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Berkeley Waterfront
Berkeley Waterfront


Webpage Title: Adventure Playground


Adventure Playground is 38 years old! 



Directions to the Berkeley Marina 
Adventure Playground is one of the Marina Experience programs and has been written up as a top 10 playground in National Geographic.
 It was voted  BEST  of San Francisco magazine 2016, Best Creative Playspace in Diablo Magazine. YELP has rated us 4.5 out of 5. We have been written about in the Architectural Digest, the Chronicle, the Boston Globe and Newsweek as one of the Top 5 playspaces in the country. NPR did a wonderful interview.

 To get information about our School year marine education programs,  Summer marine biology, boatinggreen buildings, shoreline clean-upsBay festivalShorebird Park rules and more ... see our Marina Experience web pages  click here 

ATTENTION: Adventure Playground will be closed Saturday December 23rd - December 31st. We will reopen on Saturday January 6th, 2018 and resume regular hours (see below).  

OPEN:  School year hours:   

11am-4pm Sat & Sunday only ---- Nov 5, 2017 thru March 10, 2018.
11am-5pm Sat & Sunday only ---- Mar 11, 2018 thru June 17, 2018.
 Tools are collected each day 30 minutes before closing time.
 Zip line is taken down 15 minutes before closing time. 

Weekday reservations are available during the school year for large groups (5-40) depending on weather and staff availability.


  • Weekdays starting on August 21st 
  • Adventure Playground will be closed Saturday December 23rd - December 31st. We will reopen on Saturday January 6th, 2018 and resume regular hours (see above).  
  • When it is raining 

Each adult & Parent who enters the playground must sign the waiver at the entrance, for themselves and their children.  Adults cannot sign for other adults. 


Individual Families
FREE for individual families: parents/guardians who accompany 4 children or less. If you are a large family, call please.


All groups must make reservations and pay the group fee ($75-$180 depending on group size).  

Groups are:

  • 5 children or more, regardless of how many adults/parents you have
  • Organized programs of any size (daycare programs, summer camps, church groups)
  • Multiple small families who meet at the playground with 5 children or more -
    including individuals coming in from gatherings (like birthday parties) happening outside Adventure playground in Shorebird Park.

Summers and weekend days are very popular with the public. The only way to keep the Playground safe is to control the numbers by limiting groups. So, if you come in a group (5 children or more) without reservations, you will be asked to leave.

To make a reservation for a group click here [more...]

Children seven years and older may stay (drop in) in the playground without their parents for up to three hours if a parent/guardian fills out a registration form/waiver and pays a $10 fee.

Fee is paid at the Nature Center (open Tuesday- Saturday). No Drop-ins on Sundays unless fee is paid in advance.


Planning your visit

Who should come?
Adventure Playground is designed for children seven years old and older, however younger children are welcome as long as they are within arms reach of a participating adult. Parents of older children are encouraged to participate (see below) and help out with safety for all children. Everyone needs to sign the walk-in waiver when you come in.

What should everyone wear?
Everyone must wear sturdy shoes like tennis shoes, NOT flip flops, sandals, crocs or clogs. Stepping on a nail is a possibility and sturdy shoes protect feet. Wear clothes that can get dirty, wet, painted on and you may consider bringing a change of clothes for wet or muddy days. Warning: Our playground paint is water based tempera (school paint) and ( red) may not come out of clothing even with pre treating. The other colors actually have soap in it but that makes for slippery painted surfaces when wet.

Summer Activities 

Sample activities from Summer Marina Adventures 2017 Calendar- for June 2017   

 July 2017    August 2017   

Special activities are offered on weekdays for both drop-ins and children with parents.


History and Background

zip line AP 09  

The Adventure Playground at the Berkeley Marina was opened in 1979. It is a wonderfully unique outdoor facility where staff encourage children to play and build creatively.  Come climb on the many unusual kid designed and built forts, boats, and towers. Ride the zip line or hammer, saw, and paint. By providing these low risk activities Adventure Playground creates opportunities for children to learn cooperation, meet physical challenges and gain self confidence. Pictures of a fort building project. The concept for Adventure Playgrounds originated in Europe after World War II, where Lady Marjory Allen, a landscape architect and childrens advocate, studied children playing in the "normal" asphalt and cement playgrounds. She found that they preferred playing with parts that they could move around and manipulate to make their own makeshift structures.  The formula for Adventure Playgrounds includes Earth, fire, water, and lots of creative materials. 

Listen to the sounds of Adventure Playground on National Public Radio.  


How you can help

How can I as a parent or adult help when I am there? 
When you are here, please, watch your child, respect our staff and our rules.
 Keep your cell phone in your pocket. Be present for your child. if you need a break from supervising them, register your child as a drop in and we will watch them. Please, Don't read a book, or get caught up in your phone. Your children may need your attention, and we need your help to keep them safe. 
Do not let your children under the age of 6 ride the zip line, even though you  think they can.

Teach them to use good judgment and if what they are doing is destructive and dangerous- please stop them and cleanup. Remember children build these forts. Staff are making sure the playground is safe, you need to be sure your child is safe. 

Pick up the wood on the ground ( which is a trip hazard) and put it in the wood racks. If it is naily wood put it in the red zones.
If you see things that might be dangerous, or if your child gets hurt, please tell the staff- so they can fix it  and help you. 

Before you leave, if you didn't finish your project, take it apart and put the parts back in the wood racks or take it with you. Please have everyone return all the tools ( including paint, brushes and clamps)  back to the shed and put all unnaily wood to the racks, and any naily unsafe wood to the red zones.  

Adult Helper Cards
We have 5 X 7 job task cards for adults to learn about each job that they can help with, just ask at the desk. Jobs include:

  • Small wood helper-Assisting kids with clamps and picking out the soft woods for them to learn to saw and hammer on.
  • At the base of the trolley we need help shoveling sand at a 45 degree angle so the children slow down and stop. 
  • We do ask that you do NOT HELP children onto the wooden seat at the top of the trolley platform. If they cannot do it themselves, they are not ready to ride yet.
  • We always need people to assist staff behind the tool counter passing out tools to the children. Please clarify that job with staff so you know which tools should NOT go out .
front gate ap

 We are always looking for volunteers to help in the playground- must be 16 or older.

Students can get community service hours helping on weekends or in the summer.

If you or your child is interested, please call us for an interview and to fill our our paperwork. You will need to get a current T.B. Test and get the form from us to get fingerprinted with the Berkeley Police.

Download volunteer application.



We love small wood pieces or long 2X4 & 4X6.
We welcome donations of scrap materials that stimulate creative play: fabric, sturdy old wooden furniture, 8D, and 16D sinker nails, washable tempera paint, large 3/4" or 1" thick plywood pieces, long 2 by 4'sor 4 x6's or very small blocks of wood. 

 We cannot take the following items:

  • no pressed wood or particle board
  • no pallets    
  • no materials that could hurt a young child with bare hands - no metal, sharp, splintery wood or house paint. No old wood or thin wood please.

The dumpster fees for hauling away the materials are very high for us.

Call first, if you are planning on dropping items off so we can let you know if we can use them, and help you unload. 510 981-6720

 Yes, we do take pianos, but only in the summer.  We are full for 2017.  


JOB OPENINGS:   Accepting applications now - If you are interested in interviewing for a position for the fall, you must  have  experience working with children, and or a specialized talent working with carpentry. Must be 18 years or older. Job is out of doors, fun in the sun. Pay  is $12.33  to $26.24 per hour depending on experience. Please down load the application information below or call now for an application to be mailed to your home. If you are qualified we will call for an interview.
 Detailed job description PDF Application  & AdventurePlayground Supplemental Questionnaire 

Please mail it to:

Shorebird Park Nature Center
160 University Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94710



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Berkeley Waterfront, 201 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-6740
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903