Summer Brainstorm: 25 things to do with a kid that cost less than $5

I wanted to cry when I realized the Exploratorium dropped their monthly free admission day and raised their prices such that a family of four with two grade-school age children, like mine, pays $88 to visit. (Kids over 6 cost $19 and adults cost $25.) As a comfort measure, I reminded myself that there are plenty of free and cheap things to do with kids in the East Bay, and I invited our 2500 Facebook fans to help me think of them.


Here’s a list of activities that cost less than five bucks for an adult and a kid. Thanks to all of you who contributed!

  1. Tilden Park Little Farm
  2. Free admission days at Bay Area Discovery Museum
  3. A game of Air Hockey at SubPar in Alameda
  4. El Cerrito Splash Pad
  5. Totland, Doyle Street Park, Memorial Park, Frog Park, Always Dream Play Park, or ANY playground
  6. Library story times – many are listed on our calendar >
  7. Visit the T.Rex and other dinosaur skeletons in the Life Sciences building at UC Berkeley
  8. Take a class like Sea Squirts at Crab Cove
  9. Walk around the Lafayette Reservoir counter-clockwise and end up at the playground near the parking lot. Bring 8 quarters for the parking meter (maximum time is 2 hrs).
  10. Small World Park in Pittsburg Whoops! It’s actually SIX dollars for a parent ($4) and child ($2) to enter this venue, but seemed worth mentioning anyway.
  11. Go outside.
  12. Discover animals at the Junior Art + Science Center
  13. Share a big cup of frozen yogurt at Yogurtland
  14. Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward (Careful, they have a guinea pig lending library!)
  15. Use “Discover & Go” program through your library to get admission cards for local museums
  16. Dance at Soul Sanctuary’s Sunday afternoon open dance floor
  17. Order a $1 ice cream cone at John’s in Downtown Berkeley
  18. Dollar Days at Golden Gate Fields
  19. Take a ride on public transportation, perhaps to unlock the Disney Store in San Francisco
  20. Tilden Park Carousel
  21. Explore the East Bay Vivarium
  22. Visit a fire station and get helmets and stickers
  23. Meadow Homes Spray Park in Concord
  24. $2 movies in Alameda, Richmond, or Walnut Creek
  25. Hit the beach at Lake Temescal

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  1. Angela Hoang says

    Here at a few:
    $1 summer movies from Regal and Cinemark theatres. Sign up for Regal movie club and get a coupon… $2 for a med. popcorn on Tuesdays.
    Exploring nature at Oyster Bay in San Leandro. Bring lunch for a quiet picnic, watch the planes land, hunt for lizards and bird watch.
    Adventure Playground in Berkeley.

  2. says

    On the topic of museums…
    The Oakland Museum of California has a free day every 1st Sunday of the month. (Next one is Aug 6th.) Kids under 9 are free every day. On Friday nights (5-9pm), kids under 18 are free and adults are half off. Lots of deals there… And you don’t have to pay the $$ to get to Sausalito.