What should we do with our toddler this weekend!?

So - any of you with toddlers (ours is 15 months) can possibly relate to the never-ending cycle of parks and other activities on the weekends - because just sitting at home with a toddler is not super fun for long periods. We survive by DOING things, going places. Anyone else? :) Tiring, but necessary!

Anyway, we have our two local parks that we enjoy, but I'd love to hear about other toddler-friendly parks or other activities that you like with your kids. Open to driving a bit (we're in Oakland). Any great indoor options that would be good for rainy or really cold days? We need new ideas! Thanks so much in advance. 

(We also have baby #2 coming next year, so good options for the two-under-two crowd would be great too)

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I recommend Robert's Regional park! They have a great playground, lots of open space, picnic tables, and great views. It's quiet and clean. Also, good luck with 2 under 2! We have an almost-3 and almost 1 year old (they are 23 months apart) and would be certainly open to meeting at a park for a playdate sometime too - feel free to reach out to me directly. :) Always looking for ways to entertain the small crowd.

Same! It’s essential to find things to do that are fun for kiddo and for me too. Wrote this list fast but hopefully it makes sense!

jack london square farmers market on sundays  is nice, cool to look at boats and ride balance bike or scooter for kid, not too crazy crowded or long lines to get snacks and fruits.

discovery museum  in Marin, toddler heaven, then stop for lunch at rustic bakery and look at the turtles in the courtyard pond on the way back

Oakland zoo, fairyland, Lawrence hall of science, OMCA, all fun, 

regional botanic park up in Tilden is free and lovely, Berkeley botanical gardens is not free but so lovely too for exploring, get the code to enter the redwood grove across the street with amphitheater for kids to climb around on. Tilden little farm, steam train and carosel, stroller friendly path for hiking at inspiration point. 

redwood gate park, bring a stroller it’s paved hiking path thru redwoods. Stop at the en route playground then put kid in stroller while they snack so you can enjoy peace and big trees.

Reinhard regional adaptive playground is also cool and in the redwoods but currently under construction. There is a little playground at Joaquin miller park that’s nice then stroll up the  paved path and have picnic lunch at the overlook, for beautiful views!

jean Sweeney open space park in alameda combined with a run to the target close by

library! I like the Claremont branch library in Berkeley, you don’t have to be a resident of Berkeley and their children’s librarians are wonderful and will help you find books on subjects your kid is interested in. 

strawberry creek park in Berkeley!! Go early on Sunday am and get a bagel sandwich at the hidden cafe! (VERY long lines later) Sometimes there are musicians and dancers practicing in the field there too. 

SO much to do in east bay! Zillions of amazing parks usually with tasty food to be had closeby :)

live oak park in Berkeley  followed by a trip to cheese board .

in the summer, don castro or cull canyon lagoon for swimming. Man made “lakes” with sandy beaches. Perfect for littles. Cheap. make reservations and get there before they open on hot or holiday weekends or else the line gets really long. Fun though.


Ok, so, I'm not answering your specific question since your child is not quite old enough but once they turn 18 months they can start going to MCPC Toddler Time and I highly recommend it. It answers the question we have every Saturday which is what are we going to do today? https://www.mcpckids.org/toddler

Hi Anne! We've got a 21 month old and live in Berkeley so hopefully this is helpful. I know our toddler cannot be contained on the weekends so I totally understand why you're making this request. Virginia-McGee Totland park in Berkeley is amazing for young kids, usually there are a lot of park toys there for the kids to share. Same with Memorial park in Albany. I also follow Albany Hour on instagram and they list local events for every coming weekend, and most of them include family friendly events. There is also usually an SPCA truck on Solano ave on Sundays if you don't have allergies or aversions to kittens, we have brought our daughter there a few times. Best of luck!


Yeah, it's a boring age to parent! This is the right time to think about buying a membership to the Oakland Zoo or Fairyland, and going monthly (or more). You can also make a point of exploring a new to you park on a regular basis; try Danville, Dublin, or San Ramon for newer playgrounds. For summer months, we loved Small World Park in Pittsburg for tots. While libraries can be good spots to go on rainy days, my caution would be that viruses spread very easily in crowded indoor spaces in winter... might not be prudent especially once you have an infant too. This is why you develop a roster of mom friends for last minute indoor playdates with just one little friend.

Same! Here’s my list. I have a 5 year old and a 1 year old but found most of this when my eldest was 2. 


Oakland Zoo

Bay Area Discovery Museum


Little Farm

Tilden Park Steam Train

Jack London Square

Golden Gate Park

Lafayette reservoir 

Oyster bay regional 

Buchanan beach in Albany

Broadway Plaza (outdoor mall Walnut Creek)

Brooklin Basin

Snow park


Piedmont Park

Totland (Berkeley playground)

Jean Sweeney Open Space Park

Frog Park / Temescal Greenbelt

Astro Park (by Lake Merrit)

Dimond tot lot

Linda Tot Playground (next to tennis courts)

Heather Farms

Washington park (Alameda, playground, beach and duck pond)

Dreamland for kids (Aquatic Park, Berkeley)

Robert’s Regional Park / Playground (near Chabot, has bathrooms)

Codornices Park

Golden gate park

Lake Temescal

Lemos Farm half moon bay


Kids play zone

Chabot Space and Science Center

The Oakland Museum

Swings and Wings Alameda

The Rec Room

Lawrence Hall of Science


Story time with the Oakland Public Library

Habitot Berkeley


CA Academy of Sciences


We just found out about Kids Play Zone Oakland. Our friend took her 3yo and 6-week-old and said it was fantastic! You can let the kids do their thing while you relax (it sounds like).


I always liked variety in parks and there are many options near us which I am sure you have discovered (train, Little Farm and Merry Go Round in Tilden Park for example). Habitot Children’s Museum doesn’t have a home now but has a great website with ideas. Contra Costa has some fabulous parks; Orinda Park next to the Library (treehouse, water play and a loop to bike ride), Heather Farms in Walnut Creek (fabulous playground), the park behind Lindsay Wildlife Museum can be combined with a trip to see animals and some general running around after. In Hayward there is Kennedy Park with a train and a merry go round. Ardenwood Farm in Fremont is a wonderful park with horse rides and a blacksmith and fun activities.My son was obsessed with train so we went to Sonoma Train Town Railroad (wonderful town square to run around in) and the Western Railway Museum in Suisun City (actual trains, only 45 minutes away). Lastly, a great resource calendar for activities is https://www.510families.com

If you're willing to drive a little bit, The Little Farm at Tilden Park is a favorite!  There are nearby playgrounds, too, and the Carousel as an occasional treat.

Oakland Museum of CA! Perfect indoor for toddlers with lots of interactive exhibits specifically designed for kids, plus nice outdoor space. If it’s convenient for you to go regularly I’d recommend a membership for sure. 
if you’re a library member A) the main library is a fun free place with toys (and books, duh) but all branches I’ve been to have nice kid areas and B) the discover and go passes get you free tickets to so many places! Not sure how Covid changed things, but each card used to get once/year free tickets to exploratorium and ca academy of sciences plus lots more.
tilden little farm in the Berkeley hills is super fun if you bring lettuce or celery for the animals and they have an indoor nature center too.

Totland in Berkeley is a great park for little kids

I put this list together a few years ago for a friend who moved to the East Bay with a young child. Some things could be out of date.

Kid/Family Stuff

Wee Play in Alameda (toddlers)  https://www.alamedaca.gov/Departments/Recreation-Parks/Wee-Play

Habitot Children’s Museum Berkeley (toddler/pre-school) https://www.habitot.org/

Tilden Park Steam Trains Berkeley Hills https://www.ebparks.org/activities/kids/fun_rides/

Tilden Park Carousel Berkeley Hills https://www.ebparks.org/activities/kids/fun_rides/

The Little Farm and Tilden Nature Center Berkeley Hills https://www.ebparks.org/activities/kids/nature_discoveries/default.htm#tna

Crown Memorial State Beach and Crab Cove Visitor Center and Aquarium https://www.ebparks.org/parks/vc/crab_cove/, https://www.ebparks.org/parks/crown_beach/

Oakland Zoo https://www.oaklandzoo.org/

Amusement rides at the Oakland Zoo—Amusement rides for young kids outside the zoo boundary (don’t need to pay admission) https://www.oaklandzoo.org/adventure-landing

Oakland Public Library Children’s Room—Great collection of children’s books, story time, and other events. Part of the main library, but has separate entrance on Oak Street b/w 13th and 14th Streets. http://oaklandlibrary.org/locations/main-library

Children’s Fairyland (Oakland)—Storybook theme park http://fairyland.org/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwo7foBRD8ARIsAHTy2wlGwkeALPkpfyNkY5QLcprQlhEx0uXXTW-0XFPnREuRvSGbtL19xiMaAiGuEALw_wcB

Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland)—More for school-age kids https://chabotspace.org/

Favorite Playgrounds

Roberts Regional Park Oakland Hills https://www.ebparks.org/parks/roberts/default.htm

Dracena Quarry Park Piedmont http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/publicworks/parks-list.shtml#dracena

Montclair Park Oakland https://localwiki.org/oakland/Montclair_Park

Union Point Park Oakland https://localwiki.org/oakland/Union_Point_Park

Codornices Park Berkeley https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Parks_Rec_Waterfront/Trees_Parks/Parks__Cordornices_Park.aspx

Aquatic Park Berkeley https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Parks_Rec_Waterfront/Trees_Parks/Parks__Aquatic_Park.aspx


Ardenwood Historic Farm (Fremont)—History, farm animals, docent –led activities (I got to card wool there once)

Redwood Regional Park (Oakland)—Hiking, especially the creek trail from the Redwood gate (also has a playground) https://www.ebparks.org/parks/default.htm

Sibley Regional Park (Oakland—Hiking https://www.ebparks.org/parks/default.htm

Huckleberry Regional Park (Oakland)—Hiking https://www.ebparks.org/parks/default.htm

Tilden Regional Park (Berkeley)—Trails, especially the Inspiration Point Trail (paved, good for strollers, biking), swimming (Lake Anza), carousel, steam train, Little Farm, Nature Center, Botanic Garden https://www.ebparks.org/parks/default.htm

Wildcat Canyon Region Park (Richmond)—Trails (hiking, biking, equestrian) https://www.ebparks.org/parks/default.htm

We’re into the Zoo, the Tilden Little Train, and music classes. Been meaning to try out Gymboree and the Discovery Museum! 

Try the Oakland Museum!  Surprisingly kid-friendly on the bottom two floors.  The cafe doesn't cater to kids' tastes, so bring nibbles.  Also not open until....11:00 am, which is not ideal, but my grandsons love it there.

Totland and San Pablo in Berkeley are great for 2 young kids. Little Farm and Tilden are also good for that age. Dover Park in Oakland is nice too. We just went to PRAM in Richmond for the first time last weekend and it was great. It was for a birthday party so I'm not sure how the space works outside of rentals but I heard from another parent you can visit the outdoor space any time. I've never done Gymboree but that is another inside option. Also the libraries offer story time and El Cerrito library is doing a Saturday morning story time every other Sat now. It's short but so are their attention spans! 

Our child's preschool has an awesome toddler playtime class that has a session on Saturday's from 9:30-11:15 in Montclair in Oakland. It's for children a few months older than yours, 18-36 months, but I think they will let your child try out the class if they're close to 17m. It's a parent / child class so you or another adult would need to be there, but it's also great to be able to meet other families with same age children and get some adult socializing in. It runs year round and sessions are held quarterly and is held outdoors because of covid, I think even when it rains they set up in covered areas.

The schoolgrounds are beautiful with redwood trees and everything. There's an open house this weekend 12/3 if you can make it. Here's the website with more info: https://www.mcpckids.org/toddler

We enjoyed taking our toddler to craft fairs like this one this weekend in Pleasanton. https://www.cranewaycraftfair.com/ 

It is at the Alameda Fairgrounds. Bring a stroller and snacks.  The vendors were very family friendly.