Gilman District in Berkeley for families
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Gilman District in Berkeley with Kids

Kids skating at the Berkeley Skate Park in the Gilman District
The Gilman District has much to offer for families | Photo: Elia G. on Yelp

Known as the Gilman District in Berkeley, the neighborhood around Gilman Street between the freeway and San Pablo Avenue has exploded over the past few years in terms of awesomeness for families with lots of great places to eat, shop, and play. Here is our list of the best things to do with kids in the Gilman District, organized roughly from West to East in each category.

Where to play in the Gilman District:

Kid at Golden Gate Fields racetrack in Berkeley
Watch the horses race over a beautiful view of the Berkeley Hills at Golden Gate Fields | Photo: Lindsay B. on Yelp
  1. Golden Gate Fields. Past the freeway and by the water is Berkeley’s very own horse racing track. Children under 17 are free with a paying adult.
  2. Soccer fields. From Harrison near the skate park all the way back to University Village, your soccer-playing and baseball-playing child may have many practices and games here. I’m at these fields (Fielding Field and Gabe Catalfo) five times each week during the spring season. Yay.
Kids playing soccer at Albany Berkeley Soccer Club
My view of the Gilman District: the soccer fields | Photo: Alex Chiappetta
  1. Skate park. Watch the cool kids on skateboards, scooters, and other wheels do tricks at 5th St and Harrison. I like the people-watching, but if you want to ride, read the rules and bring a helmet.
  2. University Village. You need not be a resident of this little town-within-a-town to take advantage of the recreation programs for kids through Cal. Classes include gymnastics, skateboarding, soccer, and lots more.
Parent and baby at the park in University Village
University Village also has a great park to check out | Photo: Michael S. on Yelp
  1. Ashkenaz. Not every performance at this Berkeley club on San Pablo Ave is kid-friendly, but the ones that are really rock the house. Check their calendar for family-friendly concerts.
  2. Brushstrokes. This local art studio located two blocks south of Gilman St offers all sorts of family fun in the form of classes, workshops, birthday parties, and more for all ages to enjoy, and even bring a ceramic keepsake home!

Where to eat near Gilman in Berkeley:

chicken and waffles from lama beans cafe in berkeley gilman district
Chicken and waffles is not the only mouthwatering dish that Lama Beans Cafe offers | Photo: Kyle B. on Yelp
  1. Lama Beans. They didn’t invent breakfast for dinner, but they perfected it. Silver dollar-style pancakes that could be gobbled up by a full-grown adult in about four minutes and by a teenager in two. Lots of other healthy choices, too. (6th and Gilman)
  2. Picante. Popular Berkeley Mexican food. We love to eat in on a weekend night with a cold mojito in hand for the grown-ups, and the back patio is a family favorite. (On 6th Street, just south of Gilman)
  3. KC’s BBQ. If you’re craving some amazing ribs, KC’s has got you covered with some of the most authentic artisan barbecue and Southern comfort food around. Plus the decor is super cute. (San Pablo and Gilman)
Inside dining at KC's BBQ in Berkeley
Beautiful dining for some beautiful barbecue | Photo: DC on Yelp
  1. Fieldwork Brewing Co. Stuck at the Harrison St ballfields? Head on over to Fieldwork Brewing during practice or a game for a $3 sampler each week until you’ve tasted their whole selection! (6th and Harrison)
  2. Chipotle. Tucked in near REI, get your child a kids’ meal that has real fresh ingredients. Too much cilantro, but nobody’s perfect. (San Pablo and Gilman)

Where to shop in the Gilman District:

View of Whole Foods Market on Gilman in Berkeley from the outside
Whole foods on Gilman is huge and brimming with fresh foods | Photo: Jana C. on Yelp
  1. Whole Foods Gilman. Check out the special features like shrug bar, wholesome convenience foods, and the on-staff cheese masters. (10th and Gilman)
  2. North Face Outlet. Buy your next fleece in a frenetic deep-discount house of irregulars and out-of-season parkas. (On 5th between Harrison and Gilman)
Mom and baby shopping at REI in Berkeley
Browsing (or hiking!) through the aisles of REI in Berkeley | Photo: Denis A. on Yelp
  1. REI. Get your outdoor gear in an enormous showroom with tents and bikes that will entertain little ones for hours. (San Pablo and Gilman)
  2. Tokyo Fish Market. Fresh sushi-grade fish and lots more makes Tokyo Fish Market a neighborhood favorite. Plus, a gift shop with all sorts of goodies to treat your kid to! Be prepared to order when it is your turn, or else. (On San Pablo between Gilman and Harrison)

Did I skip your favorite? Where do you love to go in Berkeley’s Gilman District?

[All photos by team (unless otherwise specified); all rights reserved]

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10 thoughts on “Gilman District in Berkeley with Kids”

  1. Lisa, I almost took my 8- and 9-year olds there today! I think they have great kid burgers and lots of space with plenty of ambient noise to drown out kid sounds. A+

  2. Secret? You can get a free cookie for your kids at Whole Foods when you buy at least $50 worth of stuff. Might want to double check but we do it all the time with our twins! 🙂

  3. Don’t forget to mention to prospective parent residents about Pacific Steel Casting, whose toxic fumes their children will be breathing in the “Gilman District”.

  4. Gilman Street goes all the way up to Hopkins Street, and if you continue up, you will find the Beergarden, Berkeley Bagels, and Berkeley Natural Foods…..or is that Westbrae?

  5. @Elayne, We were bounding our Gilman District Guide to the part of the street between San Pablo and the water but totally agree that Gilman further East is awesome for families!

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