In North Berkeley, most commerce takes place on Upper Shattuck Avenue or Solano Avenue where the stores and restaurants are plentiful, but Martin Luther King Jr Way, right around Rose Street is becoming its own mecca for parents. With a handful of independent family-friendly businesses all in a row, we love this little chunk of Berkeley.
Let’s take a tour, heading North past University Ave, on Martin Luther King Jr Way.
Mr. Mopps Children’s Books
This tiny slice of the building that houses multiple storefronts has a bright yellow facade and shelves packed with children’s books, carefully curated by passionate, book-loving staffers. Because the same owners have a toy store a few doors down, the bookshop is truly focused on books. It’s a sweet, kid-sized shopping experience.
1417 A MLK JR Way
Offering music therapy to children and families who are dealing with emotional or behavioral issues, this little space is filled with instruments, large and small. It is not a drop-in or class-based facility for the general public, but surely the clients who seek this treatment modality benefit from the location of the office.
1415 MLK JR Way
Drop-in classes, session-based classes, and birthday parties at Hands-On! are opportunities for kids as young as two years old to get involved with science, art, and engineering-inspired activities. Age-appropriate experiments and projects are available every day. Founder and teacher Tracy Hollander will guide kids through making bubble solution, slime, or building a robotics-powered toy.
1411 MLK JR Way
Spokes Bike Lounge
This family-owned bike shop is dedicated to finding the right bike for each person, from baby-seat riding toddlers to road bike enthusiasts. They fit and consult with parents on kids bikes and learning to ride. And, they host monthly Learn-To-Ride events on the blacktop at nearby King Middle School. They bring bikes, helmets, and help kids ride without training wheels. Further, Spokes has a bike upcycling program to help families trade in bikes for larger sizes as kids grow.
1409 MLK JR Way
Mr. Mopps Toy Shop
The biggest spot on this strip is an independent toy store, Mr. Mopps, where kids and parents can browse forever. Filled with toys running the spectrum from innovative to quirky to nostalgic (think rubik’s cubes and playmobil sets), Mr. Mopps makes buying birthday gifts a pleasure. Pro tip: When you’re in the store, look up! Some special merchandise is only featured on the very top shelves!
1405 MLK Jr Way
An old-school coffee shop, established before that term meant purveyor of Venti-sized mochas, Fatapples is known for its attached bakery and pie selection, in addition to standard American diner fare. A complete menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, means you can sit down and indulge in a full meal, or just walk in the bakery door and walk out with a scone or chocolate chip cookie. Don’t worry, the menu is current and the veggies are fresh. The Apple Salad, starring bacon, avocado, and blue cheese, is my fave.
1346 MLK Jr Way
Other kid-friendly destinations near MLK Jr Way in North Berkeley
King Middle School and Edible Schoolyard
We love the middle school for exploring on the weekends. The Edible Schoolyard is free, open, and home to a diversity of edible plants, pathways, and chickens! The blacktop is great for new bikers and the little park on the backside of the school has playgrounds and grass.
Ohlone Park Playground
The park runs along a stretch of Hearst Ave with a couple of playgrounds and a dog park scattered within it. Pro tip: Parents who are new to managing an infant and a toddler at the same time will be happy to settle in at the fenced-in tot park at Bonita and Hearst. Look for parking on Bonita.
A larger fenced-in playground for the 0-5 crowd, the Virgina and McGee location is just two blocks west of MLK Jr Way.
Other nearby destinations for which we have guides just like this one: