Hands-on Creative Fun at Berkeley's Adventure Playground
Down at the Berkeley Marina you'll find one of the Bay Area's all-time classic kids' attractions: the Adventure Playground. This unique place at the foot of University Avenue is no ordinary playground, however. At first glance, it actually looks more like a junkyard than a playground, but it's actually an amazing outdoor wonderland where kids can let their imaginations and creative energy run wild and build with hammers, saws, nails, paint, and recycled materials.
Don't worry—it's not a Lord of the Flies-style free for all. Plenty of helpful young people from the playground's staff are on hand to help, encourage, and make sure everyone has a great safe time. The Adventure Playground is like a big vacant lot full of wood, tires, old boats, and more. Kids can work on their own projects or cooperate to work on larger ventures like adding on to one of the playground's forts.
It's the kind of environment that many kids these days don't really have a chance to experience, and it's been delighting Bay Area children for almost 35 years. In addition to opportunities to build and create, playground-goers can ride a zip line, slide, and swings, and play on a huge rope climbing structure or on one of the playground's many boats and wooden constructions.
Kids can get their tools, nails, and paint at the front shop counter. They also have aprons that kids can wear in an effort to keep from getting too dirty. The playground itself is enclosed by a fence, and you have to sign in at the front to enter.
The Adventure Playground is dirty and messy but a lot of fun. Both my kids had a blast working with tools, playing on the structures, and joining in on building a fort with a group of kids and playground staff. We'll definitely be back again this summer!
For more information on the Adventure Playground, visit www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/adventureplayground, or call (510) 981-6720.
If You Go
Admission to the Adventure Playground is free! Children age 7 and over can stay in the Adventure Playground without their parents for up to three hours for a $10 fee. Children under 7 must be accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult at all times. Groups of five or more children must make advance reservations (at the playground or by calling (510) 981-6720), and a fee will be charged.
All adults must sign a waiver for themselves and their children at the entrance. The Adventure Playground is designed for kids 7 and older, but younger kids will have a great time as well, but they need to be within arm's reach of a parent or adult.
The playground is open during the summer from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays and 11 am to 5 pm on weekends. During the school year, it's open on weekends from 11 am to 4 pm. The Adventure Playground is closed on holidays and rainy days.
The Adventure Playground is located near the Berkeley Marina at 160 University Avenue. It's a short, easy drive from just about anywhere in Marin. To get there, take Highway 101 to the Interstate 580/Richmond Bridge exit, and follow 580 over the bridge to Interstate 80. Follow 80 for a short distance and take the University Avenue exit. Turn left at the stop sign onto University Avenue. Bear left at the next stop sign and continue west on University. The Adventure Playground will be on your left in Shorebird Park. Plenty of free parking is available.
If you visit, make sure your kids wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes (no flip flops, sandals, or Crocs!), as well as clothes that you don't mind getting dirty or muddy (or covered with paint or torn… you get the picture). A change of clothes might actually be a good idea.
Drinking fountains, restrooms, and a more traditional playground can be found nearby at Shorebird Park. There's also a small beach area and a nature center.
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