Affectionately named the Gilman District in Berkeley, Gilman Street between the freeway and San Pablo Avenue has exploded over the past year in terms of awesomeness for families with lots of great places to eat, shop, and play. I listed my picks roughly from West to East in each category.
Where to play:
- Golden Gate Fields. Past the tracks and to the water is Berkeley's own horse racing track. Families fill the stands on Dollar Days.
- Soccer fields. From Harrison near the skate park all the way back to University Village, your soccer-playing and baseball-playing child may have many practices and games here. I'm at these fields (Fielding Field and Gabe Catalfo) five times each week during spring season. Yay.
- Skate park. Watch the cool kids on skateboards, scooters, and other wheels do tricks at 5th St and Harrison. I like the people-watching, but if you want to ride, read the rules and bring a helmet.
- University Village. You need not be a resident of this little town within a town to take advantage of the recreation programs for little kids through Cal. Classes include gymnastics, skateboarding, soccer, and lots more.
- Rain or Shine is the best place for preschool-age kids to get their ya-yas out, rain or shine. Imagine a spacious, clean, preschool in which your child can explore at her own pace for hours and you have the pleasure of watching her do it. (On 10th St, behind Whole Foods)
- Ashkenaz. Not every performance at this Berkeley club is kid-friendly, but the ones that are really rock the house. Check out the occasional Sunday concerts. (across San Pablo Ave from REI)
Honorable mention: Stitch Sewing Lab. By appointment or for camps, family-friendly programming for aspiring and experienced sewing people, Stitch is a fun stop on your tour of Gilman Street Awesome. (Between 3rd and 4th near the tracks)
Where to eat:
- Lama Beans. They didn't invent breakfast-for-dinner, but they perfected it. A perfect stop after your soccer game. Silver dollar-style, the pancakes could be gobbled up by a full-grown adult in about four minutes and by a teenager in two. Lots of other healthy choices, too. (at 6th and Gilman)
- Picante. We love to eat in on a weekend night with a cold mojito in hand, but the weekly soccer-season life saver is curb-side pickup. The back patio is a family favorite. (On 6th Street, just south of Gilman)
- Fieldwork Brewing Co. Stuck at the Harrison St ballfields? Head on over to the new kid on the block, Fieldwork Brewing, during practice or a game for a $2 sampler each week until you've tasted their whole selection! (6th St and Harrison)
- Farm Burger. If you have time to eat in, these grass-fed burgers can't be beat; fries are a little soft; and my kids love the play area though it is getting dingy. Read our early thoughts on Farm Burger. (on 9th and Gilman, near Philz across from Whole Foods)
- Chipotle. Tucked in near REI, get your child a kids' meal that has real fresh ingredients. Too much cilantro, but nobody's perfect.
- Meal Ticket. Open for breakfast and lunch, you can enjoy delicious egg dishes and other hearty meals at Meal Ticket. (On San Pablo between Gilman and Harrison Streets)
Where to shop:
- Whole Foods Gilman is gorgeous, large, and brimming with fresh foods. Check out the special features like shrug bar, wholesome convenience foods, and the on-staff cheese masters. Even the Allegro Cafe and breakfast bars warrant a stop. (On 10th and Gilman)
- North Face Outlet. Buy your next fleece in a frenetic deep-discount house of irregulars and out of season parkas.
- REI. Get your outdoor gear in an enormous showroom with tents and bikes that will entertain little ones for hours.
- Tokyo Fish Market. Fresh sushi-grade fish and lots more makes Tokyo Fish Market a neighborhood favorite. Check it out but be prepared to order when it is your turn, or else. (On San Pablo between Gilman and Harrison)
Honorable mention: Target. Always great for a quick errand during practice, I know you know about Albany Target, but have you read my insider tips to Albany Target yet?
Did I skip your favorite? Where do you love to go in Berkeley's Gilman District?
[All photos by 510families.com team; all rights reserved]