California has reopened. That’s the headline we keep reading.
It is helpful to remember that reopening is an economic term, dictating the rules for businesses and government organizations. What you do with family and friends is up to you, and that’s trickier for those of us with kids under 12.
What’s open now for families
No matter statewide or CDC mask guidance, every business can ask customers to wear masks. Please bring masks with you wherever you go so that you can put them on when asked.
Popular Bay Area Family Destinations Now Open
Outdoor Pools and Water Parks
There are no more capacity limits for movie theaters, and some chains, like AMC have removed mask requirements for vaccinated guests. Private group screenings can still be reserved at some chains, including Cinemark, which is in Richmond and Walnut Creek.
Oakland Ice has resumed public skating hours with advanced reservations. Website >
- Oakland Zoo continues to require advance ticket purchase and limited capacity. Outdoors, fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks.
- San Francisco Zoo also requires advanced ticket sales. Details are here.
- Happy Hollow Zoo (recommended!) requires reservations. Playground activities are open, though the rides are closed.
Indoor Children’s Playspaces
- Kids Play Zone Oakland is offering drop-in play now. Learn more.
- Kidtopia in Fremont is open. (Here’s our 2018 review of it.)
- Swings and Wings, Alameda’s sensory-based indoor play place serving kids from 6 months to 8 years old is open for drop-in starting Sunday, July 4. You can also make reservations.
- Twirl, an art-focused playspace, has opened an outdoor play garden and is hosting Kids’ Night Out events (two-and-a-half-hour drop-off session).
- Jumpity Bumpity, Hayward, an ocean-themed indoor play space for young walkers through about age 12. Open for walk-in play.
- Read about more indoor kids play spaces in the East Bay >
East Bay Parks
Outdoor attractions are open, many with advanced reservations.
- The Gardens at Lake Merritt (seven acres to explore! no reservations! not boring!)
- Adventure Playground is maintaining a limited capacity: 25 people for 1-hour visits. Register in advance or walk-in. Learn more.
- Steam Trains in Tilden Park are open. Learn more.
- Ardenwood Farms is open for scheduled visits. Advanced reservations will no longer be required as of June 26. Here’s how it works.
- Little Farm in Tilden Park offers scheduled visits. Advanced reservations will no longer be required as of June 26. Here’s how it works.
- Botanical Garden in Tilden is open.
- Tilden Park’s Merry Go Round is open with reservations encouraged.
- Lake Merritt Boat Rentals are open.
- BAMPFA in Berkeley, along with the cafe, reopened for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday hours. Special children’s programming continues to be virtual.
- Oakland Museum of California has reopened on weekends only with advanced reservations only.
- Lawrence Hall of Science is hosting Summer Fundays programming in the outdoor space. We’ve reviewed it.
- Asian Art Museum in San Francisco is now open Thurs-Sun with advanced ticketing. We have details here.
- California Academy of Sciences reopened. More details and ticket information here.
- deYoung Museum is open to the public. More info here.
- SFMOMA is with advance ticket purchase only (kids are free). See the hours here.
- Bay Area Discovery Museum is open. Advance tickets required. Great for a day trip.
- Oakland Aviation Museum is fully open. Learn more here.
- Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco is recently reopened for Saturday and Sunday hours. The carousel outside the museum is open then, too.
- Lindsay Wildlife Museum is open indoors and has special programming outdoors.
- Lawrence Hall of Science is offering outdoor hands-on exhibitions Friday-Sunday throughout the summer.
Open with a variety of social distancing solutions, some requiring reservations.
- Stone Fruit like peaches, nectarines, and apricots (mostly in Brentwood)
- Strawberries in Brentwood’s Farm District
- Cherries in Brentwood
- Berkeley Public Libraries offer limited hours for indoor browsing for the Central, North, and West branches. You can currently check out books for outside pickup at any of the five libraries. More info here.
- Contra Costa Public Libraries are allowing visitors to enter and browse without time limits, including El Cerrito and Kensington.
- Oakland Public Library has broadly expanded its hours for indoor use.
Family Entertainment Centers
- Boomers in Livermore is fully reopened, masks required.
- Golfland in Castro Valley and other mini-golf venues are open.
- Lost Worlds is open 7 days per week for indoor play, laser tag, and more. Learn about it here.
- Trampoline Parks Rockin’ Jump in Fremont, Dublin, and Concord (formerly Sky High) are fully open.
- Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda is open with mask requirements for all guests.
Pottery Painting venues
- Brushstrokes Studio is open with limited seating. Make a reservation before you go.
- Color Me Mine in Alameda is open.
- Children’s Fairyland is open 7 days a week, including puppet shows and rides.
- Skystar Observation Wheel in Golden Gate Park is open. Amazing views of San Francisco. More info here.
- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo is open, masks optional for vaccinated guests.
- Great America is open, along with the onsite water park.
- Santa Cruz boardwalk is now open, reservations recommended. Learn more >
- Bigger amusement parks, including Disneyland, are open. Get all the Bay Area amusement park reopening details here.
- Tilden Farm Steam Trains are open and running on weekdays. Advance tickets not required.
- Niles Canyon Railway is running steam train rides. Buy tickets in advance.
- TrainTown in Sonoma is open. This is a fun day trip.
- Oakland A’s are selling single-game tickets to home games at the Oakland Arena and all offerings are open, but the stadium is now cashless. You may order concessions via a mobile app. Masks are required for unvaccinated fans.
- Oakland Roots Soccer Club has resumed hosting fans at home games.
- San Jose Spiders Ultimate Disc play in Oakland. Home games at Oakland Tech High School include a kids’ zone.
- Giants Stadium is currently offering a “fully vaccinated” section, in which fully vaccinated fans may sit in a non-distanced manner with other fans. Kids between 2 and 12 may participate with proof of a negative COVID test. Toddlers under 2 may join without a test. Beginning June 25, guests may choose from Full Capacity or Socially Distanced sections. July 23, the stadium will resume full capacity. Get the details >
Openings In The Near-Future
- Great Wolf Lodge, the indoor waterpark/hotel is taking reservations for mid-June onward.
- Alameda County Fair announced they will do their traditional annual fair in October.
Where to play and what to do with kids during social distancing
Outside places to play
If the weather is pleasant, playing outside is a terrific option when you need to get out of the house. The more natural and distant from one another, the better! We have many suggestions about where to play outside with kids locally; you will have to take some of those suggestions with a grain of salt (and a packet of sanitizing wipes).
Stay home with your family
We have baking projects and silly activities to do in the house. Not to mention all that TV! Here’s more to do when you’re stuck at home with kids >
Local COVID-19 information resources
Local health officials are loosening restrictions and counties across the Bay Area are starting to open up because of increased vaccinations and reduced spread. The economy is back open in California.
Find the most current information through the City and County departments of health: