The spacious backyards of Lamorinda are a boon for moms of young kids, but sometimes a change of scenery is in order. When the littles need more room to run and you’re looking for a bit of chit-chat with other grown-ups, pack up a blanket and some snacks and head to one of the area’s local parks.
Games and Nature
The 68 acres that make up the Lafayette Community Park offer not only a Petanque Court and sports fields, but also nature trails, picnic tables and a tot playground. Leave your car in the lot on St. Mary’s Road and take the footbridge across to the fields and picnic area. The banks of Las Trampas Creek, which meanders through the park under a canopy of Buckeye, Willow and Oak trees are perfect for spotting local wildlife or staying cool on a hot summer day. For more information about Petanque and the schedule of happenings on the court, visit the Lamorinda Petanque Club’s website.
Tucked Away Downtown
Brook Street Park, formerly known as Pirate Park for its red “pirate ship” play structure, now removed, is still a great spot to keep the smallest ones having fun while you take a much-deserved rest on one of the sunny benches. Fully fenced, this diminutive space still contains several ride-on animals, with new “airliner” and “helicopter” structures expected sometime during the spring or summer of 2020. Also to come: “Expression Swings” which allow toddlers and caregivers or older siblings to swing together, face-to-face. For now, bring your own toys and imagination. There are no restrooms, so keep that coffee consumption to a minimum.
In On The Action
Roll your stroller to Elam and Margaret Brown Plaza on the corner of Mt. Diablo and Moraga Road. The plaza is ideal for an alfresco picnic lunch with friends. Grab a bucket of fried chicken to share or some tasty treats from Sideboard or Joe and the Juice and let the kids run around while you watch the world go by from your blanket on the grass.
Reserved For Fun
With a 2.7 mile paved nature trail, picnic areas and play structure, the Lafayette Reservoir has plenty to keep the whole family occupied. Should boredom strike, rent a paddle or rowboat at the visitor’s center and explore the area by water. Basic bait and tackle are also available for folks looking to land a few trout or catfish. Daily fishing permit required. Want to bring your own boat? The Res, as locals call it, has a launch area, but you’ll need to have your non-motorized craft inspected to keep the water supply free of invasive mussels. To reserve one of the large picnic areas, visit the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s website.
Walk This Way
Moraga Commons Park is accessible from the Lafayette-Moraga Trail as well as two parking lots, one on Moraga Road and the other on St. Mary’s Road. Put the toddlers in the baby jogger and get some exercise on your way. With a fenced tot lot, oodles of soft grass and a water feature that operates on summer days, the Commons Park is great place to spend an afternoon. Older kids can bring their skateboards or play a game of pick-up basketball on the half court while the younger ones enjoy the play structure and swings. Restrooms are located near the St. Mary’s parking lot.
Going To The Dogs
Situated on the outskirts of Moraga, Rancho Laguna Park has a rural feel and offers a fenced tot lot, swings and an off-leash dog run. Let Fido have a run around then set the kids loose on the slides before taking everyone on a hike on nearby EMBUD land. Permits are required for the trails and can be purchased at EBMUD.com for a nominal fee.
In The Thick Of It
Just off the Village’s main thoroughfare, the Orinda Community Park has something for everyone. With a tot lot, sandbox, large climbing structure and plenty of grass, this much-loved park is close to the community center, library and several coffee shops. The picnic tables next to the tot lot operate on a first-come-first-serve basis while those under the gazebo and in the meadow can be reserved on the City of Orinda’s website. The park’s tennis courts may be booked there as well.
Under The Oaks
With 111 acres of trails, BBQ’s, several picnic areas and a horseshoe pit, Orinda Oaks Park is an excellent spot to host an outdoor party. Lease the entire picnic area for 200 of your nearest and dearest friends. Spots can be reserved on the city’s website. Just looking for a quick outing? Grab a place under the trees and take in the scenery or kick the ball around on the park’s grassy field. Volleyball courts are also available.
Worth The Drive
Make your way out to Walnut Creek’s largest community park. Heather Farm on North San Carlos Drive has all all-abilities playground, tot lot, fishing pond, nature pond, tennis courts and off-leash dog area. Let the teenagers burn off some energy at the skate park or sand volleyball courts and give your pup some leash free time in the designated space at the north end of the park.
The Best Part Of School
All of Lamorinda’s elementary schools have entertaining play areas for a wide range of age groups but are only open for public use after school hours and on weekends. Many of the Lafayette schools’ climbing structures and swing sets were recently updated using funds from Measure ‘C’, approved by residents in 2016 to bring aging infrastructure up to snuff. Get the preschoolers ready for the best part of their kindergarten days by familiarizing them with the local elementary’s outdoor spaces.
Roaming The Regional Parks
Accessible from the Bear Creek Staging Area in Lafayette, Briones regional park makes trekking its trails worthwhile with some of the best views in the East Bay. Head up its highest peak for a 360 degree vista that includes Mt. Diablo, the Sacramento Delta and Mt. Tam. Bring your own bow and arrow if you want to practice a little shooting at the Briones Archery Club, a free range located within the park.
Whether you’re looking to ride the train or carousel, loll on a blanket in the botanic garden, swim in Lake Anza, feed the animals at the Little Farm, hike at Inspiration Point or simply let the kids roll down the steep hill near the Brazilian Room, Tilden Park has something to keep your family entertained for hours on end.
Trails in Oakland’s Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve can be accessed from Old Tunnel Road near the Caldecott Tunnel in Orinda. Parking is limited. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed in some areas. Take in views from Round Top or check out the geology with an easy hike around Sibley’s Quarry or Volcanic Trails.
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