Here’s a place with nothing to hinder the child’s imagination. Explore East Bay Regional Park’s newest addition, Dublin Hills Park which opened a couple of summers ago – most of the wide open space was formerly a no-trek zone.

What to do: You won’t find any playgrounds or climbing structures here, except if you count the acres of grassland, wooded slopes, and seasonal streams – 520 acres of them to be precise.

The open space preserve encompasses several family-friendly trails, with more trail connections to come. There are pretty views along the Calaveras Ridge Regional Trail, with loops and paths just over a mile long. As you meander, look up as well as out – it’s a nice spot for bird watching if you like to spot hawks, owls, and even eagles.

How to get there: Enter the preserve off of the San Ramon Road/Foothill Drive exit off of 580 West to find the Dublin Boulevard staging area.

When to go: A nice warm weekend. Won’t other families be there? With 520 acres for you and your little hikers to romp around on, you needn’t fear crowding or lines.

What to wear: Sturdy shoes for hiking and chasing after your little nipper and the family pup.

Didn’t pack a lunch?: After your walk, there are numerous restaurants to choose from nearby, from the  Red Tractor Café on Dublin Boulevard, with a kid-friendly menu and gallery of placemat artwork to the Black Angus Steakhouse, also on Dublin Boulevard and voted one of Open Table’s Top 50 kid-friendly restaurant’s of 2010.

Cost of trip: Fairly inexpensive if you pack a lunch or snack.

Online: http://www.ebparks.org/parks/dublin_hills

—Renee Rutledge