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’re planning a move or you’ve just moved to Berkeley, Oakland, or some other part of the East Bay with kids, let us welcome you! Our community of readers has helped us put together a list of the top resources in the area for parents. offers lots of deep dives into East Bay family fun and more within our archives, but consider this your community-generated cheat sheet.

East Bay realtor, Joe Dickerson, is our sponsor for this post. Read on for some of his tips; he’s an Oakland father so he lives it, too. The Joe Dickerson Group is an award-winning team of local real estate agents specializing in helping Oakland, Berkeley, and East Bay families buy, sell, and invest in real estate in order to build wealth.

kid view from Lawrence Hall of Science
Enjoying the view of the Bay Area from The Lawrence Hall of Science | Photo: Joe Dickerson Group

East Bay Parks and Outdoor Destinations

Children’s Fairyland (Oakland)

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

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 (closed for covid), and a gondola to travel through the sky over the Zoo.

Lake Chabot Regional Park (San Leandro)

San Leandro’s Lake Chabot Regional Park features hiking trails, fishing, boating, biking, horseshoe pits, jogging, and places to eat with all sorts of watercraft available to rent from single kayaks to patio boats for groups. The 315-acre Lake Chabot is stocked with trout and catfish.

Tilden Park (Berkeley Hills)

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.

tilden park little farm cow and boy
Feed the cows with celery from home | Photo: Joe Dickerson

Central Park/Lake Elizabeth (Fremont)

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.

Codornices Park

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

Adventure Playground (Berkeley Marina)

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, reopening in April, 2021.

Adventure playground

More places to play in the East Bay

East Bay Swimming

The East Bay is the sunny side of the Bay, right? We boast some pretty terrific swimming pools (open seasonally) with youth swimming lessons. We also have easy access to lots of Bay Area beaches. Your friends Back East don’t have to know how chilly it is at the coast.

two kids at seashore berkeley marina
For a quiet beach near a playground, visit Shorebird Park at the Berkeley Marina | Photo: Joe Dickerson

Find the right neighborhood for your family

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

If you’re still figuring out where to live in the East Bay, no pressure but location is everything. While we love every corner of the sunny side of the Bay, you may want to choose a home near walkable shops, on the water, in the redwoods, near the freeway, or by your kids’ school. Each of our neighborhoods has a different flavor. The Joe Dickerson Group created a helpful cheat sheet for some of their favorite East Bay neighborhoods.

two parents and two children
Family photo provided by Joe Dickerson

Joe Dickerson’s 5 favorite family-friendly places in the East Bay

As a parent of two active little boys, he and his wife, Annie, keep busy with what the Oakland area has to offer. Joe Dickerson shared his family’s favorite places to go for a fun time together.

  • Our kiddos love to climb around Indian Rock Park in Berkeley for family-friendly rock climbing and breathtaking views.
  • For a memorable experience, we grab some celery and head to Tilden Little Farm, where we can get up close and personal to feed the cows, goats, pigs, and more.
  • We love walking, biking, and scooting through the lush wooded Montclair Railroad Trail.
  • Looking for easy hiking trails that are off the beaten track? Check out the Dimond Canyon Trail in Dimond Park, which winds through a flat wooded path right along Sausal Creek.
  • To get a different view of the Bay, hop in a kayak or on a stand-up paddle board! We rent our kayaks at Jack London Square and pick up tasty treats at the Sunday Farmers Market afterward.
parent and child kayak
We love to kayak from Jack London Square | Photo: Joe Dickerson

Ways to Connect with Other Parents in the East Bay

It takes a village to raise these kids. Though our ability to meet in person has been thoroughly challenged with Covid-19 safety measures, we created a pretty comprehensive list of places moms can meet other moms here >

Childcare for East Bay kids

For new-in-town families, finding the right mix of childcare solutions is a vital part of settling in. Building a network of parent friends from daycare, schools, sports, and the neighborhood playground is a big step toward making the East Bay feel like home.


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.

Finding the right school

The Bay Area may have different rules and norms around education than other places. Even the cities and towns within the (510) handle schooling differently. We have a small list of East Bay preschools with openings; it is searchable by keyword and has a map. 510families has created a private school guide to open houses and tours as well as charter school round-up.

Summer camps and seasonal camps in the East Bay

Each year, compiles a detailed list of amazing day camps and overnight camps. For 2021, we made an online summer camp guide. 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.

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!

giant chess board
Right outside the outdoor dining area of Drake’s Dealership and the Humphrey Slocombe ice cream stand, the kids can play giant chess in Uptown Oakland | Photo: Joe Dickerson

Classes for the Kids

You’ll discover everything from gymnastics and yoga to swimming and foreign language classes for ages 0 to 18 in our online class guide and our list of (in-person) after-school classes.

Your new East Bay family fun bucket list

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

things to do eastbay kids dickerson


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

newcomers guide to the east bay

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DRE#01961649 | DRE#02029039

Thanks to the Joe Dickerson Group, an award-winning team of local real estate agents specializing in helping Oakland, Berkeley, and East Bay families buy, sell, and invest in real estate in order to build wealth, for sponsoring this post. The Joe Dickerson Group (DRE#01961649) is affiliated with Keller Williams Oakland.

emeryville vertical playground
Ooh, one more! For a unique playground, check out the Emeryville Vertical Playground | Photo: Joe Dickerson


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