Things To Do For Kids In Oakland

Oakland offers plenty for kids and children to do, including outdoor parks, kid-friendly museums, boat rides and tours, and a zoo that is just their size.

The City of Oakland offers a variety of activities for kids - both indoors and out. Whether they're up for an action-packed day or something a little more low-key, Oakland has plenty of options.

Chabot Space and Science Center

The Chabot Space and Science Center has a lot to keep kids interested, including the Ask Jeeves Planetarium. Sit back and view the stars, constellations, planets, and other celestial objects, enhanced by lasers, special effects, and a surround-sound stereo system. The Tien MegaDome Theater has a 70-foot screen and shows action-packed films that make kids feel like they are actually on the space shuttle or the ocean floor. Kids also like exploring the center's ever-changing exhibits and learning about space, natural disasters, and other scientific topics. Visit at night and look through Chabot's three giant telescopes. When a break is in order, the center has a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating and plenty of kid food.

Children's Fairyland

Younger children (up to about age eight) like Children's Fairyland (located at Lake Merritt). Kid lit is brought to life with exhibits, animal interaction, talking storybooks, and puppet shows. Little ones can climb aboard bumper boats and the miniature ferris wheel. The park also offers special programs, including summer sleep-overs and children's theatre. An arts and crafts center and cafe round out the experience.

Jack London Square

In addition to numerous shopping opportunities, Jack London Square offers plenty of activities and attractions for kids. Jack London Cinema boasts nine screens and stadium style seating and shows current films. Yoshi's Jazz House and Japanese Restaurant offers matinee jazz shows on Sundays, which are specially priced for families. The Alameda/Oakland ferry makes daily runs to San Francisco and seasonal trips to Angel Island. History-minded kids like the Oakland Museum of California with exhibits chronicling the state's environment, history, people, and arts. The USS Potomac, aka "FDR's Floating White House," offers dockside tours and history cruises aboard the 1934-built Coast Guard cutter turned presidential yacht. Sunday and Wednesday farmers markets call Jack London Square home, where you can pick up healthy snacks, while the kids take in the busy, colorful sights and sounds. More substantial fare, such as pizza, subs, and ribs, can be found in the Square's many restaurants. For those quieter moments, ample opportunities for people- and boat-watching also exist at this waterfront gathering place.

Lake Merritt

If the kids are clamoring to ride bikes or scooters, go skating or blading, or just run around, head to Lake Merritt. A three-mile path encircles the country's largest urban saltwater lake. The park also has two playgrounds. If attentions turn toward the lake itself, the Boating Center rents canoes, pedal boats, and row boats year-round - and offers youth sailing and rowing classes.

Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA)

Arty kids like the Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA), where they can both look at art made by other kids and create it themselves. Changing exhibits feature the work of children from throughout the Bay Area. Studios are open for guided drop-in art projects for kids age six and up with a new theme each week, such as sponge art, dollmaking, and seasonal gift-making. The Little Studio is for kids as young as 18 months with paints, glue, glitter, and other messy fun. Family workshops are offered on weekends, as well as special programs on school holidays.

Oakland Zoo

The Oakland Zoo is kid-sized (i.e., on the small side) - an advantage when visiting with young children. But, even older kids like the refurbished Children's Zoo, where they can pet and feed sheep and goats and check out a variety of other animals, including reptiles. Weekend Wildlife Theater takes place in the amphitheater with a changing lineup of animal stars. The zoo sports a mini-train and skyride for kids who are tired of walking, plus a carousel and playground. Knowland Park, outside the zoo gates, provides picnic and barbecue spots.

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