Berkeley CA’s Adventure Playground

Remember playgrounds without padded mats below every surface and safety bars at every turn? Remember building forts in backyards with scraps of plywood and old nails? So does Adventure Playground Berkeley, located at the marina in Berkeley California. This play space has been in operation for 35 years, and is refreshingly unafraid of a lawsuit. We loved every minute.

adventure playground

Adventure Playground is a park for kids that’s a work in progress. Every structure has been created by kids, for kids out of recycled materials. Kids can run loose, playing in all the forts, climbing towers, and structures, or take part in building. Just pick up some trash or loose nails in the park and turn them in to the park staff for tools. On offer: saws, hammers, nails, paint, paintbrushes, and all the scrap wood, old tires, and other cast-off building supplies you could want.

Parents have the option of dropping off kids 7 and older for up to 3 hours unsupervised in Adventure Playground for $10/hour, or individual family groups (with fewer than five kids) can visit with parental supervision for free. (Families or playgroups with five kids or more are considered a group and need a reservation.)

adventure playground

We spent two hours in the park, and could have used more time. The kids immediately set to work building a ladder onto a pre-existing fort, then added a second-floor platform with the aid of a park staff member. (We were told two-story structures couldn’t be built without a railing built first, but this was the only ‘rule’ we heard all afternoon.) The kids then explored the rest of the area, playing on rope climbing nets, trying out the park zip line, and swinging from rope ladders and bars. In addition to all the building going on (construction is on-going), kids can grab a paintbrush and paint anything they like, or they can poke around in the shaded garden area with water fountains, a strawberry patch, and benches.

adventure playground

Tip: Wear closed-toed shoes in the park (parents too). There are a lot of loose nails on the ground, plus boards with splinters. Kids under age seven are welcome with parents, but be advised: kids under three may get hurt by the debris on the ground. The park is definitely geared toward the school-aged set.

There are no restrooms in the park proper, but a city park exists adjacent by the marina with public bathrooms and picnic grounds. Free parking.

Date last visited:

August 2013

Distance from the interstate:

Two minutes from I-80.

Admission:

Free for families. Groups are $73/2 hours.

Hours of operation:

Daily during summer; weekends 10 am – 5 pm weekends during the school calendar year.

Directions:

From I-80, take the University Ave exit in Berkeley. Follow University to the marina.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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