Children's Fairyland - Places For Kids

Places Nearby: Children's Fairyland

Check out these other attractions close to Children's Fairyland

Chabot Space & Science Center

10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, CA 94619

Two words: Planetarium and Observatory. That should get all sorts of ideas flowing for space travel, star gazing, and going home to watch re-runs of Star Trek episodes. First, go to the Chabot Space and Science Center so you can get some good ideas. If you can make time to go on a Friday or a Saturday and stay through the evening, you'll be able to use the telescopes in the Observatory. Fortunately, there's coffee at the new Bean Sprouts Café, so you'll have enough caffeine to stay up. The Planetarium has a 70-foot screen and can seat over 230 people, so there will be plenty of room for watching shows that could rival any IMAX theatre. There are astronauts and alien searches, there is space travel and constellation investigation, there is time travel back to the Mayan days. For a small extra fee, there are even psychedelic laser light shows including music from the Beatles to Pink Floyd. The Exhibits are for those who want to explore with their eyes and their fingers. The Bill Nye Climate Lab has an invention station and a climate-themed video game, as well as displays on emissions and keeping the ocean from becoming the world's largest landfill. Stars, nebulae, and black holes can be found in Destination Universe, while moon rocks and the Mercury space vehicle ride will certainly inspire the kids to stay for telescope time. If everyone wants more information on the Mayans after seeing the Planetarium video, there's an educational display on their calendar, reading, and writing. This can be a great way to sneak in more social studies and history lessons. Also, if you've ever told your kids not to look at the sun, you'll have to eat your words at the Touch the Sun display – especially if the kids find out that there's an available mobile app.

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Habitot Children's Museum

2065 Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
United States

This is definitely a place to bring the young ones, whether they want to operate the spaceships and ambulances, don an apron and splash paint around, or splash around in the Waterworks zone. This water zone is even more important in this indoor facility than at others, because the facility is in a basement. One of the only repeated complaints from reviewers was that the museum is smaller than the party area, and occasionally gets hot and stuffy. Staying near the water zone can help alleviate this issue, while the indoor bathroom helps alleviate calls of nature. Other parents had high praise for the arts and crafts area, from the hands-on instructors to the quality of the materials available, though the kids may want to just hang out at the Train Tables all day. Also, if you've ever had a great time at a park or museum, only to have the kids fall apart when they realize they can't take home the toys, this won't happen here. Habitot members can access the lending library for books and toys, and you can get ideas for what will keep them entertained at home. While street and lot parking are relatively inexpensive and easy to access, the facility is very accessible by public transport in downtown Berkeley. Habitot can also be used as a drop-off center every fourth Friday for the monthly Parents' Night Out – the kids get pizza and play while parents get to remember life before diapers. It's a win for everyone.

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Junior Center Art and Science

558 Bellevue Ave.
Oakland, CA 94610

The Junior Center may be an under-appreciated Oakland gem. It's located just next to Lake Merrit's bird sanctuary, the still-popular Children's Fairyland, and the Oakland East Bay Garden Center, less than a mile away. It can be hard to find educational places that are open for free during the week, also offer science and art classes, and act as a drop-in center or camp during the summer. You and the kids can overlook the lake while looking at frogs and lizards, in the Animal Discovery sessions on Tuesdays and Fridays (free), or bring a picnic basket so that you can really explore the area around the lake. It's also fun to look around the room at the display of artwork and posters about the various animals, done by all of the kids who have explored their way through the Center. There are baskets of crayons and helpful staff who can show you how to draw, explain how the lizard can regrow its tail – and of course this will inspire your kids to add their artwork to the walls. Gary the tortoise is a real hands-on highlight. He's middle-aged, and a little slow, but his rescue story is inspiring – especially as he is now quite hale and healthy. It's also allowed to hold Tyler the bearded dragon, and the toads, but you might want to just admire the Madagascar hissing roaches from afar. On Tuesdays and Thursday mornings, parents of preschoolers can come and help their 'Little Leapers' get ready for a learning environment, doing art and science and music classes in groups. The after-school and summer courses can be taken for a very affordable fee, whether your kids want to build a bookcase and a chicken coop for the backyard (Carpentry for Kids) or become the next Calvin and Hobbes creator (Cartooning for Teens) with a side interest in charm bracelets (Jewelry/Metal Arts for Teens). The Rockets and Robots class is also very popular.

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Mocha (Museum of Children's Arts)

1625 Clay St.
Oakland, CA 94612

While most child-centered learning centers, museums, and play spaces in San Francisco and Oakland have art classes, MOCHA focuses almost exclusively on art as a first-tier learning tool. Many kid-friendly places strive to incorporate art into other areas of education, such as science and environmental awareness. MOCHA's pupose has a bigger focus – using art to bond together community relationships and reduce city crime rates with more positive influences. The underlying seriousness doesn't keep kids or parents from enjoying themselves. Most of what's available is the Open Studio time, where parents and kids can drop in unnanounced on Friday and Saturday, pay their $7 each, and spend a few hours discovering their own creativity. Options may be a little limited for toddlers, though the glueing and stamping station can usually keep them occupied if the trucks and train tracks are in use. Four-year-olds and older kids will definitely benefit from the computers, Legos, coloring, and painting. Occasionally, the tasks change, so the kids can delve into something more complicated like making books, marbleizing paper, and the mechanics of printmaking. Parents who felt cramped in the old location will definitely want to take a look at the new building, which allows the staff to open up multiple art projects so that kids can take their pick of activities. The new location on Clay Street has also opened up possibilities for more museum displays, art parties, and summer camps, which can really help out parents. The summer camps mean that parents can drop off their children around 9 am, and have a day to get their own tasks done while the kids are busy expressing themselves and learning how to create beauty until 3:30 pm. For $65 per day, or $300 per week, this can be a sanity saver.

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USS Hornet

707 W Hornet Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501

For a 900-foot aircraft carrier, the location of the USS Hornet is more hidden than might be expected. Once you arrive at the parking lot, the signs make it easy to get on board. The workings of the engine room should fascinate any kids who like to know how things work, while the flight deck and jets are just as fascinating visually as they are once you find out how they work. Bringing children under the age of five might be a small challenge, as the ship is large and might be a little spooky, especially the sick bay. History buffs will love seeing the sleeping bunks where men rested until it was time for them to be on duty, the elevators for the fighter planes, and the popular Apollo 11 exhibit. Essentially, this is a walkable, tourable World War II documentary, with live guides to explain the workings of aircraft and people from another era. The Officers' Lounge shows the history of other ships named 'Hornet', Ready Room 4 shows photos of fighter planes, Hangar Bay 3 shows some of the Nisei soldiers' contributions in combat and intelligence, and the second deck has a room dedicated to one of the everyday crewmembers and his team. Don't miss the forecastle tour if you can work it in, because it shows a miniature version of Titanic-like damage done by a typhoon. The hangar deck exhibit on Apollo 11 and 12 adds in a peacetime element of education, and information about how people traveled to the moon to explore. The hand stamp at admission makes it easy to tour a little and then take breaks outside, which is ideal if you want to do more food tours than history tours. The flight simulator is worth a little extra charge for kids who really need some multimedia thrills. Everyone does need to arrive in sturdy walking shoes and tote along a windbreaker, because going up and down the narrow stairs can really be difficult without comfortable footwear – and there are some chilly areas. Also, bring a camera to take some shots of panoramic San Francisco views from the flight deck.

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