Roberts Regional Recreation Area
Did you look into reserving a space? Technically you are supposed to reserve a space for events with 30 or more people at east bay parks and rec district parks. Roberts has a lot of reservable spaces if you are willing to be off of the main lawn.
We've done a number of swim classes in the area and it depends what you are looking for, your child's experience level, timing and price. I can't say that I'm familiar with the classes at La Petite Baleen so that would make my response less useful but I can tell you about our recent experience with our 4-year old.
We got a groupon for Aquatech and liked the intro class. It was just 2 kids per adult and the facility is clean and the instructors are all good. We wanted classes on the weekend and it was great but we saw that it would be a long time before our child felt comfortable in the water. We could have continued but the cost was too high for us without the groupon.
Over the summer, we had a great class at Roberts Pool in the Oakland hills and it was in the evenings M-Thurs for two weeks. It was great because he was able to really make progress each day as opposed to waiting for each Saturday and taking a step back.
Currently, we are taking a class in Emeryville and it has less instruction. It is a parent/child class (the others were with just the toddler in the pool) and it is definitely focuses on singing and free play. It's great for the parents to interact with the kids in the pool but again, real swimming seems a long way off.
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Re: Swimming classes for a two year old
Our son was two years old last year and he really enjoyed swimming lessons. Two-year old classes are all, I think, classes with parents primarily geared to getting the little ones comfortable in the water.
The place we started was at Lions pool in Dimond park. Saturday mornings, outdoor pool but heated. They actually have two classes, an A and a B. I think the ''B'' class is supposed to be a little more ''advanced'', but in practice, I didn't see it. The classes last summer were big classes with little individual attention from the instructors, but enough room to move around with the child and some attempts at structure--getting them to blow bubbles in the water, float on their back, etc. Toys to play with in the pool also.
We then discovered lessons at East Bay parks at the Roberts pool up in the hills. Also outdoor heated pool, with a great play area there as well (good for bribing). These classes (Parent-Tot) are much smaller than those at Lions, with more individual attention. And if you can go during the week, even evenings, you can get more classes (10) for the $50 than if you go on the weekends (3 classes for $30).
Three year olds like my son can go into the next class (Super Tot), where they go without parents. Good for us and good for him to be more independent. And they also offer individual classes for not much more money.
I hear the Y also has classes that are good, but haven't been.
Hope that helps. Bryan
Hi - we just started taking swim classes at Roberts Recreation Area pool, near Chabot Space and Science Center. Roberts is part of the East Pay Regional Park system. The pool is small, beautiful, nestled in the trees, near redwood grove, a great playground, a nice open picnic area and play field (frisbee, not a base ball diamond), and several large ''in grove'' picnic areas that are perfect for parties. The cost $30 for a series of three weekly classes. They even have weekend classes (yeah!), which is why we enrolled there. We are taking parent-tot classes - not much direct teaching of the tots, but direction and techniques to the group of parents, some one on one work, and a group gather time at the beginning and end of each class. Classes are large - about 15 pairs of parent-tots, but with two teachers. We are happy with it. They have a new series beginning in two weeks, I think. Go to the East Bay Parks web page for information. D sd
Re: Picnic site for 1st birthday party
In Oakland, there is also the Redwood Bowl area in Roberts Redwood Park and in Roberts Park main area, there are picnic areas with grills, a baseball field, a large grassy area (big enough for frisbee, football, etc.). If you don't like any of your other choices, you can always go to Tilden in Berkeley. Have fun
One park you've left out is Roberts Regional Park, nestled next to Redwood Regional Park. It is easy to get to, has ample parking, a nice playground, huge grass area, and several tables. Nice view, too. One thing: each time we've had a get-together there, it's been chilly. Possibly a coincidence. Jennie