More local outings than you can imagine are listed on Bay Area Kid Fun and Bay Area Family Travel. Bay Area Kid Fun also has listings of birthday party resources and summer camps.
The Bay Area also has some of California’s most attractive and accessible parks. Check out the local Santa Clara County parks as well as state parks. There’s no better place to hike, bike, picnic, and just hang out than our great California outdoors.
You can also find information about local parks, facilities (i.e. pools and playgrounds), and community events through your local Parks and Recreation Department.
*Hint: Join one museum, like CuriOdyssey, and get free admission to others, like the San Francisco Zoo.
For Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Ardenwood Farm.
34600 Ardenwood Boulevard (at Highway 84), Fremont.
(888) 327-2757, option 3, ext.4504
Open Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Admission fee.
Buggy and wagon tours, farm animals, and a blacksmith shop. Picnic areas and café open on weekends. Accessible by public transit from the Union City BART station.
- Bay Area Discovery Museum.
East Fort Baker, Sausalito. 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito.
Open Tuesday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00. pm., Saturday - Sunday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Admission fee.
This museum, located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, is dedicated to inspiring creativity through play. Hands-on art, science, and environmental exhibitions will delight the whole family, and you can’t beat the view.
1651 Coyote Point Drive San Mateo, CA
Open Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, 12:00 - 5:00 p.m. Admission fee.
A small California ecology museum just south of the San Francisco Airport. Highlights include a small zoo of orphaned animals such as mice, porcupines, river otters, and banana slugs; beautiful native plant gardens, preschool-oriented exhibits, views of San Francisco Bay, a marina with sailboats, and jet airplanes overhead about every three minutes on their way to the airport. Low key and just big enough, but not too big, for very young visitors.
- Hakone Gardens 21000 Big Basin Way
Saratoga CA 95070
Weekdays 10:00 am - 5:00 pm and Weekends 11:00 am - 5:00 pm The Hakone Gardens, in the traditional Japanese style, are made up of a harmonious variety of hillside gardens, historic buildings, multi-tiered waterfalls, koi ponds, and strolling gardens. A serene and delightful location for a morning or afternoon respite.
- Hidden Villa Farm
26870 Moody Road Los Altos Hills, CA
Introduce your young child to farm animals at this small, rustic non-profit farm in a beautiful setting a few minutes west of Highway 280 in Los Altos Hills. Open to the general public Tuesday - Friday.
- Palo Alto Junior Museum
1451 Middlefield Rd. Palo Alto, CA
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
A small museum and zoo with preschool oriented exhibits and play area. Adjacent to a playground, picnic area, and public swimming pool.
- Shoreline Park
3160 No. Shoreline Blvd. Mountain View, CA 94103
Open daily until dusk. Fly a kite, paddleboat, walk, or play at this breezy park located at the very edge of San Francisco bay.
Best for Preschoolers Only
- California Academy of the Sciences
55 Music Concourse Way Golden Gate Park San Francisco, CA 941108
Open Monday – Saturday, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Admission fee.
Reopened in 2008 after a multi-year renovation, the Academy of Sciences is the world’s greenest museum. Among its features are a four-story rainforest, aquarium, and “living roof;” and repeat visits will probably be needed to enjoy it all.
- Caltrain Check the schedule here. Hop on the train at your closest station – Santa Clara (1001 Railroad Ave.) or Lawrence (137 San Zeno Way, Sunnyvale) – and take a ride up the Peninsula. You can go as far as San Francisco! Two good destinations are: San Mateo - You can walk to San Mateo’s Central Park (about 5 blocks). It has a children’s playground, Japanese garden, and koi pond. Burlingame - The Burlingame train station is just across the street from Washington Park, which is shady and has a playground and picnic area.
- Hiller Aviation Museum
601 Skyway Road., San Carlos
Admission fee, under 4 years/free.
Open 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., seven days a week. Learn about the history and future of aviation by viewing life-size models of aircraft. You can also view planes under repair in the Restoration Shop. Accessible by Caltrain from the San Carlos Station, but it is a one mile walk.
- Hoover Tower at Stanford University
Open daily, 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 pm except during finals and academic breaks.
Take the elevator to the top of the tower for a thrilling ride and a 360 degree view of Palo Alto. Afterwards, head to the Student Union for a snack and cavorting in the White Plaza fountain. Public transit access is available. Take Caltrain to the Palo Alto station, then hop on the free Marguerite shuttle which will take you up to the Stanford campus.
- Museum of American Heritage
351 Homer Ave. (between Waverley and Bryant), Palo Alto 94301
Open Friday to Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
A small history museum of everyday life from 1900-1940. Highlights are exhibits of an early 20th century general store and radio repair shop. Walking distance from the Palo Alto Caltrain Station.
- San Francisco Zoo
1 Zoo Road (at Sloat Blvd. and the Great Highway), San Francisco 94132
Open seven days a week, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
The largest zoological park in northern California. Enjoy the Australian Walkabout, Children’s Zoo, Little Puffer train ride, and much, much more. It can get chilly, so bring a jacket. Here are driving directions from the South Bay. If you are in San Francisco, you can take the Muni L Taraval line outbound to the Zoo. Muni bus lines 23 and 18 also stop at the Zoo.