Morning Outings for Small Kids
August 24, 2012 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Suggest a novel activity for small (2 & 3.5 yo) kids for a (preferably east-) Bay Area Saturday morning.

I'd like to do something different with the kids tomorrow. But I can't think of what.

Snowflake requirements:
* don't want to drive all day (I'd like to stay within half an hour or so of central Contra Costa if there's a car journey invovled)
* some place where small kids can run amok relatively safely in case mom decides to stay home and it's just me being responsible
* early morning - need to be back home by noon

Things I've considered:
* BART to the City, Ferry to Marin. Could be fun, but I don't know if the ferries are hang-out-on-deck friendly. I suspect they're mostly seats for commuters.
* Beach - we could drive to Santa Cruz or Stinson I suppose, but it seems like a lot of driving
* just take Amtrak to nowhere in particular and back. I think this might be a contender, but the 2-year-old might get fussy.

What do you think?
posted by colin_l to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Tilden? Lots of running around space, Merry-go-round, steam train, petting zoo, botanical garden, etc, and it shouldn't be far from you.
posted by brainmouse at 1:52 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yep, Tilden is perfect. My toddler second cousins love the place. Bring some lettuce/celery to feed the cows at the little farm. I would probably skip the botanical gardens- they are lovely, but not really in a way that is appreciated by tiny children.
posted by rockindata at 1:56 PM on August 24, 2012

The ferries I've taken from SF to the north bay have all had open space above decks where you could hang out, there are even outside seats. No one minds you being on deck.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:56 PM on August 24, 2012

If you are not an expert kid wrangler I would be very cautious about a ferry. The Circle Line ones in NYC are screened now (let us not discuss why), and you'd want to be confident the SF one you selected was as well. If it is, that sounds like a great outing to me!
posted by DarlingBri at 2:08 PM on August 24, 2012

3rd-ing Tilden. The Botanical Garden is great, as is the steam train and the Little Farm. Near by is Cordonices Park, with the greatest stone slide ever. Too much for the 2 year old, but the 3.5 year old should have fun with it. There's also some paths through a small wooded area and some streams to explore. Across the street is the Berkeley Rose Garden.
posted by skwm at 2:22 PM on August 24, 2012

Yes, the deck is hang-out-able, but be sure to bring jackets and sweaters even if it's 84 in Pleasant Hill or whatever. Tilden is pretty great, too.

If you REALLY don't want to go too far afield, there are two little activity parks in the area for very small kids: Pixieland in Concord and Small World Park in Pittsburg. I haven't been to either, but I have fond memories of this type of thing when I was under 5. They're small and not high tech and not fun at all for anyone over 6, but ... yeah. Make sure you read the descriptions and understand that they're not Disneyland!

I'm interested in going to Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek but haven't been yet. Reviews say that younger kids enjoy the opportunities to pet the animals (check for times) and the animals outside. (Actually, I haven't been because I'm afraid it'll be swamped with kids. haha)
posted by wintersweet at 2:27 PM on August 24, 2012

Thanks all. I think we've got this figured out. I <3 Tilden as much as the next dude, but the steam trains don't open until 11, which is kind of a pain for nap-time.

I think we're going to drive to Jack London Square and take the ferry to Pier 41. And that gets mommy back to Oakland in time for her class, so she's able to come with us!
posted by colin_l at 2:27 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

@wintersweet - we're members at the Lindsay museum, and it's fantastic. It's got a great play room where you can really let them go wild.
posted by colin_l at 2:28 PM on August 24, 2012

Wherever you go, there might be a geocache nearby (probably easiest to do if you have a smartphone with the appropriate app installed), and kids usually enjoy "treasure hunting".

Been to Fairyland? But they open at 10...
posted by Seboshin at 2:30 PM on August 24, 2012

There's music and the San Francisco Mime Troupe in Berkeley this weekend.
posted by morninj at 2:58 PM on August 24, 2012

too late to suggest the Albany Bulb?
posted by parrot_person at 3:48 AM on August 25, 2012

There's a lot of U-pick farms in Brentwood. I don't know what is in season, but next time, maybe you guys could go pick apples?
posted by salvia at 9:00 AM on August 25, 2012

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