Best Places to Take Kids in the Bay Area

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 (Mauricio Balvanera/Flickr)

Whether taking in an afternoon hike in the Marin Headlands, kite flying at the Berkeley Marina, riding boats on Stow Lake or sampling small dumplings at a dim sum shop, there are plenty of fun things to do with kids in the Bay Area. What are your favorite local places to take kids?

Recommendations By Guests and the Forum Community

East Bay

Adventure Playground Website says best for kids over 7 years old but all ages welcome

Ardenwood Historic Farm Located in Fremont

Berkley Marina Features a nature center and an Adventure Playground

Blake Garden


Amy Graff, author of SFGate's parenting blog, "The Mommy Files"

Mike Adamick, author of "Dad's Book of Awesome Projects: 25 Fun Do It Yourself Projects for Families" and columnist on parenting issues for and SFGate


Cal Sailing Club Free open houses held once a month; children must be at least 5 years old.

Chabot Space and Science Center

Crab Cove Visitor Center Located at Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda; features aquariums, educational exhibits including one that lets visitors "build a crab from the inside out"

Children's Fairyland Located in Oakland

Cordornices Park Has an underground tunnel to the Berkeley Rose Garden

Coyote Hills Regional Park Located in Fremont; features exhibits portraying the Ohlone way of life

Golden State Model Railroad Museum Located in Point Richmond; currently closed until April 2014

Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center

Jelly Belly Factory Tours

Lake Chabot Located in Castro Valley; features fishing and boating

Lake Elizabeth (also called Central Park) Located in Fremont; features boating, picnics, playground and walking path

Lake Temescal Kid-friendly fishing; planted with trout

Larkey Park Located in Walnut Creek; features a wildlife museum, and a swim center

The Lawrence Hall of Science

Lindsay Wildlife Museum Located in Larkey Park in Walnut Creek

Niles Canyon Railway Located in Sunol

Matteo's Dream: A Playground for Children of All Abilities Located in Concord

Oakland Public Library, Main Branch Multiple branches feature family storytime

The Oakland Zoo

Pacific Pinball Museum Located in Alameda; Admission includes play on machines; have step stools for kids

Play Cafe Located in Oakland

Pixieland Amusement Park Located in Concord

Rankin Park Located in Martinez; features a swimming center, horseshoe pits and playground

Redwood Regional Park Located in Oakland; hiking, camping, picnics; features a forest of coast redwoods

Richmond Art Center Features art classes, camps and exhibits

San Pablo ReservoirLocated in Orinda; good fishing - season opens in February

Sienna Ranch Located in Lafayette; Family Days one Sunday each month

Silliman Family Aquatic Center Located in Newark; features water slides, a lazy river and a children's activity pool

Strawberry Canyon Rec Area Located in Berkeley; features an outdoor swimming pool

Sulphur Creek Nature Center Located in Hayward; wildlife rehabilitation and education facility

Super Franks Located in Pleasanton

Tilden Park Features a steam train, botanical garden, merry-go round and small farm

UC Botanical Garden

USS Potomac Located in Oakland

Watching all the comings and goings in Jack London Square

North Bay

Bay Area Discovery Museum Located in Sausalito

The Bay Model in Sausalito

Duxbury Reef Located in Bolinas; great for tidepooling

Laguna de Santa Rosa Wildlife habitat featuring walks, storytelling, classes and movie nights

Lagunitas Lake Located in Marin

The Marin Headlands

Mrs. Grossman's Sticker Factory Located in Petaluma; reservations required

Muir Beach

Muir Woods

Old Saint Hilary's Located in Tiburon; part of Marin County open space preserves; good for picnics, hiking and views

Phoenix Lake Located in Marin

Sonoma State Historic Park Includes the Mission San Francisco Solano, Sonoma barracks and General Vallejo's home

Ragle Ranch Regional Park Located in Sebastopol

Train Town Located in Sonoma

Tule Elk Preserve at Tomales Point Located in Point Reyes National Seashore

San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences

Crissy Field

The Exploratorium

Family Dance Class at ODC Dance School Offered the last Sunday of every month

Family Storytime at San Francisco Public Libraries Offered at multiple branches; bilungual storytime offered

Fort Funston Dog and child friendly hiking and beaches

Free concerts from San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Concerts are held around the Bay Area and last 20 minutes

Lands End Great hiking, walks and a beach

Randall Museum Science, natural history exhibits and classes

SS Jeremiah O'Brien A fully functional Liberty ship from WWII

Visiting the animals at the SPCA

Watching the San Francisco Police Mounted Unit

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Features a bowling alley, a kids museum, ice rink, bowling alley and carousel

SF Zoo Features a newly remodeled playground, giraffe feedings, and a stream train

South Bay and the Peninsula

Bay Badminton Center Locations in Burlingame, South San Francisco and Milpitas

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Children's Musical Theater San Jose

Coyote Creek Trail Located in San Jose; great for bike riding

CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point Located in San Mateo; formerly called "Coyote Point Museum"

Deer Hollow Farm Located in the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve

Emma Prusch Farm Park Located in San Jose

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Located on Moss Beach; great for tidepooling

Frontierland Park Located in Pacifica

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Guadalupe River Trail Located in San Jose; 11-mile bike and pedestrian trail

Happy Hollow Park and Zoo Located in San Jose

Hidden Villa Farm tours, themed hikes; Located in Los Altos Hills

Hiller Aviation Museum Located in San Carlos

Japantown in San Jose Located a few miles from downtown

K1 Speed Indoor go kart racing in South San Francisco

Kelley Park Located in San Jose

Market Street in downtown San Jose Fun water fountains for children to play in

Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo

San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory Guided walks and birding outings

San Jose History Park Located at Kelley Park

San Jose Museum of Art

Shoup Park Located in Los Altos

Tech Museum of Innovation Located in Downtown San Jose

Vasona Park Located in Los Gatos