When we’re looking for a change of scenery, we like to explore the “La” in “Lamorinda.” Here are some of my favorite places to go with little kids and their accompanying grown-ups (including favorite places to eat!) in Lafayette, CA. Lafayette is about 15 minutes from Oakland or only two BART stops past Rockridge.
Take a hike/stroll or ride bikes around Lafayette
Lafayette has some great family adventures to keep us active. Here are three of our favorites that are both kid-friendly and dog-friendly (for all you fellow “fur baby parents”).
Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail
Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail is a great place for a leisurely walk and for kids learning how to ride their bikes or scooters. While the full length of the trail is 7.65 miles long, for younger kids we start at the Olympic Blvd Staging Area for a mile or two — where the trail is flat and wide — and then turn back around just before we get too tired. There are lots of little surprises along the way.
- Hours: 5 am-10 pm
- Parking: free
- Dogs: allowed on leash
0.5 miles in you’ll spot a yard with chicken coops and an egg box where we can sometimes pick up fresh eggs. We’ve never seen the egg box full, but it’s still fun to take a peek inside.
0.7 miles in you’ll find trees laden with colorful birdhouses left by locals. It’s a great photo op spot and quite magical.
Pro Tip: Help the kids make birdhouses in advance to add to the colorful collection. We sign our name on our contribution so we can spot it on future trips.
Lafayette Ridge Staging Area at Briones Regional Park
For a more strenuous hike with great views and cow sightings, we like Lafayette Ridge Staging Area at Briones Regional Park.
Briones Regional Park has many trailheads — the Lafayette Ridge Staging Area is accessible off of Pleasant Hill Road and free to enter. We like this hike for older kids (5+) unless you have younger kids in a hiking carrier and you want to work out your glutes. The trail starts off on an incline. We typically explore for a mile or two, watch some cows, and then turn around— but the trail continues on through hilly ridges with many scenic views.
- Hours: 8 am to sunset
- Parking: free
- Dogs: allowed off-leash except for designated areas with signage, within 200 feet of any trail or park entrance, and in the parking lot
Parent Tips for visiting Lafayette Ridge Staging Area:
- There is limited shade. Try for early walks or go on days that aren’t deathly hot.
- Look out for cowpies! Really, there are a lot.
- Bring water.
- Stay out of the way of grazing cattle — they roam the area and will often go on the trails. Don’t touch or feed them.
- Look out for ticks, snakes, and possibly larger wildlife like coyotes.
Lafayette Reservoir is another popular spot that’s a favorite with a paved 2.7-mile stroller-friendly loop (be warned: there are a few steep hills). We also love that it offers many other ways to get kids to release all that energy — such as boating, picnicking, biking, and two separate playgrounds for tots and older kids.
Note: EBMUD’s website states that there is “harmful algae” present in the Lafayette Reservoir. This shouldn’t impact picnicking, biking, and hiking activities, but you may want to consider staying away from boating activities with kids and pets until the algae clear up. Eager to get on a boat in the meantime? Check out Lake Chabot or Lake Merritt Boating Center.
Go on a picnic with some good eats around Lafayette
Lafayette Plaza Park is the perfect pairing of a large grassy lawn with delicious food options. Our kid loves running across the lawn and climbing the rock walls— even when we tell her not to.
Love fried chicken or want brunch? Go with local-favorite, Sideboard, for their buckets of fried chicken. We salivate over the croissants and pastries from La Châtaigne located in the La Fiesta Square across the street. Their pastries are divine. While they often have a line on weekends, it tends to move quickly.
- Parking: metered spots are $1.00 an hour
- Dogs: leashed dogs allowed on the lawn
Parent Tips for visiting Lafayette Plaza Park:
- A few times we’ve gone, the lawn was slightly wet and we’re happy we packed a water-resistant picnic mat.
- On sunny days, a lawn umbrella is useful to get some extra shade.
- Tell Sideboard that you are getting to-go and eating on the lawn, they can bring your to-go order to you on the lawn.
Local Kitchens, Lafayette
For the family where everyone seems to want something different, try Local Kitchens. This pick-up spot offers a variety of SF-based food items (like Senor Sisig burritos). Use the code NEW10 for $10 off your first order.
Headlands Brewing Company & Beer Garden, Lafayette
For outdoor dining, we love Headlands Brewing Company (which soft-opened in early June 2021) and its kid-friendly beer garden. This new spot has a large turf area with low benches that make it a good kid-friendly area where parents can relax with a cold beer or frozé. Soft serve and pink lemonade slushies are available for the kids. Dogs are also welcome. Headlands sells some sausage-heavy food items and allows you to bring in food from off-site at this time. We like to walk over to Local Kitchens to pick up food to pair with our drinks.
Location: Headlands, 3420 Mt Diablo Blvd, Ste A, Lafayette, CA
Treat that sweet tooth
When our kid has been really good, we head to Zoonie’s Candy Shop. We have a blast browsing through the nostalgic candy items (remember when Warheads or candy cigarettes were a thing?). There is even a section where we can watch kid-friendly movies from old-school movie theater chairs.
Location: Zoonie’s, 3591 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette
Grab an empty bucket at either entrance. Be warned that the buckets of candy are kid height — we think that was on purpose and quite genius on their part. Candy in the baskets is priced by weight at $13.99/lb.
Tip: Kids love the fountain at the front of Zoonie’s and the Lafayette Merchantile tiles at the backdoor entrance make for great photo ops.
Cupcakes more your jam? Grab a few at Susiecakes — a chain bakery with an almost cult-like following to some Bay Area folk. Its Lafayette location is Susiecakes’ only East Bay location.
Location: Susiecakes, 3598 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Lafayette, CA
While one of these activities alone may not be worth the drive through the Caldecott Tunnel, we always have an amazing day with a mix-and-match of an “active” activity and a “food-centric” one. This way the calories don’t count — right?
Where else do you love to go with kids in Lafayette?