21 Best Things to Do With Kids in Berkeley - 510 Families
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21 Best Things to Do With Kids in Berkeley

There are many wonderful things about living with kids in Berkeley. We never run out of fun places to go and things to do! Here are 21+ terrific places to take your little ones in Berkeley inspired by all the unique gems the city has to offer.

Flying kites at Cesar Chavez Park | Photo: Julie Herson

Kid Favorites in Downtown Berkeley

  • Stroll or bike around Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina. There’s lots of scenery and a three-bridge view – great for playing “I Spy” as you go. It’s almost always windy at Cesar Chavez and you can practice your kite-flying skills year-round in prep for the annual Berkeley Kite Festival, which takes place every July (hopefully!). Shorebird Park is great for little kids, and the small beach just down from the playground is fun for finding little crabs at low tide.
  • Central Library –  With an elevator to ride — with giant kick buttons! — and a great children’s section, the Downtown Berkeley library is the best free destination in town. Family storytime, teen movies, and artist-led sessions are some of the offerings. Check the schedule.
  • The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) in downtown Berkeley has a variety of family events. Every second Saturday, the Gallery + Studio offers hands-on, drop-in art workshops perfect for kids ages 6 to 12 with accompanying adults. Kids and their accompanying adult are FREE.
Climb and explore the wooden stadium-style seats and mural area at BAMPFA | Photo: Maureen Burke

Favorite Family Activities in Tilden Park

  • Spend a half-day with the animals of Tilden Park: You can feed the barnyard animals at the Little Farm (bring celery!) and then take a short walk to Jewel Lake to see the turtles sunning on logs. You might even get chased by turkeys.
  • Wander the magical trails, bridges, hiding places, and waterfalls at the Tilden Botanical Park (free!) and the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (free for children under 6) with bonus activities of spotting lizards and spiders.
  • While you’re in Tilden Park, enjoy some more old-fashioned fun when you ride Berkeley’s 100-year-old Carousel (especially magical at the holidays) or ride the steam trains at the Redwood Valley Railroad company at the south end of Tilden Park.
  • Swim at Lake Anza on a hot day: this local gem of a watering hole is finally back open and perfect for a cheap day lazing at the beach. It’s pretty chilly-willy though, so bring sand toys to enjoy while not swimming.

Find more free & cheap things to do with kids in Tilden Park >>

child with map in the garden
Kai checks his route through the garden with a map | Photo: Anna Azimi

What to Do With Kids at UC Berkeley

  • UC Berkeley Campus has more great things for kids to do than you can imagine: take a ride up the Campanile Bell Tower, open Mon.-Fri.: 10 am-4 pm, Sat.: 10 am-5 pm, Sun.: 10 am-1 pm and 3 pm-5 pm. Kids 2 and under are free. Bell tower tunes play hourly.
  • Cheer on Cal at a family-friendly sporting event! Baseball games (spring), soccer (home games start in August), or basketball games are loads of fun. Check the Women’s Hoops schedule for Kids Days. Find out more about Cal games for kids >>
  • Lawrence Hall of Science. High in the hills above campus, your little ones won’t want to miss the outdoor nature lab not to mention all the great science exhibits, simple machine investigations, outdoor stream, and double helix climber.

Find more fun things to do with children at Cal >>

Mucking around in the creek just past the tot play area | Photo: Julie Herson

More Family Favorites in Berkeley

  • Check out one of the many awesome playgrounds around town. From Totland for your younger children to Dreamland for some epic hide-and-seek games with bigger kids, there are so many fun parks to try. Don’t miss Berkeley’s most unique playground, the Adventure Playground at the Berkeley Marina. A zip line and the chance to build your own forts with real hammers and nails are the antidotes to today’s overly protected childhoods. Open on weekends, closed when it is raining.
  • Explore a creek. There are at least five creeks running through Berkeley (depending on the season)! The most accessible to the public are Codornices and Strawberry Creeks, the latter of which also runs through the UC Berkeley campus. Easy hiking trails and bridges are along the creek in Codornices Park (plus a great slide and sandbox). Kids can get up close to the water in Strawberry Creek Park while parents hang out in the grassy field and enjoy a bite from the cafe that faces the park. Live Oak Park surrounds its creek and is a block away from the North Shattuck area (formerly Gourmet Ghetto). Grab a pizza from Cheeseboard and have lunch by the creek.
  • Climb the “secret staircases“, hidden paths and rock parks throughout the neighborhoods of the Berkeley hills. The Berkeley Path Wanderers Association has them mapped for you to explore.
  • The best view of the sunset is from Indian Rock off the Arlington just up from the Fountain. Steep stair steps are cut into the rock and there are lots of hidey holes to explore. Best for sure-footed school-age children and up. Watch for broken glass. If scrambling up rocks is your thing, there are plenty of other places in Berkeley to hone your skills

    Rock Parks of Berkeley
    Indian Rock in Berkeley | Photo credit: Whitney Moss
  • Walk or bike the Bay Trail from Emeryville, through Berkeley, to the Richmond Marina. As the name suggests, this path offers great views along the water’s edge the whole way. Best for more experienced bikers.
  • Ride your trikes and bikes along the Ohlone Greenway. The Ohlone Greenway is a wide, safe sidewalk that runs along or under the BART tracks, from Ohlone Park in North Berkeley near the BART Station to the Albany border and beyond to the Richmond Greenway. At the Gilman intersection, you can stop for bagels at Berkeley Bagels or enjoy a full Brazilian Cafe meal at the Westbrae Biergarten with outdoor seating and a toddler sandpit. Cedar-Rose Park is also right nearby.

    Plenty of fresh air and a kid-friendly menu at Westbrae Biergarten | Photo: Anna Azimi
  • Check out the wildlife indoors. Kid favorites are Your Basic Bird on College (parrots, cockatoos, and finches!) and the East Bay Vivarium (turtles, snakes, and frogs!). Don’t bring balloons inside – it scares the animals. Wander around Fourth Street when you’ve had your fill of snakes.
  • Ashkenaz, Berkeley’s 40-year-old cultural center for world music and dance, offers classes for children and youth, and performance events for kids! The Gilman District also has lots to offer families, from a skate park and soccer fields, to paint your own pottery and family-friendly restaurants.
  • Dance on over to La Peña. Your kiddo will love the kids sing alongs, dance classes and workshops. They also have performances for the whole family at this beloved Berkeley institution.
  • Take advantage of the Strawberry Canyon Pool and Recreation Area and swim just for fun or sign up for lessons. This outdoor swimming pool is open from May to October; it warms up nicely in the afternoon.
  • Find all 80 murals in Berkeley. Yes, there are that many! You can see them pictured here. Think of it as a treasure hunt. While you’re at it, check out Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell for even more artistic gems hidden in Berkeley.

Upcoming Events for Berkeley Kids

Sunday, May 19, 2024

10:00 am - 5:00 pm: Berkeley Himalayan Fair at Live Oak Park
10:00 am - 2:00 pm: Kensington Farmers' Market at Kensington Farmers’ Market
10:30 am - 12:00 pm: Newborn Playgroup at Cedar Rose Park
11:00 am - 7:00 pm: Drop-In Art Making at BAMPFA at Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)
11:00 am - 2:00 pm: Jewish Community Day at Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life


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1 thought on “21 Best Things to Do With Kids in Berkeley”

  1. I just found your site! How wonderful. I actually live in Lafayette/Walnut Creek area but love all these ideas. Thank you

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