Live Oak Park in North Berkeley is a fantastic spot for families with children of all ages. With playgrounds, grassy areas, shady trees, basketball courts, tennis courts, BBQ facilities, and an accessible creek, Live Oak Park really does have something for everyone. The park is separated into two areas, divided by Codornices Creek, with the playground, courts and Live Oak Community Center on one side, and the tree filled park on the other side.
Note that Live Oak Community Center has a planned closure from Fall 2019 through Summer 2020.
The playground in Live Oak Park is separated into two areas for different age groups. Children aged 5 and up will enjoy the open playground space featuring slides (including a large, twisty one), swings, monkey bars and a climbing structure. For younger children, there is a fenced-in toddler play area with sand, a small climbing structure, bouncy rides, toddler swings and small slides. These two playground areas are right next to each other which is perfect for families with children of different ages. Park benches are available in both areas for parents to sit on while they watch their children play. A grassy area adjoins the open playground area and is the perfect spot to set up a picnic blanket for snack breaks.
Alongside the playground area there are basketball courts with a drinking fountain, a popular spot for riding scooters when not in use for basketball. (Ok, fine, many children ride scooters while other shoot hoops at the same time.) Another, larger, grassy area lies next to the basketball courts with two tennis courts on the other side. Both the basketballs courts and tennis courts are lighted for night-time use.
On the other side of Live Oak Community Center lies the grassy park area and creek. This large open space is home to lots of trees providing plenty of shade for picnics on a sunny day. The park is quite hilly in places but there are plenty of flat areas to sit as well as the occasional park bench. It's a great spot to sit and enjoy a pizza from nearby Cheeseboard. This park space is home to several community events throughout the year including the popular Himalayan Faire.
Codornices Creek is the highlight of Live Oak Park for many children. This tiny creek cuts through the middle of Live Oak Park and is a lovely spot for children to play in the cool water on a hot day. With the towering redwoods along the edge, the creek is always shady and cool. The creek bed can be accessed at several points by either a staircase leading to the water (next to the picnic area) or by scrambling down the sides where it is not so steep. Smooth rocks line the creek bed with larger rocks sticking up acting as stepping stones – perfect for crossing without getting too wet. The edges of the creek are smooth and make the perfect place for little ones to paddle their feet without the risk of slipping on the rocks. The water is rarely more than ankle deep making it perfect for children to wade in, however like all bodies of water, parents should make sure to check the conditions first and should stay with children at all times. The creek is a great place to take a bug viewer and search for aquatic bugs like water striders.
Live Oak Park is a popular spot for kids who like to explore. With the creek to wade through, the creek sides to scramble up and down, paths to follow over and under bridges, and even an old outdoor chimney that kids love to climb on, there is plenty to keep outdoorsy kids occupied. Small wildlife can usually be spotted too including squirrels, damselflies, waterstriders, and plenty of birds.
Live Oak Park offers several picnic areas with tables and grills available for use along the creek. These picnic areas can be reserved through City of Berkeley and are popular for birthday parties.
Bathrooms are available in Live Oak Community Center, located next to the playground, during its opening hours. When the Community Center is closed there is one public bathroom available behind the building. This bathroom has only one cubicle and does not have a closing door which is a little odd. Rather, there is a chain that can be closed across the entrance when in use. It's always a good idea to call out to check if the bathroom is in use before entering – just in case! There is no sink for washing hands, just a drinking fountain located outside the bathroom. Carrying hand sanitizer is definitely a good idea. Despite the strangeness of the bathroom, it is generally kept pretty clean. Baby change facilities are not available.
Live Oak Park is located at 1301 Shattuck Avenue, at Berryman Street between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street.
Off-street parking is not available.