birthdayfun

When throwing birthday parties in the park this summer, there are a few must-haves to make it the coolest event on the party circuit. Cake and ice cream? Obviously. But just as important is an awesome spot to maximize fun. Lucky for those living the Bay Area, the weather dictates outdoor bashes nearly all summer long and there are a ton of parks for the choosing. Some are better than others, offering kids and parents exactly what they need for a fabulous fiesta. Take a peek at these sweet spots, promising the kiddos a great time for their special day.

San Francisco

Koret Children’s Quarter, Golden Gate Park
Can’t have a list of best parks for parties without GGP! It’s enormous yeah, and there are a ton of spots to reserve for a party but for the kids, Koret Children’s Quarter is a must. With stone slides, merry-go-rounds, a great playground complete with climbing structure and a carousel to boot, parents won’t have to bring any additional entertainment. There is a picnic area available for reservation adjacent to the carousel, be sure to call ahead.

Koret Children’s Quarter
Bowling Green Drive between MLK Jr. Drive and JFK Drive
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Phone: 415-831-5500
Online: golden-gate-park.com/childrens-playground.html

kidonacarousel

Julius Kahn Playground
This lovely spot in the Presidio is great fun for kids ages 0 on up. There is a fantastic playground appealing to young and old, trails for exploring, a clubhouse available for parties, and amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Call to reserve the clubhouse.

Julius Kahn Playground
West Pacific Avenue and Spruce Street
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Phone: 415-831-5500.
Online: presidio.gov/explore/Pages/julius-kahn-playground

Marin

Memorial Park
At this centrally located community park is Millenium Park, a massive wooden play structure complete with dinosaur, fossil digging sandbox, castle and robot, there might not even be a need for a bouncy house, which are allowed with a permit. The picnic tables lining the edge of the playfield are perfect for lining up food and birthday treats, and the killer view of Mount Tamalpais ain’t bad either. Ample parking makes for nice set up and break down duties. Reserve a picnic area online.

Memorial Park
Veterans Place off San Francisco Boulevard
San Anselmo, Ca
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Phone: 415-258-4640
Online: townofsananselmo.org/facilities

Marinwood Park
This gem of a spot of of Lucas Valley Drive in the Marinwood area of San Rafael is little known and super awesome for entertaining. Jumpies are allowed, there are BBQ pits, a great playground, tons of room to run and Miller Creek runs nearly year round. Download the picnic rental application for reservations.

Added Bonus: The Marinwood Pool is next door, so if the weather is looking hot, consider buying entry for some swimming fun as well.

Marinwood Park
775 Miller Creek Road
San Rafael, Ca
Hours: 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Phone: 415-479-0775
Online: marinwood.org/parks/rent-group-picnic-area

Boyle Park
Mill Valley has a ton of parks but Boyle is la creme de la creme when it comes to birthday bashes for kids. With creek access, a baseball diamond, grill space, grassy areas and even an electrical outlet for the ever important bouncy house, what more could one ask for in a party space? Check out the rules and regulations online, and don’t forget to reserve the space.

Boyle Park
East Blithedale Boulevard and East Drive
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Phone: 415-383-1370
Online: cityofmillvalley.org/Index.aspx?page=173

East Bay

Tilden Park
An easy pick for East Bay residents, Tilden Park is a fave among parents with young kids looking to party. Best best is to reserve a spot near the Merry-Go-Round, and there even a party package available which include rides, drinks and cake. No jumpy houses allowed, but with a gorgeous carousel in the mix, it won’t be missed. Reserve a table, otherwise you’ll be out of luck.

FYI: This spot can be hard to find. Head for the Little Farm and follow signs.

Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round
Central Park Drive
Berkeley, Ca
Hours: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm daily through Aug. 16th. 11:00 am – 5:00 pm Sat. & Sun Aug. 17th – Oct. 27th.Phone: 510-524-6773Online: ebparks.org/parks/tilden

montclair

Montclair Park
A great spot in Oakland, with a playground reminiscent of the Old West, complete with log cabin and horse and carriage. Partygoers will watch the ducks at the nearby pond. The west side picnic area is reservable and comes with a BBQ grill and even the recreation is available for parties. Email mlwilliams@oaklandnet.com to hold a spot.

Insider Tip: It’s not a good idea to bring bread crumbs for the ducks.

Montclair Park
6300 Moraga Avenue
Oakland, Ca
Hours: Sunrise – Sunset
Phone: 510-482-7812
Online: oaklandnet.com/Government

San Ramon Central Park
It’s a huge, shady park with a great play structure, splash zone and for the older kids, a fantastic skatepark. Pick any of the numerous picnic areas for a great day. Easy online booking makes party planning a snap.

San Ramon Central Park
2501 Alcosta Boulevard
San Ramon, Ca
Hours: 7:00 am – 8:00 pm daily
Phone: 925-923-3200
Online: sanramon.ca.gov/Parks/parks_facilities

South Bay/Peninsula

Cataldi Park
Offset some of that scorching South Bay weather at Cataldi Park, where splash zones and sand volleyball courts and 2 playgrounds for the younger set are waiting for fun. Bouncy houses are only allowed at picnic area #1, and with permit only.

Cataldi Park
Peter Pan Way and Bambi Lane
San Jose, Ca
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Phone: 408-794-PARK
Online: sanjoseca.gov/picnicreservations
Jumping house at Almaden Lake

Almaden Lake Park
Looking for a beachy theme? Head to Almaden Lake Park, it’s the only park in the South Bay with a sandy beach. There is a tot spot and splash zone, paddle boat rentals, picnic areas and even a bocci ball court.

FYI: This park is closed on Mondays and there is a $6.00 parking fee per car

Almaden Lake Park
6099 Winfield Boulevard
San Jose, Ca
Hours: 8:00 am – Sunset
Phone: 408-277-5130
Online: sanjoseca.gov/facilities/Facility/Details/2

Lakewood Park
11 acres of open space complete with splash zone, skating rink, bonfire pits and picnic spots? Yes, please, let’s get the party started. A fantastic location in Sunnyvale, it’s a no brainer. Email parkandfacilityresv@ci.sunnyvale.ca.us to make a reservation.

Lakewood Park
834 Lakechime Drive
Sunnyvale, Ca
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Phone: 408-730-7751
Online: sunnyvale.ca.gov/Departments/CommunityServices/Parks/LakewoodPark.aspxwater park

Red Morton Park
Offering the largest area for picnicking and BBQs in Redwood City, this spot also allows bouncy houses, in an area very close to the play equipment. There is even a handy dandy shaded spot perfect for hot summer days. Beat the crowds and save a spot now.

Red Morton Park
1120 Roosevelt Avenue
Redwood City, Ca
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Phone: 650-780-7250
Online: redwoodcity.org/parks/parksandpools/PicnicRedMorton

Frontierland Park

Tucked away in the hills of Pacifica, this awesome park is a favorite for parties. Parents will love the prep area complete with sink located by the BBQ pits and kids will go wild on the all wood structure, and the added mister feature will keep the cool. Call the info number to make a reservation.

Good to Know: The parking lot closes at 4:30 pm so recommend guests park on the street for parties after 4:00pm.

Frontierland Park
Yosemite Drive
Pacifica, Ca
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Phone: 650-738-7381
Online: cityofpacifica.org/depts/rec_department/parksbeaches/frontierlandpark

What is your favorite park for hosting a birthday bash?

–Gabrielle Cullen

Images Courtesy of Gabrielle Cullen, kbowenwriter, San Anselmo Parks and Rec Oakland Parks and Rec, donjd2,