The Bay Area’s Best Free (& Cheap) Events for Kids & Families in October


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Editor’s note: We’re making every effort to provide you with the most up-to-date information. However, sometimes closures occur at the last minute due to circumstances beyond our control, such as the spread of COVID-19. We highly recommend that you call ahead before you pack your kids pack your kids (and all those snacks, and diapers…) and haul them across town. Stay safe! 

This month is full of free and cheap things to do with your family in the Bay Area including pumpkin patches  that you can visit with your family and loads of farms with baby animals that are great for visitors. Scroll through and pick some of your favorites for your October calendar!


CuriOdyssey’s Autumn Nights Festival

Celebrate the spirit of Halloween every Friday and Saturday night in October at CuriOdyssey’s Autumn Nights, a glowing harvest festival for families! Dance to spooky music and celebrate with a cash bar. Explore a land of creepy and fun jack-o-lanterns. Meet animals up-close and see them enjoy Halloween-themed wildlife enrichment. Event details


Bay Day Trail Challenge

This October, take the Bay Day Trail Challenge and pledge to walk, run, bike, wheel or paddle 25-miles along the Bay Trail or choose five adventures to connect and engage with the Bay, your way. There are more than 350 miles of open space and trails to explore and there’s an adventure for everyone. Complete the challenge and you’ll be entered to win the grand prize. Event details

Zoppe Family Circus

Zoppe Italian Family Circus Drive-In

The Zoppé Italian Family Circus welcomes guests into a classic drive-in style event for their 2020 performance. For 2020, Zoppé brings a show timely referred to as “The Show Must Go On”. This one-ring circus honors the best history of their 178 year old Old-World Italian tradition and stars Nino the Clown, along with many other thrilling acts. Uniquely intertwining historic footage and live performances, this is a show only a pandemic could create. Event details


SFMOMA Reopens with Free Admission

The museum is open to the public (at 25% capacity) with two weeks of Free Community Days and free parking at the museum. Come back and enjoy the tranquil galleries, airy terraces, kid-friendly spaces, and world-class artwork you love, or visit for the first time and discover something new. Oct. 4-18. Event details


Beetlejuice & Dine-Out Dinner

Safely enjoy seasonal menus, craft cocktails and Beetlejuice under the stars. Purchase your drive-in movie ticket and order a to-go meal to enjoy with the show. Oct. 17. Event details

WolfmanSF via Wikimedia Commons

Take Your Kids on a Bay Area Scavenger Hunt

Ready for a little home town adventure? This scavenger hunt idea will have you exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with the kids in a totally COVID-19 safe way. Hop in the car or head out on your bikes to find these Bay Area landmarks and Insta-perfect locations. You can download this scavenger hunt for kids here.

Kathryn Rummel

Visit the SF Botanical Garden

See what’s in bloom at this massive garden in Golden Gate Park. Advance purchase of tickets is suggested. SF residents get in free every day. Admission is free to everyone daily from 7:30-9 a.m. and all day on the second Tuesday of the month. Event details

Allison Farrel

Hike + Read at the Presidio’s Storywalk

Read The Hike by Alison Farrell while exploring the Presidio. Join three friends on a hiking adventure while learning about nature in your national park. Event details

Garrick Ramirez

Check out these roadside oddities

If you need to get out of the house and hit the road, these roadside oddities are the perfect destination. Can you check them all off?

More info: 

Grace H. via yelp

Explore the Outdoor Exhibits at the Oakland Aviation Museum

Visit the outdoor exhibits at the museum and see planes take off from nearby Oakland Airport. Wed.-Sun. Event details

Kathryn Whitney © 2018 California Academy of Sciences

Virtually Visit the Penguins and Coral Reef at the Cal Academy

While we can’t visit the California Academy of Science at the moment, you can still see how the penguins are doing via three cameras in their enclosure. Then, head over the live Philippine Coral Reef camera to see all the unique creatures that make up that exhibit. You can also check out all the Academy’s fascinating specimens here (see Research Specimens on the right-hand side). 

You can find all sorts of science resources at the Academy @ Home page

Check Out the PIER 39 Sea Lion Webcam

This webcam will give you a live look at the PIER 39 sea lions and Alcatraz Island. Learn all about these amazing creatures and why they came to live at PIER 39 after the 1989 earthquake here

See the sea lions here:

mariordo59 via flickr

Walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge

A quintessential activity for Bay Area residents is walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. You can do that from the Marin side at the water level by parking at Fort Baker (near the Bay Area Discovery Museum) and walking the steep climb a mile uphill to get to the bridge. Another alternative is to park at the North Tower Golden Gate Parking lot (or nearby along Conzelman Road if the lot is full). Don’t miss a walk to the Ridge Battery for some of the best views. See more of our Marin Headlands faves here

More info:

Spend some time in Golden Gate Park

Whether your idea of fun is enjoying a cascading waterfall or spending some time walking trough a Japanese tea garden, Golden Gate park is the place to be. It has over 1,000 acres to explore. Find a full list of all the free fun in Golden Gate Park here

Kate Loweth

Get your hike on

With gorgeous weather pretty much year round, it’s always a good time to head out and explore a new trail. In the spring you can check out all of the local waterfall hikes. Even the youngest walkers will enjoy these hikes that are perfect for them. Or, strap the kids in the stroller and set out on one of these paths that are perfect for stroller hikes

Kate Loweth

See the sea life at a nearby tide pool

Check the tide schedule and pick a time when the tide is super low before heading out to one of your local tide pools. Kids will love searching for the colorful sea stars, quick-as-lightning minnows and clunky sea snails. The James Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Half Moon Bay is an ideal spot for tide pool novices as they often have docents there on the weekends to point out all the critters to the kids. 

—Kate Loweth

Featured photo: Scott Webb via Pexels


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