For more than three decades, ABC Tree Farms have provided the Bay Area with seasonal fun October through December. Summer inspires the first round of recreation in the form of Summer Fun Zones packed with inflatable bounce houses masquerading as castles and slides and fresh harvests of local cherries, peaches, melons, and other fruits. During October, they run 20 pumpkin-themed locations, some of which also feature inflatable bounce houses and other attractions. Once Thanksgiving passes, groves of Christmas trees spring up, having made their way south from Oregon and Washington. There they will stand until Christmas Eve, hoping to decorate homes or become the model that inspires a revamped line of evergreen air fresheners.
The Golden State Model Railroad Museum brings the nation’s bygone steam-powered days back to life in miniature form, recreating the trails run by the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe Railroads. Trains snake through three huge model layouts, which depict the varied terrain of Northern and Central California lovingly recreated and operated by the East Bay Model Engineers Society. Sundays in April–December from noon to 5 p.m., some of the 70 behind-the-scenes conductors imbue the tracks with energy, transforming the 10,000-square-foot facility into a locomotive wonderland alight with the sounds of bells and whistles not heard since the days when phone numbers only had three digits. The museum is also open on Wednesdays and Saturdays for viewings or on select days for themed events such as Amtrak Day or Steam/Transition Era Day.
Playland-Not-at-the-Beach is a 9000-square foot building chock-full of amazing things to see and do. There are 30+ pinball machines set on Free Play, arcade games, videogames, carnival games of skills where you can win prizes, penny arcades full of antique amusement devices, live magic shows. We are truly The Museum of Fun!
Staffed by native East Bay trail explorers and expert riding instructors, Bella Oaks Stables fosters trained and fulfilling relationships between horses and their enthusiasts. Nestled among towering oak trees and gentle rolling hills, the fleet of majestic equines tote riders through lessons, community field trips, and trail rides, all under the guidance of a doting congregation of caretakers and volunteers. Seventeen summer camps for all ages and an apprenticeship program for more advanced riders instill saddle savvy in patrons of any experience level, and those pining for nature can meander through 80 miles of lush scenery and 1 mile of sci-fi-movie scenery for an afternoon trail ride.
A group of teachers and parents founded Habitot Children's Museum in 1998 with one specific mission in mind: to foster children up to 6 years old by encouraging their creativity and natural curiosity. Today, the 4,000-square-foot museum backs up this mission with research—gleaned from studies by scientists, psychologists, and educators—positing that healthy play spurs social skills, creative thinking, and problem solving, laying the foundation for kids to succeed later in life and imprison boogeymen in their booby-trapped closet tomorrow.
At Habitot, kids find such opportunities at small-scale exhibits and themed play areas throughout the museum. Aspiring firefighters steer a small-scale truck, race through a pretend burning building, and maneuver the hose and nozzle from a fire hydrant, all while donning coats, boots, and helmets. Young explorers press buttons, turn dials, and issue commands for pretend space launches inside a 13-foot model rocket ship or navigate a vertical floor-to-ceiling maze designed to mimic worm tunnels. At the waterworks table and pumping station, young engineers manipulate water using buckets, funnels, waterwheels, and pitchers to help them understand H2O’s unique properties, such as how it keeps boats afloat on the arms of a thousand mermen. (At different times throughout the year, the staff transforms this area with a different theme; at times it’s been a car wash, a marine-science lab, or the racing grounds for a rubber-ducky regatta.) Visitors can tap into their inner Van Goghs at the art studio, where they play with soft clays and go nuts on a paintable wall. Habitot also hosts year-round children's camps with themes such as beaches, transportation, space, castles, and science.