Things to do with Bay Area kids when school is out

50 Things to Do with Bay Area Kids When School is Out

Thanks to East Bay SPCA for sponsoring this post (and providing the photos). SPCA Campers will gain an appreciation for all living things through hands-on activities, pet-themed games, take-home crafts, and plenty of animal interactions.

Between distance school, homeschool, school holidays, conferences, and mental health days, we wanted to update our list of go-to destinations for families with grade school children. Enjoy!

50 things to do when school is out

What to do with East bay kids when school is out?

  1. Day Camp. East Bay SPCA Seasonal Animal Camp is the purr-fect fit for youth who are passionate about pets, want to make a difference for shelter animals, or just need a little experience before adding a furry friend to the family. School Break Camps are open for 1st-5th graders, and Summer Camp is available for 1st-8th.
  2. Fly a kite. Fly kites in Berkeley Marina or one of our other favorite spots, perfect on a day when most places are closed, like Thanksgiving Day.
  3. Get beachy. Our beautiful West Coast beckon with these 14 Bay Area beaches worth the drive. Head out early and bribe your kids with donuts as needed.
  4. Farm day. Pick seasonal produce and visit the animals at Cloverfield Organic Farm. Eat what you pick once you get home.
  5. Hike. Hop on the ferry to hike Angel Island. Too far? Discover the Secret Stairs of the East Bay in Oakland or grab a walking stick to hike the the UC Berkeley fire trails.
  6. Movie and popcorn. Reserve a whole movie theater for a private screening with your family and social bubble for $99 plus the cost of discount snacks. See classic movies or new releases.
  7. Stargaze. Stay up late to see all the stars. Our tips tell you how to get away from the Bay Area light pollution.
  8. Build ninja skills. Check out the massive indoor-outdoor facilities for Ninja Warrior wannabes at Traverse Fitness.
  9. Outdoor art installation. The Andy Goldsworthy installation of trees and forest paths in the Presidio is totally worth the trip.
  10. Safari tour. Ride on top of an off-road jeep and visit the animals of Africa while in Santa Rosa.
  11. Ferry around. Take the ferry to SF (from Jack London Square, Alameda, or Richmond) for a treat at the Ferry Building. Brave families can ride a street car, cable car, city bus, and BART all in the same day.
  12. Mini golf. GoldenTee is a fun destination for putt putt enthusiasts. Scandia has mini golf plus so much more.
  13. Kayak around the Bay. Put on your life vests and kayak around our waterways. Where to kayak with kids >>
  14. Volunteer with animals. East Bay SPCA Shelter Scouts allows youth ages 8-18 to explore the world of animal welfare through service learning projects, educational activities, and animal meet-and-greets. Learn about volunteering with shelter scouts.
  15. Find the fairy villages. Spend more time together in Point Richmond hunting for fairies.
  16. Ride the rails. Head down to Santa Cruz for the railroad through the redwoods!
  17. Ropes Course. Take a trip to Quarry Park for big fun on the zipline, rappel, free fall, ropes course, and a massive playground .
  18. Roses and Ice cream. Visit the Oakland Rose Garden. After your ambling, you’re a 15-minute walk to Fentons.
  19. Asian Arts. Visit the Asian Art Museum where kids under twelve are always free.
Jameson welcomes all SPCA campers
Jameson welcomes SPCA campers and volunteers | Photo: East Bay SPCA
  1. Discover a playground. (510) residents swear that Heather Farm is always worth the drive to Walnut Creek! Here are a dozen other East Bay playgrounds to delight your kid with big energy.
  2. SUP. Stand-up Paddleboarding is another super way to enjoy our corner of the world. It’s like an instant vacation.
  3. Big Ship. Spend the day in Alameda and tour the enormous USS Hornet aircraft carrier museum – great for visiting grandparents.
  4. Scoot and roll. Not ready for a skate park quite yet? Here are 22 fab places to roll your scooter.
  5. Treasure Island. This island has everything: biking, food, giant Jenga, small beach, playground, and the best views in the Bay Area. Or this playground with a view.
  6. Things that go. Poke around historic planes at the Oakland Aviation Museum, open Wednesday thru Sundays, this kid-friendly museum is located near the Oakland airport.
  7. Escape. Older kids will enjoy the novelty and challenge of an Escape Room. It’s a splurge but we like this new one in Emeryville.
  8. See lots of animals. Hang out with the wild animals at the Oakland Zoo and enjoy the gondola as often as you like. (reservations strongly suggested).
4 kids on a screen probably watching YouTube
Virtual Animal Presentations: The East Bay SPCA offers short virtual education lessons and animal meet-and-greets with shelter dogs and cats for schools, scouts, or just for fun. Register your group today >>
  1. Wilderness. Look for wild turkeys, magpies, and owl boxes at the Sunol Regional Wilderness. There’s always something different.
  2. Cuddle kitties. Make a donation to care for cats and sit with them as you share a cookie at Cat Town (check hours!)
  3. Geocache. This worldwide scavenger hunt is always open! More details on our love of geocaching.
  4. Go fishing. Grab your fishing rod and head to one of our favorite fishing spots for families.
  5. Fourth Street. Spend the day wandering around 4th Street with ice cream and crafts. Peek in at the reptiles at the East Bay Vivarium and then walk over to Peet’s for hot cocoa.
  6. Bake. From scratch, from a kit, or from a together cooking class or workshop, we love to make a tasty mess in the kitchen.
  7. Dance Party. DJ Ryan can turn a regular home day into a neighborhood dance party. Find out about Drive-up DJ socially distant events.
  8. Collect sea glass. Hunt for sea glass at Point Molate Park Beach. You can make crafts from them afterward.
  9. Bike the dirt. For knobby tires, visit Dirt World in Richmond or loop the pump track at the BMX dirt bike park in Pleasanton. For a whole day of thrills, head to Marin and ride Stafford Lake Bike Park.
  10. Bike the paths. Or stick to paved trails by riding along the Shoreline in Alameda, or enjoy the Bay Trail bike path near Costco in Richmond (head towards the gas station end of Costco and look for a parking lot). Lots more places to bike with kids in the East Bay.
  11. Go-kart. Go full speed around the race track with go-karting for the big kids in the family.
  12. Brr in the snow. Spend a day playing in the snow (when it comes, of course); we know where to take Bay Area kids to get snowy for non-skiers.
  13. Drive-in Movies. Let everyone stay up late for a drive-in movie. You’ll find cool options at the fairgrounds and the SF Marina. I LOVE the wintertime for the drive-in because the shows start so much earlier… and when there’s no school the next day? C’mon!
  14. Climb & Scramble. Scale the heights around Indian Rock in North Berkeley or check out one of Berkeley’s lesser known rock parks. Always free and open!
  15. Lake day. Bring a football to Lake Temescal. It is great for wandering, relaxing, and fishing, even if swimming is still off limits.
  16. Golf. Would your kids like one of these low-key par-three courses in the East Bay? If golf is too chill, they might enjoy FootGolf for a change.
  17. Ride the sky. While it lasts, visit the Skystar Wheel in Golden Gate Park for wide open views of the Bay Area (Unless it is foggy, then sorry you spend all that money!) on the lawn nestled between the DeYoung and the Cal Academy. (closed as of 11/29/20)
  18. Pedicab tour. Take a thrilling East Bay pedicab adventure around your favorite spots in Emeryville or Berkeley.
  19. Play in the rain. No need to stay indoors on a rainy day when you can hunt for salamanders and splash in the puddles! [5 more great spots to play in the rain with kids]
  20. Hunt for small gnomes in Oakland. Paint a few gnomes with your kiddo and get in on the act.
  21. Play tennis. The local tennis courts are open for tennis and pickleball. Where to play tennis with kids >
  22. Tide pools. Take a day trip to the Fitzgerald Tide Pools during really low tide to see all the critters.
  23. Make an iSpy game. Create a game near your sidewalk to entertain your neighbors. Here’s how to make your own I Spy.
SPCA campers training a dog
SPCA campers try out their behavior and training skills on the obstacle course | Photo: East Bay SPCA

Where else do your grade school age kids love to go when school’s out?

Thanks again to East Bay SPCA for sponsoring this post. I’m super excited to send my most animal-loving child to SPCA animal camp in Oakland this year. All of the content was created by {510} Families.

[Photos provided by East Bay SPCA; used with permission]

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1 thought on “50 Things to Do with Bay Area Kids When School is Out”

  1. Wonderful list. I think Rosie the Riveter National Park (with free museum) is also an excellent choice for older kids. I took four (ages 8 to 18), and they spent two very engaged hours there.

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