As of Spring 2021, both Lake Anza in Berkeley and Lake Temescal in Oakland are closed for Covid-19 precautions AND probably closed for unsafe water conditions.
Oakland’s Lake Temescal and Tilden Park’s Lake Anza typically maintain the same summer schedule: open weekends until Memorial Day, then open daily all summer with lifeguard supervision from 11 am to 6 pm.
While your dogs are not welcome in the water in the swimming part of the lake, your toddlers are, and the shallow entry and sandy beach of a lake offer loads of entertainment for kids who want to splash around.
But wait! Before you jump in, check the water quality page on the East Bay Regional Park District website. The park district checks for toxic blue-green algae throughout the swimming months and posts a red, yellow, or green light icon at the lakes to indicate the swimming conditions. As of this writing, both are closed for swimming due to hazardous water conditions.
Lake Temescal in Oakland
There’s plenty to enjoy in the surrounding park — Temescal Regional Recreation Area — with grassy fields, playgrounds at both ends, and a path for parents who want to push a jogging stroller. Fishing is welcome at Lake Temescal, but not at the sandy beach.
Bring an umbrella, towels, beach chairs, and a picnic lunch, and park yourself in front of the lake for an afternoon. There is a changing room/restroom nearby. Refreshments are not readily available.
There are two points of access to Temescal Park which sits in the hills above Rockridge — 6500 Broadway and 6502 Broadway Terrace.
Lake Anza in Berkeley
Located in the middle of Tilden Park, Lake Anza also offers a sandy beach for building and digging, which is what my kids sometimes prefer to actually getting in the water. The roped-off swim area is manned by lifeguards at certain times.
While Lake Anza is sheltered from the wind, it’s completely exposed to the sun, so BYO shade. Too busy to prep a picnic? There is a refreshment stand with hot dogs, bagels, sandwiches, and ice cream treats.
How the heck do I get there? Tilden Park can be intimidating to navigate. Lake Anza is near the Tilden Park Merry Go Round. Use Wildcat Canyon Road to enter Tilden Park and turn Left on Central Park Drive, then Right on Lake Anza Road. There is a parking lot.