Editors' Notes: 

1644 Virginia Street, at the Corner of Virginia Street and McGee Avenue - Northwest Berkeley

Parent Reviews

Parents, Sign in to post a review on this page.

Hi Anne! We've got a 21 month old and live in Berkeley so hopefully this is helpful. I know our toddler cannot be contained on the weekends so I totally understand why you're making this request. Virginia-McGee Totland park in Berkeley is amazing for young kids, usually there are a lot of park toys there for the kids to share. Same with Memorial park in Albany. I also follow Albany Hour on instagram and they list local events for every coming weekend, and most of them include family friendly events. There is also usually an SPCA truck on Solano ave on Sundays if you don't have allergies or aversions to kittens, we have brought our daughter there a few times. Best of luck!


Not sure where you are, but Totland is great for this age, especially in the morning.

Have you been to Totland? It's a good spot for this age!

Totland in Berkeley is all fenced in and has a sandpit. We spent a lot of time there when the kids were younger.

Also, we used to live near San Pablo park and there is also a fenced-in area there.  It is often empty in case you're worried about other children bowling over the young one.

Finally, live oak park has an even smaller fenced-in area.  That's a good one too.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Jan 2010

RE: Playground for babies that are not yet walking?

Totland in Berkeley is a great place to sit with a baby and watch toddlers play. Just off MLK near Virginia.

Protocol on toys at Totland

June 2009

I was wondering if anyone knew of a protocol (official or un) about borrowing toys from Totland in Berkeley. Occasionally we play with a toy there that would be fun to take home for a few days. Is this ok? It would be great to ''check out'' a toy and not have to accumulate more stuff! I haven't done it yet, because it seems a bit like stealing when I don't have permission, and I certainly don't want to do wrong by Totland. We love it too much!! curious mama

In my opinion, people should not borrow toys from Totland. If you want to play with the toy, go to Totland! The chances of the toy coming back are pretty slim, whether or not that was the original intention. Toys should stay at Totland

I would say 'no.' People donate toys to Totland with the expectation that all kids will get to play with them, not that one child will take it home. Even if you return it, you're preventing the other kids from playing with that toy while it's at your house. I agree with the sentiment of not wanting to accumulate stuff, and some things only get played with for a few days when they're still new and novel. It would be nice to have a toy library, but my understanding is that's not Totland's role. sarah

I am not saying people don't do it, but the toys were donated to the community, for the community, by the community. With the implicit obligation to share. It seems to me that ''borrowing'' a toy is like hogging it for an expended time, which is not the point of a community that shares. It's a bit selfish. I mean if all the people that visit Totland desided to borrow one toy each that place would be empty! Sharing is a very important lesson to teach our children. We should teach them to take care of the toys and to share them. They do not belong to anyone in particular they belong to the park and thus remain with the park. I have found that Habitot in Berkeley has a great toy-lending program which is ideal for what you seek. The program allows you to choose 3 toys at a time for 3 weeks at a time with the right to renew as many times as you want. Also there are many toy stores that buy your old toys and sell used toys at discounted prices. ---Sharing momma

Leave Totland toys alone! What a bad idea...the toys are for all the kids. anon

Ummm -- imagine if everyone felt it was OK to ''borrow'' toys from Totland ''for a few days.'' All the toys would soon be ''out on loan'' and the kids wouldn't be able to play with them. If your child really enjoys a Totland toy, either take them to the park more often or buy the toy yourself. If you're worried about accumulating stuff, donate a few of your own toys to Totland after you buy the new toy for your child. Don't contribute to the tragedy of the commons.

I get where you are coming from, but I have to say that it is a really bad idea. One of the things that makes Totland such a great park is that there are so many toys for kids to play with and you can go there a lot during the week and the kids do not get bored. If everyone felt that it was okay to take toys home, then there would be no more toys at the park. How would one regulate this? Is three days okay - what about a week. What if you forgot to bring something back and then ended up going on vacation? What if you just decided that you really liked the toy and never brought it back - who would ever know? I think people donate toys there so that everyone can use them. If you want to try them out, then go to the park and use them. That way everyone can have the same opportunity. Park Lover

I'll be interested to hear the opinions on this one! I personally would consider that stealing... Imagine if every kid who came to totland ''borrowed'' a toy when they left? No more toys! I think teaching our children that the toys stay there and we don't take them home helps them learn about boundaries. -toys for all

I frequently take my daughter to Totland, which is her absolute favorite playground. I am not aware of the official protocol but must say that I would find it inappropriate for people to ''check out'' toys. I know it seems like there are lots of toys there but if many families made this a habit there would soon be little left to play with! Anon

No way! That's stealing.

its so funny you should ask this- i was just asking my husband the same thing earlier today! well, personally i think its ok. its my understanding that these toys are just dropped off at the park by parents who dont want them anymore, and that are too good for landfill but not resale worthy. i also think that totland periodically clears(throws?) them out to help there not be an overabundance of toys there... so maybe we would be helping the situation? however, the only problem i could forsee is that if this becomes an ok thing to do, then potentially there wont be any toys there when we go to play, which is why our little ones love going there so much. hmmmm. curious what other responses will be. we like the toys too!

Toddlers' bottoms in the water play table at Totland

May 2006

Enjoying a nice day at Berkeley Totland today... and it's hot! There were a few mothers/caregivers with their children at the water table (supposedly a table meant for water play with hands) and inside an inflatable pool. There were two toddlers IN (like sitting in) the water table, at one time naked, at other times in non-swim diapers (at least they looked non-swim... very saggy and full of water). The children in the pool were either naked, or in diapers.

I moved to Berkeley a year ago, and sometimes I wonder whether it's me or not. Isn't this really disgusting? Is this what happens every hot day at totland? So I have to spend the summer making sure my son keeps his hands out of the water table? I just don't know what to think. Should I have said something? Or is this another one of '' let the spirit of the kid run free'' things that my jaded, non Nor-Cal mind can't wrap around? Looking for some guidance,
Sign me as Yuk

I don't think you're uptight, everybody has different comfort levels with regards to what's yucky, but I'm afraid that yes, this is a ''let the spirit of the kid run free'' thing; especially at Totland. It will happen on every hot day and if you want to keep your son away, you're going to have to watch him. Sorry Jill

I agree with you 100%! I am amazed at what some parents allow their children to do in public spaces with little or no consideration for the other children at the park. To allow your naked or dirty diapered child to play/sit in the water in indeed gross! I believe it puts ALL the children at risk for who knows what! I'm also pretty peeved at those that allow their children to slide down public slides with no clothes on (we all know how clean most toddler butts are, right?) I think this is definitely a problem of being too ''Berkleyish'' . The idea that kids should keep their clothes on while in public places seems completely alien. Maybe getting the word out that there are some of us out there who do not appreciate the health dangers you are exposing our children to will get people thinking Not a fan of feces

You are not uptight; it is GROSS! I imagine here in Berkekey my resonse with be in the minority... I think that if there are naked toddlers or toddlers in non-swim diapers in the pool or on the water table, anyone playing there is, in all likelihood, playing in urine tainted water. In a place like Totland, which we've decided to stop visiting, I don't see any way around it. Some mothers and caregivers just don't care or don't know that their child is contaminating the playspace for others Elizabeth

OK. That is totally gross. So your kid is supposed to play in the same water that is swooshing around some other kid's butt? Yuck. Sometimes Berkeley moms are just too ''free spirited'' and crunchy for their own good. I wouldn't say anything but I would probably look at them a little oddly and then move my kid away (I know, I'm a little passive agressive I guess) anon

Hi, I haven't made it over to Totland, yet. But if what is happening is just as you described, I will be keeping my daughter away from that area. I have lived in this area all my life and love it. I also don't consider myself too uptight about these things. I can assure you that there are many native Nor-Californians that do not consider this appropriate for a public place Anon

Ah Yes, the disgusting water table and seathing germ bath disguised as a wading pool. It is gross, and I, not being a let it all hang out, live and let live Berkeley native have had a very hard time deciding when to allow my toddler to splash around in the muck. What I can tell you is that we've done the drill for 3 seasons and so far we've all remained healthy. I do however make sure my child wears something on her feet, has a clean diaper or swim bottoms and never, ever let her go naked. The naked issue is more about protection from pedophiles than from germs. Law inforcement professionals (and I have worked with many of them) will tell you that pedophiles have a tendency to focus on particular children. And letting your child run around naked in a public park is putting them at an increased risk of being targeted. So in our family we keep our clothes on in public places. We also scrub like the dickens when we get home! Yuk too, but we enjoy just the same

I grew up in Berkeley and I don't think I'll ever quite understand some of the outrageous things I've witnessed there. I admit that parents everywhere have different styles but you'll see a lot more of this uniqueness and anything goes attitude in Berkeley. Anyway, I'm in your boat and I would work hard to distract my kids away from the scene you describe. I think it's quite inconsiderate of the parents/caregivers to allow their children in full diapers to sit in standing water where other kids have access. I know public pools probably contain quite a bit of urine but they also have a lot more water and are chlorinated AS

The Totland park is unique in this area in terms of ''Berzerkeley behavior'', and no, I do not think that you are being uptight. It is not safe nor hygenic to allow toddlers to put their bottoms in a public water play area! It is fine at home, or in a place with chlorinated water, but not at a public park. Last year on Memorial Day my son got Rotovirus from that very water play station- he was fully clothed, and only splashing around with his hands, but put a wet plastic toy in his mouth before I could stop him. Rotovirus is transmitted via feces, and lives a very, very long time in water. And it is a really serious bug. When we do go to Totland, no water play for my son. We have our own water table and inflatable pool at home. You can't tell the other adults there what to do, that would be a pretty ugly scene, so just keep your kid as safe as you can and follow your own good judgment safe, but not uptight

It may be gross, but I don't think there is much you can do about it but to avoid Totland on hot days or keep your kids away from the water (that's what I try to do, I tell them we'll go to the pool or lake some other day to help them stay away from the water...) anon

That is totally disgusting. You are not uptight at all. It is totally wrong to let your child with with their dirty bottom or dirty diaper in a small watertable meant for other children to play in. Its not like a pool with gallons and gallons of water that are treated with chlorine. Kids DIE from e coli poisoning. Even in kiddie pools that are treated with chlorine. Other things to think about are pinworms and other bacterial infections.

I think parents, probably including myself, have trouble remembering that other people may think their children's naked butts are anything but cute. We had a similar situation where certain friends would come over and their daughter would always strip naked. Then she would sit naked on our couch, our carpet, on our beds on our laps. The final straw came when I found her naked sitting on my bed directly on my pillow! Her parents saw nothing wrong with it. She was 4 years old and we all know how 4 year olds wipe! Like you, I didn't know what to say so made sort of a joke about it which they didn't pick up on then promptly washed my sheets before I went to bed. Needless to say, they were friends who were also inconsiderate in other ways, so we don't hang out with them anymore.

After seeing what you did, I don't think there is any way you should let your kid play in that water table. There are a lot of other nice parks around besides totland that don't have waterplay. In the mean time, these situations just make me try to be more conciencious about making sure my own kids don't gross others out. disgusted too! me that is really gross. I would not have allowed my kids when they were toddlers to go anywhere near that water. That is how lots of diseases and bacteria can spread, including e-coli. E-coli is now showing up in bagged lettuce due to unsanitary workers and situations. You wouldn't let your kid play in toilet water, and who knows, a naked child can turn any water into toilet water! Anon

I think it's gross. There are a lot of things that children can catch from feces if those kids have pooped in the water. Even in swimming pools, you are required to dress your child in diaper-style swimwear. In any case, these tables aren't meant for baby/toddler soaking. If I were you, I'd say something to the nannies when/if you see them doing that. It's really unsanitary baths should be in pools and tubs

Yeah, it is inappropriate that diapered and naked children play in the same water that other children will play in with their hands. But the water would be fairly yukky anyway. Public, wet environments that children use like water fountains are primary hotspots for transmissble disease. I would suggest avoiding these things altogether, and invest in a water table, pool, sprinkler slide etc for your own kids at home

I was born and raised here in the Bay Area and yes, I too find it to be pretty nasty. In fact, I read your post this weekend and the first thing I did this morning was ask our nanny NOT to let our kids sit in that nasty water at Totland - especially in a diaper or naked! I hope it wasn't my kids you saw there!!

When I was a SAHM, on hot days I thought that water looked a bit questionable. I usually told my kids that they could play in the water table at home. My nanny told me that they change the water pretty frequently??? I never thought this. I guess I don't mind if they put their hands in it or if they play with the running water there but I don't want them sitting in that water! Grossed out too by totland water area

Yeah, it's gross. I'm from here, by the way, so not all of us are complete hippies.

From a scientific standpoint, just so you know - urine is sterile so your child shouldn't catch anything if kids are peeing in the water or have pee in their diapers - but again, gross! However, you really don't want your kid playing in water contaminated by feces.

Honestly, I've given up on most parks altogether. If it's not your water table issue, it's the politics of toy sharing - see recent agonizingly long discussion on that - or the oneupmanship (oneupwomanship?) about how organically you are raising your child anon

You are not uptight. When my child was a toddler, I was completely grossed out by the sight of kids' bare bottoms sharing a common (and self-contained) pool of water, and even further grossed out by the sight of toddlers in non-swim diapers submerging their bottoms in same body of water. I stopped taking my toddler to Totland on hot days shortly after seeing this happen on more than one occasion. And don't even get me started about parents/nannies that change their kids' diapers on the picnic bench tables! I'm pretty sure that a Berkeley health inspector would have a thing or two to say about Totland on a hot day. I don't have a problem with letting the spirit of a kid running free as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of other kids to play in a park that meets basic sanitary conditions Totland No More

Sitting IN the water play table, naked or in a diaper, seems out of line. You're right, it's for playing in with your hands. The germs on everyone's hands are bad enough, without thinking about all the rest...

But if there's an inflatable pool, of course kids are going to go sit in that, so I think you have to let that go. A swim diaper is not stopping urine from getting in any pool. It's only purpose is to not become a 10 lb. weight on your baby, compared to a regular diaper. So if you're sharing a ''public pool'' those are the hazards...

Maybe this post will open a few people's eyes who hadn't considered the other side fan of reasonable cleanliness


Totland - Virginia & McGee in Berkeley This park is set up just for toddlers; completely enclosed by a fence and kids are always within view. Ginger

Totland is all enclosed and was made for babies and toddlers. Also Coordineces park @ Euclid & Eunice (? It's across from the Rose Garden). They also have an enclosed section for little ones. It's my favorite park in Berkeley. Toby