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Going against the grain, many kids don’t desire to stay glued to the TV during the Super Bowl. For those kids looking to get out of the house and do something fun, here is a list of five fun East Bay alternatives to watching the Super Bowl. Grab a non-football-loving grownup and head on out for a day of fun at one of these spots.
699 Bellevue Ave.
Oakland, CA 94610
Children’s Fairyland was created over 60 years ago by founder Arthur Navlet as an amusement park specifically geared toward children under the age of 10. Various children’s storybook characters provide the inspiration for different playgrounds and rides. Kids will run into all of their favorites here from Peter Rabbit to Alice in Wonderland. Local legend is that a certain Mr. Disney designed his own Southern California theme park on the concept behind Fairyland. In addition to the many rides and play areas, the park also has gardens, a petting zoo and puppet shows.
9777 Golf Links Road
Oakland, CA 94605
Arguably the most scenic Bay Area zoo, the conservations-focused Oakland Zoo has been situated in a wooded area of the Oakland Hills since 1922. With over 660 different species of animal, the zoo’s rolling pathways are stroller-friendly and provide ample opportunity to get up close with everything from lions, tigers and zebras to giraffes, fruit bats and chimpanzees. For those looking to spend more time here than the half day or so it takes to see most of the animal exhibits, check out the selection of rides near the front entrance, which include a train, small roller coaster and sky ride. There are daily animal feedings, food is available in the café, souvenirs in the gift shop and there is a petting zoo for the younger ones in the children’s area.
2065 Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
The Habitot Children’s Museum is a great spot to burn a few hours with the little ones. With art classes and play spaces, this creative play museum is a bit on the smaller side, but can easily keep the preschool set busy during the game. Big draws include the grocery store, complete with shopping carts, food and play money, and the paint and water play areas. Also popular are the astronaut, fire truck and face painting. Make sure to bring a change of clothes for the kids for after water and art play.
34600 Ardenwood Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94555
Nestled just off the freeway, historic Ardenwood Farm is perfect for those willing to brave the colder weather during the big game. Part of the East Bay Parks Department, Ardenwood is an organic working farm, complete with cows, sheep, goats and chickens, as well as a seasonal produce stand. The old Patterson House farmhouse is available for tours, there is a horse-drawn train ride, plenty of walking trails and daily animal feedings. No snacks or drinks are available for purchase, so make sure to pack a lunch for the kids.
1510 Webster St.
Alameda, CA 94501
The non-profit Pacific Pinball Museum is home to over 100 pinball machines dating from the pre-1960s through the modern era. With no quarters needed, a $15 entrance fee grants visitors access to free play of most of the machines, which are divided up into rooms by decade. Corresponding decade-period music is played in each room, and all jukeboxes are also free with admission. This is a great spot for young kids, teens and adults alike with machines ranging from Dr. Who and AC/DC to the Phantom of the Opera and the classic Cyclone. Some snacks and drinks are sold onsite, and in-and-out privileges are granted with a hand stamp to those wishing to patronize one of the many nearby eateries. Make sure to check out the see-through model to see the inner workings of a pinball machine, and don’t hesitate to engage the expertly knowledgeable staff about specific machine play or history.
Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.