New in town? 50 things Oakland and Berkeley parents need to know

New in Town? 50 Things East Bay Parents Need to Know

If you’ve just moved to Berkeley, Oakland, or some other part of the East Bay with kids, let us welcome you! Our readers and contributors have helped us put together a list of the top resources in the area for parents. offers many profiles of these resources and more within our archives, but consider this your community-generated cheat sheet.

East Bay realtor, Caitlin Crawford, is our sponsor for this post. Read on for some of her tips; she’s a local mom living in Berkeley with her family and an expert on the house-buying and selling process throughout the East Bay.

East Bay Parks and Outdoor Destinations

Tilden Park

Massive regional park, with access points from both the Oakland + Berkeley Hills and Orinda, featuring a carousel, working farm, Lake Anza, short hikes, and Steam Trains you can ride.

Codornices Park

Large Berkeley Hills park for picnics and exploration. Two playgrounds and basketball courts; grassy fields; under-the-street tunnel that connects to Rose Garden; and a concrete slide make Codornices Park a favorite.

Children’s Fairyland

Small-scale, vintage amusement park with rides and play areas. Best for kids ages 2-7. Located near Lake Merritt in Oakland. If you’ve never been, check out our first-timer’s guide to Children’s Fairyland.

Adventure Playground

Like the Sandlot your dad played in, Adventure Playground has homemade structures made out of plywood and nails that kids are encouraged to build onto. A uniquely Berkeley experience.

Adventure playground
Berkeley’s Adventure Playground

The Oakland Zoo

An impressive Zoo for a medium-sized city, the Oakland Zoo has all the large animals you can name, plus a children’s zoo area and a ride area, including a roller coaster, carousel and two ways to travel through the sky over the Zoo.

Central Park/Lake Elizabeth

Fremont’s 450-acre urban playground at Central Park offers a lake with pedal boats, a unique playground, skate park, and is adjacent to a seasonal waterpark.

East Bay Swimming Pools

The East Bay is the sunny side of the Bay, right? We boast some pretty terrific swimming pools (open seasonally) and beaches.

Where to play in the East Bay

Want to play outside? Here’s a list of 20 places to play outside with your little kid >

Up for exploring? See our list of 50 things to do when school is closed >

Fantastic East Bay indoor play spaces and destinations

East Bay Public libraries

Nearly all of them have storytimes for babies and toddlers. Readers especially like Central Berkeley and Lakeview Branch Oakland Library – Storytime with Ms. Miriam on Wednesdays at 10:15. “She is fabulous!” See our events calendar for many story times >

Lawrence Hall of Science

Hands-on science museum in the Berkeley Hills with a spectacular view and things to touch for kids of every age. Learn why families love the Lawrence Hall of Science here >

Bay Area Discovery Museum

Ok, this fab place is not really in the East Bay, but we dub it officially “worth the drive to Sausalito,” this children’s museum is great for every age. Free admission the first Wednesday of the month. Review here >

We have compiled a great list of the indoor play spaces in the East Bay here > 

Don’t miss our 25 places to take East Bay preschoolers >

East Bay Birthday Party Ideas

We’ve listed all the best indoor and outdoor birthday party places, alongside entertainment vendors and sweet treats in our East Bay Birthday Party Guide.

Meeting a chuckwalla at an educational Oakland Zoo birthday party

Shopping + Saving money in the East Bay

Discover and Go

This program is run through the libraries and allows you to get free admission to many of the children’s museums in the area.

Farmers Markets

Area Farmers Markets have the season’s freshest food at the best prices; these ones include our top picks for kid-friendly experiences.

Deals and Discounts page

We maintain this deals page to share half-price tickets on big shows and events, ie Disney on Ice.

Ways to Connect with Other Parents in the East Bay

It takes a village to raise these kids. We created a pretty comprehensive list of places moms can meet other moms here >

Childcare for East Bay kids


This non-profit in Oakland helps parents and caregivers find each other and maintain strong relationships. They also offer many parenting classes and workshops for FREE. Looking for a nanny? Start here.

Berkeley Parents Network

Weekly email newsletter for Berkeley/Oakland and surrounding areas of childcare jobs wanted and offered, plus every other parenting topic you could imagine from toilet training to co-parenting after divorce.

Summer camps and seasonal camps in the East Bay

Each year, compiles a detailed list of amazing day camps and overnight camps. We also produce camp guides for winter break and spring break.

Good Things for Moms and Dads

Home Delivery of Food

If you like to have groceries or dinner delivered, you’re living in the right place. We have assembled a helpful guide to all the restaurants, apps, and services that will deliver to your home, including diapers.

Activities for New Moms

Numerous local yoga studios offer a class for moms with babies. Wonderful accommodations are made for a great postpartum experience. And here are some other classes to take with babies >

Favorite restaurants for families

We have a list of restaurants we love for kids eating out in the East Bay that our readers helped us build with everything from grilled cheese to sashimi and, of course, pizza!

Prenatal classes

Those who are expecting their first East Bay baby should know about two resources for classes and support for pregnancy, birth, and new parenthood: Birthways in Berkeley and Then Comes Baby in Oakland. Here’s a list of more prenatal and birthing resources >

Downtown Berkeley YMCA

A local favorite, this Y offers a big child-watch facility, swimming pools, classes for kids, and a “Kindergym” with a baby bounce circle time.

Classes for the Kids

You’ll discover everything from gymnastics and yoga to swimming and foreign language classes for ages 0 to 5 in our Toddlers’ Class Guide >

For the K-12 set, we have a list of after-school classes, organized by topic. How to get started with baseball or softball, lacrosse, soccer, or swimming.

In your new neighborhood

We are active all around the {510} area. Poke around the top navigation to find your specific town or neighborhood.

Your new East Bay family fun bucket list

Click the image below to get a high-quality downloadable version you can print.

We’re so glad you’re joining us in the East Bay. We love it here. This list was compiled with help from our fantastic Facebook community. You should join us over there, too.

Pin this to remember it later

Thanks to Oakland realtor Caitlin Crawford for sponsoring this post. 

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