Bay Area staycation guide for spring break
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Bay Area Staycation Guide

We love to build, test, and refine our Bay Area Staycation Guide. If your favorite place didn’t make the list, please share it in the comments.

My family loves to “staycation”. Sleep in our own beds and enjoy the stuff that makes the Bay Area magic? Yes, please! We like to build our day around mini adventures when school is out. Are you sticking around for closer to home this year? How many of these day trips and adventures for grade school-age children can you squeeze into your Bay Area staycation?

Climb rock formations and see a new landscape at Rock City at Mount Diablo State Park or Indian Rock in Berkeley. If you pose just right, it’ll look like Joshua Tree.

Ropes course challenges. Quarry Park is worth the drive for children over age ten capable of climbing, swinging, and hanging around.

Hike among the redwoods. Some of the country’s tallest trees live right here in the Bay Area. Whether you venture up to Muir Woods or get lost in Redwood Regional Park, hug a tree for all of us.

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redwoods family walk
Family photo among the redwoods courtesy of Shoott

Ride horses in Point Reyes. Ride horses on the ranch half a mile north of Point Reyes Station looking over Tomales Bay and Point Reyes National Seashore. $70 per hour per person or $95 for 90 minutes (includes a beginner’s lesson). For ages 6+ Website >>

See the Bay from Angel Island. Hop on a ferry, cruise around on bikes or feet, ride a tram when you’re getting weary. Angel Island has a ton to offer.

Wander outside & explore inside. Now through April 17, kids can explore the newly opened Wander Woods at Cal Academy with more engaging activities—including water play with Riveropolis, art practice with Dana Albany, plus beehive and insect investigation, puppet shows, and nature story time. Daily pop-up programs are scheduled.

Brunch and more. Julia loves to drive down to Mission Ranch in Carmel for Sunday brunch so the kids can enjoy sheep-watching. Fresh air, yummy food, and sheep grazing in the pasture — what could be better?!

sheep and child
Kids can get up close and feed grass to the Mission Ranch Sheep | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Hit Alcatraz. Go where the tourists go. My kids rated this adventure as “better than expected” because it included a cool ferry trip, running on an island, and exploring real-life prison cells. Take your kids to Alcatraz. (Book now!)

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Splash in the waves at a Bay Area beach. Crissy Field has all the views and is so close to the Presidio. Hearts Desire rewards your long drive with a lovely, secluded beach.

Afternoon baseball game: Check the A’s or Giants’ schedules to see who’s got a game before bedtime. Opening Day is early April this year.

Venture out to Safari West for a special look at wild animals. Pretend you’re in Africa. (Call today for a reservation.)

Go on a miniature exploration. Did you know that there are adorable gnomes hiding out in Oakland? Or a fairy village at Little Point Richmond? And rustic trolls in an Oakland woodland? You and your children will adore these special urban hikes.

gnomes
Discovering gnomes in Cleveland Heights neighborhood | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Visit with animals at the Little Farm. Run off your ya-yas afterward in the woods or enjoy a packed lunch at Jewel Lake.

Lots more Bay Area places where kids can enjoy animals >>

Go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Playing in the water makes it a vacation! Check out some of the lakes, shores, and beaches that cater to water sports in the Bay Area. We like these local places for SUP.

Sugar high: When you tour the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, go for all-you-can-eat jellybeans! Still have money and energy? Head over to Scandia for more laughs.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk & 98 other things to do this summer
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk | Photo: Anna Azimi

Monterey Aquarium: Visiting the giant aquarium always feels special; do it as a day trip or single overnight getaway. [Some tips to save $$]

Stomp in the creeks. Stick closer to home with a morning romp in an East Bay creek and ice cream treats for dessert. Here are five creeks we love for little kids.

Stay up late for stargazing. You don’t need a telescope to see the Milky Way. Summer is a great time to seek it out, mostly because it’s warm at night. Stargazing can also be very exciting when your kids get to stay up past bedtimes and drive a bit to escape the nearby light pollution. Our Guide to Stargazing With Kids & Seeking Out the Elusive Milky Way >>

stargazing julia gidwani
She thinks we’re stargazing, I might call this “moon-gazing” at dusk | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Use our East Bay family events calendar to find activities for any specific day!

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