El Cerrito, just past Albany when traveling North on San Pablo Avenue, is a cute town with some fun things to offer for kids and families. Pick a place to play, eat (or both!) and make a half-day out of it. Pretty much everything listed is either on, or just off of San Pablo Avenue which makes it easy – easy to find, easy to park, easy fun. Go!
Places to play with kids in El Cerrito:
- Tassajara Park (2575 Tassajara Ave.) Situated in a hilly neighborhood, this clean and large park is a great place for kids of all ages to play. It has two large play structures, one for tots and one for older kids, two spinning chairs, two tennis courts, a basketball court, and spacious grass field to run and play. Play at Tassajara Park in El Cerrito >>
- Castro Park and Korematsu Middle School (Norvell St. and Gladys Ave.) Castro Park shares a block with Korematsu Middle School’s basketball court and kickball diamond as well as a shaded toddler play area. Castro Park also has cool play structures of its own. More details about Castro Park >>
- Arlington Park & Clubhouse (1120 Arlington Blvd.) This park in the hills has a lot to offer: little creek, a tot play structure, a playground for older kids, and a large grassy field on which kids can play with stomp rockets or roll around. Find out more about playing at Arlington Park >>
- Cerrito Vista Park (Moeser Lane & Pomona) This park is a fun one for your little daredevils. Two huge slides you can only get to through a ladder, and plenty of climbing structures. It’s fully gated (yay!) and there’s a smaller tot-friendly structure for younger ones. Bring a ball and bat for a quick game of baseball on the huge green grassy field, or pack a picnic lunch to make an afternoon out of it.
- Huntington Park (Carlson Blvd & Huntington) This park is separated into two areas – the toddler area is fully gated and separate from the bigger kids area, but you can still see both from either side.
- Blake Garden (70 Rincon Road) This lovely garden oasis with paths and steps is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm. Find out more about Blake Garden >>
- Mendocino Park (Mendocino & Burlingame) Little shade here, but lots of old toys to run around on – always popular with the 3 and under crowd.
Best places to eat with kids in El Cerrito:
- The Annex (San Pablo & Panama) Adjacent to the El Cerrito Natural Grocery Store – find prepared food and coffee here. Stop by for a hot breakfast or grab a slice of pizza and make your own salad for lunch. Plenty of seating, and since it’s already prepared, it’s super fast!
- El Cerrito Plaza (San Pablo & Carlson) Lots of quick places to grab a bite – Panda Express, Jamba Juice, Rubio’s, Chipotle and Starbucks. Plus, it’s the home of a Trader Joe’s – arguably the best grocery store around.
- Fat Apple’s (Fairmont & Colusa) Come here for weekend brunch, or stop by the counter anytime for a cup of coffee and a sugar cookie out of the bakery case.
- Papi’s Pizza Roma (San Pablo & Moeser) We found this place on a whim and we’re glad we did. Whole pizzas or by the slice in a clean, laid back atmosphere. Can’t go wrong here.
- Sweet Treats Baskin Robbins (San Pablo & Moeser) aways makes for a good trip down memory lane, plus with 31 flavors to choose from, no one can complain. And you know how we feel about the best Bay Area donuts – Donut Time (San Pablo & Schmidt) is hands down the best in The Bay.
- Well Grounded (Stockton & Norvell) Cute little coffee shop on Stockton Avenue with tasty bagel sandwiches. So good! They even have a few tables outside for sitting.
- Elevation 66 Brewing Company (San Pablo & Central) If you’re in need of a good beer and burger, head here. It’s a little pricer, but kids are welcome and the food is tasty.
Places to visit for families in El Cerrito:
- Barnes & Noble (El Cerrito Plaza) Bookstore turned toy store (ugh!) but it’s still a fun place to visit on a rainy day. Check out their weekly storytime too.
Insider tip: Barnes and Noble also has a spacious restroom good for diaper changes and potty training.
- El Cerrito Library (Stockton & Lexington) I love this cute little library. It’s small, but has puzzles, blocks and of course a wide selection of children’s books. The weekly storytime is a must.
- Rialto Cinemas Cerrito (San Pablo & Central) Movies AND dinner. Order pizza, salads, nachos and they’ll bring it to you during the show. Comfy seats too. Occasional baby showings and weekend matinees.
- Splash Park at El Cerrito Swim Center (Moeser & Asbury) This place gets packed on sunny days. Get there early for a shaded seat to watch your kids get splashed. Bring snacks and sunscreen. More info on hours of the splash park >
Insider Tips for families in El Cerrito
Cara, a 510Families contributor tells us what she loves about El Cerrito:
- Ifshin Violins (Fairmont & San Pablo) – Ifshin Violins is a true hidden gem of El Cerrito. You can rent a student violin for less than $20 a month. They also rent cellos, and if you stand outside on the sidewalk and look in the windows (along Fairmount) you may see them carving violins right before your eyes! My two year old’s favorite thing is to turn in towards Ifshin (right next to the gate that opens for cars to pass through) and find all the violins that are drawn in the cement of the sidewalk. We travel that path from Fairmount to the front doors of Ifshin over and over as he points out all the violins. It’s a fun little diversion if you’re walking to the Plaza for more boring errands.
- El Cerrito Martial Arts (Stockton & San Pablo). My 6.5 year old just started taking jiu jitsu here and absolutely loves it. As a parent I appreciate the classes and all that she’s learning and that she’s having fun but even more, I appreciate their flexibility! If you miss a class, you just go on a different day, no questions asked. They also allow you to try out a class for free before you commit. They have an after school program as well, and they offer transportation from some El Cerrito schools (be sure to confirm whether yours is included — Fairmont and Harding are for sure). The kids do homework, play with Legos, color, etc until class starts at 4 pm. We have several friends whose kids go to the after school program 2 or 3 days a week, and the kids love it. And after pickup, pop over to the Annex or Natural Grocery for dinner!
Coming soon for families around El Cerrito
Our calendar has lots of upcoming events in the Albany / El Cerrito area. Here are the next few.
[Photo Credit: Anna Azimi]