Places to Go with School-aged Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi Parents!

    I'm a mom coming to your area soon along with my husband and two girls (3 and 9), and one on the way. My husband has accepted a job at Industrial Tattoo in Berkeley and we're super excited to live in the East Bay!

    I'm looking for activities for my 9-year-old girl to be involved in around Berkeley. When I take the girls out places, I usually see little ones but not gradeschoolers. I would like activities for the weekends, after school, over the summer, plus, things we all can do as a family that she will enjoy. She has an outgoing and social personality. Her interests are: minecraft, playing the drums, outdoor camping, playing outside, dogs, gardening, reading, martial arts, and soccer. 

    Thanks in advance,


    It sounds like she would probably enjoy Berkeley's Adventure Playground down by the Marina (Google it).

    You should also check out what the East Bay Regional Parks District has to offer, both in terms of parks to visit with your family, kids' programs, and camps. They also have a couple of family campgrounds in the area (Chabot and Del Valle). 

  • Do you have some interesting activity to suggest us for our kids?

    We come from Italy and we stay here until November, our kids don't understand English but we'd like they can learn it during this period.

    Thank you for your attention!

    Why not send them to school? If you can provide the documentation, they can go - and they'll learn English by November, I promise! (If the 4 yo can't go to TK, s/he can go to a cheap city run preschool, Berkeley and El Cerrito (to name two examples) have ones.

    You could spend some time going to the kids' museums, etc, in the area -- I imagine they will learn some English as they interact with other kids.  Options would include the Chabot Space and Science Center, the Oakland Zoo, the Bay Area Museum, the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Exploratorium, and the California Academy of Sciences.

    How about a pottery class at Kids N Clay or Brushstrokes? 

    Circus arts at Ha-Ha This-a-way. A science class for kids at the Lawrence Hall of Science. An art class with Jen Burke at YAWS. (Easy to find all the details for these suggestions online). Oh, swim classes at Canyon Pool. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Bay area holiday activities for visiting nephews

Dec. 2004

My 5 and 8 year old nephews (and their parents) are travelling from Western Colorado to spend Christmas with us. As my own kids are just infants, I'm not up on how to celebrate Christmas with kids in the Bay Area -- I am especially looking for experiences/activities that are unique to the Bay Area, and would be special for kids who are used to a snowy, rural Christmas. They are also very interested in other cultural celebrations like Kwanzaa. So far,we're planning on seeing the Nutcracker, and I was thinking of taking them to that highly-decorated street in Alameda. Any other recommendations? Thanks! Suzy

They might get a kick out of ice-skating at the outdoor rink at Embarcadero Center - although maybe since they're from a snowy place skating outdoors is no big thrill. It's a pretty setting, though, and definitely not rural. Jeni

I have 3 sons, ages 5,9, and 12 so I can tell you lots of places:

Try either of two model train places where hobbyists have model trains set up and do special shows for the holidays. They both have web sites - do a search on Golden Gate Model Railroad (in Richmond) and Walnut Creek Model Railroad (in Walnut Creek.) The latter is near the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and a large park. The Lindsay is great - they rescue injured animals and chidren can see them quite close up. Fabulous birds - eagle, falcons, etc.

Army Corp of Engineers Bay Model in Sausolito - a truly only in SF. This is a scale working model of the bay where engineers study the tides. It is open to the public and has lots of great environmental exhibits.

SFZoo - One of my children's absolute favorites.

Walk the Golden Gate Bridge - we usually go half way and turn around as it is a long walk.

Dim Sum at Yank Sing is SF. My kids' favorite holiday tradition - pricey but delicious and very SF.

Berkeley Adventure Play Park - at the foot of university. This is a park run by the city where for the price of picking up some nails or wood scraps kids can get a hammer, a paint brush or other tools and work on the on-going projects in the park. Any other city would cringe at the potential liability issues but kids love it and get to do hands-on work with tools making play structures. They also have a great zip line for those tall enough.

Walk the Filbert Street steeps - preceded or followed by a meal at Il Fornaio, which is at the bottom, near Levi Plaza. At the top of the steps, head up to Coit Tower for a great view of the bay and the wonderful murals inside.

Have fun! Lisa

Friends visiting with 5 & 6 year olds

We have some friends who are visiting in June with two children aged 5 and 6. Are there any festivals? They love outdoor activities. What are some things to do? Thanks! Julie

Try the children's museums that are in the area: Bay Area Discovery Museum, Habitot, Lawrence Hall of Science... The Exploratorium might be a bit too old, but you could try it. Also, if you're willing to travel, you could go to the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose. Have fun! Lauren

Can try Crab Cove in Alameda, Airplane Museum by the Oakland Airport, Hornet aircraft carrier, Golden Gate park playground in SF, Cordonices park in Berkeley, Tilden park pony & carousel rides farm animals (bring lettuce) & taking hike around Jewel Lake in Lake Anza & steam trains at Tilden, Lake Temescal, Oakland zoo (my kids like the rides best), SF zoo, hiking at Pt. Lobos in SF, hiking at Strawberry Canyon or other parks, Adventure playground at the Berkeley Marina, Montclair park, pools Strawberry Canyon, Roberts, Dimond. Ronnie