The Bay on a Budget: Free and Low-cost Family Activities
By Linda Childers

Free water play, computer classes and summer music – check out what your family can do on a budget this month in the East Bay. (Always confirm beforehand, since some offerings are subject to change or availability.)


Water PlayThe hot, hot days of summer have arrived in the East Bay and it’s time to head to your local park for some serious water play. Your family will have a blast without paying the entrance fees of a large water park. Central Park in San Ramon at 12501 Alcosta Blvd. (off Bollinger Canyon) features a water paradise adjacent to the park’s play structure. Kids can wade through the numerous shaded streams or run through the park’s mushroom-shaped waterfall to cool off.

Osage Community Park, located off Sycamore Valley Road in Danville, also boasts a large water play area that has the added benefit of shady trees. So bring your sunscreen and bathing suits and prepare to have some cool fun!

Spectacular Firework Sightings
For children, the Fourth of July is not complete without some amazing fireworks displays. If you’re going to be in the Antioch area, visit the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration featuring a hometown parade from 5-6:30pm at Second and Third streets in Antioch, followed by entertainment and food booths from 7-9pm. This alcohol-free family event culminates with a fireworks display over the San Joaquin River at 9:30pm.

In Concord, families can enjoy the view from the parking lot of Sunvalley Mall. Or park near Sears and Macy’s, pull out your lawn chair and enjoy fireworks from nearby College Park High School in Pleasant Hill. You can also see fireworks from the nearby Martinez marina. Plan to arrive around 8:30pm to secure parking.

Computer Camp for Kids
Aspiring computer wizards will enjoy attending Apple Camp, a free children’s camp offered at many Bay Area Apple Stores. Classes start July 11 and last for two-and-a-half hours. Choose from classes in music, photography and movies. An adult must accompany all children to class. Space is limited, so register today at Apple stores are located at Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton, across from Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, and at 5664 Bay St. in Emeryville.

Tot Swim in Martinez
Looking for a way to introduce your young child to swimming? The Martinez Municipal Pool, located at 100 Buckley Street, offers a shallow tot pool perfect for young children.  The tot and adults pools are open for swimming Saturdays and Sundays between 1-5pm through August 28, and from 1-3:45 pm through August 12. Children under 2 enter free with an adult; youth ages 3 to 6 pay 75 cents; older kids pay $1.50; and adults ages 18 to 54, $2.50. For more information, call 925-370-6451.


Family Music Nights in MoragaThe Town of Moraga invites families to relax and listen to cool music on hot summer evenings at their annual summer concert series on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30pm at Moraga Commons Park, St. Mary’s and Moraga roads.  Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and prepare for a night of great music. On July 14, hear the tunes of Stone Soup (classic rock), on July 21, Country Line Trio (folk music), and on July 28, Toot Sweet (jazz band). Food and beverages are sold on site. Come early and bring the children’s swimsuits so they can play in the park’s “Splash” zone. Simply step on the ground and be rewarded with a refreshing splash of water!

Skate The Night Away
Who says ice skating is a winter sport? On Tuesday evenings at Dublin Iceland, 7212 San Ramon Road, in Dublin, families can cool off for a cool price by taking advantage of the rink’s family night special. Every Tuesday from 7:45-9pm, families skate for the reduced rate of $5 per person (including skates). Call 925-829-4445 for more information. The Oakland Ice Center, 519 18th St., offers families a similar savings program through their “Cheap Skate” nights every Tuesday from 7-8:30pm. Skate for $5.50 a person if you bring your own skates, or $7 a person (including skate rental). Call 510-268-9000.