Create and Explore With Us!

We are a small, arts and science community center located in Lakeside Park on Lake Merritt — our learning spaces focus on self-guided learning through play.

Activities are set up in each space as invitations to our young visitors to create and explore with us. Activities are open to learners of all ages.


TUESDAY                     10AM – 3PM
WEDNESDAY             10AM – 3PM
THURSDAY                  10AM – 3PM
FRIDAY                          10AM – 3PM
SATURDAY                  10AM – 3PM
SUNDAY                        CLOSED
MONDAY                       CLOSED


We are located at 558 Bellevue Avenue in Lakeside Park.

Contact Us: (510) 839-5777

The City of Oakland will charge a fee for parking in Lakeside Park from 7:30am to dusk. Parking is $2 for 2 hours or $5 for the day unless otherwise noted. Metered street parking is also available on Perkins, Grand, and Bellevue Ave.

If you are a school group planning to visit the Junior Center, please contact us to find out about necessary arrangements.



Junior Center is wheelchair accessible. Service animals specially trained to assist disabled persons are welcome, but please no pets.

Accepted Payment

Junior Center accepts cash, check, and major credit cards (VISA, MC, AmEx, Discover) as payment for admission, merchandise, membership, programs, and food/beverages with matching photo ID. 

Food and Beverage

Visitors are asked to eat lunches and snacks on the decks unless it is raining. Please no eating or drinking in our exhibit areas or playrooms. Due to severe allergy no strawberries are allowed in the building. 

There are also several wonderful places to eat nearby or ask our staff for a suggestion.

Parking & Bikes

Parking at Lakeside Park is easy and plentiful, however there is a 2$ during the week and a 5$ charge on weekends. There is also free 2 hour parking on the streets adjacent to the Center. Junior Center recommends that you do not leave valuables in plain sight inside vehicles. There are bike racks in in front of the Center. Bikes are not permitted to be stored inside the Junior Center facility while visiting. 

Restrooms & Changing Tables

Restrooms are designated with orange doors. Changing tables are located in the first restroom as you enter the building. Health regulations require that all diaper changing be done in restrooms. 

Additional Information

Please keep track of your child, or children at all times. Please do not take materials or tools out of drawers marked “STAFF”. Children are not allowed to climb or sit on the railings around the deck. Although children love to climb on our seal sculpture we ask that only two at a time and they should sit rather than stand on it.

First Aid

Please ask any floor staff should you need first aid assistance. First Aid assistance is also available in the main office building.

Lost and Found

Lost and Found is located behind the front desk. Please ask a staff member for assistance.

Stroller Parking

We recommend that stroller be left on the back deck and that you keep your valuables on your person. 

Unaccompanied Adults

Any adult who wishes to visit the Center without a child must pay admission and also leave a photo ID at admissions to receive a Visitor Badge to wear. This policy is in place for the safety of our guests. 

*PLEASE NOTE: Junior Center is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

Junior Center reserves the right to refuse service and/or access, onsite and online, to any individuals disregarding Junior Center policies or those disrespectful of Junior Center guests, staff, exhibits or property.

Open studio and Drop in information

How old does my child need to be to visit your Center?

Junior Center programs are open to children and youth of all ages. 

What is the drop-in fee and what can I do?

Drop in is $6 per person donation for children and adults. Folks are able to play in the play room, visit one of our animal ambassadors and explore the animal room, make something cool or add to the Lego wall in our maker space, and paint on the walls in our visual arts room. 

All activities are hands-on and self-guided. Projects are set up with directions on the tables/walls, however, feel free to ask a program staff for help.

Can I drop off my child?

You must remain with your child at all times. Not only is this a legal requirement—we also value the opportunity for parents and their children to participate together. 

Do you have memberships?

Yes! Please check with our office for more details and visit our membership page to register.