699 Bellevue Ave.
Oakland, CA 94610
Founder Arthur Navlet created this stalwart of the Oakland community more than 60 years ago as a means of providing an amusement park for children younger than 10. With a storybook theme laying the foundation, expect treasured fairytale character playgrounds ranging from the Alice In Wonderland Tunnel to Peter Rabbit’s Garden. In addition to the dozens of play areas, Fairyland also offers puppet shows, rides, gardens and a petting zoo. Word on the street is a certain Disney got the idea for a theme park of his own in Southern California after taking a family trip to Fairyland. During the summer months, Children’s Fairyland provides summer day camps for children.
Hudson St. & Claremont St.
Oakland, CA 94609
This hidden gem of the Rockridge neighborhood caters to a variety of ages with jungle gyms geared specifically for the those older and younger than 5. Although there are no frogs to be found, the spectacular treehouse play structure includes suspension bridges, spider webs, tunnels, castle turrets, even a climbing wall. Complete with a sandbox and swings for the littler ones, Frog Park is a friendly, well-trafficked park with a nice community feel. Frog park also features earth-friendly events such as tree planting for Earth Day.
1644 Virginia St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Totland Playground is a small toddler-centric playground nestled in pleasant North Berkeley. With plenty of bench seating and shade, there are lots of spots for the adults to hang out and watch the little ones play on the swings, in the sandbox or with the loose toddler toys including ride-in cars. Enjoy plenty of grassy areas should you choose to pack a blanket and some food to enjoy a little picnic lunch. Parents and caregivers may relax entirely here as the whole playground is fenced in.
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Shorebird Park Nature Center and Adventure Playground
160 University Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94710
Hailed as one of the top five playgrounds in the entire country, by both Newsweek and the Boston Globe, Shorebird Park’s Adventure Playground is not to be missed. This unique interactive playground has been open for 33 years, and is free for up to four kids per adult. Geared toward children 7 and older, activities here range from fort design, hammering, sawing and painting to climbing and riding the zip line. Kids will get dirty here, as well as be exposed to all manner of building materials, water and paint. Make sure to wear sturdy-soled shoes and pack a change of clothes.
1201 Euclid Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94701
This spacious park is the ideal outing for the entire family. Codornices features a wide variety of recreational areas for all ages. Between the baseball field, basketball court, hiking trails and scenic overlooks, the bigger kids may keep busy while the younger ones frolic on the 40-foot concrete slide, swings, play structure or train. Enjoy loads of picnic areas and barbecues with your leashed dogs as well. For events or parties, the baseball field and picnic areas may be reserved.
Related: San Francisco’s Best Playgrounds
Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.