I went to a lovely birthday party last year at the carousel in Berkeley's Tilden Park. Made more wonderful by the shady trees and perfect summery weather, it struck me as a fun, special, and pretty easy party.
There are picnic tables immediately behind the Merry-Go-Round as well as other ones down the hill a bit. Lower level ones can be reserved through Tilden Park's online reservation system. The ones just behind the carousel are part of a birthday package.
All birthdays include reserved table in back of the Merry-Go-Round, cake, ice-cream, drinks, paper goods. The basic package is $13 per child and includes four rides on the carousel. For more money, they will provide additional rides, party favors, and lunch from the concession stand. Call 524-6773 for information or reservations.
The grassy area behind the carousel offered plenty of room for running around. The picnic tables were pleasantly shaded. The biggest downside is that the merry-go-round can be tricky to find for the uninitiated. I suggest heading toward the Little Farm (Marin side of the park) and following signs southward until you find it.
Overall = lovely! For about as much effort as a regular party in the park, this one offered magical memories and beautiful backdrops.
[Photo of Milo from Eric of Wm Eric Images]