The Gardens At Lake Merritt
Location: 666 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, California
Hours: Every day 9am-5:30pm
Description: The Gardens at Lake Merritt is one more nice stop in the alcove of Fairyland right off of Lake Merritt. The Gardens are FREE to the public to take a stroll in. We have gone there after a visit to Lakeside Park & the bird sanctuary. It is a magical little place to let your little ones run around in. There is even a dedicated bonsai section of the gardens. Some funny little fountains and artsy things sprinkled throughout. It is wonderful when the gardens are in bloom especially. You can take food in there and have a little picnic or play a round of hide and go seek behind the trees.
Highlights: The highlight of the Gardens is that once a year they host the Autumn Lights Festival. The most amazing assortment of lamps, fire, lanterns, glow lights, etc. anything that illuminates are on the display in the garden for one weekend out of the year. It costs some money but it is worth the price. It will be a night to remember and totally kid friendly! You can see more about the festival on that page's link here.
Tips: The Gardens are not necessarily a kid wonder to behold by itself so I'd pair it with a visit to FairyLand or Lakeside Park. Parking sucks in that neighborhood, you may as well pay the $5 for the lot if you have not found a space in the first 10 minutes. Otherwise you may end up parking further than you like and have to schlep kids and their things back and forth.