Operated by the City of Berkeley, the Adventure Playground at the Berkeley Marina was opened in 1979. It is a wonderfully unique outdoor facility where staff encourage children to play and build creatively. Come climb on the many unusual kid-designed and -built forts, boats, and towers. Ride the zip line. Hammer, saw, and paint. Adventure Playground creates opportunities for children to learn cooperation, meet physical challenges and gain self confidence.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Adventure Playground vs Train Museum for 7yo's birthday
We're considering either Berkeley's Adventure Playground (AP) or Richmond's Golden State Railroad Museum (GSRM) for our son's 7th birthday. I've checked the archives, but don't find answers to the questions we have.
We'd love to hear from anyone who has held birthdays at either location. In particular, we'd find it helpful to know: -Was there enough to do/see at the GSRM for a birthday party? -If not, what other activity(ies) did you add to make it a well-rounded party? (A pinata outside perhaps?) -Where did you set up your meal/snacks/cake? -We've not visited it yet, and are wondering: will it hold the attention of 6 & 7 year olds, or is GSRM better suited for younger kids?
For a party at AP, did you ask (some) parents to stay to help supervise? -What ratio of kids/adults did you find helpful? -If you brought in lunch and used a restaurant for the meal, who did you use?
Any other advice or tips you can suggest for a party at either place would be great, too! Thanks. Caryn
We've done a birthday party at both locations. Adventure Playground is so much fun, but not appropriate for younger siblings and you will want significant help overseeing the kiddos. There are plenty of places to picnic in the adjacent park. It can, of course, be freezing and blowing fog!
Golden Gate Railroad Museum is a look-not touch hobbyist's association. My train crazy son loved to go there, but it won't occupy much time. We combined it with a traditional party by renting PRAM's fieldhouse, which is across the street and is extremely affordable. It is a parent group that has a club house with a kitchen, toys, and an outside area. See http://www.pram.net/. Birthday vet
I say Adventure Playground would probably be more fun for a group of 7 year olds. The Golden State Railroad Museum is really cool and worth a visit (even if you're not a train enthusiast). The intricate layouts are really amazing and it's fun to watch the trains running BUT the kids would probably be ready to move on after 30 minutes. There isn't anything else to do in the museum aside from observing the trains running behind the glass windows. If you go you'd probably want to plan to spend much of the party time exploring Miller Knox Regional Park (GSRM is in Miller Knox). There's a nice little beach, trails, barbeque pits and picnic tables. Kites are great there.
Adventure Playground on the other hand will definitely keep them entertained for hours. No, parents don't need to stay. The park is staffed by the City of Berkeley so some supervision is provided. Make sure you reserve spot for your group in advance and everyone needs a waiver. FYI kids 7 and older can be dropped off at the park for up to 3 hours if you register! There is a picnic table right outside the park and many other tables/barbeques close by. I recommend having pizza delivered and bring a cake. Keep it simple, the kids will just want to play in the park and hunt for sand crabs on the beach. Have fun
Adventure Playground is an unusual playground run by the city of Berkeley and if you haven't taken your kids there yet, you are in for a treat. This place is one of the reasons why it's so cool for kids to grow up in the Bay Area! Kids love it and will entertain themselves for hours. In fact, children over 7 can be dropped off for up to three hours - parents fill out a registration form with a phone number where they can be reached. There are trained supervisors to oversee kids as they play.
The philosophy at Adventure Playground is to provide elements that are not normally found in a play environment. There are piles of boards, old carpeting, plywood to make signs and walls and roofs. Kids can check out hammer and nails, a saw, buckets of paint and brushes. There is an ever changing collection of kid-built shacks and club houses. There are old tires lying around everywhere, a huge cargo net to climb up and (my kids' favorite) a cable and pulley slide: you stand on a a wood platform, grab a rope attached to the pulley on the cable overhead, wrap your legs around the rope (which has a tiny seat attached) and zoom down into a pile of sand. Then you walk the rope uphill to the next kid waiting on the platform and get back in line! (Parents beware - your kid has to meet a height requirement to do this.)
Adventure Playground is next to the Bay, at the Berkeley Marina (take University Ave west all the way to the end; go left at the fork and it will be on your left.) When you go, you might want to take along a picnic and take a walk along the Bay - the area where the playground is has a tiny beach, paths, and picnic tables. Nearby attractions are the the kite park, the pier, and the marina.
Hours: 11-5 Sat & Sunday only, plus all Berkeley holidays (daily during the summer). It's free