If you’re looking for something a bit out of the ordinary to excite your kids to get outside, try tempting them with a trip to TEPCO Beach in Richmond. Also called Glass Beach, it is a one-of-a-kind beach strewn with broken ceramic plates and mugs as well as stunning views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. TEPCO Beach is best for kids who are steady on their feet, since falling can be dangerous. I brought my four kids (ages 2, 4, 7 and 9), and we spent several exciting hours finding broken treasures, crabs hiding under plates and skipping rocks and plates.
Where is TEPCO Beach??
If you’re like me, you’ve probably driven by TEPCO Beach tons of times either on your way to Costco or Point Isabel. It’s a small hidden stretch just south of the Costco parking lot right at the turn from Central Ave onto Isabel Street. You can park right by the Fire Lane gate or next to the East Bay Water Treatment Plant for free.
From there you’ll walk onto a paved path and walk south to find your way down to the beach. It’s a bit dicey as far as climbing down, so I had to carry my two-year old, but the rest of my kids found their way fine.
What is TEPCO Beach?
KQED’s Bay Curious did a great write-up about the history of the beach. Basically, the beach became a junk heap for seconds in the 1940’s for a now defunct ceramics company called Technical Porcelain and Chinaware Company (TEPCO), which once operated in El Cerrito. Clearly the environmental protections were a bit more lax back in the day. Kind of shocking for the kids to see at first (“That’s a LOT of trash Mommy!”). So we did our best to help “clean up” the mess by collecting smooth pieces of plates and mugs to use for craft projects later. We didn’t make much of a dent, so there’s plenty left for you!
Visiting TEPCO Beach with Kids
My husband questioned my plan to bring the kids to a beach with thousands of sharp broken shards of ceramics. I agree, it does seem a bit crazy to bring little kids to such a place. But I figured most of the broken pieces’ edges would be rounded off and smooth since they’d been there for 80 years. I’m happy to say, I was generally correct. However there are some sharp edges to be found, and honestly, my two-year old was a bit stressed-out walking around. She fell several times (no cuts though) and so I ended up sitting with her on a concrete slab and sorting through some of our finds. My older boys, including my four-year old, were totally fine and loved every treasure finding minute.
This isn’t your typical beach, so don’t expect sand and a place to lay out your blanket for lunchtime. I did bring a towel to lay on a concrete slab to sit, which was good for snack-time. There’s not much shade to be had either, so hats and sunscreen are a must for a summer days.
Pro Tips: There’s no bathroom at this beach so plan ahead. (Costco is your nearest option). Double check that you have your first aid kit replenished with band-aids and such.
The Bottom Line on TEPCO Beach for kids
TEPCO Beach is a must-see for East Bay families that love unique outdoor outings and hunting for treasure. It’s best for kids ages 5+ or who are steady on their feet. Make sure to check the tides and go within a few hours of low-tide to experience the full effect. It wasn’t crowded at all when we were there mid-morning during the week; maybe two or three other treasure hunters and a dog on leash.
What to Bring to Richmond’s TEPCO Beach:
- Sturdy shoes
- Gloves to protect hands from sharp edges
- Buckets to bring home your treasures
- Hats and sunscreen (not much shade)
- Water and snacks
- First Aid basics