This park on the shores of Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland has been making kids smile (and delighting parents in the process) since 1950. Evidently it impressed Walt Disney, too: After his visit, the story goes that he visited and incorporated elements of Fairyland, like guides dressed up as storybook characters, into his own Anaheim theme park.
These days, the park is filled with climb-able, slide-able, explore-able tree houses, castles, pirate ships, and giant pumpkins, plus a small petting zoo, puppet shows, and several party venues for special birthdays. At the gate, you’re greeted by the Old Lady in the Shoe, and you can start by wandering through the adorable Alice in Wonderland maze, which is constructed from giant playing cards. Two of Fairyland’s biggest draws are its Storybook Puppet Theater and live-action children’s theatre. Need to refuel? Stop by Johnny Appleseed’s Café, or spread out a blanket in the Teddy Bear Picnic Grove. In summer, check Fairyland’s schedule for special family sleepovers.
Insider tip: Magic Keys that “unlock” Talking Storybook Boxes throughout the park are available at the entrance for $3. The kids can save their keys and use them on another visit.