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12 Free Things to Do This Summer in the Bay Area

This is our first summer in Oakland, and Ayva and I can’t wait to experience all that the Bay Area has to offer. Of course, since I’m on a strict budget because of the wedding, I’m happy that there are so many things to do in the area that are not only fun, but free! I’ve compiled a list of 12 free activities in the Oakland / San Francisco / East Bay area to keep your family occupied, have a good time, and maybe even learn some things in the process!

1. Tilden Little Farm – Pack a lunch and head out to Tilden Park and Tilden Little Farm. It’s a sweet farm that’s totally free. There’s a lot of space to run and play, a small playground, and if you drive a bit in the park, there’s a carousel that you can ride for a small fee.

2. Jelly Belly Factory Tour – We went to the Jelly Belly Factory Tour even when they weren’t in production, and it was very interesting to the kids and the adults. The tour is free, and you’ll even get samples to take home!

3. Bowling with Kids Bowl Free  – Sign up for the Kids Bowl Free program, and, you guessed it, kids bowl free! Add a family plan, and the entire family can bowl for $25 for the entire summer.

4. Fishing at Lake Temescal – During the summer, Lake Temescal is filled with catfish, so you can bring your poles and fish. The only fee is $5 for parking.

5. Fly Kites at Alameda’s Crown Memorial Beach – When we first visited this beach a few weeks ago, we were kicking ourselves that we didn’t bring a kite. The next time we go, we’ll definitely have one with us. This beach is perfect for flying kites!

6. Sunday at the Oakland Museum of California – Thanks to Wells Fargo, you can visit the OMCA for free on the First Sunday of the month. Children 8 and under are always free.

7. Explore the Asian Art Museum – Visit the Asian Art Museum on the first Sunday of the month, and Target will take care of your ticket cost! If you don’t want to wait, children 12 and under are always free. Also, be sure to check and see if your local library participates in the Community Library Pass Program where you can “check out” tickets to the museum for free!

8. Walking Tour of Oakland – All summer long, you can enjoy 90 minute walking tours of downtown Oakland districts. Oakland is a city full of great history, so you can expect rich stories about Old Oakland.

9. Shop and play at the Lake Merritt Farmer’s Market – On Saturdays, the Farmer’s Market is the place to be in Lake Merritt. Not only are there the farmer’s market vendors, but there’s space to sit and people watch, a playground in walking distance, and…the lake!

10. Waterfront Flicks at Jack London Square – Head to Jack London Square this summer for movies on the waterfront. There are adult options like “The Dark Knight”, and family films like “Brave”. Also, I hear there’s going to be a “Grease” singalong at some point this summer!

11. Art Workshops with MOCHA at the Oakland Library – The Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland is in the process of moving to their new building, but they’re still working! This summer, they’ll be leading various arts workshops at the Oakland Library.

Not Quite Free:

12. Treasure Island Flea Market – The flea market is held the last Saturday and Sunday of the month, and there’s a lot going on to keep the entire family occupied. From looking at the  interesting wares that the vendors are selling to performers, food trucks, and great views, the Treasure Island Flea Market is worth ten times the $3 entry fee for adults.

Arelis Cintron

Tuesday 4th of June 2013

wow this is a great list of things to do to keep a family busy for the entire summer on a small budget! I'll have to check out what my city has to keep me on my budget :) I miss flying kites :(


Sunday 2nd of June 2013

I'm with Amiyrah, I think I need to come visit, lol. This has inspired me to look around my own city for some adventure!


Friday 31st of May 2013

You make me want to visit! There are so many fun activities for families in the bay area. Great list, Brandi.