When I went to the East Bay Regional Park District's Ardenwood Historic Farm the first time, it was not yet a pumpkin patch, which is the main draw every October, neither was it sheep-shearing day (March), or the Historic Rail Fair (September). Nonetheless, it was a trip back in time, to a place where Laura Ingalls might have lived, without the Minnesota snow. It was a magical working farm with real crops and tractors where a kid can forget about a screen. They offer regular family-friendly events and tot programming, too.
We watched a blacksmith hammer a piece of metal into the handle for a knife he was crafting. The open air kitchen shows visitors how meal preparation used to be designed with a huge crew in mind — all the farmhands needed to be fed. My children attempted to pump water from a well, though we found they were not strong enough.
This is a quiet field trip, best for a wandering-type of mood. It is a regional park, not an amusement park. (I'm just trying to manage expectations.)
Visitors can get up close to farm animals, taste freshly made farm-themed food, and ride an open air train. The website says, “Since Ardenwood is a working farm, the daily activities change from season to season so no two visits will be exactly alike.”
Things to know before you go to Ardenwood Farm
The drive from Berkeley is about one hour.
Ardenwood Historic Farm is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, year round, including Labor Day and Memorial Day. Ardenwood is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. For picnic reservations call 1-888-EBPARKS or 1-888-327-2757, press option 2. There is no parking fee. Dogs are not allowed in the Ardenwood Historic Farm.
The Farm is closed on Mondays and the train runs only Thursday-Sunday. Check the East Bay Regional Park district website to confirm any activities you are hoping to see. The animals are always available.
Toddlers will love to chase chickens and run through the gardens. Preschoolers will dig the train ride and the equipment shed. Grade school students will stare at the workers in period costumes.
UPCOMING EVENT(S) at ARDENWOOD FARM