Thanks to Habitot Children's Museum, one of Berkeley's greatest places to play, for sponsoring this guide to fun for 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 25 great places to take your little ones in Berkeley inspired by the staff and visitors of Habitot Children's Museum, who makes a habit of keeping a finger on the pulse of East Bay parents.
- Habitot Children's Museum is a play paradise for young children, 0-5. Habitot Children's Museum is a play paradise for young children, 0-5. Hands-on theme exhibits like Recycling Center, Fire House and pretend Grocery Store include costumes and lots of props. The Waterworks indoor water table and river ramps and a creative Art Studio mean messy fun (bring spare clothes if you like!). Free Jamaroo music classes Wednesdays 10:30 am; Puppet Shows every month; Family Fun Nights, 2nd Fridays 5:30-7:30pm; and even Parents' Night Out, 4th Fridays, 5:30-9:30pm. Summer, spring break and winter camps for 3-4 year old's and Birthday Parties year-round!
- Enjoy the Osher Theater in downtown Berkeley, home to the Bay Area Children's Theatre which presents little kid-friendly shows like Goodnight Gorilla and Pete the Cat. Fun for the whole family!
- Wander the magical trails, bridges, hiding places, and waterfalls at the Tilden Botanical Park (free!) and the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (wonderful but a bit pricey!) with bonus activity of spotting lizards and spiders.
- Kids Gym Berkeley is a full-inclusion, multi-sensory activity center for kids of all abilities. It's a super fun, safe, therapeutic and educational place for burning off all that kid energy.
- 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.
- Be creative. Capture infant footprints, toddler handprints, or preschooler artistic efforts by painting pottery you can keep at Brushstrokes Studio.
- The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) in downtown Berkeley has a variety of family events and family movie matinees. Every second Saturday, the Gallery + Studio offers hands-on, drop-in art workshops perfect for kids ages 6 to 12 with accompanying adult. Kids and their adult are FREE.
- Ashkenaz, Berkeley's 40-year old cultural center for world music and dance, offers classes for children and youth, performance events for kids, plus the Sunday morning Soul Sanctuary Dance is family friendly and free!
- 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.
- Spend a half-day with the animals of Tilden Park: you can feed the barnyard animals at the Little Farm and then take a short walk to Jewel Lake to see the turtles sunning on logs. You might even get chased by turkeys!
- 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.
- Central Library – With an elevator to ride — with giant kick buttons! — and plenty of books to borrow, the Downtown Berkeley library is the best free destination in town. They frequently host fun events for kids and families, too.
- Explore a creek. There are at least five of them in Berkeley! The most accessible to the public are Codornices and Strawberry Creeks, the latter of which also runs through 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 is a block away from the Gourmet Ghetto and the Thursday evening food truck extravaganza on Shattuck. Go for a picnic!
- Ride your trikes and bikes along the Ohlone Greenway. This super trail is a wide, safe sidewalk that runs along or under the BART tracks, from Ohlone Park in north Berkeley station to the Albany border and beyond to the Richmond Greenway. Stop and get a bagel at Berkeley Bagels at the Gilman intersection, midway along the route. Outdoor seating available.
- Walk or bike the Bay Trail from Emeryville, through Berkeley, to the Richmond Marina. This path offers great views along the water's edge the whole way. Best for more experienced bikers.
- Hands-On! STEAM Lab offers drop-in play time for up to 75 minutes. You and your kiddo can stop by for engineering, painting, bubble-making, or potion-making facilitated by owner and director Tracy Hollander. While you're on the block, stop by Mr. Mopps toy shop or book store. [More to do on that block of MLK]
- Climb the “secret staircases“ and hidden paths throughout the neighborhoods of the Berkeley hills. The Berkeley Path Wanderers Association has them mapped for you to explore.
- The best view of 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.
- 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.: 10:00 am-3:45 pm, Sat.: 10:00 am-4:45 pm, Sun.: 10:00 am-1:30 pm and 3:00 pm-4:45 pm. and kids 3 and under are free. Bell tower tunes play at noon. Visit the dinosaurs at the Life Sciences Building on campus where a giant T-Rex is on display in the lobby. [More about entertaining a kid on the Cal campus]
- 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 >>
- Dance on over to La Peña. Your kiddo will love the Rockin’ Kids Sing Along on Fridays 10:30-11:30am – offered on a sliding scale $10-20 per family/class and the children’s Bomba y Plena Dance, Percussion and Song workshop on Thursdays at 4pm $15 drop-in class. Those are just two of the many classes and workshops for kids, and performances for the whole family at this beloved Berkeley institution.
- 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 is the antidote to today's overly protected childhoods.
- 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 November; it warms up nicely in the afternoon.
- Lawrence Hall of Science. Your little ones won't want to miss the animal discovery room at LHS, open Tuesday–Sunday, 1:30–4:00 p.m. not to mention all the great science exhibits, simple machine investigations, outdoor stream and double helix climber.
- Drop-in on a yoga class at Yama Kids Yoga or just let the little ones play while you sip coffee at the Rec Room Cafe in South Berkeley.
More kids activities in Berkeley
Upcoming events for Berkeley kids
Thank you, Habitot Children's Museum for sponsoring 510Families.com — and for being such a great place for East Bay families to have fun together.