I’m happy to introduce Cara as a new contributor to 510families from El Cerrito. She has a four-year old daughter and is expecting a second baby in January. Cara enjoys making crafts, photography and simple scrapbooking. While she’ll be writing for us about a number of Bay Area activities, today she shares her home stomping grounds.
We asked Cara to tell us about El Cerrito and she sent us this list of tips for families.
We live in the flats of El Cerrito not far from El Cerrito Plaza, and while we spend a lot of time in other parts of the 510, there are some great things to do in the EC.
Places to play
Ohlone Tot Park. My four year old and I often make an afternoon of a walk to El Cerrito Plaza. If you walk along the Ohlone Greenway north of the Plaza, a little tot lot sits right underneath the BART tracks, perfect for a little stop to stretch the legs. There are a bunch of toys and climbing structures that people have left; we spent a lot of time there when my daughter was around 2 years old. It wouldn’t interest her so much now, but it is great for the younger mobile set.
Barnes and Noble at El Cerrito Plaza. Our favorite thing to do is browse books in the kids’ section of Barnes and Noble and play in their new toy section where you’ll find a Duplo table and a train table, as well as a really broad selection of toys for purchase.
Insider tip: Barnes and Noble also has a spacious restroom good for diaper changes and potty training.
El Cerrito swim center. Just up from that shopping center on Moeser is the El Cerrito swim center. The pool itself has a water slide (which we have never used) and a very shallow end (1 foot something) for the little little ones.
There is also a great splash park which is only $2 a person when the pool isn’t open for rec swim.
The hours of the pool and splash park are unfortunately unpredictable, so definitely check the website and/or call before you go as the hours sometimes change based on the weather, particularly for the splash park.
Playland-Not-At-the-Beach. We love a trip to Playland-Not-At-the-Beach (not recommended if your child is scared of clowns and the like). The pinball machines are all set on free play, and there are stools floating around for kids to stand on.
My daughter’s favorite part is the small carnival room where you play games for tickets and trade them in for prizes. That area is also free; you pay admission to get into Playland-Not-At-the-Beach, and then the games inside are free.
Places to eat and shop
At EC Plaza, we like to go to Rubio’s for lunch; the kids’ meal has lots of options for a main dish and side (like chips, beans, rice or applesauce) and comes with a drink and churro. And I like the grown up selections a lot too!
After lunch, we stop into Loard’s for ice cream. Along with traditional flavors of ice cream and sorbet, they have some more unusual flavors such as ube (my daughter’s favorite), macapuno, and halo halo — all traditional Filippino flavors, much to my Filippino in-laws delight when they visit. I haven’t been brave enough to try avocado yet, though I have seen some people sample it, so if you’re adventurous stop in and try some new flavors! They also serve bubble tea as a nice variety for mom and dad as the kids enjoy their ice cream.
Need groceries? Trader Joe’s and Lucky’s are both located in El Cerrito Plaza.
Just north of the plaza, at the corner of Moeser and San Pablo, there is a small shopping center with a couple of little gems. Katan-ya Ramen has a nice variety of ramen (all kids like those long, fun noodles right?) and sushi.
In the same shopping center, you’ll find Ichiban Kan, a fun variety store. On a recent visit, my daughter picked out a tiny notebook and adorable penguin stickers.
Thanks so much Cara. We look forward to your future contributions.