Oakland families know that their city isn’t just a suburb of San Francisco – it’s a hub for everything new and cool happening in the Bay Area. With new restaurants opening every day, there’s a lot to see, do, and eat in the largest East Bay city.
And for families, there’s no shortage of kid-friendly activities, with an incredible array of indoor play spots, museums, and beautiful parks and playgrounds – and let’s not forget Oakland’s crown jewel, Children’s Fairyland. But where to begin? With the variety of activities and places to visit with kids, we know it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Check out our editors’ list of the best things to do with kids in Oakland.
Redwood Regional Park
Oakland may be known as a bustling city, but one of its most incredible attributes is its proximity to nature. A hidden redwood forest lies off Redwood Road just a few miles over the ridge from downtown Oakland, which is a wonderful – and super-close – place to take a peaceful hike and enjoy these 150 foot trees.
7867 Redwood Rd
Oakland, CA 94619-2435
Oakland Museum of California
The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) loves families, which is clear from their long list of kid-friendly exhibits. Learn all about California history (including where Oakland got its name!), eat at the café, and enjoy their outdoor space. Tip: On Fridays, there’s a huge food truck party that is definitely worth your time!
1000 Oak St
Oakland, CA 94607-4820
One of California’s oldest kid-friendly destinations, Children’s Fairyland has delighted children and their parents since 1950. This vintage-style theme park features whimsical storybook sets, gentle rides, friendly animals, and live entertainment. Kids will love the plastic key that comes with admission, which allow them to activate various boxes around the park to hear special messages. Many east bay adults still have Fairyland keys from childhood.
699 Bellevue Ave
Oakland, CA 94610-5055
Bay Area families know that the Oakland Zoo isn’t an ugly stepsister to the San Francisco Zoo. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, this must-see zoo is the perfect destination for a day trip with your family. Learn about wildlife conservation, see amazing animals, or attend one of many interactive programs.
9777 Golf Links Rd
Oakland, CA 94605-4925
Chabot Space & Science Center
Inspire a curiosity about the planets and our universe at Chabot Space and Science Center, which features exhibits, telescopes, a planetarium, and much more. For an extra-special treat, spend the night at the museum with their Slumber Under the Stars program.
10000 Skyline Blvd
Oakland, CA 94619-2450
GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt
Established more than fifty years ago, the Bonsai Gardens are a peaceful spot in the middle of the city. Kids will get a kick out of the tiny trees, and you’ll be amazed at the years of dedication that went into each of them.
650 Bellevue Ave, near the Lakeside Garden Center
Oakland, CA 94610-5000
Oakland Aviation Museum
Located near the Oakland Airport, the Oakland Aviation Museum will thrill every kid who loves planes (and really, what toddler doesn’t love planes?!). Tip: check their website to find out when they’re having an Open Cockpit Day, when ladders are provided and visitors are allowed to climb inside the planes.
8252 Earhart Rd
Oakland, CA 94621-4548
Lawrence Hall of Science
A jewel in the hills of Berkeley, the Lawrence Hall of Science is UC Berkeley’s world-renowned science center and a favorite destination for Bay Area families. Their constantly changing, imaginative exhibits for all ages allow kids to learn science by doing science.
1 Centennial Dr
Berkeley, CA 94720
The Best Upcoming Events and Activities for Kids in Oakland
If you’re looking for events and activities, don’t miss our local Oakland family activities and events calendar, which has everything from story times to seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin patches, and Christmas tree farms.