Where to Find Monarch Butterflies in the East Bay - 510 Families
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Where to Find Monarch Butterflies in the East Bay

If you have a butterfly-loving little kid or just a kid that likes “hunting and seeking” for things, this is the time of year to find Western Monarch Butterflies in the East Bay. Starting around early to mid-October, the beautiful Western monarch butterflies arrive in northern California for their annual migration. While Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz get all the attention for their mounds of butterflies, there are several spots in the East Bay where you can find quite a few of the fluttering beauties, which is just so magical for little kids (and their parents too!).

Finding ladybugs is fun too! >

butterfly on leaves
So many beautiful butterflies to find on Albany Hill | Photo: Leah McCarthy

Where to find butterflies in the East Bay

Albany Hill, Albany

This is an official Western monarch overwintering site and you’ll definitely find butterflies fluttering around the coastal eucalyptus trees. Over about 40 minutes wandering around the hill we were able to see 30+ butterflies flying around the trees and bushes. Little kids will love trying to spot them and count how many they can find (parents will have the darnedest time trying to photograph them).  You can either park on Pierce St. on the west side of the hill or drive up the other side of the hill on Taft St. and park on the street. For strollers, you’ll want to go up the Taft way since the Pierce St. side is a steeper, dirt trail.

albany hill meadow
The western side of Albany Hill, where we saw many butterflies | Photo: Julie Herson

To make a morning of it, have a snack and play at Peggy Thomsen Pierce Street Park, which also has bathrooms.

Aquatic Park, Berkeley

This is another spot with eucalyptus trees that the monarchs just love. You can park in the Dreamland Playground parking lot and walk along the pathway for a ways. We didn’t spot quite as many butterflies here as we did at Albany Hill, but we saw at least 25+, which is still quite exciting.

butterfly in eucalyptus leaves
Keep your eyes peeled for the butterflies hiding among the eucalyptus leaves | Photo: Julie Herson

After you get your fill of hunting the little beauties, head on over to the Dreamland Playground for a snack and a game of hide and seek.

Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont

2022 brought an uptick in butterfly sightings at Ardenwood, so if you’re headed to this family favorite you’ll want to keep your eyes out for the monarchs fluttering around.

butterfly among leaves
Playing “find the butterflies” is super duper fun with little kids | Photo: Julie Herson

Read more about Ardenwood Historic Farm here >

Plan a road trip to see butterflies on the Central Coast >

Anywhere along the coast with eucalyptus trees

Western monarch butterflies like the moderate coastal eucalyptus groves, so if you find yourself in such an area, keep your eyes out! This map is a great resource for finding other monarch overwintering sites.

If you’re feeling like being a scientist, the 27th annual Western Monarch Count will take place on November 11 and December 3. The Thanksgiving count is an annual event where volunteers can help scientists get a more accurate count and understanding of the butterflies. There’s also another count from December 23 through January 7. You can watch these online training videos and volunteer to help with the count (though it may be too late for this year’s count).

child running with butterfly wings
Pack your wings for your butterfly adventure! | Photo: Julie Herson

Where have you seen butterflies? Let us know in the comments!

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