Pretty park near Oakland for 1YO birthday?

Hello! I was looking to find a cool, serene park location for my soon-to-be 1-year-old's September birthday party, which will basically consist of adults. It seems like the city's botanical gardens can only be reserved for weddings, some of the prettiest parks don't allow for tables and chairs (and also don't have many/any picnic tables), and some of the other parks have homeless encampments. 

Does anyone know of a lakeside or forested area that's off the beaten path that I could reserve or just show up on the day of without much competition? Would be maybe 15-20 guests. I love the Tilden area but aside from the obvious destination points don't really know where to begin. 

Thanks in advance!

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You can reserve the picnic area - I think there are three tables - at strawberry creek park in Berkeley. 

Check out Roberts Park in the Oakland Hills off of Skyline. Many moons ago, we had our son's 1st birthday there. We were able to reserve multiple tables at a picnic area near and open field area, where bigger kids could run around and play games. It was a really nice combination of trees and open space. And there's a decent sized parking lot.


I recommend Lake Temescal, which has a pretty park with lots of picnic tables.  Many have a view of the lake.  It has a safe and happy feel, with lots of people of all ages enjoying the park.  Hope you like it!

Fm smith park on Park Boulevard, or on the opposite side of the street, there's a grass hill right across from the church, by lake merritt, 

or diamond park off of fruitvale, 2 blocks down from the safeway.

Dracena Park in Piedmont. I’ve also seen people reserve some of the picnic areas in Redwood Regional Park. 

Hi! Robert's Regional is great.  There are picnic areas in a gorgeous redwood grove surrounded by trails with picnic tables.  Nice and shady on a warm day and even on overcast days it tends to be warmer up there than in the city below.  Just across from parking lot there is a fabulous playground and big lawns for any kiddos in attendance.  There are picnic tables by the playground as well but I think they get taken up quickly on weekend days.  There is a $5 parking fee per car but guests can park on Skyline and walk (its a 2 min walk).

Also Redwood regional is a great option as well.  Use the skyline gate, and park in the last parking lot.  There is a paved path with lots of lawns and picnic tables galore.  A small play structure right by the start of the redwood forest trails.  

I take my kiddos to these areas regularly for a hike, play, and a picnic. 

Hope this helps!

Look into Roberts Regional Recreation Area! It has reservable picnic areas tucked into a sweet forested area.

Check out Live Oak Park in north Berkeley. It’s small and has a few shaded picnic table areas that can be reserved for parties. There’s a small creek and bridges that run through it and have always felt pretty magical to me!

It might be father than you want to go, but I highly recommend the 50-person Mallard picnic site at Lake Chabot Regional Park. It is private and gets a great mix of shade and sun (late afternoon is especially beautiful as the site is west facing). has a big lawn for games and toddling, four big picnic tables, and two portapotties close by. A short walk takes you to the lake and marina area, which is hopping on weekends, yet Mallard feels so peaceful and lovely. 

You can make a reservation here:

Here's my local tip: when you reserve a site, you're supposed to be there to claim it by sometime in the morning. Most parties clear out by the afternoon, and then first-come first-served folks come in. I ride my bike by the site frequently and it is almost always empty in the afternoon after about 3-4 pm.

Check out Lake Temescal!

Some of the picnic areas in Redwood Regional Park, Roberts Park and Joaquin Miller Park (they all sort of run together) are nice - there's info on specific sites at the bottom of this page:

Check out Kennedy Grove in El Sobrante. We had our daughter's 1st birthday there and our guests loved the location. There is also a small playground that the older kids loved.

Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park -- forested, off the beaten path, beautiful and reservable. There's parking and toilet. Guests should be provided with a map and detailed directions. There's no cell reception but it feels like a world away and serene. 

I just had my sons first birthday at Temescal Recreational Area; it was perfect. People came and went, set up picnic blankets or ate at the tables, kids ran around playing. 

Cordonices park has nice reservable areas, but they are often booked in advance. I had a baby shower there, and we just showed up ahead of time and set up tables in a non-reservable area and had a great time. Its such a beautiful park. 

Try Lake Temescal off Broadway Terrace and Hwy 13.  Popular for birthday parties and there is also a lake.  I'm not sure about the reservation system (as there are designated spots with tables/benches/grills) but there is also plenty of grass available for you to set up as well.

I've had lots of my kid's birthday parties at Roberts Regional Park. They have a wheelchair accessible playground, lots of parking (though you do have to pay $5 or something if you're not a member of the East Bay Regional Parks), bathrooms, big grassy areas and redwood trees and picnic tables, etc. You can reserve the picnic areas but I've often found a few open tables, or we've just plopped big blankets down in the field if the tables are taken. There's also a much bigger field by the lower parking lot if you needed more options. In the summer there are camps and stuff but in September it should be gorgeous weather and maybe less crowded?