With toddlers or preschoolers around, life is never boring in the East Bay. East Bay is a term to denote the towns on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay, including Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Whether they're dumping your purse on the floor or turning your furniture into a jungle gym, they never slow down. If you're the mom of a little one, you'll find there are plenty of activities to keep your busy-body occupied.
1. Parks and Recreation
The East Bay Regional Park District (ebparks.org) covers Alameda and Contra Costa counties, including the cities of Oakland, Brentwood and Martinez. It offers some fantastic activities for your little guy or gal. Sign up your 3- to 5- year-old preschooler for the Sea Squirts program at the Crab Cove Visitor Center (no website; 1252 McKay Ave., Alameda; 510-544-3187). Classes include ''Creatures of the Mud,'' ''Things that Fly,'' ''Slime'' and ''Whale's Tales''. Drop by the Ardenwood Historic Farm (no website; 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont; 510-544-2797) with the entire family for winter fun and games. You and your little tykes can play old-fashioned games like jacks and pick-up sticks, while enjoying the serenity of this gorgeous park. Visit the Tilden Nature Area (no website; Central Park Drive, Berkeley; 510-544-2233) for the Animal Signs and Homes program. Your little ones will learn about native animals and how to figure out where they live.
Keep your little cutie pie busy with a class in the East Bay area. Let your tiny Picasso show off her creative side with an art class at Green Forest Art Studio (greenforestartstudio.com) in Union City or Fremont. Classes for your 2- to 4-year-old focus on hand-eye coordination, and on learning colors and shapes. In the 4- to 7-year-old class, she will learn to work independently to show her creativity. If she needs a class that's a bit more active, check out California Gymnastic Services (califgymnastics.com) in Pleasant Hill. Attend a demonstration class for free to see how gymnastics can benefit your little princess. Help your little one to become more musical with a class at East Bay Music Together (eastbaymusictogether.yourvirtuoso.com) in Berkeley. A Music Together Mixed-Ages class is for kids 5 and under, and includes singing rhythm chants and experimenting with musical instruments.
Plan a museum day for your munchkin at one of the area children's museums. Play in the Imagination Playground at the Bay Area Discovery Museum (baykidsmuseum.org) in Sausalito. Your little man will love building with the big foam blocks, fabrics and noodles. The Tot Spot is ideal for your toddler, with a stream to splash in, woodlands to climb around and a meadow with a gopher tunnel to crawl through. Drop in for some art at the Museum of Children's Art (mocha.org) in East Oakland. Your 18-month to 6-year-old can create artwork with paint, feathers, clay and fabrics. Visit the Habitot Children's Museum (habitot.org) in Berkeley where your little explorer can experiment with water at the water pumping station or play pretend at the Little Town Grocery and Cafe.
Make a day of it at one of the area zoos. The San Francisco Zoo (sfzoo.org) has 100 acres to explore with more than 600 animals. Go on an Australian WalkAbout to learn about animals and plants from Australia, including wallaroos and kangaroos. Take a ride on the Dentzel Carousel or hop on the Little Puffer miniature steam train while you're there. Head over to the Oakland Zoo (oaklandzoo.org) where you'll have 525 acres of animals and exhibits to check out. Your sweetie pie will love seeing giraffes, elephants, bison, lemurs and bears. If she's a reptile lover, she'll also enjoy the large variety of creepy snakes, alligators, turtles and lizards found inside the zoo.