See the Lizards, the Trees, and the StarJuaquinMillerpics

Oakland urbanites have a secret – a 500-acre playland just minutes away from where they work and play.

Approximate travel time: Just 9 miles from downtown, Joaquin Miller Park is a place to escape into nature, without going far.

What to do: The Chabot Space & Center, with the nation’s largest telescopes for public viewing and host to a new full-dome show, Tales of the Maya Skies, is located in Joaquin Miller. Woodminster Theater, with its open-air summer musicals, is also here.

But most of us will gather the herd to visit the park for a Sunday afternoon picnic or hike. Joaquin Miller’s diverse landscape has creek-side trails, open meadows, green picnic areas, and a canopy of flourishing second and third-growth redwoods to explore. Let the dogs run off-leash at the dog park on site before sniffing around with them on the trails.

Or, before you even get to the blackberry bushes and manzanitas, you and your kids may get sidetracked at The Cascades, a multi-level tier of stairs and fountains, with a waterfall flowing down from the top, lizards roaming about in the grass, and an adjacent playground to climb and swing through. Even on a beautiful, sunny day, it never gets too crowded in Joaquin Miller, and wherever you decide to go first, there’s plenty of room to spread out and take a breath of fresh air – you deserve it!

–Renee M. Rutledge