2018 Bay Area Summer Bucket List (with Kids!)

Friends! I know lots of you are starting to plan fun things with your kids this summer, so I managed to narrow down a list of some of our favorite adventures big and small. I’d love if you’d share your favorite activity in the comments, and pass it along to a friend or two who need to keep their kids out of the house! šŸ˜‰
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  • Beach! Santa Cruz tends to be warmer in summer than peninsula beaches. Twin Lakes, Rio del Mar, and Manresa are all nice. For slightly more adventure, Fern Grotto (at Wilder Ranch off Old Landing Cove Trail) and Shark Fin Cove both involve somewhat steep hikes down cliffs, and then youā€™re rewarded with a quiet and gorgeous beach.
  • Recreation area swimming: Cull Canyon or Lake Anza. Both have a little beach, very calm water, and are relatively clean. $3.50 for adults and $2.50 for kids age 1+.
  • Stanford Fountain hopping: We love the sunken pool fountain (perfect for toddlers and preschoolers!), but the red hoop fountain and Memorial Auditorium fountain are also fun.
  • Rinconada Pool: great fun for kids with a little slide, a mushroom fountain, and lots of space and different depths to swim. $6 adults, $5 ages 3-17, $3 age 2 & under.
  • Boomerang Bay: Great Americaā€™s water park. Annual passes cover the regular amusement park (the kid area is adorable!), water park, and holiday events. Costco had them last year for $75/person!
  • Gilroy Gardens: Included with Great America annual passes! We love the little pool with the mini water slides and splash pad area next to it.
  • Sunnyvale splash pad hopping: Seven Seas (the biggest), Ortega, Lakewood Park.
  • Aqua Adventure: new waterpark in Fremont
  • Morgan Hill Aquatic Center or Silliman Aquatic Center (Fremont)

  • San Jose Greek Festival (June 1-3): One of the best festivals weā€™ve attended! Delightful old Greek grandmas making tons of amazing food, dancing, music, and more.
  • San Francisco Symphony + fireworks at Shoreline Amphitheater on July 4th: Bernstein, Gershwin, and the best of Americana
  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Retro Nights (June 18-Aug 14): $1.50 rides and cheap prices throughout the park
  • Stern Grove: Fantastic and free concerts. Go early, though – it gets super crowded!
  • Golden Gate Park Band at the Spreckles Temple of Music: Free concerts on Sunday at 1pm all featuring different nationalities and cultures.


  • Fruit picking – Gizdich Ranch or Brentwood are good places for this!
  • Hiking! Some favorites: Old Landing Cove Trail in Santa Cruz, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (redwoods trail or Garden of Eden for the swimming hole), Cataract Falls/Lake Lagunitas/Mt. Tam in Marin, Mori Point in Pacifica, or Rock City at Mt. Diabolo State Park (do this one on a cooler day). Heintz Open Space in Los Gatos has a perfect tiny one for young tots.
  • Los Gatos Jazz on the Plazz: Free Wednesday evening jazz in the park from 6:30-8:30 6/13-8/22. Take a picnic!
  • Tilden Park: Ride the cute train, the merry-go-round, or go to the botanical garden
  • Zoo: Oakland & San Francisco both are great. SF is especially nice on hot summer days as it may very well be freezing there! šŸ˜‰
  • Go tide pooling: Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is fantastic for this, as is Bean Hollow
  • Childrenā€™s Fairyland in Oakland: Check out an old school tiny amusement park
  • Have a picnic: The Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose is a gorgeous spot
  • San Jose Viva Parks: Last year, they had everything from free zumba to roller skating!
  • Adventure Playground in Berkeley – best for non-toddlers who are excited to build with real nails, saws, and paint. Head over to Cheese Board for food after!

  • Exploratorium/Pier 39
  • Musee Mechanique/Maritime National Historical Park
  • San Jose Childrenā€™s Museum (they often have a Groupon running)
  • Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo at its new, temporary location at the Cubberley Community Center while they renovate
  • Cantor Museum at Stanford (the Stanford Museums stay open until 8pm on Thursday nights, so take a picnic to the sculpture garden, then pop into the museums after)
  • Chabot Space & Science Center
  • CuriOdyssey, and check out the Magic Mountain playground after!
  • Lawrence Hall of Science
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • De Young: Be sure to check out the fantastic childrenā€™s art programming
  • Summer Movie Clubhouse: $1 kidsā€™ daytime movies at select theaters
  • Library childrenā€™s programming: Ours last year had hands-on demonstrations on electricity and reptiles, puppet shows, magic shows, and more.
  • Iftar dinner: Attend a local interfaith dinner to learn about Ramadan customs


  • Pinnacles National Park: Take a day trip down to the closest National Park to the Bay Area! We love the Bear Gulch Reservoir hike
  • Marin: Thereā€™s SO much to do here, but some favorites are Cataract Falls, Muir Woods, Point Reyes, Lake Lagunitas, Mrs. Grossmanā€™s Sticker Factory, and Point Bonita
  • Alameda or Benicia to explore historic California sites
  • Big Sur: Make sure to hike at Point Lobos and stop at McWay Falls & Big Sur Bakery
  • Jelly Belly Factory Tour in Fairfield

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