While I feel sympathetic to East Coasters, as they slowly emerge from inches of snow and freezing temperatures and celebrate the mercury rising about 35 degrees, it’s hard not to gloat about (or be grateful for, a humbler person would write) our postcard perfect Northern California weather. But with 70 degree, sun-filled days comes great responsibility – to maximize our time outdoors and visit our local parks year round.
The problem is that I am a creature of habit, so I find myself taking my kids to the same few parks, week after week. I know the parking. I know which ones have clean sand and which ones have play equipment in need of repair. I know which ones are on my route home from the grocery store or have a coffee shop nearby. But given the recent spate of amazing weather (gloating again), I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and explore some new parks. Some were just a neighborhood over, others a few cities over, and still others an entire county over. But the exploration was worth it, because my kids are having a blast playing in different sand pits and running along picturesque lakes. Our recent explorations have led us to…
Paul Moore Park
Located at Cherry and Hillsdale in Almaden (San Jose), this park has clean sand, two separate and huge play structures with slides and fireman poles, a rock structure to climb, ample street parking, restrooms and plenty of perimeter seating for caregivers.
Seven Seas Park
Located off Morse Avenue in Sunnyvale, this park opened just last year and has a spacious and clean sand area, two separate play structures in mint condition, climbing ropes, rock structures, water features for summer play, open fields for pickup sports, restrooms and picnic tables. The hype about limited parking is unfortunately true, so I recommend hitting this spot up on a weekday midmorning.
Lake Elizabeth Park
Located off Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont, this is the Central Park of Alameda County. Recently remodeled play structures, swings, BBQ pits, paddle boats, geese and ducks who are only too happy to be fed, trails for your kids to ride their trikes and bikes, and acres of obliging green grass. This park is always busy on weekends but parking is decent.
This is just an inkling of what the Bay Area has to offer, and it’s worth taking a few minutes extra to visit a new park and shake up the routine. The fantastic sitters and nannies at Bay Area Sitters have traversed the Bay Area with children of every age, and have these suggestions for your next park experience:
Marin – Stafford Lake Park (great for outdoor birthday parties, lots of picnic tables and open space), Hauke Park, Boyle Park, Freeman Park
San Francisco – Dolores Park, Moscone Recreation Center
Los Gatos – Vasona Park (Picnic areas, playgrounds, boat rentals, and paved bicycle paths. Adjacent to Oak Meadow Park with train ride and carousel)
San Mateo – CuriOdyssey Zoo
Redwood City – Stafford Park
San Carlos – Burton Park
Palo Alto – Mitchell Park
Mountain View – Rengstorff Park & Pool
San Jose – Happy Hollow Park & Zoo (Historic Park, Japanese Friendship Garden, picnic areas, trains rides on some weekends), River Glen Park
Berkeley – Tilden Park (Picnic areas, pony rides, carousel, botanical garden, and swimming)
So, next time you’re feeling a little adventurous, add a little pizzazz to your park routine and try out a new green space for your family. You will be amazed by what’s available 15, 10 or even 5 miles from your neighborhood.
Got a park you absolutely love? Don’t leave us green with envy, please share!