When Oakland mom Leah is not out having adventures with her son, she writes a column for the parenting site Work It, Mom and contributes weekly to the design/lifestyle blog Style Lush. She also writes a personal blog called “a girl and a boy”. Today she offers up some of her favorite destinations for family fun.
Favorite East Bay outing with your boy?
We love heading to, because it doesn't take a lot of thinking, planning, packing, or money to have a good time there. In addition to Fairyland (don't leave home without your membership card!), there's a playground near the bird sanctuary and wildlife center, and right across the street from those is a wonderful botanical garden that's perfect for kids. (Mine especially loves the scent garden, the , the community vegetable garden, and all the fountains and waterfalls.) We've also spent a few sunny afternoons on the pier of the Lake Chalet and can't wait until our son is old enough to sit still for a gondola ride.
Fave restaurant to eat as a family?
When we go out to eat, 98 percent of the time (I kid you not) it's at the Burrito Shop on Lakeshore Avenue. In addition to the standard Mexican fare, they also have some other “multiethnic” wraps (my spouse swears by the Thai Chicken one), and although it's not fancy by any means, it's consistent and delicious and affordable and kid-friendly. Anytime we're in the vicinity of the Burrito Shop, our toddler starts chanting “Beans and rice! Beans and rice!”
Littlejohn Park on Buena Vista Avenue in Alameda is a great spot for younger children. It's fenced in, never crowded, and seems to attract only friendly parents and nice kids. It's not unusual for a parent to show up with a bucket of soap and bubble wands for everyone to share. There's also a huge lawn for kids who like to RUN.
How Oakland Can You Be?
Last month I wrote a piece about what it's like to live in Oakland, a challenged and challenging city if ever there were one. We Oaklanders deal with a lot of tough issues on a daily basis, but the good that has come out of that has been an urge to embrace our neighbors, and then finding that they embrace us in return. My piece opens with a photo of my kid astride a horse that showed up on our block one afternoon, and although I wouldn't call having a horse in your front yard typical for Oakland, the warmth and spirit behind the encounter certainly represents the best of what Oakland is to my family.