31 free things to do with kids in July - East Bay

Best Things to Do With Kids in July

Wow, it is July! Let’s make the most of this warm and carefree month. We’ll kick things off with July 4 festivities, and continue with beach days, summer festivals, fruit picking, outdoor movies, and plenty of events to keep your summer calendar full. Dig in to our round-up of exciting East Bay activities to bring fun and joy to families throughout July.

Thank you to our sponsor, Chabot Space & Science Center, for offering free telescope viewings and family-friendly programming with exhibits and events on everything from how a star’s light travels through space to the delightful science of bubbles

children dance among bubbles
BubbleFest Weekend, July 22-23, includes bubbles to dance among | Photo: Chabot Space & Science Center

New Museum Exhibits & Events for Families

events at chabot in july 2023Keep your kids’ curiosity growing at a museum exhibit that appeals to children and adults:

  • Meet at Chabot Space & Science Center every Second Saturday for Nature Adventures to take a deeper look into a different aspect of the surrounding redwood forest. On July 8, join a short interpretive hike to discover the current habitat of the forest just outside the museum’s doors.
  • Blast off to Habitot’s Space Station Experience at Bay Street in Emeryville. It’s filled with STEM-embedded stations for hands-on discovery play and crafts that are ideal for tots and preschoolers.
  • CuriOdyssey opened a new building on the museum’s campus to offer families more hands-on science demonstrations. It’s also home to the new exhibit, ViewPoint, which highlights the convergence of people and wildlife.
  • At The Lawrence’s new exhibit, Making Music: Math and Science Out Loud, visitors can enjoy instruments and other music-making tools that will help uncover the science behind musical melodies, harmonies, beats, and more.
  • The World’s Largest Dinosaurs are on view at Cal Academy this summer. View life-size dinosaur models, interactive displays, and unique specimens to discover the amazing life and biology of the long-necked and long-tailed sauropods.

📅 Save the Date for These Exciting Community Events

All Month: Get Your Swim On

Swim or splash your heart out at a local beach, swimming pool, splash pad, or water park. The sun is warm and the water temperatures are rising. But if the days are still a bit too cool and foggy for your liking, head deeper into the East Bay communities for a more traditional (read: hotter) summer experience. Many splash parks are free and Clarke Swim Center in Walnut Creek offers discounts for kids on Wednesdays. Check out our favorite swim spots >

Fourth of July Celebrations

Fill your day with all things red, white, and blue for the July 4 holiday. Communities throughout the East Bay are hosting parades, incredible drone shows, fun runs, pancake breakfasts, firework displays, and other festive daytime celebrations.

watch a parade
Fourth of July Parade in Alameda is one of the nation’s longest parade routes | Photo: AlamedaParade.com

Reserve Tickets to Shows & Performances

See an action-packed show of Jurassic Park Live Tour in San Jose, or enjoy a jubilant performance of Disney’s NEWSIES in Berkeley. Find more upcoming ticketed performances and events >

Visit a U-Pick Farm for Fresh Peaches & Stone Fruit

Fruit picking makes a delicious day trip! Visit a U-Pick farm in the East Bay to hand-select the season’s freshest peaches, plums, apricots, and nectarines. Don’t forget to pack water and a hat — it gets hot out there. Pro Tip: Check social media pages for current hours and details on available fruit.

child eating peaches
Freshly picked produce makes a tasty snack for the drive home. | Photo: Katie Graceffa

Catch a Movie or Listen to a Concert Outdoors

‘Tis the season for outdoor movies and summer concerts. Watch family-friendly films on the big screen just after sunset, or enjoy the smooth sounds of a local band while the kids run around on the lawn. Bring blankets, chairs and picnic dinners or snacks to make the most of your evening. See the full outdoor movie round-up > View the summer concert guide >

📅 Free Museum Days

Plan an outing to one of the world-class museums in the Bay Area; take advantage of free admission on certain days. Learn more about ways to get into museums for free >

  • July 1-2: Bank of America Free Museum Days
  • July 2: Family Fun Day at Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and First Sunday at OMCA (nearly free!)
  • July 4: Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco (open for July 4 holiday)
  • July 5: GLBT Historical Society Museum in San Francisco
  • July 6: BAMPFA in Berkeley and SFMOMA in San Francisco
  • July 7: Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco
  • July 8: Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco
  • July 11: San Francisco Botanical Garden
  • Every Saturday: de Young Museum in San Francisco
Antioch Waterslides at Prewitt Water Park
Water parks are great for mixed-age outings | Photo: Whitney Moss

Don’t Miss Water Park After Dark

Antioch Water Park, one of our favorite local water parks, is a fantastic option for sunny, hot days. But don’t pass up the exciting evening events hosted by the park. Called Water Park After Dark, families are invited to join from 7 pm to 9:30 pm every Friday throughout July. Each night has a unique theme and planned activities. Sounds worth the drive and late night!

Schedule a Parents’ Night Out

Kids aren’t the only ones who can have fun over the summer. Reserve a space at Parents Night Out, also called PNO. It’s evening childcare that’s essentially a drop-off play date. The setup is a win-win for parents who want a date night and children who want to spend the evening eating pizza, making art, watching movies, or playing with other kids their age. Reserve a space for your child in advance; see all the providers >

child on train ride
Hip hip hooray! The Tilden Steam Trains run daily throughout the summer. | Photo: Kat Choi

📅 Favorite Free & Cheap Happenings

Need some planning inspiration? We’ve got you covered! We gathered up our favorite free and inexpensive activities in the East Bay to serve as a go-to itinerary when you’re in a pinch. Visit your local library for fantastic events and special programming for kids and families through their summer reading programs. Find more free & cheap events this month >

Visit an All-Abilities Playground

July is Disability Pride Month. Teach your kids about inclusion and visit an all-abilities playground. These play spaces are universally designed to include adaptive equipment, high-quality surfaces, and many innovative features to welcome children of all ages and capabilities to play. More on how to talk to your kids about people with disabilities >

child looking at photo of deep space
Looking at new pictures of deep space at Chabot Space & Science Center | Photo: Beautiful Brown Adventures

For lots more ideas, check out our guide to what to do with kids during summer vacation! Plus there are still a few weeks to enroll your children in camp; see our Summer Camp Guide.

Thanks again to Chabot Space and Science Center for sponsoring this month’s post. We’re fans of its exciting STEM-filled exhibits and hands-on displays that share knowledge about the Universe and Planet Earth. Chabot also hosts a variety of events for families. Plan to join Chabot’s BubbleFest, a two-day festival for all ages to learn about the science of bubbles. Plus, discover how bubbles can teach us about star formation and all its applications in space science.

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