The diverse and friendly city of Fremont, just a half-hour drive from Oakland, has quickly become one of our go-to spots for laid-back but adventurous escapes with the kids. With an eclectic mix of history, scenic trails, quarry lakes, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, shops, and multicultural restaurants, Fremont definitely gives us a chance to eat, play, and explore in a variety of ways. Whether we have a few hours or an entire day, we can enjoy the Fremont experience on wheels, on foot, by boat, or under a camping tent.
Amazing Parks, Playgrounds, and Outdoor Adventures in Fremont
For a one-stop-shop experience of Fremont, Central Park is the way to go. This 450-acre park has four playgrounds including the renowned Always Dream Play Park. It is ideal for humans and dogs of all ages to walk, bike, relax, scooter, people watch, picnic, play, and enjoy water activities at Lake Elizabeth. We have easily spent several hours here. See why else we love Fremont’s Central Park.
Location: 40000 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont
Aqua Adventure Water Park
The Aqua Adventure Water Park is open during the summer months. This moderately-sized water park is fun for everyone. With fast slides for older kids, play areas for small kids, and a lazy river for the whole family, we love it.
Location: 40500 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont
Irvington Community Park
Irvington Community Park features two playgrounds for different age groups, a picnic area, basketball courts, a walking path, plenty of free parking, and restrooms on-site. The smaller toddler structure also has a lot of musical instrument toys including a colorful xylophone. The ground is padded with the rubber-like squishy material for safety (no bark or sand in the shoes!). My kids spent an hour on the playground, made a friend, and spent another half hour chasing each other on the large grassy field.
Location: 41885 Blacow Road, Fremont
Lila Bringhurst Community Park
The Lila Bringhurst Community Park, located in Fremont’s new Innovation District, is open to the public on weekends and non-school hours during the week. The park features a big and small play area (no swings), restrooms, half-court basketball courts, benches, and lots of space to practice/play sports. We enjoyed a Saturday morning (unsuccessfully) shooting hoops together, watching the kids maneuver through yet another play structure, and strolling through the neighborhood. Street parking is available.
Location: 45051 Wisdom Way, Fremont
Ardenwood Historic Farm
Ardenwood Historic Farm is perfect for children and adults who love animals and want a first-hand farm experience. With park programs featuring different animals every week and special events happening throughout the changing seasons, each visit to Ardenwood proves to be a new experience. My children love the train ride through the Monarch Butterfly Grove, and we think making crafts during the holidays are especially magical.
Location: 34600 Ardenwood Blvd. Fremont
Fremont’s Charming Niles District & Niles Canyon Railway
The bike, stroller, dog, and people-friendly Niles District of Fremont is a town within a town. The little old railroad town of Niles still offers popular train rides at its historic Niles Canyon Railway; the Niles Canyon Train of Lights during the holidays is especially popular. The century-old brick buildings and classic cars parked along the street give you that true small-town America vibe.
You can take fun photos, stroll down the tree-lined streets, support small antique shops, dine at the charming eateries, indulge in some high tea, and play together at the Niles Community Park. Other places we enjoy while visiting the historic railroad district include the Silent Film Museum (popcorn for $1 to enjoy during film screenings), Alameda Creek Regional Trail, Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum, and the new California Historical Nursery Park. Parking lot and street parking are available.
The Fremont Niles Farmers Market is Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. We visited this market right at opening for the unique donuts from Dough Wei Me (well worth it!). Good selection of produce, plants, and hot food for purchase. We grabbed some Mexican food from here before heading to the quarry lake.
Free parking lot near the train station, which the kids love.
Location of Niles Train Depot & Farmers Market: 37592 Niles Boulevard, Fremont
See more about our day trip to Niles Canyon Railway >>
More East Bay Farmers Markets >>
More Bay Area Trains >>
Niles Beach at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area
This quiet recreational area is perfect for a peaceful walk with beautiful scenery, a bike ride on paved paths, a game of volleyball in the sand, and a picnic with the family. Watercraft, not gas-powered, may also be used in the lake. Though there are no playgrounds on the premise, kids can get in the water under adult supervision. If you plan to get wet, bring towels and extra clothes. These waters are shared with ducks, geese, and other birds so not the cleanest (my daughter was not having it, but my son couldn’t get enough of it). Parking is $5, and restrooms and picnic benches are also onsite.
Location: 2100 Isherwood Way, Fremont
Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge
One of my favorite places in Fremont for a relaxing walk with some splendid views of the mountains, sparkling water quarries, and Dumbarton Bridge. It is a good place to bring the kids (though the relaxing part of your journey will be over). My children enjoy running across the bridges and getting a close look at the birds and ducks. Plus we enjoy learning about the conservation of plants and wildlife. Though the paths are not paved, it is still walkable. There are plenty of benches for snack time and rest time along the way. Parking is free on site, and restrooms are open.
Location: 2 Marshlands Road, Fremont
Coyote Hills Regional Park
The popular Coyote Hills offers a range of trails with flat terrains, making it ideal for families to walk or bike ride while enjoying the bridge views, new blooms, wildlife, and a stunning sunset. Since it gets windy along the water, dress in layers. Parking in the lot is $5, and $2 for dogs. You can also camp nearby at the Dumbarton Quarry Campgrounds.
Location: 8000 Patterson Ranch Road, Fremont
Mission Peak Regional Preserve
Mission Peak is the most popular but challenging trail in Fremont. Families and children of all ages come here but may not make it to the top. Nonetheless, the views are still worth the hike no matter where you stop — on clear days you can see right across the Bay! Parking lot and parking in surrounding neighborhoods are both available.
Location: 43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont
Pro Tip: Spending time outdoors in Fremont is refreshing, but it gets hot and tiring (on sunny days)! Remember to wear comfortable shoes, bring water and snacks, and have plenty of sun protection since the shade is limited in open areas.
Where to Play Inside with the Kids in Fremont
Big Play at KidTopia Indoor Play Center
KidTopia is the East Bay’s largest indoor playground and it is HUGE. The staff is kind and focused on cleanliness, which we definitely appreciate. Here, kids have a multitude of ways to challenge their endurance and imagination with lots of crawling, running, and climbing space. My son especially loved the ball pit and my daughter went into a frenzy through the padded obstacle course. It was a struggle getting them out of here, which means they had the time of their life.
Location: 4620 Auto Mall Parkway, Fremont | 510.573.1763
Active Play at Rockin’ Jump Indoor Trampoline Park
This indoor trampoline park offers a space for your family to soar to new heights with open jumping areas, trampoline dodgeball, a slam dunk zone, and more. If you have young toddlers like myself, you can breathe (a little) easier knowing they have special Rockin’ Tots hours dedicated to kids up to 6 years old. Free parking on-site and food available in the venue.
Location: 39177 Farwell Drive, Fremont | 510.246.3098
Find special deals and hours on the website >
Skate Around at Solar 4 America Ice
Dropping in at the ice rink to learn how to ice skate is a fun family activity. This indoor rink is available year-round so you don’t need to wait for the holiday season. Ice-skating and hockey lessons are available. Or if you already have a pro on your hands, there are drop-in times available, too.
Location: 44388 Old Warm Springs Blvd., Fremont | 510.623.7200
Soft Play at Gymboree Play & Music
Fremont’s Gymboree offers practical classes for infants up to 5 years old. The curriculum is ever-changing and is designed to help little ones develop cognitive and social skills.
Location: 220 Fremont Hub Courtyard, Fremont | 510.739.6150
Learn more about their classes on their website.
More Favorite Fremont Places to Go With Kids
My family lives in Oakland but loves Fremont and we spend a lot of time there. Here are a few more places we like to go with our kids:
- Crippsmas Place at Christmastime | Cripps Place, Fremont | If you are in Fremont during the holiday season, be sure to check out Crippsmas Place, a cheerful Fremont neighborhood light display since 1967.
- Fremont Irvington Farmers Market | 4039 Bay Street, Fremont | Sundays 9 am-2 pm | This large farmers’ market is popular among the locals as well as patrons from neighboring cities. Their selection of organic produce, Asian foods, fresh bread, and eggs are among the favorites here. Parking is available nearby.
- Children’s Natural History Museum | 4074 Eggers Drive, Fremont | Many exhibits are interactive and children are encouraged to touch and explore the exhibits that are marked for “activity.” The best days to visit are event days, with an ever-changing set of activities. Visit the museum website to learn more
- Mission San Jose | 43300 Mission Boulevard, Fremont | For history buffs, the Mission San Jose offers tours of the historic Spanish mission, and it is free for children 6 and under! A visit includes a tour of the museum, an outdoor patio, and more. Learn more about booking a tour.
- Pacific Commons Shopping Center | 43440 Boscell Road, Fremont | A large outdoor shopping complex with a variety of retail favorites, kid-friendly eateries, a movie theater, and last but not least, a Krispy Kreme! Check out the directory of stores and restaurants at Pacific Commons.
Activities & Events Coming Soon
Saturday, October 1, 20223:00 pm - 3:30 pm: Animal Feeding at the Farm @ Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont
Sunday, October 2, 202210:20 am - 3:00 pm: Train Rides Around Ardenwood Farm @ Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont
3:00 pm - 3:30 pm: Animal Feeding at the Farm @ Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont
Thursday, October 6, 202210:20 am - 3:00 pm: Train Rides Around Ardenwood Farm @ Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont
Things to do with Kids Near Fremont
If you’re spending time in Fremont, you’re already so close to these other great places our family loves. You can always check out things to do with kids in Hayward as well.
- Sunol Regional Wilderness | 1895 Geary Road, Sunol | Little Yosemite and the Sunol Regional Wilderness offer scenic trails with beautiful waterfalls, wading areas, and rock-throwing opportunities in the creek (which is a must for my two-year-old).
- Bumblebee PlaySpace | 35500 Dumbarton Ct, Newark | 510.894.0442 | This indoor play area is designed for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with an art area, music area, face painting, sensory table, and their highly favored water playroom. Check their website for hours and private playtime.
- Jolly Roger Land | 31300 Courthouse Drive, Union City | 510.362.7996 | Jolly Roger Land is a massive indoor play area that offers every activity a kid 12 and under could ask for – from shooting cannonballs and jumping on trampolines to crawling through tunnels and diving in ball pits. Website >
- Pump it Up | 2995 Whipple Road, Union City | 510.477.9663 | Pump it Up offers open jumping, sliding, and interactive play for families, as well as Sensory Jump for families with children on the spectrum. Check their events schedule to see what works for you.
- Charles F Kennedy Park | 1333 Decoto Road, Union City | A cute playground including swings and slides, plenty of space to run, a unique play structure mimicking the Golden Gate Bridge, picnic benches, restrooms, and free parking. The frequent BART trains whooshing by is also an added bonus.
- Newark Community Center Park | 35501 Cedar Boulevard, Newark | A colorful playground with lots of grassy space to run, play, and picnic. Dog park, basketball courts, free parking, and restrooms are all onsite.
Dining with the Kids in Fremont
No matter where you are in Fremont, you are destined to come across a fast-food chain, sit-down restaurant, or take-out counter. Here are just a few eateries we like to visit when we are in the area:
- Sala Thai | 3241 Walnut Avenue, Fremont | My family votes Sala Thai hands down the tastiest Thai food in the Bay Area. They’re so well-liked that they’ve opened two additional Fremont locations (Sala Thai 2 and Sala Thai 3).
- Bronco Billy’s Pizza | 37651 Niles Boulevard, Fremont| Their signature secret sauce that makes their pizzas extra delicious. We love to stop at Bronco Billy’s when we’re visiting the Niles District.
- Taste of India | 5144 Mowry Avenue, Fremont | They have outstanding Indian food and their great buffet is the best kid-friendly value we’ve found.
- Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar | 3100 Newpark Mall, Newark | Lazy Dog is a dog-friendly restaurant (big draw for us) with a wide variety of tasty foods to choose from for adults, kids, and yes, even dogs. They also serve retro TV-dinner-style meals to go and have a large beer list.
- Chuck E Cheese | 39839 Mowry School Road, Newark | Combine playtime and pizza time with the kids. Be sure to check out their weekly deals and special events.
- Bun Appétit Donuts | 37120 Fremont Boulevard, Fremont | Since no post of mine is complete without a mention of donuts, here is my Fremont favorite. They feature fresh, handcrafted donuts, pastries, and toasts made with high-quality ingredients every day. I love to get chocolate- and vanilla-cream-filled donuts on each visit.
When I was younger, I used to drive by Fremont and point out MC Hammer’s lone mansion in the hills. Now, it is a place I create adventurous memories with my children (Can’t touch this!). Fremont continues to expand its family-friendly spaces throughout the city with an abundant dining scene to ensure no one goes hungry after bouncing around in playhouses and walking those trails.
Do you have a favorite spot in Fremont that we may have missed on our sizeable list? Tell us all about it!
[Additional reporting by Anna Azimi, Sarah Lee, and Jessica Manrique. All photos used with permission]