Willow Park is a renovated playground in West Oakland that features two brand-new nature-themed play structures. There is a tot-lot and a playground for the bigger kids. The park’s story is a celebration of community. Over the past two years, caring community members banded together to form the Friends of Willow Park to combat health and safety problems. These neighbors organized regular park clean-ups and worked with the city to develop plans for landscaping, park upkeep, and designs for the new play structures (and these are so well done!). It looks incredible, and four-year-old Rio totally loved it!
Willow Park now offers East Bay families a clean and well-kept playground tucked away in West Oakland. You can grab lunch just down the street from the 10th and Wood Cafe and bring it to the park. (The fried chicken sandwich never disappoints!)
Willow Park Features
Location: At the cross-section of 14th St and Willow St in Oakland
Unique Features: Two brand new play areas: a tot lot and a bigger kid playground. Each play area has a nature theme and has a lot of fun features that kids of all ages will enjoy.
Fenced in? The tot lot is fenced in with two entrances/exits.
Tables and Seating: There are two tables with built-in chess boards (bring your own pieces) and plenty of brand-new benches interspersed throughout the park. There are also long built-in cement benches covered in mosaic tiles that fit larger groups.
Swings: A unique and modern swing set that allows you to swing a toddler and a bigger kid at the same time.
Grass: There’s a nice rolling hill that’s perfect for picnics and overlooks the play structures.
Other Features: A basketball court in the park is currently under construction.
Parking: There’s plenty of street parking right next to the park.
Pros: A brand new park in West Oakland with two happening play structures fit for kids of all ages. Lots of diversity of both activities and families!
Cons: Not too long ago, this playground was known for drug deals and as a hangout for unhoused people instead of swinging and climbing. The park looks clean, feels safe for kids, and is well maintained today by Friends of Willow Park, the volunteers who manage the redesign and upkeep. Fingers crossed that its pristine appearance is here to stay.
Willow Mini Park Tot Lot
The tot lot is large and filled with multiple spaces and activities for kids aged 2-5. At the entrance, you’ll find an oversized anthill tunnel and tree stumps that lead you to the play structure that features two slides and a 5-foot climbable frog. There are oversized flowers that little ones can bang with attached mallets. They actually make extremely pleasant sounds! There’s even a giant pinwheel that is easily spun by kids of any size or strength. And let’s not forget the unique hybrid swing set mentioned above.
Willow Mini Park Big Kid Playground
This playground has everything the big kids need: slides (three of ’em!), monkey bars, a tall ladder, a climbing structure shaped like a butterfly, seats made out of giant leaves, and trees-turned-towers for climbing. My four-year-old prefers this playground due to the fast slides. He enjoys all of its features with some light lifting support from Daddy. There is even a “find the animal” sign that encourages youngsters to find four “hidden” animals throughout the park.
The Bottom Line on West Oakland’s Willow Park
We’ll be back. Willow Park’s new nature-themed playgrounds are a celebration of community and a welcomed addition to West Oakland. Today it is a great place for youngsters to explore and bigger kids to climb. There is plenty of space for families to spread out and picnic. We’ve always been greeted by another friendly family or two on our visits. Make a pit stop here on your way to Jack London Square, grab a Vietnamese Coffee and a bucket o’ mini-donuts from Orbit Coffee, or stop by Horn Barbecue for some killer brisket while you’re in the neighborhood.
While you’re nearby, bring your scooter to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park >>