The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t just a day off of school: help your kiddos unleash their inner-heroes with one of these activities that invoke the spirit of MLK. From community celebrations to a ride on the Celebration Train to one of the many volunteer opportunities, show the littles the real meaning of a call to action and civic pride, and have a blast doing it! Bonus: All activities listed below are free unless otherwise noted.
Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society via Flickr Creative Commons
MLK Freedom March and Celebration
Walk side by side with thousands in commemorating the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama marches as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with a march from San Francisco’s Caltrain station to the Yerba Buena Gardens. This year’s theme is “Justice in the Beloved Community.”
This 1.5 mile journey heads over the Lefty O’Doul Bridge, stopping at Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park, mirroring the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma which symbolized both violence and victory in the civil rights movement.
When: Mon. Jan. 16, 11 a.m
Where: March begins at Caltrain Station at 4th and King.
Most activities in and around Yerba Buena Gardens at 750 Howard St., San Francisco, Ca 94103
Photo: Erik Hersman via Flickr
Free Museum Admission and Activities at MOAD
Take the family to MoAD—Museum of the African Diaspora and make a day of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Not only is admission free to the museum, but so are programs throughout the day. There will also be film, art and musical performances to commemorate the importance of free speech and diverse communities. Through art, get the kids reflecting on their dreams, personal heroes and telling their stories.
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Where: 685 Mission St., San Francisco, Ca
Create a Flag for Justice at the Jewish Museum
Get those creative kids crafting at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, by making unique flags in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Inspired by the banners of artist Cary Leibowitz, families can make flags using fabric markers and the inspiring words of Dr. King for all to see fly high.
When: Monday, Jan. 16, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Where: 736 Mission St., San Francisco, Ca
Cost: $14/adults; children 18 and under are free (museum admission)
Photo: Courtesy of the Presidio
Pitch in at the Presidio
It’s a day of service, and giving back, so why not jump in at the Golden Gate National Parks. There will be all kinds of projects to get your hands dirty, from helping with habitat restoration to campground care and making the natural surroundings sparkle. Bring the whole family and everyone can dig in and make a difference in honor of Dr. King.
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 9 a.m.– 12:30 p.m.
Where: Building 1216 Presidio of San Francisco
Perk up the Park District’s Memorial Grove and Marsh
Looking to inspire service in the smalls, you can start right here at the East Bay Park District at the MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline. This is their 9th annual Day of Service, and they continue to hope people from all backgrounds will gather to further Dr. King’s visions: solidarity, improving lives, our country and closing the gap on social inequalities. You’ll spend the day restoring the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Grove and Damon marsh by cleaning and removing invasive plants so that wildlife and their natural habitat can improve. Wear comfy, weather appropriate clothes.
Register for the event online.
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 8:30 a.m.–noon.
Where: MLK Jr. Damon Marsh, access from Oakport St.
Marcom Rose Garden Clean Up
Dig in at the Marcom Rose Garden for a day of beautification. Weeding, mulching, pruning, composting and more to make the garden look extra cheery and bright. For more information and registration email: firstname.lastname@example.org
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Where: 700 Jean St., Oakland, Ca
Photo: sfbaywalk via Flickr
Make Lake Merritt Shine
Help make the Lakeside Parks Gardens at Lake Merritt sparkle by fixing paths, weeding, mulching and more! Register for the event online
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland, Ca 94610
Fruitvale & Oakland Animal Shelter Clean Up
Pay it forward with the pups by mulching, weeding and picking up garbage around the animal shelter and International Blvd. along with a local councilman. Register for the event online.
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Where: 1001 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, Ca
Photo: Best O via Yelp
Sow Seeds at Shepherd Canyon Park
Restoring hope and beauty is part of the goal of the day—and what better place to do that than at a former garbage dump, turned beautiful park! Spend the day planting and sowing seeds for California native wildflowers and bunch grass. Help improve trails and make monarch butterfly habitats. Register for the event online.
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Where: 5881 Escher Dr., Oakland, Ca
Ride The MLK Celebration Train
It’s the 18th annual San Mateo County MLK Jr. Day celebration, and everything kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Meet up at the downtown San Mateo Caltrain Station—following the festivities, hop on board and ride the “MLK Celebration Train” to join up with the SF MLK, JR. Day March and celebration. To snag free train tickets, head here.
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 8:30 a.m.
Where: 385 First Ave., San Mateo, Ca
19th Annual MLK Jr. Day Call to Action March
Gather with the masses at 9 a.m. at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church for a Call to Action March. Once you reach the Manzanita Center (630 Drake Ave., Sausalito), mix it up with members of the community at a continental breakfast with a band playing music and drumming. A full program with special speakers will follow, with lunch served after.
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Where: St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
101 Donahue St., Marin City, Ca
Photo: Frank Schulenburg via Flickr
Muir Beach Stewardship
Coho salmon are counting on you at this day of to-do’s. Improve their habitat, and spruce up the surrounding shores through planting and weeding.
When: Mon., Jan. 16, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Where: Muir Beach, Ca
Stinson Beach Cleanup
A day of service, and a day at the beach, perfect win-win! Keep our Cali coastline pristine by pitching in today. All ages are welcome, but the under 15 crowd needs to be accompanied by an adult. Meet by the beach entrance on the northern end of the middle parking lot. Special note: this event is on Sunday! Register for the event online.
When: Sun., Jan.15, 1 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Where: Stinson Beach, Ca
Volunteer Away Your Fines
Beautify your local library branch while working off your fines?
All you’ve gotta do is volunteer by helping the library keep a clean and welcoming environment, and you can wipe away your fines at a rate of $20 per hour. You’ve got two shifts to chose from on Sat., Jan., 21, either 10:15 a.m.–2:15 p.m. OR 1 p.m.–3 p.m.
Choose any SJPL branch, as they’re all participating! You have to be able to complete the full volunteer shift, and volunteers under the age of 15 have to have a parent/guardian come with them. Training and supplies are provided. Register for the event online
When: Sat., Jan. 21, 10:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. OR 1 p.m.–3 p.m.
Where: Any SJPL branch
How will you, and your kids give back on MLK day? Let us know which community service project you picked!
–Meghan Kalkstein, Amber Guetebier and Erin Feher