Big thanks to Shoott for sponsoring today's guide to wonderful spots to play outside with toddlers and children under age five. Shoott offers photoshoots to families at an unbeatable price. Use the code 510FAMILIES to save 10% off orders of 5+ photos.
So many fun outdoor adventures await for you and your small child. Unplug, roll around, be together, get dirt under your fingernails! Preschoolers, toddlers in the fresh air? Bring it on!
From the best parks and playgrounds in the East Bay to hidden hikes and animal visits, here's a round-up of great outdoor adventures so you can play outside with your little kid (many are also great for bigger kids!):
Best East Bay Parks for smaller kids
- Hug a redwood tree at Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. You'll forget your in a city. My boys prefer the hiking to the playground.
- Meet your buddies at Codornices Park for the cement slides or wandering along the creek. Make sure to visit the Berkeley Rose Garden, too!
- Climb up and around on Indian Rock in North Berkeley.
- Stomp in the creeks. Little ones will love that you know about these five creeks to splash and explore.
- Mini hikes. There are lots of parks and trails to explore throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties using the East Bay Regional Park District’s Short Loop Trails, designed for novice hikers, parents with young children or strollers, or folks who are not looking for a physical challenge but want to get outside and experience nature. EBRPD has closed many parking lots, visitors centers, and staffed areas to limit overcrowding and promote public health. Check closures list here before you head out.
Best East Bay play-outside outings trips for kids under five
- Ride scooters around Harbor Bay Island (Alameda) or enjoy the Bay Trail bike path near the Costco gas station in Richmond. (20 more places to ride your scooter)
- Wander through the totally touchable gardens at Lake Merritt.
- Oakland Aviation Museum. Outdoor areas open for dreaming about planes.
- Visit Cal. Scooter around the paths or run around the lawns at Cal before or after dipping your toes in the creek.
- Throw pebbles in the water. San Leandro's Marina Park features a flat, waterfront path with a rocky shoreline for walking, biking, scootering, and pushing a stroller with a view of the Bay that can't be beat on a sunny day.
- Fly a kite (especially this super easy-to-fly kind of kite) on the Berkeley Marina or favorite windy spot for kites.
- Hunt for fairies or gnomes. Perfectly toddler-sized, the fairies in Alameda or Richmond will amuse you, and you'll never find all the gnomes in Oakland!
Best East Bay animal encounters that little kids love
Little ones can interact with animals of every size and type. Pet the softest creatures, stare at a giant bug, or wait for the elephants to poop.
- Say “hi” to Magic Ben, the horse and other farm animals, then pick organic produce to take home at Cloverfield Organic Farm.
- Schedule a mid-week visit to the Oakland Zoo for the sky-high gondola and the animals with fewer big kids to peer around.
- Make a reservation to see the animals at San Francisco Zoo. Spot penguins and rhinos.
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Best Bay Area outdoor day trips for kids under five
- Angel Island. The ferry alone is quite an adventure, but you'll want to stay until finish playing on all the family-friendly paths. See our visit to Angel Island.
- Spend some quality time at the outdoor spaces of the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito with lots of room to run around. It’s different every time as kids age into new exhibits.
- Bust out your sand toys at any new-to-you Bay Area beach. Did you know baby powder keeps sand from sticking to your body? Totally weird but true!
- Farms, orchards, and patches (various). Families have been loving the proximity to fresh fruit picking: cherries, peaches, apples, strawberries, and soon, pumpkins and pomegranates.
- Mori Point, Pacifica. A special shout-out to our new favorite picturesque beachy spot with family-friendly trails, beaches, and a giant swing that everybody loves.
I hope you're enjoying the beautiful outside spaces in the East Bay with your younger child and are inspired to take them a new place to play.
Tell me about your favorite outdoor spots to enjoy with your toddlers and preschoolers!
Thanks again to Shoott for sponsoring today's guide to places to play outside with toddlers and kids under age five-ish. Use the code 510FAMILIES to save 10% off orders of 5+ photos.