Thanks to Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), with over 34,000 students & more than 50 languages represented at campuses across the Town, for sponsoring this guide to twenty of the very best places for kids and families in Oakland. OUSD is currently accepting enrollment applications for the 2023-24 school year.
Oakland offers many family-friendly activities, restaurants, and outdoor spaces. Where to begin? We asked our team of contributing parents and the staff at OUSD for their favorite places to go with kids.
Things to do in Oakland with Kids
- 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.
- 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 experience.
- Oakland Ice is a year-round indoor ice rink in downtown Oakland. Skate rental starts at toddler size 6.
- MOCHA, Museum of Children’s Art is a hands-on art studio and gallery with open hours on weekends and library visits on weekdays. MOCHA is centrally located near 12th Street BART.
- Chabot Space and Science Center introduces children to STEM principles and the wonders of space, located in the Oakland Hills. More about Chabot and its fabulously free telescope viewings >>
- Oakland Library Events include cool art workshops, storytimes, toy rentals, and playgroups. Find lots more at the libraries!
- Temescal Regional Park and Lake Temescal offer green areas to run, paths for wandering, a playground, and a lake to fish or wade in! All about Lake Temescal for kids >
- Fentons Creamery, the old-school ice cream parlor has delicious shakes and supersized sundaes. Pro-tip: for little eaters, order the deconstructed banana split.
- Oakland A’s baseball games make watching fun with two play areas in the Coliseum. Learn more about watching the As with kids >>
- Jack London Square has boats to look at, plenty of outdoor patios for lower-stress dining with kids, a great farmers market, a small bowling alley & arcade (at Plank), proximity to movies, and a nice series of family-friendly events. More of Jack London Square’s kid-friendly attractions.
- 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. The OMCA gardens are always free.
- Pacific Pipe Climbing Gym is an eye-catching facility with classes and lessons for children over the age of 6 through adults. Pacific Pipe is awesome to look at.
- 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 >>
- 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 >>
- Roberts Regional Park is a local favorite for Oaklanders for its grove of redwood trees. Kids dig the massive play structure, swimming pool, and open space to fly kites! Learn more about Roberts Regional Park >>
- 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.
- The Oakland Aviation Museum invites kids to walk right up to airplanes, and on Open Cockpit Days, to hop inside! It seems like they’re always offering a deal, too.
- Kids Play Zone (KPZ) is an indoor play center for toddlers and preschoolers in the heart of West Oakland (why we love Kids Play Zone).
- Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is a treat for kids who are into vehicles. Watch the shipping containers while you enjoy a snack. Also wonderful for rolling on wheels like a scooter or a bike. Visit Middle Harbor Shoreline Park with us >>
- Oakland Roots soccer games are a great family-friendly way to enjoy one of the Town’s newest sports franchises at Laney College. Watch the Oakland Roots in action.
Stay connected with OUSD schools! Whether you’re a current or future parent, caretaker, or student, you’re invited to engage in online communities for OUSD elementary, middle, and high schools. Find OUSD below on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even TikTok!
- @TownSproutsOUSD – Elementary School Network
- @oakinthemiddle – Middle School Network
- @TheLinkOUSD – High School Network
Follow along with us as OUSD shows & tells the slices of everyday school life here in Oakland while growing space for all students and families to be involved and feel supported through this wonderful adventure.
It’s not too late! OUSD is currently accepting enrollment applications for the 2023-24 school year. Website to enroll >
Upcoming Events for Oakland Kids & Families
Sunday, December 3, 202310:30 am - 12:00 pm: Hanukkah Party @ Lake Temescal, North Entrance, Oakland
Monday, December 4, 20233:30 pm - 5:00 pm: MOCHA Art Workshop in the Library: César E. Chávez Branch @ Cesar Chavez Branch | Oakland Public Library, Oakland
Tuesday, December 5, 202310:15 am - 10:45 am: Baby Bounce: Songs and Playtime @ Golden Gate Branch | Oakland Public Library, Oakland
10:15 am - 10:45 am: Toddler Storytime @ Piedmont Ave. Branch | Oakland Public Library, Oakland
11:45 am - 12:00 pm: Baby Bounce @ Montclair Branch | Oakland Public Library, Oakland
3:15 pm - 4:15 pm: Crafts at King Branch @ Martin Luther King Jr Branch | Oakland Public Library, Oakland
Thanks so much to Oakland Unified School District for providing excellent schools for Oakland children and sponsoring 510Families.com.