Thousands of families head to San Francisco each summer and often miss out on the fun that’s just across the Bay Bridge in Oakland. Whether you’ve got toddlers or teens, there’s loads of fun for kids of all ages on the other side of the Bay.
Oakland Zoo (Ages 1-7)
This zoo is small yet a family favorite in the Bay Area. Home to elephants, zebras, flamingos, otters and more, younger kids always seem to have a good time here. You’ll also get a couple of good ol’ San Francisco like hills for the kids to trek up as part of their Bay Area experience. Don’t forget to take a ride on the train.
Lake Merritt and Children’s Fairyland (Ages 3-7)
For less than the $10 a ticket, Fairyland is a storybook wonderland for younger children. Built before the Disneyland’s of the world, Children’s Fairyland lets kids play on storybook sets of well known stories like Alice in Wonderful, enjoy a ride on the train or watch a performance at the Puppet Theater. They say that Walt Disney liked Fairyland so much, that some of the features in his “magic kingdom” were inspired by Fairyland.
Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) (Ages 1-13)
This isn’t an art museum where your kids are going to have to just stand and look at art. MOCHA is a hands-on art museum where exhibits are the children and their imagination. Great for kids 18 months through 13, MOCHA has drop-in art programs ($7/child) everyday except for Mondays when it’s closed. Activities are based on weekly themes, like the color Purple, Space Travel, or Dancing.
Chabot Space and Science Center (Ages 4 and up)
For your resident space cadets, the Chabot Space and Science Center is worth a visit. Located among Northern California’s beautiful coastal redwoods, Chabot features a newly revamped planetarium, interactive exhibits, giant-screen MegaDome movies, hands-on science activities and the only research-level telescopes regularly available to the public in the Western U.S. After learning about the wonders of space in the center, many families head outdoors to enjoy a hike through the Redwood Regional Park’s 13 acres of trails.
USS Hornet Museum (Ages 5 and up)
The USS Hornet stationed close-by in Alameda is a historic aircraft carrier aka an amazing floating home that was used during World War II and used to recover the first men to walk the moon, as well as the astronauts from the Apollo 11 and 12 lunar landings. Moms might not want to partake, but dad and junior might be interested in sleeping in one of the original crew bunks and flight simulator rides for their monthly overnights.
Here are more activities in Oakland for kids.