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Fun-filled Summer Family Activities and Day Trips Around the Bay Area, California

Looking for ideas to upgrade your summer family activities this year?

The Bay Area is so full of amazing things to do, even if you don't fly or drive far away for your holidays or just have some days to spare, here are some awesome ideas and places to consider for your family summer vacation. Please double check opening hours, accuracy and pricing of any of these places before heading out there, as details may change over time.

Planning a family day trip around the Bay Area can be a delightful experience with its myriad of attractions and activities that cater to children of all ages. From educational museums to exciting ferry rides, here are some fantastic destinations and activities for families with kids aged 0-12.

two kids facing the camera smiling
kids having fun on family summer activity in the Bay Area

1. Bay Area Discovery Museum

Address: 557 McReynolds Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965

Nestled at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito is a haven for young explorers. This hands-on museum is designed to ignite creativity and curiosity in children. With interactive exhibits like "Try It Studio" and "Tot Spot" for toddlers, kids can engage in imaginative play and learn through discovery. The museum's stunning outdoor spaces offer breathtaking views and provide a perfect spot for a family picnic.

2. California Academy of Sciences

Address: 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

Located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is a must-visit destination. This all-in-one science museum, aquarium, planetarium, and rainforest exhibit is both educational and entertaining. Kids will love the Steinhart Aquarium with its diverse marine life, the four-story Rainforest Dome, and the mesmerizing shows at the Morrison Planetarium. Interactive exhibits like the "Discovery Tidepool" let kids get hands-on with starfish and other sea creatures.

A ferry on the Bay
Get on a ferry from SF to Sausalito with your whole family this summer

3. Ferry Ride to Sausalito

Departure Address: San Francisco Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

A ferry ride to Sausalito is an adventure in itself. Departing from the San Francisco Ferry Building, the ferry offers stunning views of the Bay, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Once in Sausalito, families can explore the charming waterfront town, visit local shops, or dine at kid-friendly restaurants. The Bay Area Discovery Museum is also a short ride away from the ferry terminal, making it easy to combine these activities.

4. ResortPass Day at a Pool

For a refreshing day out, consider using ResortPass to access luxury hotel pools in the Bay Area. This service allows families to enjoy resort amenities without needing to book an overnight stay. Here are a couple of options:

- Claremont Club & Spa: 41 Tunnel Rd, Berkeley, CA 94705

- Cavallo Point Lodge: 601 Murray Circle, Sausalito, CA 94965

These hotels offer family-friendly pools with beautiful views and poolside dining options. It's a perfect way to relax and cool off during warmer days.

dad with two kids splashing in the pool
Resort Pass allows you to use Hotel pools for the day. An easy way to cool off, even in the city

5. Crissy Field

Crissy Field: 1199 E Beach, San Francisco, CA 94129

  Located in San Francisco, this former airfield turned park offers sandy beaches and calm waters ideal for wading and kite flying. It's also a great spot for picnics with picturesque views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

6. Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay: Pier 39, The Embarcadero & Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133

  Situated at Pier 39, this aquarium focuses on local marine life from the San Francisco Bay. Kids will be fascinated by the underwater tunnels and the touch pools where they can gently interact with sea stars, bat rays, and more.

7. Gilroy Garden (for the bigger outing!)

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Address: 3050 Hecker Pass Highway, Gilroy, CA 95020

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park is a unique horticultural theme park nestled in the picturesque city of Gilroy, California. Designed to inspire and entertain, Gilroy Gardens offers a delightful mix of amusement rides, botanical gardens, and family-friendly attractions.

Features and Attractions:

  • Rides and Attractions: The park features over 40 rides and attractions, including the Quicksilver Express Mine Coaster, the Timber Twister Coaster, and the gentle rides in the Bonfante Falls area.

  • Gardens and Landscaping: Gilroy Gardens is renowned for its beautiful garden displays and landscaping. Highlights include the Monarch Garden, a butterfly exhibit, and the unique Circus Trees, which are artistically shaped trees that add a magical touch to the park.

  • Water Features: Enjoy cooling off at Water Oasis, a splash pad and water play area perfect for kids during the hot summer months.

  • Family Fun: The park offers a variety of family-friendly activities, such as paddle boats on Coyote Lake, the South County Backroads, and the whimsical Garlic Twirl.

  • Educational Exhibits: Educational displays and interactive exhibits throughout the park teach visitors about horticulture, ecology, and the natural world.

  • Dining and Shopping: Several dining options are available, including healthy snacks and full meals. There are also gift shops where you can purchase souvenirs to remember your visit.

Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park is an ideal destination for families looking to enjoy a day of fun, learning, and natural beauty. With its combination of amusement park thrills and serene garden settings, it offers something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

8. Splash Pads + Pools around the Bay Area

Splash pads and Pools and other swimming options are a great way to cool off and have fun during the summer. Essentially splash pads are areas on a palyground with water features , which allow the community to cool down on hot days. Please check each website for updated information, seasonal changes and opening hours. Some pools and destinations may need to be reserved before hand.

Here are some popular spots around the Bay Area:

  1. Brisbane Pool Pool with options for lap swimming and kids classes. Find all the infos on the website.

  2. Cull Canyon This popular Castro Valley swimming spot is a lagoon and only a short drive north from Interstate 580 on Cull Canyon Road in Castro Valley.

  3. Jack Fischer Park Jack Fischer Park contains a variety of children’s play equipment, including an interactive water feature, a “bee hive” hill with walking path, large open play fields, and restrooms. The special features at this park are particularly geared for the young child. The park got its name from the beloved principal at the former elementary school, which used to occupy the site where the park now sits.

  4. Fremont Central Park Aqua Adventure Waterpark A full water park with various water play areas, including splash zones suitable for younger children.

  5. Leland Stanford Park Check out this spacious park with a fun splash pad area and playground for kids.

  6. Roberts Regional Recreation Area Located in the Oakland hills, this park offers a small water play area along with extensive picnic spots and hiking trails.

  7. Seven Seas Park A themed park with a pirate ship splash pad, playgrounds, and picnic areas.

  8. Riconada Pool, Palo Alto Riconada Pool offers a large pool with seating areas to hang out, swimming lessons at different times and kid area.

  9. Burton Park A neighborhood park with a fun splash pad area, playground, and picnic tables.

  10. Magical Bridge Playground An inclusive playground with a variety of play zones, including a water splash area.

9. Beaches

There are so many - therefore I am sharing this post for more kid friendly beaches.

Take a trip down to Santa Cruz and enjoy the Beach, the city and of corse the Board Walk which offers many attractions for kids and adults. It makes for a fun day trip or short trip and is just far enough to feel like you are on a mini vacation, yet close enough to make sure you are not in the car all day. The drive down is very scenic and nice, if you go along the coast and you can find many fun stops on the way, like small farms for berry picking, a light house with great view over the ocean, and other small towns forth exploring. When will you cruise to Santa Cruz?

Four kids in a pool
The Bay Area has so many awesome water related playgrounds, pools, lagoons and other spots to cool off at.

There is so much fun to be had in the Bay Area, Many more great museums, berry picking spots and farms to visit.

Add your favorite family friendly Summer Activities to the list and grow the resource we have here to help more families create unforgettable memories. Thank you for being a contributor.


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