If you’re heading to the Bay Area with kiddos in tow, don’t let San Francisco be your only stop. Oakland, Frisco’s neighbor to the east, is a quieter destination that earns high marks for its variety of kid-friendly attractions. Visit some of these hotspots, and then congratulate yourself for planning a trip that both you and your kids loved.
The Oakland Zoo has all the regular sights and amenities you’d expect at a city zoo. You can enjoy more than 700 animals, walkable trails, a petting zoo area, and even kiddie rides. Seeing large animals is always exciting, but it’s the free gondola ski lift ride that really sets this zoo apart. Each gondola offers spectacular views of the Bay Area as you take the ride up the steep hillside. At the top of the hill, grab lunch at the Landing Café, and then explore the zoo’s newest area, the California Wilds Trail, which includes an outdoor playground that’s perfect for kids.
Museum of Children’s Arts: MOCHA
If you have any art lovers or creative geniuses in your bunch, then a stop at the Museum of Children’s Arts is a must. Better known as MOCHA, this open-studio space gives kids everything they need to create a masterpiece. Kids of all ages can visit the studio for a rotating selection of art-making activities, all taught and guided by local artists.
The interactive stations include activities like clay creation or painting, and they change from day to day. When you visit, you can help your kiddos pick and choose what you want to do and then create together at your own speed. Kids love having a variety of art supplies at their fingertips, and you’ll love that you aren’t dealing with the resulting mess at home.
Oakland Aviation Museum
Just outside the Oakland airport is the Oakland Aviation Museum, and it’s well worth the stop. While the museum has plenty of historical artifacts to interest adults, kids have just as much fun exploring the interactive displays and playing in the children’s area. If you’re lucky enough to visit on one of the museum’s Open Cockpit Days, then you’ll even be able to climb inside the planes.
Oakland A’s Game
If your family enjoys an afternoon at the ballpark, take everyone to see the Oakland A’s while you’re in town. The Oakland A’s offer a fun atmosphere and wallet-friendly ticket prices. Arrive at the park early so your kids can take advantage of the Stomper Fun Zone. This play area has attractions like slides, a swing, pitching practice, and batting cages ideal for kids of most ages. Make sure to have your camera ready, as you might get a chance to catch a pic with the team’s mascot, Stomper. When the kiddos get hungry, head to Championship Plaza, an area with gourmet food trucks and picnic seating. You can also pack your own meal, as the ballpark allows carry-in food for an extra sweet deal.
If your kids perk up at the words “ice cream,” then you won’t want to miss Fentons Creamery. The historic ice cream parlor is famous both for its giant sundaes and its appearance in the Pixar movie “Up.” For extra fun, take your kids on the Arctic Tour, where they can visit the production room and see how Fentons makes its ice cream. The 30-minute tour is tailored to kids, giving them a tasty and educational behind-the-scenes look. Take note that while the tour is only open to those ages 6 and up, there’s plenty of yummy goodness in the front of the restaurant to keep younger visitors happy.