4 Places to Take the Family in Oakland

San Francisco gets all the glory from tourists, but Oakland doesn’t get enough of it. People who cross the Golden Gate Bridge into Oakland have already soaked up enough of the color and culture of San Francisco. But, they’ve only experienced a fraction of the surprises the East Bay Area has to offer.

If you and your family did go the other direction, then you’d see how Oakland is the better option. While San Fran appears big, Oakland is actually the biggest. Oakland boasts a population of over 400,000 people, and that’s not counting the 300,00 tourists who pass through. Not to mention the emerging tech industry. There are so many good places that would make Oakland a great destination for your next family trip. We’ve narrowed it down to the big four.

Established in 1870, Lake Merritt is the oldest nature preserve. The lake itself is a tidal lagoon fed by seawater, making it a perfect place for migrating Canadian geese, snowy egrets, and black cormorants. Merrit is encircled by a scenic 3.2 mile walking path and event areas. Young children will enjoy Children’s Fairyland amusement park. Fairyland has so many fun rides and one-of-a-kind puppet shows that Walt Disney himself used it as inspiration for Disneyland. Also, be on the look-out for the lake’s kaiju mascot, “Merritzilla.”

Located within the 490-acre Knowland Park, the Oakland Zoo houses all varieties of native and exotic animals. Oakland Zoo is managed by the Conservation Society of California to foster the best animal care, habitat design, and visitor experience. Take a gondola ride to watch giraffes and elephants bound across a realistic African savannah. Want a closer look? Jeep safaris are available along with conservation habitations. Overnight campouts are reservable on their California Trail (Young participants must be 6 years and older to participate, limit of 5 people to a tent cabin).

Shining through the redwoods of Oakland’s Regional Park is the Chabot Space and Science Center. The Chabot features the largest observatory installation free for public viewing in the Western United States. Another primary feature is it’s 241-seat full-dome Planetarium that can illuminate 9000 stars and celestial objects. Explore museum exhibits that showcase humanity’s efforts to reach the stars and even beyond them. Parents and kids can appreciate the “Project Create” workshops that educate participants in technology and filmmaking. 

Baseball season is a time for Oakland Athletics fans to show off their yellow and green. The Oakland Athletics (or A’s) remain the city’s prime sports team. For 51 years, the Oakland Coliseum has served as the A’s home turf. Though an Oakland real estate deal may lead to a new stadium being built for 2023, the Coliseum is still a community fixture. Every year fans sell out the stadium to root on their team. Cynical reporters may label the Coliseum as “America’s Ugliest Ballpark,” but the A’s and their fans show it’s what’s inside that counts.
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