Daycation to the Berkeley Waterfront and Playground
BERKELEY – Summer is here and the great outdoors is calling. Now is a great time to head to the Berkeley Marina. This area is best known for its acclaimed play spot, the aptly named Adventure Playground, which National Geographic called one of the top 10 play spaces in the country.
Adventure Playground is a place where kids can, well, be kids. It has a large zip line and barrel-like contraptions you can use to roll down small hills. Everywhere you look, there are structures just waiting to be climbed on, over or through. It isn’t every playground that boasts a piano or a boat, but this one has both. All aboard, music-loving landlubbers!
Employees are on hand to pass out a variety of tools, including saws, hammers and nails. Kids are encouraged to take the available scrap wood and add to the wooden structures or just get busy pounding and hacking away. There is also tempera paint and brushes because life is better when brightly colored. Please take note that closed-toe shoes and clothes that can get messy aren’t optional; they are necessary.
Once you’ve tired of this play area (because let’s face it, the kids won’t), Shorebird Park is a stone’s throw away. This park has a more traditional play structure with swings and slides that are more appropriate for younger kids, but with an added perk—great views of the water.
Shorebird Park also features a nature center. While there are fun things to see inside, the building itself is unique. It’s a “straw bale,” meaning that it is made of straw bales and recycled and salvaged materials, making it environmentally friendly. Inside, visitors will find saltwater and freshwater tanks and other fun displays to peruse.
But the Berkeley waterfront isn’t just for kids. The marina has a yacht club and there are numerous walking and biking trails for non-boaters. In addition, this area is ideal for bird watching and there is a 17-acre off-leash dog area.
You’ll find several restaurants at the marina. Picnic tables are available, although the ones under the pavilions are often occupied by birthday parties. For great picnic fare, stop by the nearby Berkeley Bowl on your way to the waterfront. This large market is known for its wide selection of fresh produce and local goods. Personally, I’d rather wear the kids out in Berkeley and then stop for dim sum at the Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in neighboring Emeryville. The food is excellent here and so is the view of the water.
If you go: The Berkeley Marina is located at 201 University Ave. in Berkeley. Adventure Playground is closed when it is raining. Admission is free for parents/guardians who accompany four children or less. Groups with five or more children will need to make a reservation and pay a group fee. All adults must sign a waiver to enter.
For summer hours and more information, visit CityofBerkeley.info/AdventurePlayground or call 510.981.6720.