Cheap and Free East Bay Kid Activities


  • Discover and Go Program: Contra Costa Libraries are offering 2 FREE passes to many Bay Area attractions just for being patrons! Check the list before spending ANY of your hard-earned money on the following activities!
  • Concord Airport: Kids can watch small aircraft take off and land and pretend to be little planes themselves on the painted runway available to them!
  • Little Farm at Tilden Park: Bring lots of celery and lettuce (only!) to feed the animals at Little Farm. Beware, it’s not exactly stroller friendly and you should definitely bring your own hand sanitizer. There is a small park that you can head to for the feeding of the kids once you’re done with the animals.
  • Jelly Belly Factor Tour: I haven’t done this since I was a Girl Scout, but I’m sure it’s just as awesome. Just be sure to bring enough money to buy a big ol’ bag-o-belly-flops.
  • The Randall Museum, San Francisco: The Museum itself is free admission and there is free parking in their “moderately sized lots”. It’s San Francisco…. drive in at your own risk 😉
  • Pick-Your-Own Fruit Picking, Brentwood: The activity itself is free, but you’ll have to pay for the fruit you pick! Beware: Kids LOVE to pick more than they they and their friends your entire family the whole US Army can eat. Make sure you have a dozen recipes on hand to make for the produce you choose to pick and/or have MANY friends you can share with!
  • Concord Music and Market Series: Bring a blanket, a football, and a picnic to enjoy this free concert-in-the-park every Thursday night! Kill two birds by getting some fresh local produce at the Market!
  • Discount Kid Flicks at participating theaters (Regal Cinemas, and Cinemark)
  • Drive-In Movies: Bring blankets, refreshments, and folding chairs (if it’s a nice night), and find a spot for one of the Double Features! Two movies for super cheap!
  • The Steam Train at Tilden Park: Only $2 per ride for ages 2+! It’s a nice long ride (about 15 minutes) through some beautiful sights! Leave your strollers and food in the car.
Worth a Membership
  • Oakland Zoo OR San Francisco Zoo: You get free or discounted admission at many other zoos and museums. Just check their reciprocity list (Oakland or SF) for current deals!
  • Children’s Fairyland
  • Waterworld California, Concord: Parking is an additional $10/visit, but if you have a fish-out-of-water in your household, this is a great place to cool off! If your kids are small, make sure you check out the lagoon! Kids 3 and under are free!
  • East Bay Parks Membership: Free entrance/parking to East Bay Parks, free swimming, and discounts on camping!
I am *sure* there are other activities out there! What have I missed?

8 thoughts on “Cheap and Free East Bay Kid Activities

  1. Hey ~ I have an itch to pick fruit (veggies?) this week. Have you been to any particular farms you would(n’t) recommend? I’m having a hard time figuring out a “good” place to go without clicking all over the internet for limited info. Thanks!

  2. Tilden Steam Trains used to offer a multi-ride ticket; I think it’s $8 for five rides which made it even cheaper.

    Also, do you know about the “Discover and Go” museum pass program at the Contra Costa Libraries? I have never used it but have loved borrowing passes from libraries in our area. Cal Academy is on there, as is the Bay Area Discovery Museum (far but fun and beautiful!), Habitot, Cal Shakes (cheap date!)….. HUGE LIST! I just looked at it before I posted this comment, and I didn’t realize how large the list was. Awesome!

    • I haven’t used the Discover and Go Pass yet, but what an AWESOME program! My sister and her family have a pass to the Cal Academy, so my family could use the DnG if we wanted to all go together! Very cool!

      • Uh… am I an idiot and you already had the DnG program listed? Geez…. I’m banned from commenting!

      • heh. Don’t say that… for whatever reason, I get more comments via my FB friends on FB than on the actual blog, so any comments make me feel legit. 😉

  3. I think Cal Academy is worth a membership too; it’s $200, but for a family of 4, that’s about 1/25 visits. For another $50 a year, you can bring 2 guests (and their kids!) with every visit.
    Find free parking and pack a picnic, the whole days costs bridge toll & gas.
    Also, it’s 100% tax deductible.

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