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:
Tilden Little Farm (Reservations Required)
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 home. 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]
Regional Parks Botanic Garden
The Regional Parks Botanic Garden is beautiful throughout the year and has 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 Regional Park 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 around 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 Regional 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.
Each Sunday between now and the end of September, the Golden Gate Live Steamers open their tracks to the public for rides.
The merry-go-round in Tilden Regional Park is an antique carousel with hand-carved and painted wooden carousel animals to ride.
The Tilden Park steam trains in the Berkeley hills are open for the summer. Wonderful fun for toddlers. Plan your visit.
The small hike around Jewel Lake in Tilden Park is a wonderful trek for toddlers and the parents who love them.
The Tilden Regional Parks Botanic Garden, an enchanted, not-so-secret garden, is a magical place for visitors of all ages at no cost.
Lake Temescal and Lake Anza are open weekends until Memorial Day, then daily all summer. But wait! Check the water quality before you go.
Plan your visit to Tilden Park with Kids
Check out the vast map below to see where you’re going before you set off with your children and baby carrier.
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 @ 510families.com.