Berkeley may be best known for its world-class university and liberal politics, but it’s also a wonderland for kids. A visit to Berkeley with kids can mean constructing your own playground, feeding cows, or riding a (sculpture of a) whale.
Kids Give Advice: Activities in Berkeley with Kids
Kids know how to have fun. Here’s advice from 22 local kindergartners on the best places to go in Berkeley with kids.
Adventure Playground is a playground unlike any other. Here, kids can help imagine and build the actual playground. Existing wooden structures get new additions—checked out by the staff—daily. Kids can climb giant nets, swing from tires, scramble around on boats, explore structures, or help build and paint. There are also tables for kids who want to create take-home wooden projects.
What Kids Say: “Have you ever wanted to build your own playground? Go to Adventure Playground! You can ride a zip-line or, if you collect 10 nails, you can paint or build part of the playground yourself. It’s open on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.” – Dylan and Dylan
Bay Area Children’s Theater
Shows at the Bay Area Children’s Theatre get kids excited about theater. Plays and musicals geared to kids include adaptations of popular books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Elephant and Piggy, and Pete the Cat. The BACT Berkeley Center is close to other Berkeley performance venues including Berkeley Rep and Freight and Salvage.
What Kids Say: “Did you know there are talking caterpillars in Berkeley? At the Bay Area Children’s Theatre, you can see Eric Carle’s Mr. Seahorse and other characters come to life. To plan your visit, visit bactheatre.org.” – Justin and Damari
The Berkeley Marina
With its 100+ acres of park space, seven miles of trails, and kid-favorite Adventure Playground, the Berkeley Marina is an ideal spot for families. The Marina is also home to a hotel, restaurants, the Shorebird Park Nature Center, and watersports classes.
What Kids Say: “Where can you see a pier and go fishing? At the Berkeley Marina. It’s also a great place to fly kites because it is so windy. The marina is a good place to go when it is sunny.” – Janiah and Baxter
Little Farm at Tilden Regional Park
Tilden Regional Park is full of family-friendly gems, including a miniature steam train, a merry-go-round, and a botanic garden. But it’s Little Farm that draws the most animal-loving kids. Pack celery and lettuce (the only approved items to feed these constantly snacking farm animals) and let kids visit with and feed cows, goats, and other animals. After you’ve done the Little Farm circuit, stop by the Environmental Education Center or go for a short hike to Jewel Lake.
What Kids Say: “Where can you feed cows, sheep, and goats? The Little Farm! There are baby chicks running around and hungry cows to feed. You can also feed goats and sheep, so bring lots of lettuce and celery. It’s open every day until 4:30 p.m.” – Keira and Jacob
Berkeley Farmers Market
Three farmers’ markets a week—with locations all over Berkeley—offer up the abundance of local farms year-round. Visitors to Berkeley with kids can explore, sample, snack, and play. Stock up on picnic supplies or find local items to take home as souvenirs. Ready-to-eat prepared foods and live music keep kids coming back.
What Kids Say: “From fresh fruits to warm croissants, the farmers’ market has yummy smells and tastes. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, you can eat lots of fruits and vegetables, hear live music, and buy treats. On Saturdays, it is open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. On Tuesdays, the hours are 2:00 to 6:30 p.m. And on Thursdays, the farmers’ market is open from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m.” – Adeline and Eliza
University of California, Berkeley
The UC Berkeley campus is the thriving heart of Berkeley. Kids love to race along the tree-lined paths, explore creeks and bridges, and lounge alongside students on the expansive grassy areas. Prefer something a little more structured? Sign up for a free public walking tour, available every day of the week at 10:00 a.m.
What Kids Say: “Where can you find a bunch of students or a Cal party? At UC Berkeley. You can have lots of fun on campus. You can go to Cal Day, or see dinosaur bones, or go to the top of the Campanile. It is open every day but not at night.” – Anna and Maya
The Berkeley Art Museum
The Berkeley Art Museum has settled into its new digs downtown, close to all the action (and easily accessible by BART). Classes and the art lab let kids get hands-on with art. Best of all for families, the museum is free for kids 18 and under—and each child 13 and under can bring a grownup into the museum for free.
What Kids Say: “Where could you find amazing artwork in Berkeley? At the Berkeley Art Museum. The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday.” – Laila and Wilson
Lawrence Hall of Science
This popular science museum perched on the hill above the UC Berkeley campus yields kid-centric science exhibits and great Bay Area views. The Lawrence Hall of Science features exhibits that encourage kids to touch, climb, design, build, and test. Natural science comes alive for kids at this beloved center.
What Kids Say: “Where can you go to climb on a whale and see a view of the Bay Area? The Lawrence Hall of Science. Watch movies about sea monsters or make paper airplanes here. But the best part is climbing on the huge blue whale outside. The Lawrence Hall of Science is open every day except Monday.” – Raydan and Payson
Cheeseboard Bakery and Pizza
This Berkeley institution serves up baked goods in the morning, a global selection of cheese throughout the day, and, next door, pizza in the afternoon and evening. Next door to the Cheeseboard Bakery and Cafe, Cheeseboard Pizza serves up one kind of vegetarian pizza each day. The usually long line feels festive with the addition of live jazz.
What Kids Say: “What makes people crowd around the block? Pizza! There’s only one Cheeseboard in the whole world. In the morning, you can find fresh baked goods like cheese rolls, chocolate things, and pecan rolls. Yum! It is open every day except Sunday and Monday and is on Shattuck Avenue.” – Stella and Augie
Berkeley Public Library – Central Branch
An entire floor is dedicated to kids and children’s books at the Central branch of the Berkeley Public Library. The 1930s Moderne-style building and its contemporary addition offer enough room to read, play, and learn. The children’s library features a story room, kid-friendly decorative touches, and librarians who give great advice about reading.
What Kids Say: “Where can you go to be surrounded by thousands of imaginary worlds? The Berkeley Library! You can read all kinds of books, from storybooks to chapter books. The Berkeley Library has it all and it’s open every day of the week.” – Juno and Julian
Live Oak Park
Live Oak Park is part community gathering place, part playground, and part urban nature adventure. At this great place to go in Berkeley with kids, you’ll find two playgrounds plus basketball courts and a community center with a theater and art gallery. Bisecting the park is a creek with paths, bridges, and picnic areas in the shade of tall trees. A large grassy area provides room to run, play, and lounge.
What Kids Say: “Where can you play in water and climb under bridges? At Live Oak Park. There’s something for everyone: a twisty slide, bridges that cross over a creek, and swings. It’s open every day and the best time to come is on a sunny day.” – Wynn and Simon
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