You’ve seen it in passing—driving along 80, the lagoon may have gotten your attention a couple of times, especially if you caught a glimpse of a water skier zooming by. But next time, exit at University and make some time to explore the “Dream Land for Kids” that awaits the squirming kids in your backseat.

It’s part of Aquatic Park in Berkeley, where you’ll find everything from green meadows for games, atrail that wraps around the lagoon, for both walking and biking, bird-watching opportunities in the wetland area, picnic areas, and a rowing center. But the best part for kids is a play structure that’s meant for make-believe and childish mayhem.

Designed by Robert Leather in collaboration with Berkeley school children, the wooden play area at Aquatic Park  has castles and towers, walkways, as well as little crannies in which to hide from a mom playing ogre, and a couple of tire swings for twirling around.

One of the highlights of the park for any train-lover is the fact that on the other side of a high chain-link fence run the railroad tracks, so several times during any given  park visit, your little ones will get a thrill from the sight and sounds of the train zooming by. There’s also a small garden for children to explore blossoms and bugs.

Find the park at 80 Bolivar Drive between Ashby and University. For nearby eats, head over to Vik’s Chaat Corner at its brand-new location at 2390 4th St (at Allston). Vik’s has been a local favorite for decades for serving fresh, authentic Indian “chaat,” or snacks, at affordable prices, in a casual dining atmosphere. Ask the cashier to hack open a coconut so your tot can get rehydrated on the juice, grab yourself a chai, then order up some samosas, dosas, and biryani for the whole fam and dig in!

—Renee Rutledge