Things to do with Bay Area kids when school is out

50 Things to Do With Bay Area Kids When School Is Out

With so many school holidays on the horizon, we wanted to update our list of go-to destinations for families with grade school children. Enjoy!

Thanks to LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Milpitas for sponsoring this post. Jump into a world of creativity, color and playful learning at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Bay Area, the ultimate indoor LEGO® playground!

lego laser maze
Ninjago-themed Laser Maze is even better than you can imagine at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Bay Area | Photo: Heather Flett

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

  1. Day at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Bay Area. Experience a 4D movie, ride Imagination Express, admire MINILAND Bay Area, and have the best day building and ogling creations. Test of skill and agility will entertain parents, too.
  2. Farm day. Make an appointment to say “hi” to a giant furry cow, zonkey, and other colorful rescue animals at American Made Miniatures. More farms for kids who love animals >
  3. Tour a tasty factory. Chocolate lovers over age 8 will enjoy the TCHO Factory tour and jelly bean lovers of all ages will have fun at the Jelly Belly Factory Tour (Fairfield).
  4. Hike. Discover the Secret Stairs of the East Bay in Oakland or bring a little sibling on a toddler-friendly hike.
  5. Things that go. Poke around historic planes at the Oakland Aviation Museum, open Wednesday thru Sunday, this kid-friendly museum is located near the Oakland airport. (More fun places for airplane lovers >)
  6. Experiment. Visit Chabot Space & Science Center or the Lawrence Hall of Science (both Wednesday through Sunday) to try your hand at science experiments.
  7. Go bowling. Bowl ten frames at Bowlero Alameda or get a good deal at any one of these nearby bowling alleys.
  8. Stargaze. Stay up late to see all the stars. Our tips tell you how to get away from the Bay Area light pollution.
  9. Swing from the rafters. Check out the massive indoor-outdoor facilities for Ninja Warrior wannabes at Traverse Fitness (Richmond) or climbing kids at Pacific Pipe (Oakland).
  10. Adventure on the edge. Lands End offers stunning views of the edge of our continent and close proximity to cool City outings like Tunnel Tops or the Presidio.

46 Activities for Teens & Tweens >>

scottish highland cattle named cowboy
Cowboy is a Scottish Highland Cattle | Photo: American Made Miniatures Farm Sanctuary
  1. Ferry around. Take the ferry to SF (from Jack London Square, Alameda, or Richmond). Intrepid families can fly on Salesforce Park’s free gondola from 6 am to 8 pm, and ride a streetcar, cable car, city bus, and BART all on the same day.
  2. Ice Skate. From San Francisco to San Ramon with frozen spots in between, there are wonderful seasonal ice rinks to enjoy. Lace-up.
  3. 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.
  4. Get beachy. Our beautiful West Coast beckons with these 14 Bay Area beaches worth the drive. Head out early and bribe your kids with donuts as needed.
  5. Kayak around the Bay. Put on your life vests and kayak around our waterways. Where to kayak with kids >>
  6. 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. (More ideas to volunteer with East Bay kids!)
  7. Play pinball. Go full tilt on the old-school pinball machines at the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda.
  8. Ride the rails. Head down to Santa Cruz for the railroad through the redwoods!
  9. Minigolf. Alameda’s SubPar is tons of fun! GoldenTee is a classic destination for putt-putt enthusiasts. Scandia has mini-golf plus more. Find all our favorite East Bay mini golf spots >
Stagecoach stadium putt putt
Stadium replica golf hole at Stagecoach Greens called Splash Hit | Photo: Heather Flett
  1. Discover a playground. (510) residents swear that Heather Farm is always worth the drive to Walnut Creek! Here are nine playgrounds with zip lines for your kid with big energy.
  2. Play tennis. East Bay tennis courts are open for tennis and pickleball. Get out there.
  3. Tide pools. Take a day trip to the Fitzgerald Tide Pools during really low tide to see all the critters.
  4. Cheer on the Cal Bears. UC Berkeley athletic events are often affordable, year-round, and kid-friendly. Find a new-to-you sport.
  5. Treasure Island. This island has everything: biking, food, giant Jenga, a small beach, a playground, and the best views in the Bay Area. Or this playground with a view.
  6. Ropes Course. Take a trip to Quarry Park for big fun on the zipline, rappel, free fall, ropes course, and a massive playground.
  7. Roses and Ice cream. Visit the Oakland Rose Garden. After your ambling, you’re a 15-minute walk to Fentons to split a sundae.
  8. Modern Art. Visit the BAMPFA in Berkeley where kids under 13 are always free. The exhibits change regularly and BAMPFA offers hands-on creation labs, too.
  9. 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). Older kids can play photographer and then come home and make a video. (We’ll post any kid-generated videos here!)
  10. Learn from a LEGO Master. Up the quality of your LEGO creations by taking a workshop at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center at the Great Mall.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Milpitis master model builder workshop
Kids can learn directly from Master Model Builders | Photo: LEGOLAND Discovery Center
  1. Wilderness. Look for wild turkeys, magpies, and owl boxes at the Sunol Regional Wilderness. There’s always something different.
  2. Discover a special garden. Make a weekday visit to Kensington’s Blake Gardens or any of our favorite gardens to visit with kids.
  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. Painting Party. Paint pottery at Color Me Mine, Alameda or Brushstrokes in Berkeley.
  7. Collect sea glass. Hunt for sea glass at Point Molate Park Beach. You can make crafts from them afterward.
  8. 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.
  9. Check out the library. Stock up on books, museum passes, and specialty equipment at your local library.
  10. Go-kart. Go full speed around the race track with go-karting for the big kids in the family.
kid sledding in the snow
Sledding and all smiles | Photo: Mike Heenan
  1. 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.
  2. Drive-in Movies. Let everyone stay up late for a drive-in movie. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. Discover ladybugs. Find ladybug colonies from late October through mid-February in Oakland.
  5. 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.
  6. Play all the games. The board game destination, Victory Point Cafe, has hundreds of games and a great menu for pizza fans.
  7. Play in the rain. No need to stay indoors on a rainy day when you can seek out sneaky salamanders and splash in the puddles! 5 more great spots to play in the rain with kids >
  8. Find the hidden gnomes in Oakland. Paint a few gnomes with your kiddo and get in on the act.
  9. SUP. Stand-up Paddleboarding is another super way to enjoy our corner of the world. It’s like an instant vacation.
  10. Big Ship. Tour the enormous USS Hornet aircraft carrier museum – great for visiting grandparents. You’d also be in a great spot for a family-friendly bike ride that ends at a brewery.
  11. Scoot and roll. Not ready for a skate park quite yet? Here are 25+ fab places to roll your scooter.
Child looking at fish in koi pond at Blake Garden
Can you spot the koi? A reflective stop at Blake Garden. | Photo: Maureen Burke

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

Thanks to LEGOLAND Discovery Center for sponsoring this post. Located at the Great Mall in Milpitas, you can jump into a world of creativity, color, and playful learning at the ultimate indoor LEGO playground!

legoland discovery center bay area logo ldcba
[Photos credits as indicated; used with permission.]

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