Free & Cheap Activities in Tilden Park - 510 Families

Free & Cheap Activities in Tilden Park

Thanks to reader Cordelia Nickelson who offered to share her favorite things to do with her East Bay boys in Tilden Park.

There are so many great free and fun activities to do in Tilden Regional Park in the hills above Berkeley and Kensington for families of young children. Here are some of our favorites:

Enjoying the Little Farm in Tilden Park
Enjoying the Little Farm in Tilden Park for FREE | BYO celery

Tilden Little Farm

Great for young kids, the Little Farm has lots of different animals to see. In addition to the cows, goats, and chickens, you might luck into seeing litters of piglets and some baby calves. The highlight is feeding the animals (not the rabbits or baby calves), which you can do if you remember to bring celery or lettuce from home.  They recommend that you wash your hands after feeding or touching the animals. (8:30 am – 4 pm, every day, all year!) [Read more about Tilden Park’s Little Farm]

Environmental Education Center

Although slightly outdated, the EEC is a fun and quick place to visit to see the exhibit on the wildlife and history of the Tilden area. It is located adjacent to Little Farm. There is a cute little shop with nature and farm themed books and games. (10am – 4:3 0pm, closed Mondays and holidays)

Regional Parks Botanic Garden

Botanical Garden Steps at Tilden | Photo: Anna Azimi

The Regional Parks Botanic Garden are beautiful throughout the year and have many different and interesting California native plants.  If you are quiet and walk slowly, you can often see lizards sunning themselves. There are bridges to cross, benches to snack on, and many paths to explore. Called a “living museum,” this is not the place to run, climb, or act crazy. (8:30 am – 5ish)


Kid-friendly hikes in Tilden Park

Tilden is full of wonderful hikes for kids and adults alike. You can often see different kinds of wildlife. Just be careful to avoid poison oak and check for ticks after your trip.

One great, kid-friendly hike is the walk out to Jewel Lake from the Tilden Nature Area parking lot.  The Wildcat Creek Trail is a wide dirt road that you can take all the way to the lake, or take the Jewel Lake boardwalk to get a better look at the vegetation. For a more adventurous walk back, you can take the Pack Rat Trail which starts behind the lake and loops back to the parking lot. Often you can see turtles sunning themselves on logs in the lake.

Other recommended hikes are the Wildcat Gorge Trail, the slightly more adventurous hike around Lake Anza (also part of the Wildcat Gorge Trail), or the Seaview Trail to Vollmer Peak.

Family-friendly picnic spots in Tilden Park

There are plenty of places to picnic in Tilden. Although some sites need advance reservations, you can generally find an empty table for snacking or eating lunch. The grassy field outside of Lake Anza is also a great place to meet up with friends for a picnic. Just make sure to check for ticks after playing in the grass.

Biking with kids in Tilden Park

There are several designated biking trails in Tilden such as the Loop Road to Wildcat Creek Trail or the paved Nimitz Way out to Inspiration Point.


Low-cost activities in Tilden Park

Beyond the totally free offerings in Tilden Park, there are many wonderful inexpensive activities, too! Do you know about the classic merry-go-round and the steam trains? Those Berkeley treasures never get old for little ones.

Tilden Park Merry Go Round at Christmastime

Holiday Outing: Christmas at the Tilden Carousel

The Tilden Park Carousel transforms every year to a winter wonderland. Full of Christmas cheer with decorated trees, tiny nutcrackers, ...
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Lake Anza from the sandy shore

How to know when Lake Temescal and Lake Anza are open for swimming

Lake Temescal and Lake Anza are open weekends until Memorial Day, then daily all summer. But wait! Check the water ...
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Tilden Park Steam Trains

Tilden Park steam trains are a cheap thrill

The Tilden Park steam trains in the Berkeley hills are one of the East Bay's best kept secrets. Kinda. Wonderful ...
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Golden Gate Miniature trains you can ride in Tilden Park

Ride the tiny rails in Tilden

Each Sunday between Memorial Day and the end of September, the Golden Gate Live Steamers open their tracks to the ...
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Cheap birthday party idea: Little Farm at Tilden Park

Cheap birthday party idea: Little Farm at Tilden Park

Everything you need to know about hosting a birthday party at Tilden Park's Little Farm Nature Area ...
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Tilden Park Botanic Garden, free fun for all ages

Tilden Park Botanic Garden, free fun for all ages

The Tilden Regional Parks Botanic Garden, an enchanted, not-so-secret garden, is a magical place for visitors of all ages at ...
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Tilden Park carousel

Tilden Park’s Merry-go-round

The merry-go-round in Tilden Regional Park is an antique carousel with hand-carved and painted wooden carousel animals to ride ...
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Fun outdoor birthday party place: Tilden Park Carousel

Berkeley birthday party: Tilden’s Merry-Go-Round

Fun outdoor birthday party place: Tilden Park Carousel! The merry-go-round makes for an entertaining ride and a lovely backdrop. This ...
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Plan your visit to Tilden Park

Check out the vast map below to see where you’re going before you set off with your children and baby carrier.

Map of Tilden Regional Park by East Bay Regional Parks District
[CLICK TO ENLARGE] Map of Tilden Regional Park by East Bay Regional Parks District
Use the website to check opening hours and lake or trail closures >


Thanks again, Cordelia for sharing your knowledge of Tilden Park. If YOU would like to share tips about your corner of the East Bay, feel free to send us a note at info @

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