Berkeley's Totland is a small park, perfect for those who are more focused on play than relaxation. Located a tad northwest of University and MLK, the name is quite fitting as Totland's sweet spot is a pretty narrow age range — about 10 months to age 4. In fact, the park is so heavily frequented by 1-3 year olds, that it pretty much empties out around 1 pm when everyone is home napping.
What people love about Totland
A fence encloses the entire park, and parents and caregivers keep the gates closed, so no toddlers will escape. It's easy to find street parking, and many of Totland's visitors are neighborhood folks who push strollers there. While it can get pretty hot during sunny days, large trees provide shade in a few areas.
Historically, the main attraction of Totland, for the tots, are the dozens of push toys and ride-ons that have been left by families who have outgrown them. The shared toys change out frequently but you can expect some sand toys and balls among the larger wheeled vehicles. Little people delighted in trying out all of the colorful plastic vehicles, and even babies would find countless new surfaces to test out their pulling-up-to-a-stand prowess.
Baby swings and big kid swings plus climbing things, spinny rides, and slides are installed in the play area. The park features grass, benches, and picnic tables. Bring a blanket if you like, but if you're with a new walker, you probably won't get a chance to sit down.
What parents should know about Totland
Totland has a bathroom with a bare bones changing table. Many parents use the grassy field for quick changes for this reason. Dogs should be left at home or at least outside the park's fence.
Totland can get messy
Embrace the mess. The popular sand play area features water fountain that can be activated with the push of a button. It can get super soaking messy between the water and wet sand, so do yourself a favor and bring an extra set of clothes.
Plan your visit to Totland Berkeley
We recommend Totland for all toddlers, and especially for parents who are on their own with a new second baby. It can be hard to take two kids out of the house at first, and at Totland you can be assured that your mobile little one can't get very far away. Repeating two words: FENCED. IN.
There is ample street parking. Or walk two blocks from North Berkeley BART.
Several picnic tables make it easy to do a snack or meal at the park.
Time flies when you're a toddler at Totland and many children are carried away kicking and screaming each day; they just don't want to leave.
Totland's location is marked below with an A for Awesome.
[Photo credit: first photo by Whitney Moss; all others by Kat Choi; used with permission.]