20 Best Things to Do in Oakland with Kids - 510 Families

20 Best Things to Do in Oakland with Kids

Thanks to MOCHA, Museum of Children's Art, one of Oakland's greatest places for kids, for sponsoring this guide to twenty of the very best places for families in Oakland.

Drop-in open studio at MOCHA | Photo: MOCHA
Drop-in open studio at MOCHA | Photo: MOCHA

Oakland offers many family-friendly activities, restaurants, and outdoor spaces. Where to begin? The staff of MOCHA offered us some ideas, which we added to our own to come up with this list.

Things to do in Oakland with kids

The first five Oakland places for kids come from MOCHA staffers.

  1. Children's Fairyland is a vintage-style amusement park (think Disneyland when it opened in the 1950s) near Lake Merritt. Enjoy live shows, kiddie rides, and family fun. Never been? Here's a first-timer's guide to Fairyland.
  2. The Oakland Zoo is an expansive space, filled with wildlife habitats for even the largest animals. Watch the monkeys swing around or get close to the glass to say hello to the tortoises. Save time for the gondola ride! Our review of the Oakland Zoo membership.
  3. Oakland Ice is a year-round indoor ice rink in downtown Oakland. Skate rental starts at toddler size 6.
  4. Fentons Creamery, the old school ice cream parlor, offers a full menu of entrees, too. so visit for a supersized sundae, or a whole meal!
  5. Chabot Space and Science Center exposes children to STEM principles and the wonders of space, located in the Oakland Hills.

 

MOCHA, Oakland
  1. Museum of Children’s Art invites drop-in art-making sessions several times per week. Kids can start as young as 18 months! For 30 years, MOCHA’s presence is felt —in low-income communities. They serve over 8,000 children in 45 East Bay public schools – approximately 70% of the children live at or below the poverty rate. Their mission is to bring quality arts education programs to schools and communities, advocating for interactive spaces where children and their families can create, share and connect through art. Learn more about MOCHA on their website >>
  2. Temescal Regional Park and Lake Temescal offer green areas to run, paths for wandering, and a lake to fish or splash around in! A beach in Oakland? Yes!
  3. Oakland A's baseball games make watching fun with two play areas in the Coliseum. Learn more about watching the As with kids >>
  4. Oakland Museum of California's (OMCA) Friday Night program is a great way to kick off the weekend. Food trucks, live music, and art inspiration are all around. Plenty of family fun.
  5. Jack London Square has boats to look at and plenty of outdoor patios for lower stress dining with kids. Here's a list of Jack London Square's kid-friendly attractions.
Oakland kindergym TBA
Oakland's Kindergym | Photo: Icarian
  1. Oakland's Kindergym program is a longtime favorite of 510 parents with multiple sessions for toddlers throughout the week. Located at Temple Beth Abraham, but open to all. Learn more about Kindergym with Dawn >>
  2. Rockridge, a BART-accessible neighborhood, pairs a great library with FROG Park, a fun place to play. Take a virtual tour of Rockridge with this post >>
  3. Junior Center of Art & Science is a community space with affordable programming for kids, from animal visiting hours to a mini maker lab. Read about the Junior Center >>
  4. Lake Merritt is a lovely picnic spot on a beautiful day. There is a path, ducks, and older kids will enjoy taking watercraft into the lake from the Lake Merritt Boathouse. Here's a Lake Merritt birthday party idea >>
  5. Roberts Regional Park is a local favorite for Oaklanders. A massive play structure will keep kids busy for hours. There's also a pool and room to fly kites! Learn more about Roberts Regional Park >>
  6. The New Parkway Theater is our favorite way to squeeze a movie and a meal in at the same time. With Cereal Cinema programming and the occasional kid-friendly title showing, you can enjoy entrees from the full-service cafe at your seat, which may be a vintage couch or an easy chair.
  7. The Oakland Aviation Museum invites kids to walk right up to airplanes, and on Open Cockpit Days, to hop inside! You can even have a birthday party there!
  8. Nipaki is an indoor play center for toddlers and preschoolers in the heart of Oakland. 
  9. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is a treat for kids who are into vehicles. Watch the shipping containers while you enjoy a snack.
  10. Montclair is a little village that can be tackled on foot. Don't miss the indie toy shop and bookstore before you visit Montclair Park.

Bonus tips! These five spots are favorites of Nina Woodruff-Walker, Interim Executive Director of MOCHA.

Miss Ollie’s restaurant in Old Oakland. “The fried chicken, jerk shrimp, and plantains are on-point,” says Woodruff-Walker. See the menu >

Peter’s Kettle corn on MacArthur in East Oakland is a fun spot to stop in for yummy flavors, like Horchata and Sea Salt Caramel.

Brown Sugar KitchenTheir chicken and waffles are divine. The waffles are light and mmmm good. Their biscuits remind me of my grandmother’s recipe.”

Taiwanese Street food at Dragon Gate Bar “We take our children all of the time. The nasty chicken is so delicious and a must-try!”

Dunsmuir House in Oakland sits on beautiful landscaping and hosts special events for all the major holidays. Woodruff-Walker says, “My son had a memorable experience at the Dunsmuir house.  They make sure the egg hunts are separated by age groups.”

Photo courtesy Nina Woodruff-Walker

Thanks so much to MOCHA for sponsoring 510Families.com. Using the power of art as a learning tool, MOCHA collaborates with artists, educators, parents, and students. Arts education is a vital part of young people’s social, emotional, and cultural development. Visit MOCHA online for hours and details >

Favorite places in Oakland with kids

Upcoming events for Oakland kids


09/28/20 at 9:30 am - 10:30 am | Baby Boot Camp at Lake Temescal, North Entrance

09/29/20 at 9:30 am - 10:30 am | Baby Boot Camp at Lake Temescal, North Entrance

09/29/20 at 10:15 am - 10:45 am | Baby Bounce & Playtime @Golden Gate Branch at Golden Gate Branch | Oakland Public Library

09/29/20 at 7:00 pm - 7:30 pm | Pajama Storytime @Dimond Branch at Dimond Branch | Oakland Public Library

09/30/20 at 9:30 am - 10:30 am | Baby Boot Camp at Lake Temescal, North Entrance

09/30/20 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm | Open Studio Drop-In at MOCHA - Museum of Children's Art

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