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The Diablo Valley region offers oodles of activities just right for kids during the summer months, and all year round. Fun learning and educational goings-on are plentiful around the area, and many are free. Check out these 10 activities kids and their families will enjoy.

1.  Diablo Rock Gym

Diablo Rock Gym is a branch of Touchstone Climbing, the largest indoor climbing company in the world. This is a family-friendly place, and kids are fascinated by the chance to climb rocks as sport. The staff gets kudos for being good with kids, as they harness and belay them and encourage them to go higher, $15 per hour with an instructor. You can plan your next kid’s party here too.

2.  Heather Farm Park

There is a lot going on at Heather Farm Park and kids will find more than enough to entertain themselves for a few hours. In addition to its lovely grounds and gardens, there are playgrounds for the kids with plenty of swings, softball fields, a duck pond, nature trails, a reserve for geese, tennis court, volleyball court, swimming pool, fishing pond and more, plus it’s a good place to walk or run. There is also a fenced-in, one-acre, off-leash dog park with segregated areas for small and larger dogs.

3.  John Muir National Historic Site

The John Muir National Historic Site is a great place for kids to learn about John Muir, America’s most famous conservationist and nature advocate. There is a lot to do here for a family day, surrounded by nine acres of beautiful parkland. Wander through fruit orchards and stroll to see the plants, animals and insects that inhabit the park. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at a picnic table at the site or on Mount Wanda, where John Muir hiked with his daughters. Kids can take part in the Junior Ranger Program, an activity-based program for kids typically ages 5 to 13, which offers kids the opportunity to join the national Park Service as Junior Rangers.

4.  Larkey Park

This delightful neighborhood park has two play areas for kids – one is a sand playground and the other is a play structure. There are picnic areas, volleyball and tennis courts, an open turf area, connection to walking trails and a swimming pool open to the public during summer.

5.  Larkey Swim Center

The Larkey Swim Center houses an L-shaped recreational pool, a children’s wading pool (one foot deep), a grassy area, vending machines and locker rooms with showers. It is open mid-June through mid-August. This is mainly a pool for children and a great place for kids and families to swim. Many kids take swimming lessons here and the teachers get great feedback and appreciation for their patience.

6.  Lindsay Wildlife Museum

Lindsay Wildlife Museum offers a huge range of sports, arts and nature activities for kids of all ages, plus family and adult programs too. Kids’ programs and camps offer kids great opportunities to learn about nature, including the mysteries of amphibians and reptiles or animal habitats. Families can spend a fun day learning something new on a tarantula hike, or let the kids take Scout Tours. These are 50-minute tours to help kids learn more about living with nature, such as what to do when encountering poisonous plants or venomous animals. Check the June through October 2014 Program Guide (PDF) for full details.

7.  Pleasant Hill Recreation & Park District

The Pleasant Hill Recreation & Park District has been offering tons of recreational and sports facilities and classes since 1951, so it know what works. Enjoy loads of fun and learning options for kids, families and adults, right at home in Pleasant Hill. Sign the kids up for summer swim lessons at the Pleasant Hill Aquatic Center providing the American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Program; Aqua Zumba, ages 16 and up; Adventure Day Camps, ages 4 -7; Summer Youth Tennis Camps, ages 6-12 or monthly group lessons for ages 4 through teens; youth baseball, basketball, football and soccer programs; ballet, ages 5- 8, and much more.

8.  Walnut Creek Model Railway Society

All aboard! Come “ride” the Diablo Valley Lines (DVL). The Walnut Creek Model Railway Society operates the Diablo Valley Lines, which is a must-see for kids and adults alike. This awesome model railroad is on display to visitors at the Society’s monthly pubic shows. According to the official website, the DVL is the “most mountainous and one of the largest HO scale model railroads” in the country. (HO model trains are 1/87 the size of actual trains and 1/2 the size of O scale model trains; HO means “half O.”) This model railroad is really special and an obvious labor of love, as it consists of approximately 4,300 feet of hand-laid track.

9.  Walnut Creek Skate Park

Here is a park area set aside just for skating. The park features elements specifically for street skaters and vertical skaters, with rails, spines and bowls. Park admission is free, and open from dawn to 9 p.m. All skaters must wear a helmet, plus knee and elbow pads, in order to use the skate park. See the Skate park rules  for a hassle-free skating experience.

10.  Waterworld USA

Concord’s perfect summer temperatures let you enjoy cooling off at Waterworld, Northern California’s largest water park experience. Conveniently located less than 25 miles from San Francisco, the park is easily accessed by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). This 23-acre water park has 10 major attractions and Break Point Plunge, a new and thrilling park ride. There are special promotions and events throughout the season for added fun and savings.


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Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.