hollow Farm Located in the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve

Emma Prusch Farm Park Located in San Jose

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Located on Moss Beach; great for tidepooling

Frontierland Park Located in Pacifica

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Guadalupe River Trail Located in San Jose; 11-mile bike and pedestrian trail

Happy Hollow Park and Zoo Located in San Jose

Hidden Villa Farm tours, themed hikes; Located in Los Altos Hills

Hiller Aviation Museum Located in San Carlos

Japantown in San Jose Located a few miles from downtown

K1 Speed Indoor go kart racing in South San Francisco

Kelley Park Located in San Jose

Market Street in downtown San Jose Fun water fountains for children to play in

Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo

San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory Guided walks and birding outings

San Jose History Park Located at Kelley Park

San Jose Museum of Art

Shoup Park Located in Los Altos

Tech Museum of Innovation Located in Downtown San Jose

Vasona Park Located in Los Gatos

Amy Graff, author of SFGate's parenting blog, "The Mommy Files"
Mike Adamick, author of "Dad's Book of Awesome Projects: 25 Fun Do It Yourself Projects for Families" and columnist on parenting issues for Jezebel.com and SFGate

  • SFreader

    Lawrence Hall of Science, Exploratorium, Cal Academy of Sciences, and Chabot Museum are always a huge hit with my boys.

  • The Tilden Steam Trains – http://paintbynumberparents.blogspot.com/2013/11/twains.html

    And the Bay Area Discovery Museum – http://paintbynumberparents.blogspot.com/2013/11/yesterday-we-went-to-bay-area-discovery.html

    Links have pictures and descriptions.

  • Mita Ivey

    I love taking my 11 year old daughter to the trails by the Cliff House. It’s also dog friendly, historical, and I enjoy the view on a nice day. It’s fun for my daughter because she can explore and also very educational for her.
    Mita Ivey

  • Unclefishbits

    St. Hilary Open Space in Tiburon – you can take a picnic, and see 360 views of the whole Bay Area, and it’s sort of like heaven. Trail running and hiking galore, but not too hard for capable kids. =) ALSO – this swing sits on top of the world, just off Gilmartin Dr, and an easy walk up a fire road: http://www.yelp.com/biz/hippy-tree-tiburon

  • Unclefishbits

    OH.. would you guys make a list for the friends who have kids that don’t have time to listen to the forum? LOL. Cheers!

  • Teri

    Richmond Art Center has affordable art classes & camps for kids and a series of free art making events thru the year, the next one is Jazz Art on 2/22. http://www.therac.org

  • David Lippi

    ODC is the Oberlin Dance Commons community dance studio at 350 Shotwell. That have dance classes of all types and the family, kids and teen dance classes are super fun and cheap.

  • Children’s Film Fest

    The Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival is this weekend at the Chabot Space and Science Center. 48 films from around the world. Animations workshops for kids. Q & A panels with numerous Pixar filmmakers. Lots of fun for the family! http://www.baicff.com

  • Paulina Lee

    I hope you will post a full list after the show! Though I have no kids, I’m still a kid at heart and since I’m new I love exploring the area!

  • Robin Joyner Flournoy

    Crab Cove in Alameda! My kids love it it’s a great “beach” area and we like making discoveries like sea glass! Also the visitor center has awesome free kids programs. My kids live it!

  • Chereme

    Beautiful water park in San Leandro with wonderful eater features for tiny kids through a full adult water slide!

    • Chereme

      …water features, that is… 🙂

  • Jim Duffy

    It would be great to have a series of these that focus on the different regions of the Bay Area. (The City, East Bay, North Bay, Peninsula).

  • Kurt

    There’s a great summer camp fair for kids at the French American International School next weekend, Saturday, Feb 1 from 9am-12:30pm. It’s FREE!

  • Ian Butler-Enciso

    emma prusch farm park in San jose…. Free and great for littlw kids (6 and under)
    Animals seem happy and the goats in perticular like the attention from the kids.

  • Ixitxachitl

    I highly recommended the Golden State Model Railroad Museum at
    900 Dornan Dr, Point Richmond
    Also, lots of geocaching everywhere.

  • Sheila

    Train town in Sonoma! Such a blast for everyone.

  • 510Families.com is locally produced by East Bay moms and a great resource for new ideas for things to do with kids in the East Bay. You can sign up for their weekly enewsletter and receive a whole list of creative family-friendly events every week.

  • Adrienne Gause

    The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation in Santa Rosa offers a range of fun activities for kids including movie nights, star watching, story reading, crafts, and wildlife education.

  • Angela

    Please post a complete list! This is a great show and I can’t write fast enough!

    Blake Gardens in Kensington is free! The gardeners collect interesting trimmings from the garden and collect them in one corner for children to build and create with. It’s lovely!

  • steve

    The Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo is amazing!

  • Angela

    Anyone w recommendations for kids (even the very young!) to see classical music performed?

  • Prajakta Godbole Marathe

    Adventure play ground in Berkeley is a great place to take kids and let them experiment with cutting wood/ nails and hammer/ paint

  • Jennie

    I love taking my baby and toddler to Super Franks in Pleasanton. It has jumpy houses, toys, and indoor playgrounds for kids, and wifi, Starbucks and comfy leather chairs for adults. No matter how busy it is in there, it is surprisingly quite. Sit and talk with a girlfriend over a glass of wine while your kids play make-believe in the tiny tot town.

    • someyounguy

      Shoot. I thought this was a hot dog joint…

  • Rachel

    For the San JOse Area – Emma Prusch Park home to the local 4H Club. There is a barn onsite that houses cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, pigs, etc for children to view as well as a rooster coop, wandering peacocks, and other birds. Also, there is a large grassy area, childrens park, a tree grove you can walk through with examples of grafted trees, and of course the one and only VEGGIELUTIONS – a wonderful example of a modern day urban farm that is open to the public and hosts family days on Saturdays where you and your children can participate with farming duties such as planting, harvesting, and of course tasting the produce. Its a great place
    There is also the Guadalupe Bike Trail – great for a short or long ride. Suitable for children and takes you through downtown up to Alviso.
    Summer days you can visit the park on Market St in downtown San Jose and play in the waterfountains that shoot up from the ground. It is also located right next to the Tech Museum, Art Museum, and Children’s Discovery Museum, and just a short block from the SJSU Campus which is beautiful to walk around and explore.
    Don’t forget the Montgomery Children’s Theater. They have some great shows from ages 4 and up!
    Fridays there is the farmers market on San Pedro Square. A great place to take the kids and taste all the fresh produce then grab a bite at one of the many great outdoor lunch spots. One of our favorite places!
    You can also visit Japantown in San Jose – under two miles from downtown. Great food options – of course some wonderful sushi, great japan and hawaiin themed shops. Great place during the summer to take the kids. Most restaurants close around 2pm and re-open at 5pm, but while they are closed there are shaved ice and crepes available and Roys Coffee shop is a great place to sit and enjoy the outside with some games, coloring, and other activities available for the kids. Lots of festivals year long are held here too.

  • ned in berkeley

    Lindsay Wildlife Museum, riding the shuttle at SFO, the UC Berkeley and Tilden Botanical Gardens. (We love to visit the Japanese pool at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens during newt season.) Tide pools at the Fitzgerald marine
    reserve, hiking up Waddel Creek, Muir Beach , and the Tule Elk Reserve
    at Point Reyes . These are all favorites of ours.

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