Thank you to Visit Oakland for letting us play tourist in our own town. They suggested this itinerary and paid the bills during our staycation.
We have lived in Oakland for seven years and still revel in all there is to do and see here. So when our two families were invited to play tourist and get a fresh perspective—one we generously employ on vacations and visits to other cities—we were happy to partake! We visited Oakland with two moms, two preschoolers, and a toddler for a party of five with varying wants and needs.
Visit Oakland curated a short-and-sweet staycation for our families including attractions, meals, and a hotel stay. Here’s a summary of what we did with links if you want to plan your own Oakland staycation, or provide recommendations to visiting friends or families with young children:
Friday Nights at Oakland Museum of California
Friday Nights @ OMCA is one of our absolute favorite family-friendly activities in Oakland. Visit their interactive Nature Playspace or any of their rotating exhibits, or skip straight to any of their beautiful outdoor areas to picnic with Oakland’s diverse community, dance to live music, participate in family-friendly activities, and of course order dinner from the array of food trucks curated by Off the Grid.
Chabot Space & Science Center
Our preschoolers loved visiting Chabot Space & Science Center, and it was great fun for the toddler and us adults, too! From planetarium shows to interactive science activities, to exhibits showcasing astronaut suits and NASA artifacts, your family could easily spend the whole day here. Our kids lasted about three hours before they began clamoring for lunch. Good thing there is a cafe on-site! Chabot also hosts free stargazing parties on Friday and Saturday evenings (weather permitting), where you can peek through their three telescopes to experience amazing views of the night sky.
Oakland Outdoor Dining
We were treated to some really nice meals at Chop Bar (a Black-owned restaurant) in Jack London Square and Pomella (a woman-owned restaurant) on Piedmont Avenue. Both offered awesome vibes, kid-friendly foods, and outdoor seating.
Chop Bar was especially great for cocktails, though we wish they had more vegetarian options (it’s Chop Bar, though, we get it) and also would have alerted us that their version of typically innocuous dishes (like mac & cheese and guacamole) were topped with spices that our kids do not like.
Pomella serves Middle Eastern fare with a California twist; our kids’ favorites were the falafel, hummus, and grilled salmon.
Find more kid-friendly restaurants in Oakland >
Waterfront Hotel and Jack London Square
We stayed at the nautical-themed boutique Waterfront Hotel in Jack London Square. The hotel is central to Jack London’s numerous restaurants, shops, and bars, and within walking distance of Oakland Chinatown or Old Oakland. The rooms were clean and spacious. Our kids especially loved our adjoining rooms and staring out at the boats in the harbor and Alameda across the estuary.
If we had the time I’m sure we would’ve enjoyed splashing in the hotel’s outdoor pool! This hotel holds a special place in my heart because it’s where my partner and I got ready on our wedding day, so it was fun to revisit with my now five-year-old and even recreate some of the photos we took on that special day! Hotel website >
Find more to do with kids at Jack London Square >
Our families had a blast “traveling” together even though our staycation barely scratched the surface of family-friendly activities in Oakland. For more ideas, see Beautiful Brown Adventures for our suggested walking tour itinerary through Downtown Oakland, as well as other recommended activities and travel tips in the greater Bay Area and beyond!
Thank you again to Visit Oakland for sharing their Oakland favorites for families.
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