20 Best Things to Do in Oakland With Kids

20 Best Things to Do in Oakland With Kids

Thanks to Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), with over 34,000 students & more than 50 languages represented at campuses across the city, 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 2022-23 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, kids playing clapping game, kids at middle harbor shoreline, climbing wall

Things to do in Oakland with Kids

  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 experience.
  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! Pro-tip: for little eaters, order the deconstructed banana split.
  5. Chabot Space and Science Center exposes children to STEM principles and the wonders of space, located in the Oakland Hills. More about Chabot and its fabulously free telescope viewings >>
kids jumprope on school playground
Bella Vista students sure know how to bounce, bounce, bounce | Photo: Oakland Unified School District
  1. Oakland Library Events include cool art workshops, storytimes, and playgroups. Search for “library” on our calendar!
  2. Temescal Regional Park and Lake Temescal offer green areas to run, paths for wandering, and a lake to fish in! 
  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. The OMCA gardens are always free.
  5. Jack London Square has boats to look at, plenty of outdoor patios for lower-stress dining with kids, and a nice series of family-friendly events. Here’s a list of Jack London Square’s kid-friendly attractions.
middle harbor trails and two girls on scooters
Middle Harbor Shoreline Park trails are perfect for learning how to ride a bike | Photo: Julia Gidwani
  1. Pacific Pipe Climbing Gym is an eye-catching facility with classes and lessons for children over age 6 through adults. Pacific Pipe is awesome to look at.
  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. Brooklyn Basin is a fabulous open space with paved trails for wheels, hills for running and falling, Bay access for fishing, food, and events. See why we love Brooklyn Basin for families.
  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 >>
child in fighter plane
Oakland Aviation Museum | Photo: William Munny via Instagram
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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 >>
  5. 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.
kids at indoor playground
The ball pit was by far a favorite feature at KPZ. | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Stay connected with OUSD schools! Whether you’re a current or future parent, caretaker, or student, you’re invited to engage in the 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 2022-23 school year. Website to enroll >

oakland dreams mural at jls
Oakland Dreams mural at Jack London Square was commissioned in 2018 | Photo: Heather Jassem

Upcoming events for Oakland kids

Tue March 29, 2022 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm | MOCHA Art Workshop in the Library: Main Branch at Main Library | Oakland Public Library

Wed March 30, 2022 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm | MOCHA Art Workshop in the Library (Spanish Bilingual): César E. Chávez Branch at Cesar Chavez Branch | Oakland Public Library

Wed March 30, 2022 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm | Pump It Up Open Jump at Pump It Up

Thu March 31, 2022 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm | MOCHA Art Workshop in the Library: Golden Gate Branch at Golden Gate Branch | Oakland Public Library

Fri April 1, 2022 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm | Teen Game Nights at Asian Branch | Oakland Public Library

Fri April 1, 2022 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm | MOCHA Art Workshop in the Library: West Oakland Branch at West Oakland Branch | Oakland Public Library

20 things to do in oakland with kids, pictured: oakland zoo gondola, middle harbor park, ousd playground, pacific pipe climbing gym, chabot space center, and reinhardt redwood regional

Thanks so much to Oakland Unified School District for providing excellent schools for Oakland children and sponsoring 510Families.com.


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