A parents’ guide to Oakland’s Lakeshore district

Anchored by a library, a playground and a Saturday farmer’s market, Oakland’s Lakeshore district is one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. It’s also a great place for kids and families.

I lived near here for over 12 years and my 7-year-old has been enjoying Lakeshore since he was a tot. Our favorite spot on the street, hands down, is the wonderful Arizmendi Bakery, home to cheddar scones, nutty cinnamon rolls and — trust me, I’ve researched this in great detail — some of the best sourdough-crust artisanal pizza in the city. I’m also a big fan of their coffee, from the small local roaster Due Torri.

Lakeshore Avenue has a few good shopping destinations for families: in addition to the big retail players (including Baby Gap and Footlocker), it’s also home to Adventure Toys and the small, but colorful kids’ resale shop Silver Moon.

Lakeshore Natural Foods is another of my favorite destinations: their baby-and-child homeopathic and naturopathic medicine selection rivals that of much larger stores, and their staff can handle any question you throw at them.

Of course, Trader Joe’s is another excuse to visit Lakeshore, while Gymboree, at the street’s northeastern end, offers fun play classes for the littlest ones. Check out Monkey Yoga Shala for kid-friendly yoga: they have separate classes for toddlers, preschoolers and mom & baby.

My favorite reason to visit Lakeshore is the food. It’s the kind of neighborhood hip enough to support two varieties of fro-yo spots: tart and trendy (Yogofina) and old school (Yogurt Deluxe).

Among its other restaurants, Spettro is a popular Italian eatery that draws crowds for its funky, family-friendly vibe; Flavors of India features dependable North Indian items; and Yayu is a cozy and affordable Ethiopian joint. Starbucks, Peet’s and Noah’s Bagels can be found here, as well.

Order-at-the-counter rules in this neighborhood, and hurried families will find many affordable take-out options. The Burrito Shop competes with a Chipotle across the street, and the Cheese Steak Shop, with its sinful curly fries and juicy Philly-style sandwiches has seemingly been there forever. Newer entries on the Lakeshore quick eats scene include Flipside, which serves organic, grass-fed burgers from the reputed natural Golden Gate Meat Company; and the much-loved hot dog & sausage joint Top Dog.

Still jonesing for junk food? Don’t tell anyone, but I recommended Colonial Donuts.

There is a Chase Bank and a Wells Fargo ATM; and as for parking, it’s relatively convenient, with a two-level free garage adjacent to Trader Joe’s.

See you on Lakeshore!