Free Fun, All Week Long
A day-by-day guide of fun and free activities for you and your kids to enjoy this summer.
Codornices Park in Berkeley
Looking to keep your school-aged children mentally and physically stimulated, and away from the TV screen? Look no further! We’ve planned an action-packed week of educational and healthy activities that won’t cost you a cent, but may just make you the coolest parent around town. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go out!
Visit Berkeley Rose Garden and Codornices Park. Garfield may hate Mondays, but perhaps he’d be a little less grumpy if he stopped to smell the roses at the Berkeley Rose Garden. Or if he explored the tunnel entrance to Codornices Park, and took a turn zipping down the 40-foot rockslide on a cardboard square. The Rose Garden overlooks the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge, and is open from dawn until dusk. Bring your glove, baseball, Frisbee, and picnic lunch—the park features baseball fields, a sweeping lawn, picnic tables, a play structure, and more.
Head to the South Bay Railroad Society in Santa Clara. Have a child who loves model trains or Thomas the Tank Engine? Then he or she will love the historic Santa Clara Depot, built in 1863. Enjoy the scale model train displays, railroad artifacts, and real railroad business car with your kids. (Free Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m.)
Go to your local library.
Help your kids to keep their minds sharp by taking them to one of the East Bay’s libraries. Visit your nearby library’s website for an events calendar to find out about readings, book clubs, and more for families with children of all ages. On Wednesdays, the Lafayette Library hosts an “All Ears Reading Time,” where kids can practice their reading skills by reading to the lovable dog, “Vally,” from ARF.
Spend the day at Parkside Aquatic Park in San Mateo. Pulling kids away from videogames or the TV can be difficult, but your children will jump at the chance to spend a warm summer day at the Parkside Aquatic Park, where they can swim, climb on play structures, bump around a volleyball on the sand court, and enjoy dad’s grill skills (what says “summer” more than hot dogs and hamburgers on an outdoor barbecue?).
Watch the free evening kids movies in the park.
Moonlight Movies is a free Danville summer evening series hosted on the Town Green, out under the stars, on select Friday nights. There are also fun crafts and activities offered for kids before the movie begins at sundown. And, if you can’t make a Friday in Danville, Jack London Square in Oakland hosts sing-along movies on Fridays, where guests are encouraged to dress in accordance with the movie’s theme, and participate in song and dance. Bring a picnic dinner to enjoy during the flick, or dine out at the various restaurants and eateries in either Danville or Oakland.
On select Friday nights June through September, you can also enjoy free movies under the stars in Alameda. The festivities begin at 6:30 pm and movies begin at 8:15 pm, so bring a picnic dinner. There are also pre-show activties, games, and crafts for kids.
Head to the Berkeley Marina Adventure Playground. Free for families with four or fewer children, this outdoor playground has everything kids could want: forts, boats, towers, zip lines, and paint. Children of all ages are invited to come play. Oh, and be sure to wear sturdy tennis shoes!
The first Sunday of every month, the Asian Art Museum, across from San Francisco’s Civic Center, is open and free to the public. So take your family for a fun BART ride into the City (no parking fees on weekends!).
Or visit Livermore on Saturdays and Sundays for free, fun nature activities. Parking does cost money ($5), but the ranger-led nature walks and pond exploration are free for the public.
-Go for a family bike ride on Iron Horse Trail or the Lafayette-Moraga Trail, and stop for Jamba Juice or ice cream before you pedal home.
-Take a stroll around the Lafayette Reservoir. Bring fishing poles, a picnic lunch, and your canine companion for fun on the docks, play structure, on grass.
-Diablo Vista Park in Danville is a great place to take kids to play and picnic. The park houses outdoor barbecues, well-lit sporting fields, and courts for late-night pick up games, plus a water playground for hot summer afternoons.
-Learn what life was like living and working on a family ranch in the late 1800s and early 1900s at Old Borges Ranch in Walnut Creek. Self-guided visits are free all week, and park ranger tours are free on weekends. Visit the barn, blacksmith's shop, animals, and pond, and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy.