Exploring Oakland's Jack London Square with Kids - 510 Families
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Exploring Oakland’s Jack London Square with Kids

The picturesque Jack London Square is a great place to bring the kids any day of the week for food, fun, play, sightseeing, and special events.

Scooting down the main strip of Jack London Square – filled with restaurants with harbor views. | PC: Anna Azimi

Also known as Oakland’s Warehouse District, this landmark boasts spectacular views of the Bay, along a beautiful sophisticated waterfront with restaurants, shops, coffee roasters, and even wine rooms for those lucky adults who have a designated child supervisor.

Walkways are stroller-friendly, with plenty of benches along the way to take a break. There are a few public restrooms, mostly near the parking garages (sometimes the businesses in the area will let you use theirs as well). Metered street parking at Jack London Square is much easier to find on weekday mornings. Weekends do get crowded, but there are a number of public parking lots if you don’t want to circle around.

Jack London Square
Sunny days with the family at JLS are always a pleasure. | Photo: Parul Patel

We especially enjoy visiting during sunny days to stroll the marina and sprawl out in the grassy area, or lounge on the oversized chairs.

Oakland Jack London Square
If you can’t join them on the ferry, you can watch them from these oversized chairs at JLS. | PC: Parul Patel

Another bonus when bringing the kids to Jack London Square is its open space to scooter freely. We always bring scooters to roll from our car to a restaurant or through the Farmers Market. The cobblestone surface can get a little bumpy and uneven in places, so be cautious. There are no cars along the waterfront — except for those registering at the hotels — so we only need to watch out for fellow pedestrians, which on weekends can get tricky with speedy kids. Look out!

Jack London Square
Jack London Square offers shopping, dining, and scooting options. | PC: Parul Patel

The nearby Brooklyn Basin is also a great spot for kids to scooter.

Things to do with kids at Jack London Square

  • Watch a Movie – See the latest films at Regal Cinemas. Stop for ice cream or coffee after to make the most of it.
  • Bowl at Plank – An adult arcade with a hipster vibe that your kids will love as much as you. Bowling, bocce ball courts, too many games, outdoor seating with beer, and plenty of kid-friendly finger foods. Read our full review of Plank with kids >
  • Play on the Play Structure – Find the small, hidden climbing apparatus just outside of Plank. There’s a grassy area just in front of it if you want to bring a blanket to chill out.
  • Stroll the Sunday Farmers Market – Every Sunday visit the market for local food and finds. Visit the Kids’ Corner for crafts and fun for the whole family.
  • Hop on a Ferry – Explore the City by the Bay with a half-hour ride along the water. Tickets are sold on a first come first serve basis, but weekday mornings around 10 am don’t seem to have excessive lines. Children 5 and under ride FREE!
  • Sprawl out – Bring a blanket, food, and your camera to enjoy the views of the marina as you lay in the grass.
  • Watch for Trains – My kids still get a kick out of waving to the trains as they roll by. Get up close and personal as the train gates go up and down, but be prepared, you’re so close, it can get really loud.
Waving to the many trains that pass through Jack London Square hourly. | PC: Anna Azimi

Places for families to eat at Jack London Square

  • Forge Pizza – Wood-fired pizza with a perfect people-watching view. Outdoor seating makes it a great place to bring busy toddlers.
  • Home of Chicken and Waffles – Features a homey feel inside the restaurant and a tasty selection of food and drinks along with a fun little kids menu.
  • Farmhouse Thai – If your family loves Thai food, like mine, you’ll certainly enjoy the bold flavors at this restaurant. The ambiance is nice, a kids’ menu is available, and fur babies are also welcome in the patio area.

Bonus: Just outside of the Square, you can find Nido’s Backyard with an enormous patio and lots of tasty Mexican-inspired food. I also really like Chop Bar for older kids. The sidewalk dining area is little but I always see families enjoying it.

Home of Chicken Waffle Oakland
Home of Chicken and Waffles at JLS offers a nice selection for families. | PC: Parul Patel
Looking for boats, ferries, and birds at Jack London Square | PC: Anna Azimi

Sips and sweet treats at Oakland’s waterfront

  • Ben & Jerry’s – Funky ice cream flavors with catchy names. Chunky Monkey is always a crowd favorite.
  • Bicycle Coffee – Grab a cup just a few blocks off of Jack London Square. There’s a cute kids’ table with a few building toys to keep busy. 364 2nd St. @ Webster.
  • Waterfront Café and Bar – If you come early, this is a great place for a quick pick- me-up cup of coffee, or to grab some snacks and pastries.
  • Timeless Coffee and Bakery – Opening summer. Visitors can expect the same quality taste in coffee and pastries as their other locations in the (510).
Small play structure outside of Plank. | PC: Anna Azimi

Special Events at JLS

  • Waterfront Flicks – Enjoy a weekly free film on the Jack London Square Ferry Lawn. Summer from June to September, starting at sundown. [Find all the outdoor summer movies]
  • Summer Concerts – The summer music series runs until August and kicks off every Friday evening along Restaurant Row (near Forge).
  • Weekly Farmers Market and Water St. Makers Market on Sundays [Check out more of our favorite East Bay Farmers Markets]
  • DogFest October 2022– This heartwarming event for the entire family helps raise funds and awareness for Canine Companions.
  • Seasonal Events – Halloween at Jack London Square is always a fun treat for the little ones, and the tree lighting is a popular annual ceremony that provides a memorable experience for the whole family.
  • Find more events at Jack London Square >
Oakland Jack London Square
If you don’t make it to an A’s game, you can still grab a photo with Stomper at JLS | PC: Parul Patel

What is your favorite thing to see or do with the kids in Jack London Square? Let us know so we can add it to our list.

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