The stretch of Berkeley’s Hopkins Street from MLK to Monterey is full of kid-friendly goodness. I’m never sure if I should start at the top and work my way down, or down and work my way up. I’ll give you all the good spots from east to west, and let you decide.
The North Berkeley Library It’s my favorite of the five Berkeley libraries because it’s just so cozy. Pick out books and snuggle up in front of the fireplace for a readathon – yes, it’s fake, but I don’t even care. I also love their toddler and preschool storytimes, currently held on the lawn.
King School Park There’s a nice grassy area for a picnic, an enclosed baby/toddler play area (renovated in 2021), a traditional play structure for older kids, plus two large climbers for your daredevils over age 5. One is so tall that I would completely freak out if my 5-year-old was at the top, but apparently, calculated risk promotes healthy brain development and self-confidence. Be prepared for middle schoolers climbing all over the big climbing structure on weekdays during breaks at MLK Middle School.
There’s also a fun water feature in the tot lot, so bring extra clothes and some sand toys. Keep in mind though, shade is pretty much non-existent at the tot lot, so hats and sunscreen are also a must. The new play structure is super cute, with lots of safe climbing, balancing, spinning and swinging opportunities for your little kiddos.
Toddlers will love the the kitchen/store play space and will spend a lot of time playing with all the nobs, buttons and containers. Swings are aplenty, with two bucket swings and two big kid swings in the tot lot, and four swings in the big kid area. For bathrooms, there’s a portable potty with a hand washing station next to the big kid playground.
King Pool Find an open family swim time almost every morning or afternoon, and look out for their holiday swim events which occur near Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the New Year.
The Edible Schoolyard Just beyond King Park, you’ll find The Edible Schoolyard – a one-acre garden and kitchen classroom for King Middle School. It’s used by students during the day, but open to the public (for free) on weekends and after 6pm. (It has been closed since the pandemic started, but we’re hoping that will change!)
Gioia Pizzeria MY favorite pizza place in the Bay. (Sorry Cheeseboard!) Grab a slice of funghi at their sidewalk window and enjoy it on the bench out front, or take it back to King Park for a picnic.
Hopkins Street Bakery Stop in for a sweet treat or pick up some delicious cookie dough to take home for later. We are obsessed with the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.
Berkeley Horticultural Nursery We love this place! Walk around and smell the flowers, feed the koi fish (if your timing is right), and get lost in the maze of plants. Don’t go on a Thursday though, because they are closed.
Monterey Market Our go-to place for all things fruit and vegetable. Just don’t even think about taking a double stroller inside. Trust me.
Espresso Roma All this exploring got you tired? This corner coffee shop needs a makeover, but the outdoor seating is ample and the food and drinks are good.
Now go exploring!