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Picnic Spots with 6-month old

Oct 2010

New to the area and need to find the best parks/picnic spots to go with a baby. Don't need a playground but would like somewhere peaceful with nice areas to lay out blankets (ideally with shady options). What are the best spots in Berkeley and surrounding areas? Gettin' baby some fresh air


The UC Botanical Garden seems a perfect option for what you are looking for. It's very peaceful (a living museum of plants rather than a park) with a lawn and lots of tucked away picnic tables and benches surrounded by an unsurpassed collection of naturally landscaped plants from around the world. May I particularly recommend stopping by the benches in Asia by the creek beneath the Dawn Redwoods. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu manoux
There is a sweet little park where Colby street dead-ends behind Alta Bates Emergency Room. There is grass, shade, baby swings, toddler play area/sandbox and a few communal toys suitable for babies and toddlers. I used to go there regularly, mostly because it was an easy walk from where I live, and usually pretty quiet. Caveat is that it's not so great if you have to drive to get there -- parking is tough around the hospital. L

Playground for babies that are not yet walking?

Jan 2010

Hello all, I'm new to the East Bay and I'd like to find a playground around North Berkeley, El Cerrito, Kensington or Albany where I can take my 1 year old daughter that is not walking yet. I'd like to find a place where other moms/nannies bring their babies and let them interact with each other, crawling, cruising or sitting in the grass, sand or blankets. Can you also let me know a good time of day when these places have the most babies? I've taken my daughter to tot lots and other playgrounds but most of the time there are only older children who walk, so she doesn't get to interact with them very much. She gets really excited to see other babies and kids, though. I'm especially interested in places where we can go during the weekend, thank you very much for your help, Carolina


Cedar Rose Park (Between Cedar and Rose at Chestnut St.) has the advantage of not too many older kids (older kid park a few dozen yards away), fenced -in so it feels safe, lots of sand, and walking distance to Acme Bread and Cafe Fanny. And a nice view of the hills from the open grassy part. Another nice, fenced-in place is the little playground by King Pool on Hopkins, though I've rarely been there when it's been in the sun -- can get windy so bring extra jackets. Great bakery and Monterey Market down the street. Carey
Totland in Berkeley is a great place to sit with a baby and watch toddlers play. Just off MLK near Virginia.

Site for barbecue on July 4th?

April 2009

We are planning a big outdoor party (~75 people) to celebrate our 10th anniversary in July. We picked July 4th because some of our out-of-town friends will be in town then. I was all set to reserve a picnic site in Tilden Park, and then it turned out they don't let you reserve picnic sites on holidays!! We're not prepared to have someone stake out our planned spot early in the morning (and possibly not get it!), so I'm looking for alternate venues. We'd like somewhere that's not too far from Berkeley; not expensive; has bathrooms (or at least port-a-potties); preferably some shade and some sun. We don't need (or want) a building, just a spacious outdoor spot. Possibly Patriotic Picnic Planner


Have you looked at the bar b q sites at the Berkeley Marina near the Shorebird Nature Center? You also have a play area and bathrooms. As an alternative, we have gone out on a friend's boat, anchored off Angel Island, and bar b qued on the boat. Angel Island also has bar b que sites and bathrooms in Ayala Cove. kl

Park with swings for babies

Sept 2007

I really want to take my 5 1/2 month old daughter on an outdoor swing. (One of my most favorite childhood memories!) Looking for suggestions on a good (ie: safe, well-maintained) park (or parks), preferably in the East Bay (ranging from San Leandro/Oakland to Emeryville/Berkeley to ElCerrito/Pinole/Hercules) which have baby/infant suitable swings for her age. She can sit by herself (mostly supported), yet needs a securing strap to stay in. Though, I would prefer a swing set that has an infant chair attached. I've seen them in other areas, yet not locally. Any suggestions? Thanks! ~Mama seeking swing


Try Bateman Park next to Alta Bates hospital in Berkeley. It has a couple of infant swings and is gated.
There are a lot. Totland in Berkeley, the Berkeley Marina playground, Lake Merritt (Lakeside Park by the birds and Splashpad Park by the library), Jordan Park in Oakland are just a few that come to mind. anon

Parks without sand

March 2006

Does anyone know of any parks in the east bay that do not have sand? Preferably ones that are gated. Sometimes I would like to take the kids to the park and not have the car wrecked by the end of the day! Have a beach in the back seat


most of Alameda's parks only have sand in dedicated sand box areas. I don't think Franklin Park has a sandbox though, but I may be wrong). Most are also fully fenced. I know Little John Park is on Sherman and Buena Vista. Lincoln Park on High Street might also not have sand but I don't think it is completely enclosed.
As far as I can recall, Aquatic Park does not have sand.
There is a nice playground and park in El Cerrito that has no sand. There is wood chips under the play structure. It is Castro Park located on the corner of Norvell and Gladys. > > From San Pablo Avenue go east on Potrero Avenue, go past the light at Richmond Street and turn right on Norvell, then go one block to Gladys. anon
Try Joaquin Miller playground on Joaquin Miller just up the hill from 13. If you explore a little, you can also find parks farther south-San Leandro, I think, Hayward, Fremont, if you want to spend a little more time.

Tot Park with Shade

March 2004

I am tring to find a decent playground that has a nice tot area and good shade coverage from noon-3pm -- both on the play structures and a grassy area. I love Jordan park but it lacks the shade; Dimond park has the shade but lacks a decent playground for tots. Thanks for your recommendations! Amy


Lincoln Park in Alameda has a splendid playground located among an abundant group of large oak trees. The main playground is bathed in shade all day long. The adjacent tot playground is a little less shady, but I found the main play structures are actually somewhat better for toddlers. The tot structure involves a hard-to-follow-the-baby-through tunnel which opens to a slide and a drop. Stick to the main playground and I assure you will experience a sun-free day in the park. There are also shaded grassy areas. MEG
Try the new park on Joachim Miller, between skyline and mountain on the north side. We were there at 4 the other day and it was lovely and shadey. It is ringed w/trees and has structures that my provide some shade themselves. no sand pit. park lover

Playground with Backhoe?

Nov 2003

My 2.5 year old and I are looking for a playground where the sandbox has a ride-on structure that looks like a backhoe. There are two levers that operate the arm and bucket, and you can move the sand around with it. We once stopped at a playground somewhere in Berkeley where they had such a thing and my little guy would like to go back but I cannot remember where this was. Thanks.


While I've never seen what you describe at a park in Berkeley, there at two at the Portview Park in the Oakland Harbor. It's off 7th Street, but a bit tricky to get to so you may want to check a map/parks dept. It's a nice park, with a play structure, restrooms, and veiws of all the port going-ons. It is a bit secluded, so you may want to go with another adult. Anon
San Pablo Park in southwest Berkeley has one of those. It's about 2 blocks east of San Pablo Blvd. between Dwight and Ashby. There are two playgrounds in the park - one for little kids and one for big kids. The backhoe is in the little kids' playground. in the neighborhood
It's not in Berkeley, but there is an amazing park at the port of oakland that has a backhoe. But more importantly the backhoe is just something to do in between sightings of Huge ships coming to port. All the cranes are right there, even the drive seems out of this world. (But okay I am a lover of ships, and cranes). Still, it is worth a visit. more info: http://www.abag.ca.gov/bayarea/baytrail/vtour/map5/access/portview/pviewmharbor.html

Parks with toddler areas

October 2003

I am looking for recommendations for parks with good toddler areas. We are a group of 3-5 parents with toddlers between 14 and 20 months, all fairly mobile. Our intent is to check out various neighborhood parks, to vary our activities, and also to find parks near places where we run errands so as not to tax the little people's patience! I have checked the archives and we have been to Totland, Willard, Aquatic, Live Oak and Grove parks in Berkeley plus Little Farm at Tilden and 1 of the 2 FROG parks in Rockridge and liked all of them. The Berkeley Parks and Rec Department website is particularly good, but Oakland's website only lists addresses, not amenities or equipment. We like visiting both ''destination'' parks and simple neighborood parks with playground equipment for toddlers. Can you all give us the rundown on the parks in your neighborhoods or other ones you've been to? Lisa


Add Terrace Park in Albany to your list! It's on Terrace St. right off of Nielsen St. Two play areas (one fenced in), trees, a grassy field, bathrooms, picnic benches. Enjoy! CG
The City of Albany has a toddler park (Dartmouth Toddler Park) located on the corner of Dartmouth and Talbot. Chelle

Parks in San Rafael

March 2006

Does anyone know of a good park for toddlers in San Rafael? A good friend of mine lives in Santa Rosa and I live near Hayward and so San Rafael is right in the middle. We each have 16 month old boys whom we would like to get together. Thanks! Brenda


I have a good friend in Marin and go to playgrounds frequently in that area. There is a good playground right by the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael...there is also a nearby lagoon for duck feeding and a Thursday farmers market there. In Fairfax there is Andy Peri Park just past downtown on Bolinas Ave. It has a pretty extensive array of play structures and is a short walk from downtown if you also want coffee/ice cream lunch. Marin park goer
San Rafael has great parks. The most popular is right near my house and it's called Gerstle Park. It's right near downtown off D or E streets; you could mapquest it if you don't know the area at all. If you're willing to drive further, there's also a great park in San Anselmo right off Sir Francis Drake; I think it's called Memorial park though that might not be it. We call it the dinosaur park as it has a dinosaur to climb on. Good luck! Melanie
Gerstle Park is OK. There are some nice play structures and lots of grass for picnicking. I can't tell you offhand the street it's on, but it is a few blocks off of D Street near downtown. Also, if you're willing to drive in a little farther from 101, Memorial Park in San Anselmo is great! Again, I couldn't tell you the street name. Sorry ;o(
Peacock Gap park is a wonderful park recommended to me by a friend (thanks again, Jen!). My 2-year-old son loves it because it has a real backhoe toy. More details and a map here: http://www.justplaygrounds.com/play/sanrafael/peacockGap/index.h tm I think it's a great park. Have fun. Sarah

Parks where Spanigh-speaking nannies meet

Aug 2001

I am looking for a park or play group that my very sweet spanish-only speaking care giver can take our 8 month old daughter to during the day. I think it would be good for both of them to get out and socialize. What parks to caregivers congregate at in the North Oakland, Berkeley area? Does anyone know of a M-F (8am-3pm) playgroup that she would feel welcome to join? Thanks. Nancy


My Spanish Speaking Caregiver goes to Willard Park in Berkeley on Hillegass between Derby and Stuart. She's there several days a week, usually in the early afternoon. I don't know that there are a lot of other Spanish speaking sitters there, but she's often there. Donna
The woman who takes care of my daughter and many of her fiends who are also care providers, are all Spanish speaking and congregate at Bateman park on Prince St. behind Alta Bates. They don't have any formal kind of play group but are all very welcoming. Liz
there seems to be a lot of spanish speaking nannies at Bateman Park right near Alta Bates hspital on Prince Street. Shoshana
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