LiLing Pang's Passport
 

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Member since:
27 June 2008

Icon_superoo_orangeSuperoo '12, '13, '14, '16 Icon_founder_title

Icon_pictureBeen to 536 Attractions
Icon_star395 Reviews
Icon_star1255 First to Review
Icon_camera21227 Photos
Icon_thumbsup235 Helpful Votes
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Hometown:
San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States

About Me & My Family
I'm a mother
3 Kids 3-11 years old boys and girls

When we travel, good food and adventure always abound. Our family loves to push the limit of what we can do with children. Our mantra has always been - have kids, will travel. However, this doesn't mean I'm unlike most frantic moms before a trip. Wanting adventure and being a control freak can sometimes be a lethal combination.
Our Family's Travel Personality
adventurous, independent, spontaneous
We Just Got Back From
Massachusetts
Our Favorite Vacation Spot
Hawaii, Montana, Lake Tahoe
A Place We'd Love To Visit
New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Eastern Europe, Italy
Favorite Vacation Memory
Climbing Machu Picchu with a 4 month old infant in a slight and having all the locals stop us to ask what happened to his feet which were all bundled up. They just couldn't believe it wouldn't be bow legged.
Worst Travel Moment With My Kids:
Getting to the airport on our way to Scotland with my 15 month old and discovering that my husband's passport had expired. Instead of rebooking all of our flights, we decided that I would do the first leg of our journey on my own with baby. Unfortunately, we had not packed for me to be flying by myself. I could bearly walk to the runway with all my bags and a 15 month old who would get distracted by everything along the way. He then proceeded to sleep only 1 hour of the entire 11 hour journey (red-eye). It was pretty miserable.
Websites I Like:
www.trekaroo.com www.yelp.com www.facebook.com

Top 14 Destination Playgrounds in the San Francisco Bay Area

With pleasant outdoor weather year around, the San Francisco Bay Area is full of wonderful playgrounds. However, there are some playgrounds that are destinations in and of themselves. These playgrounds have unique qualities that really make them stand out above the rest. Whether they have lots of custom built features that can be found no where else, or wonderful water play features where your little ones could spend the entire afternoon running around in, or others that are designed specifically to inclusive of children with all types of abilities and special needs. This is a list of the Bay Area's best playgrounds by region.

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160 University Avenue
Berkeley, California

Comment:
Why is this in the list? It is truly a unique playground for kids 4 and up.  The playgrounds itself is totally made from recycled materials by the kids and volunteers.  For a small fee you can enter this playground that is literally still under construction.  $10 if you're dropping your child off (over 7 years old)

reviewed on: August 26 2008

"Play and learn about recycling"
This playground constructed by children and volunteers out of scraps of wood, old nets, and machines is beyond unique. It changes by the day as wannabe “Bob the Builders”, adorned with work tools and safety gear, pound, saw and paint with great intent. After all, building a wonderland playground is serious business to the 4-13 year olds who seem to be the main construction crew. Besides giving rowdy youngsters a constructive outlet for their need to destroy and build, the Adventure Playground also gives children the freedom to create fantastic creations out of mere scraps. Forts, tunnels, bridges, pirate coves, and towers abound with imaginations running wild and taking form.  This is definitely a lesson in resourcefulness and creativity!

The staff lovingly checks all the structures to ensure that it remains structurally safe for playing on and around. Children also learn to care for the environment - in order to earn a tool, they have to pick up 5 pieces of trash, loose nails or rocks. Other nice features, also created out of scraps, are slides, a jungle gym created out of tires, and a zipline.

Children 7 years and older may enjoy the playground for a fee of $6 (when parents leave them to the supervision of the friendly staff). That being said, even our 4 year old (free but must be under parental supervision at all times) was totally enthralled by the playground. He can just about hit a nail with a hammer without mommy fearing for this little fingers. He ranks the Adventure Playground 10 out of 10, up there with Disneyland. If that’s the case, then this place wins the prize for value for money.

For younger siblings (under 3), the Adventure Playground can be a little dangerous.  A young child will require 1 on 1 supervision. Sharp and rough edges abound, along with splinters and nails. So, I definitely wouldn’t recommend bringing a toddler along unless one adult can keep both eyes fixed on the little one. But don't dismay because adjacent to the Adventure Playground is a new modern and safe playground suitable for toddlers. To top it off, the view of the bay from both playgrounds and the picnic tables is magnificent. Other facilities next to Adventure Playground is the Shorebird Park Nature Center (built out of straw bales, recycled materials and solar powered), clean bathrooms and picnic tables with BBQ pits. This could be a fantastic location for a 7 year old’s birthday party. (I’m already planning….)
Nearby parking is limited, but there is plentiful parking on the other side of the road.

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Mitchell Park
600 E Meadow Dr Palo Alto, California

Comment:
Opened only in 2015, the Magical Bridge playground in Palo Alto is one of the most cutting edge innovative designs for an inclusive playground.  It is designed to be a socially inclusive for children of varying physical and cognitive abilities. Highlights are the 24-string laser harp in the Music Zone and the spinning zone which is a powerful form of sensory input that benefits the brain and  self-regulation. The Magical Playhouse welcomes children into pretend-play.


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1 Zoo Road
(Entrance is on Sloat Blvd and Great Highway) San Francisco, California

Comment:

reviewed on: December 12 2013

"Makes Zoo Membership so worthwhile"
The Elinor Friend Playground is truly a work of art that kids can touch, climb, tunnel through and slide down.  There is nothing ordinary about it. With three different zones that spark the imagination for kids 6 months to 12 years old.  This new addition to the San Francisco Zoo has convinced me to renew my zoo membership for yet another year.  

I loved everything about it.  The huge banyan tree structure is magnificent.  Kids can tunnel through it's gnarly trunk, then clamber up it's branches and slide down from the top of it's canopy.  I loved how the ladders to climb up to the top of the free are totally camouflaged into the tree so that kids really feel like they are just climbing a tree.  Even my 2 year old couldn't help herself and insisted an making her way to the top.  Fortunately, the spaces are wide enough for parents to weave their way through the tree as well to chase after little ones.

The Polar Zone features several large icebergs made out of concrete.  The day we were there, it was pretty cold and the polished white concrete felt just like ice.  The polished slide surfaces were really smooth and slick, just like sliding on ice.  Again, the steps to get up to the slides were totally hidden, making the environment seem very natural.  With tons of places to hide and peak around, this is a playground perfect for a game of hide and seek.  Little ones can also hop on regular big kid swings as well as baby swings.  There were also smaller "ice blocks" for kids to balance and skip on.

Finally, my favorite section - the River Play area for toddlers to 2 year olds.  This area was so well thought out.  Anchoring the play area are real several redwood tree trunks that have been sanded and polished. Tunnels, peekaboo spots, and mini slides have been carved into the redwood tree trunks.  The sandbox was a hit of course. I was so impressed with all the thoughtful details like the skipping stones and floating log made  out of grippy recycled tire. They encouraged age appropriate large motor skills and stimulated the kids in a variety of different ways.  My two year old loved pretending to feed the frogs and river otters.  It was so hard tearing her away from all the fun.  Fortunately, we have membership and plan to return often.

We could easily have stayed at this playground for hours.  The play field cafe has lots of outdoor seating with a good view of the playground area, so it would be a  great place to grab a bite and let the kids run and play.  I haven't tried the food yet, but the menu looked great.  Lots of healthy choices that kids and adults would enjoy.

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16th and Dolores
San Francisco, California

Comment:
After a full renovation, Mission Dolores Park now has a very special playground.  Not only are the views at this hilly park spectacular, the new playground boasts a central play mound with an ADA-accessible suspension bridge, built-in slide and climbing nets; custom-made ship wrecked boats; and a 40' super slide built into the natural hillside behind the playground.  It's a work of art.


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320 Bowling Green Drive
San Francisco, California

Comment:
Koret Children's Quarter is a slice of American history. Built upon the site of one of the first playgrounds in the America, it was completely redesigned and rebuilt in 2007.  Fantastic mixture of unique architectural play structures with a California theme and traditional playground equipment. The highlight is for older kids are the old concrete slides. Bring a piece of cardboard to protect your pants. And a change of clothes for little ones who can never resist the water feature in the sandbox.  Free

reviewed on: July 29 2008

"Must visit for any family with young kids"
The Koret Children's Quarter is truly one of the most wonderful  free playgrounds.  Our 5 and 2.5 year old simply love this playground.  Many of the playground structures were custom designed.  This is no ordinary playground.  A large wave creates a climbing wall.  A tall concrete slide is a delight for kids and parents who are young at heart (like myself).  The rope pyramid is challenging, but perfect for a 5 year old who loves to climb.  Young children will enjoy the fantastic climbing structures and the little water play area in the sand "box"

Although this playground is almost always crowded, that adds to the energy of the playground.   Parking is often very difficult on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am onwards.

The plentiful but old school bathrooms are clean, but no changing tables were available.  Nearby is a large meadow for running and the famous carousel for children is such a steal at $.50 for kids and $1.50 for adults.
Bring a picnic and enjoy the large trees that surround the playground.

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Clifton St & Miles Ave
Oakland, California

Comment:
Frog Park is another testament to the power of a community vision coming to life. A redwood grove, butterfly garden and some fantastic climbing structures make this green belt area a refuge from urban life.  


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Yosemite Dr & Humboldt Ct
Pacifica, California

Comment:
Mostly just known by locals, this is another playground designed by kids and parents and hand built by local Pacifica families.  Free

reviewed on: April 18 2009

"Unique and lovingly hand built"
Frontierland playground is not like any other playground out there.  That's because it was designed by the families of Pacifica and hand built by the community.  It is a fairly large playground, but all sides are enclosed so that it's pretty easy to watch you little ones.  The playground is generally castle themed, but there is also a small climbing wall and musical areas made out of metal pipes.  There is also a well/dungeon you can climb down that is made out of tires.  There are lots of slides, swings, and a tot area with a train depot for pretend play.  When it gets hot, there is a water mist area that little ones enjoy walking through.  Whenever we go to Frontierland, I think about the creative use of various materials that have been applied to create this fantastic playground.  The only downside is that bathrooms while available are a little far away.  It is also deep in the valley and far from Hwy 1.  The upside of this location is that it's almost always sunny here.  Lots of picnic tables and large a grassy area is adjacent to the playground and is perfect for a picnic, kicking a ball or flying a kite.

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1801 J. Hart Clinton Dr.
San Mateo, California

Comment:
Beautiful setting by the bay with great flat biking trails and a huge playground with a fun water fountain feature that the kids simply love to play in.  Free

reviewed on: August 04 2008

"Always sunny, but often windy"
Ryder park is where our family goes to escape the fog that hugs the coast where we live.  You are almost guaranteed to find sunshine even on days when the coast is so thick in fog that you can't see the tree 100 ft in front of you.  The water fountains are a huge hit with the kids especially on very hot days.  However, this park always seems to be windy and can make the cold water fountains uncomfortable for young children who are already a little tentative of the water springing unpredictably from the ground.
We love to bring a picnic and spread a blanket on the well manicured grassy lawn.  This playground has a fantastic group BBQ area.  A perfect location for birthday parties.  The bike path is flat, paved for a lot of the way, and takes you on a fantastic ride along the shoreline.  Great for young children.  A huge bonus for airplane lovers is being able to see airplanes coming in for their landing at SFO.

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233 Blossom Hill Rd
Los Gatos, California

Comment:
Oak Meadow Park's special features is the jet plane sitting right in the middle of the playground and the Billy Jones Wild Cat Railroad and Carousel that get lots of thumbs up from Trekaroo families.

reviewed on: August 17 2011

"Beautiful setting and lots of do"
Come to Oak Meadow Park and hang out for the day.  The playground area is large with both a little kids area and a big kids area complete with swings.  The equipment is pretty typical, but what really makes this playground special is the USAF T-33 Jet that sits right in the middle of the action. The moment my boys laid eyes on it, they headed straight in that direction climbing into the cockpit and letting their imaginations run wild.

Although Los Gatos can be hot in the summer, Oak Meadow is surrounded by beautiful old oak trees.  There are lots of picnic benches, so bring your lunch or purchase a hotdog from the concession stand near the carousel.  You might want to bring along a table cloth though because we had a hard time finding a table that didn't have too many bird droppings on it.

The fun at Oak Meadow only just begins at the playground.  The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad takes you on a ride through the park where you can see get a glimpse of Lake Vasona.  It's just $2 per person for a ride.  It was such a pleasant ride and surprisingly long. The Carousel is also just $2.  If that's not enough entertainment for the day, you can head over to Lake Vasona and rent paddle boats and head out onto the Lake.  There are also lots of nicely shaded hiking trails throughout the park that are stroller friendly.

Parking is $6, but there is lots of street parking at the edge of the park if you're willing to walk a little.  

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630 Summerfield Rd
Santa Rosa, California

Comment:
Why this deserves to be top of this list: Few free playgrounds in this country can boast of so many unique play areas within one playground.  It's set in Howarth Park which has a whole slew of other activities like boating, a steam train, and pony rides.  Free

reviewed on: July 31 2009

"A little of everything"
Our day at Howarth Park Playground was lots of fun for our 3 and 6 year olds.  It is a large playground with a wide variety of activities that kids will love.  In particular, our kids love the splash pad.  Nothing particularly special here, but water is always delightful to kids.  They also really loved the dinosaur dig area.  The best thing about Howarth Park is that there are so many different sections to the playground that a kid who love imaginary play, climbing, sand and water play will find something to bring excited squeals.  Santa Rosa can be really hot in the summer, but this playground has lots of tall trees that provide a good amount of shade as well as several water play options.

You could send the whole day at Howarth Park Playground.  There are BBQ areas and lots of picnic benches.  But if you come during the weekend, you can also treat the kids to a carousel ride, pony ride or train ride.  Even older kids will not be bored here.

My only complaint is that the sand was pretty grimy and some of the fountains in the water play area weren't working very well.  Bathroom was clean and easily accessible from the playground.  Parking was fine on Friday.  Not sure what it is like on the weekend.

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2400 Old Sonoma Road
Napa, California

Comment:
A playground that was hand built by parents themed as a castle and with a cool concrete river with water flowing down it. Free


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Roberts Regional Recreation Area
Oakland, California

Comment:
A playground designed for children with differing abilities.  The largest of it's kind in California and set in a park with a heated pool and other activities.


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Tilden Park
Berkeley, California

Comment:
Adjacent to Tilden Park's Little Farm is a great playground, but why this playground deserves to be on the list is because it's one of the few playgrounds where you can combine lots of active play with a fun petty zoo experience. Tilden Park also has a carousel and a Redwood train. It's hard not to spend the entire day at Tilden Park.


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1499 Abbott Ave.
Campbell, California

Comment:
Very popular with parents in the area because of it's cool water feature and extensive playground structures.  Free