A little weekend outing with the kids doesn’t need to mean sacrificing your day to chasing over-stimulated monkeys in the big city or vacuuming crushed Goldfish crackers out of the car. Piedmont Avenue in East Bay is quirky, quaint and quiet, where bookstores and curio shops compliment ice cream shops and game and comic book stores alike. When all eyes, ears and stomachs have had their fill, head over to Linda Park for romp in the grass and a rest break on a park bench.

Best Used Bookstores for Kids:
With floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall dark wood bookshelves filled with utterly antique to popularly modern used books on all subjects, Owl and Company feels like it houses the wizards and witches and bears and toads and faeries contained in the story-pages. The real treat here is the back area, devoted entirely to children. The owner is a longtime bibliophile (clearly) who also used to run a children’s library in Marin. Not only is his massive selection of beloved kid book titles simply fantastic, but also, even more so the cushy kid-size chairs and ample supply of loose toys, make this a great place to while away a few minutes with your crew, if not a whole hour.

Owl & Company Bookshop
3941 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, Ca
510-788-5821
Hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

If you can’t find what you’re looking for at Owl & Company, you might head up the street to Spectator Books, which features an entire room devoted to used kids’ books, or the tiny Black Swan, where an esoteric printing of a favorite classic just might be hiding amongst their other rare offerings.

Spectator Books
4163 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, Ca
510-653-7300
Sunday – Thursday 11:00am – 8:00pm, Friday 11:00am – 9:00pm, Saturday 11:00am – 10:00pm

Black Swan
4236 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, Ca
510-428-2881
Monday – Saturday, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 – 6:00pm, closed Wednesdays

 

Refueling Stations:
Next door to Owl and Company, the new juice bar, Café Crush, offers a wide range of fruity green smoothies with flavors tuned to please finicky kid palates. Some organic ingredients, and the opportunity to sneak kale into a tasty treat make this place popular among parents and little ones. Adults may also enjoy the chai, which is freshly brewed onsite.

Cafe Crush
3943 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, Ca
510-788-4278
Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

If the used bookstores have you feeling all retro, Fenton’s is the obvious choice on the Avenue for classic 50s-style American diner sandwiches and towering ice cream sundaes. Families wanting more organic-y options appreciate the burgers made from naturally-raised meats plus other kid-friendly meal options at Sparky’s and Barney’s.

Sparky’s
4151 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, Ca
510-547-8761

Barney’s
4162 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, Ca
510-655-7180

For utterly divine organic ice creams made with locally-sourced ingredients, from classic vanilla or stracciatella to entirely unexpected honey cardamom or orange-habanero-chocolate, do not miss Lush Gelato.

Lush Gelato
4184 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA
510-547-1299
Open daily, 2:00pm – 10:00 pm, Fridays, 2:00pm – 11:00 pm

photo courtesy of Lush Gelato

Curious Curio Shops:
If your little ones can be trusted to look-but-don’t touch, or at least handle-with-care, these shops offer the kinds of artsy and handmade bits and bobs that inspire the imagination, as well as making for great gifts:

The Rare Bird
3883 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, Ca
510-653-2473
Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm.

Nathan & Co
4025 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, Ca
510-428-9638
Monday – Friday,10:30 am – 7:30 pm, Saturday – Sunday, 10:30 am – 6:00 pm.

Phillipa Roberts
4176 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, Ca
510-655-0656
Monday – Saturday, 10:00am – 6:00pm, Sunday, 11:00am – 5:00pm.

photo courtesy of Nathan & Co.

The Little Park:
Linda Beach Park: 333 Linda Avenue, Piedmont, Calif., open during daylight hours. Sand-filled play areas, a patch of grass, small climbing structures, a few swings, shade-trees, picnic tables, and a fence all the way around make this little park preferable for little ones.

— Julie Feinstein