Bay Area Hiking
Bay Area Biking
San Francisco Bay Area Overview
||When my children were
used to hunt all over our area for playgrounds to take them to. Here
some favorites, plus a few new ones I've discovered since then. Since
kids are in college now, some of these pictures are really from my
back pages, and my playground-hunting days are over. Playground
has a tendency to get worn out and replaced, and new safety standards
dictated replacing old equipment, so some of these may be different
but the playgrounds should still be good. Since I'm from San Jose, most
of my experience is with parks in the Silicon Valley, though I've
a few in other areas. Write me if you have a favorite park in your
that you'd like me to mention.
Park, Santa Barbara: OK, so this isn't in the Bay Area, but I used
to live in Santa Barbara and visit it often (see my Santa
Barbara page.) Alameda Park has one of the most amazing play areas
I've ever seen. It includes a huge castle-like structure that was built
by volunteers. Across the street is Alice Keck Gardens, which has one
the most beautiful gardens I've even seen.
Silicon Valley Parks
San Jose: This is a 25-acre park in my neck of the woods, so my kids
here often. It has large playing fields for recreational sports. It has
a nice new playground at the base of a hill. The hilltop provides great
views of the neighborhood and the Santa
San Jose: This neighborhood playground is north of Good Samaritan
near Los Gatos. Nothing fancy, but it's a big playground with lots of
equipment for children of all ages, including a par course for adults.
A few blocks away is the Mozart Avenue over-crossing of Hwy 17 that
to the Los
Gatos Creek Trail.
Park, San Jose: This park is in East San Jose near Silver Creek
School. Its landscaping simulates lakes and islands. The long concrete
slides shown below are thrilling rides.
Creek Trail Parks: The Coyote
Creek Trail runs from San Jose to Morgan Hill, one of the longest
in the Bay Area. There are numerous parks all along it. Even after the
trail ends, there are still many parks along the banks of the creek,
flows into the Bay near Fremont. Parks along the trail include Metcalf
Oaks Park, Hellyer
County Park, and Stonegate
Park, After the trail ends, there's the Coyote
Creek Park Chain, Kelley
Street Park, Roosevelt
Park, and North Coyote
Creek Park. Just before it enters the Bay, the creek runs through
Creek Lagoon, and past the Alviso
salt ponds, which are bordered by the Bay Trail.
Park, San Jose: This is a pleasant, redwood tree-shaded park in the
Almaden Valley near Los Alamitos Creek. It has 2 playgrounds and lots
picnic tables. The Alamitos
Creek Trail is across the street.
Lake Park: The main attraction of this regional park is its lake,
has swimming, fishing, and boating. However, there is a large
here near the lake. Nearby is a snack bar and picnic areas. The Alamitos
Creek Trail runs through the park. The runs by several other
parks in the Almaden Valley, including Pfeiffer
Park, which has a new playground.
Park, San Jose: this small park in the Almaden Valley is very close
Park. Part of the park is developed, with picnic tables, lawns, and
a playground. Part of it is a rugged, undeveloped hill, cut by a small
steep ravine. The hill becomes covered with grass and wildflowers in
Oak Grove Park, San Jose: This is a large (62.7 acres) park in the
Almaden Valley. Part of the park is flat, with lawns, sidewalks,
picnic areas, and playgrounds. This part is long and narrow and runs
huge powerline towers. Another part is undeveloped and includes oak
and rocky hills. Trails lead through the groves and up over the hills
provide fine views of the Almaden Valley and the South Bay.
Rock Park, San Jose: This is a big (700 acres) park in the East
of San Jose. It is primarily known for its hot mineral springs and
trails, but it also has picnic and play areas. The Youth
Science Institute there teaches kids about nature. Penitencia Creek
runs through the park. Outside the park, the creek flows through Penitencia
Creek County Park. The park has playing fields, picnic areas,
and ponds. A short distance away is the beautifully-landscaped,
Cunningham Park, San Jose: This regional park is located on the
side of San Jose, near Eastridge Mall. Its central feature is Lake
a 50-acre lake stocked with trout and catfish. Boats are available for
rent. There are picnics and playgrounds around the lake. The Raging
Waters water park is along the west shore.
- Guadalupe River Park:
of the largest and most ambitious park plans in the Bay Area is the
Guadalupe River Park in downtown San Jose. The park is currently under
construction, but many parts are complete. Parks with playgrounds
Park and the Arena
The latter also has a carousel and visitor center across the street
the huge San Jose Arena (AKA the HP
In Discovery Meadow is the Children's
Discovery Museum and a giant
Arena Green Carousel and Playground
Los Gatos: This is a beautiful park in the foothills of Los Gatos.
There is a large grassy field with a shady playground near the
Trails lead along a shady creek and up into the hills, with spectacular
views along the way. Hillside trails connect with the larger
Heintz and Santa Rosa Open Space Preserves.
Central Park: Santa Clara is in the heart of the Silicon Valley. It
doesn't have hillside open spaces or Bayshore like many of its
but its Central Park is an oasis of green in the highly urbanized city.
The park is divided by a deep creekbed, with bridges joining the halves
of the park. There are artificial lakes here and several playgrounds.
one side of the creek is a tot lot. Nearby is a large group picnic area
covered by a huge tent-like chain structure. Across the creek is a
playground for older kids made up of huge concrete pipes and logs. This
park is also next to the Olympic-class Santa
Clara international swim center.
Park, Sunnyvale: This Sunnyvale park has an amazing array of play
and landscaping. One of its features is the riverboat shown below. Next
to is are walls that look like a western town. There is also a forest
poles that sprays water in all directions. There is a natural-looking
rocky creekbed that runs by the redwood-shaded picnic areas. This flows
into ponds and fountains that kids can splash around in. (The creek and
ponds were dry when I revisited the park in 2003.)
Palmas Park, Sunnyvale: This beautiful park won awards for its
It has large reflecting ponds and hilly climbing structures with water
sprays. (The ponds were dry when I revisited the park in 2003.) One of
the playground sections is on an palm-covered island reachable by a
across the pond. On it, the playground equipment is designed around a
ship made up of logs. Across the pond is a long sinuous concrete
with spray towers.
Sunnyvale: This artistically-designed park is on grassy open fields
near the bay. The bay breezes make this a great place for kite-flying.
There are picnic areas and unique playground equipment. The park is
to the Bay
Trail, which runs around creeks, sloughs, salt ponds, and water
ponds. The trail can be take to Alviso and will someday connect to
View's Shoreline Park.
Park, Mountain View: Shoreline at Mountain View is a huge 660-acre
park complex located near the Bay west of Stevens Creek. The park was
on a retired landfill. It is adjacent to salt ponds and sloughs, fed by
waters from nearby San Francisco Bay. This is a prime wildlife viewing
area. For young children, there is a 50-acre lake with boat rentals
love the paddleboats) and a playground on the lake shore. They can fly
kites here and ride bikes on the paved trails. The Bay
Trail runs through this park and connects to the Palo
Alto Baylands. The Stevens
Creek Trail is a beautifully-developed recreational trail that runs
inland from Shoreline Park and connects to several parks, including
Park, Creekside Park, and Whisman Park, which all have playgrounds.
Park, Mountain View: This venerable park, the second largest park
Mountain View after Shoreline, was built in the 1960's on a former
It is a beautifully-designed and landscaped park, with small rolling
and valleys and tall mature trees for shade. It has playgrounds, picnic
grounds, and numerous sports facilities. Its large playground area,
a wide variety of new equipment, was voted the Best Playground in
Valley in a 2002 Mercury News poll. It was awarded Best
Park/Picnic Area in 2003 by the Mountain View Voice. Next to the park
is the Cuesta Park
a former orchard, now used as an open space park.
Park, Cupertino: This beautifully-landscaped 28-acre park is across
the street from DeAnza College.
built around a complex of lakes, fountains and artificial creeks. It
picnic areas, an Alpine-style gazebo, and an outdoor amphitheater.
are several play areas here. One of these used to be a simulated
town with a huge cave-like structure made of logs. This has since been
replaced by large pre-fab playground equipment, but the kids still have
a lot of fun, with less splinters.
Park, Los Altos: This is a small, lovely community park in the very
upscale neighborhood of Los Altos. It's along Adobe Creek, with picnic
areas shaded by large redwood trees. There are separate play areas for
small children and older children. A short distance away, along the
is a nature preserve, with boardwalk trails through a shady redwood
and hillside trails.
Park, Palo Alto: This 19-acre park has several facilities. It has
picnic areas, the Palo
Alto Junior Museum, the Community Theater/Children's Theater, the
Stern Community Center, the Children's Library, and a swimming
Park, Palo Alto: This 21-acre park has toddler playgrounds, a
wading pool, picnic areas, and playing areas for a variety of sports.
Palo Alto: This is a 13.8-acre park with large lawns, playground areas
with climbing structures, and a bicycle path that runs from Gunn High
Arastradero Road. Matadero Creek runs alongside the park and is shaded
by large trees.
Levin County Park, Milpitas: Santa Clara County Parks tend be
either medium-size urban parks or huge wildland parks. Ed Levin is a
both. It covers 1544 acres, much of which is undeveloped open space. It
includes rugged trails in the hills, up to 2594-foot Monument peak.
gliders can be seen launching from the hills. The park also includes
Wool Lake, which is stocked with trout. It is surrounded by lawns and
areas. Below the lake is a playground.
Shores Bay Trail: Redwood Shores occupies a manmade peninsula along
the shores of San Francisco Bay south of Foster City. It is actually a
part of Redwood City.
the edge of the peninsula runs the San Francisco Bay Trail. As it runs
next to sloughs and artificial lagoons, the trail runs next to several
public and private parks, some with playgrounds. These parks provide
of wetlands and waterfowl.
Like its newer neighbor to the south, Foster City occupies an
peninsula on San Francisco Bay. Homes, parks, businesses, and manmade
cover the land. Trails run throughout the area, including the San
Francisco Bay Trail, which runs along the perimeter of the
A number of parks are along the Bay Trail or the internal lagoons. The
largest park is 20-acre Leo
J. Ryan Memorial Park, along the largest part of the lagoon system.
It has lawns, an amphitheater, a recreation center, boating, and a
on the lake. Along the western edge of Foster City is Marina Lagoon.
west side of the lagoon is in the city of San Mateo. There are several
parks along the here, including Bayside/Joinville,
Tidelands, Mariners Island, Lakeshore, and Parkside
Aquatic Parks. The latter have sandy swimming beaches with
Joinville has a swimming pool.
Area, San Mateo: This is a huge and very popular recreation area
the San Francisco International Airport, on a dramatic rocky promontory
that juts out into the Bay. There are picnic areas in eucalyptus groves
and near the Bay, the Coyote
Environmental Museum, a marina, a golf course, a swimming beach,
open grassy fields, and several playgrounds. Some playgrounds are in
groves. Others are near
the beaches. The San
Francisco Bay Trail also runs through Coyote Point, running nearly
uninterrupted to the edge of San Francisco Airport in Millbrae
to the north and south to Redwood
Shores, connecting to many parks along the way.
Park, San Mateo: This shady park is located in the heart of San
on El Camino Real. It has playgrounds, a Japanese garden, and a
San Bruno: This hilltop park overlooks SFO and the Bay, with fantastic
views. Trails lead through eucalyptus groves.
Lake Park, San Francisco: This beautiful park at the edge of the
has a playground, duckpond, picnic areas, and jogging trails.
East Bay Parks
Park, Fremont: This is a huge 450-acre park near the Fremont Civic
Center, along the shores of Lake Elizabeth. A rocky creek flows into
lake. It has 4 playground areas. The lake has paddleboats for rent.
a large swim lagoon next to the lake.
Creek Trail Parks: Alameda Creek is the longest creek in the East
runs along the creek from the narrow Niles Canyon to the wide open salt
pond flats along San Francisco Bay. The trail runs on both sides of the
creek through Fremont and Union City for about 12 miles. The south side
is paved. The north side is mostly unpaved and can be used by
Along the way or nearby are a number of parks, many of which have
These include David Jones Park, William
Cann Park, Northgate Park, Quarry
Lakes Park, Niles
Park, the Shinn Ponds, and the Niles Staging Area.
here for information on Fremont
Parks and Union
City Parks.) Quarry Lakes has fishing lakes and a swimming beach.
Union City trail system intersects the Alameda Creek Trail and leads to
a number of parks, including the beautiful Union
City Civic Center Park. Near the Bay, the trail runs by Coyote
Hills Regional Park, which has miles of trails through marshlands,
by a restored Indian village, over high rocky hills, and along salt
The park has an interpretive center and several picnic grounds. A short
distance from the trail is Ardenwood
Historic Farm, a restored farm which has programs to show visitors
what life was like in a turn-of-the century farm.
Marina Park: Marina Park sits along the San Leandro Shoreline on
Francisco Bay. It forms a U-shape around Laguna Del Sol. The San
Marina, with its fishing piers, picnic areas, and restaurants, is
a channel to the north. Planes can be seen flying low over the water as
they approach Oakland International Airport. The park has 2 large
with water features. There are big lawns and many picnic areas. Trails
lead through the park. The Bay
Trail runs from here south to Hayward Regional Shoreline. Along the
way are several sandy pocket beaches on the Bay. A short distance to
north is Oyster
Bay Regional Shoreline.
Marina Park Playground, San Leandro
Park, Berkeley: This tree-shaded park is in a scenic location in
Berkeley hills, near the Municipal Rose Garden.
Glen Park, Dublin: This is a new park in an area that is
rapid growth and development. The park is currently 26 acres, but will
eventually be over 48 acres in size. It has large playing fields,
courts, skateboard park, picnic areas and a playground with water play
Park: This large community park complex is known as a prime spot
picnicking and sports. It has a skateboard park and community center.
small children, it has a playground with a waterfall tower and a wading
creek that flows into a duck pond. The park is adjacent to the Iron
Horse Regional Trail, one of the longest recreational trails in the
Bay Area, which runs from Dublin to Concord, with many parks and
along the way.
Created by Ronald Horii 10/97
Places to Take