We got a chance to talk with Kelinda Shintell Gastinell-Crenshaw, founder of the Kids Play Zone, opening soon in Oakland. She shares her favorite spots around the Bay Area. Kids Play Zone will be a small, family-owned and operated indoor playground and party venue in West Oakland. Kelinda lives in Oakland with her wonderful husband David and two sons, Camron (10) and Caleb (8).
Where is home in the East Bay?
Home is in Oakland. We moved from San Francisco seven years ago, and I love it. The weather and food are my absolute favorite, oh, and I can't forget the many trails and parks!
Tell us about Kids Play Zone, how you dreamed up this business and what it will include
Oh Boy! Kids Play Zone has been a dream of mine for the last seven years starting around when we moved to Oakland. I am a party planner, a DIYer, and everything in between.
I always loved planning my kids parties and making everything so fun. I enjoyed picking new locations to host their parties. I started offering my services to family and friends to plan their kids parties and figure out ways to make each event feel personalized and special.
When we moved to Oakland I never found exactly the kind of party place I wanted, so I thought maybe I should open my own play space, and that's when KPZ was created. Kids Play Zone play space will include indoor slides, ball pit, tunnels, bridges, climbing structures, spinning plates, a log rocker, kiddie imagination city room, and a totally customizable party space. We are dedicated to bringing a clean, fun and safe environment for all families. for ages 10 months to 10 years.
It took me nearly four years to get it going, but we are so close to opening, and I can't hardly wait. I am super excited to bring Kids Play Zone to Oakland! I have so many ideas and aspirations that I truly hope that everyone would love and appreciate.
Favorite East Bay parks and outdoor activities?
I was never the “let's go hiking/trail walking” type, I do not like bugs by far! Now that we live in Oakland, I love it. I LOVE walking trails with my family. It's something I look forward to during the summer months. Leona Lodge is a nice local spot to walk. My favorite is Little Yosemite, they have some pretty beautiful views plus it feels like your really out in the wilderness somewhere far away!
When I can't get to a trail I enjoy walking in my neighborhood, walking the lake or walking the hills of Oakland. I really enjoy driving around Oakland to just look at the houses and the structures of them and walking different neighborhoods meeting new people.
Any favorite classes or kid programs?
As my kids get older, there are fewer activities for them. I really enjoy programs that bring community members together like what my goal is for Kids Play Zone. We have enjoyed programs like mommy and me (especially when my kids were babies); singing and dancing classes; classes where you can make cool stuff to hang on the fridge or car window. My kids still like to make crafts, so I have tons of handmade items from my boys.
Favorite places for carry-out dinner around town?
I love me some Oakland food, but my husband, David, is an awesome chef who cooks the best home meals. We are really health-conscious and when we do go out, we like:
- Fruitvale's Lucky Three Seven has the best spicy chicken. We order the G-Fire wings, and my kids are spicy food babies, so they love their wings.
- We love Taqueria El Farolito at International Blvd and 36th Ave for Mexican food.
- I am originally from Louisiana and love Southern Comfort Kitchen in Castro Valley at 3571 Castro Valley Blvd.
- Last, Lena's Soul Food Cafe is another favorite – I think we ate here every week when we first moved to Oakland.
We thank Kelinda for sharing her favorites with us today and we are also super excited to see our kids play in her new space!
[All photos provided by Kelinda Shintell Gastinell-Crenshaw and used with permission]