Berkeley Marina
Berkeley Marina


Webpage Title: Adventure Playground


Adventure Playground is 37 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 the Best Creative Playspace in Diablo Magazine. YELP has rated us 4.5 out of 5. We have been written about in the Chronicle, the Boston Globe and Newsweek as one of the Top 5 playspaces in the country. 

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 

  • May 17, 2016 – June 19, 2016
    Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am-5pm
  • June 20, 2016 – August 19, 2016
    Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm*
    Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am-5pm

*Close at 4 pm on 6/28, 7/12, 7/26, 8/9 for staff meetings


  • weekdays May 17- June 19
  • on city holidays 
  • when it is raining 

On Sundays - No children can be left without a parent unless you have a pre paid playment card, available for sale at the Nature Center Office Tuesday - Sat. The Nature Center Office  where you would pay for "drop ins" is closed every Sunday.  

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

Every adult who enters the playground must sign in on the waiver at the entrance for themselves and their children. 

Group Fees: 
All groups must make reservations and pay the group fee. 
A group is:

  • 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.
    This includes individuals coming in from gatherings (like birthday parties) happening outside Adventure playground in Shorebird Park.

Group reservation information below.

Weekend days are very popular with the public and the only way to keep it safe  is for us  to limit the groups to reduce the numbers, so if you come in a group (5 children or more) without reservations, you will be asked to leave. Supervise your children carefully and ask staff how you can help. Please review this whole page then scroll to the bottom of the page for group reservations information and costs. 

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. 

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.

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. You children need your attention and we need your help. 
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.

 Donations- we are full of donations! Unless it is small wood pieces we do not have the space!
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, 2 by 4's, or very small blocks of wood. Please no pressed wood or particle board. Please do not leave any materials that could hurt a young child  with bare hands- no metal, sharp, splintery wood or house paint. No old 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.

 Yes, we do take pianos, but only in the summer. 510 981-6720. 

Can I drop off my child?
. Yes, Children seven years and older may stay (drop in) in the playground without their parents for up to three hours.  A current school year registration form must be on file and parents must check with staff show them their receipt or playment card and sign their children in and out. The fee is $10 per child (for kids over 7 yrs old without an adult) who are registered "drop ins". This is payable in the Nature Center. Once you pay with,  bring your receipt or playment card to the playground for admission for your "drop in" and check in with staff. Playment cards allow you to pay in advance for multiple days and Sundays, when the Office is closed.
  Pick up time is no later than 1/2 hour before we close. No "drop ins" on Sundays unless you use your playment card.  
What about if my child wants to be  a "drop in" with a friend? Have their parents download the form, fill out this registration and the waiver and bring it with you when you come. Pay the fee in the Nature Center Tuesday- Sat. and bring the receipt to the playground. No waiver, no "drop in". Everyone fills out a new form for the the school year regardless if you filled one out for the summer. 

 Sample:Summer Marina Adventures 2015 Calendar- for JuneJuly see examples of past special activites for drop-ins and children with parents.


Group Reservations 

For safety reasons because the playground gets crowded with the general public, any groups with 5 children or more who show up without paying for reservations, will be asked to leave. Only confirmed, paid groups will be allowed to enter for their alloted time. Groups do not get exclusive use, the public will still be in the playground.  Once your reserved group time is over, we ask that your whole group exit the playground for the remainder of the day when your reservation time is concluded. 

What you get when you make reservations with us and arrive on time:    
   1.       You will be the only group allowed in at that time. We will ask unreserved groups that slip in to leave. The public will be there, but no other groups.
   2.      Your group will meet the staff outside at the front of the playground, learn what the rules are, get a safety talk,  and instructions on how to use tools. 

   3.    Your group then gets a guided tour and a demonstration on how to ride the Zip line  and the rope swing safely.

    4.    The adults in the group will be given instructions on how they can help to keep the playground safe. Shoveling the sandpile, helping in the small tool area, supervising building, helping at the tool counter.

    5. Before you leave, if your group 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, clamps) they used back to the shed and all unnaily wood to the racks, and any naily unsafe wood to the red zones.

 For weekend reservations- please call three weeks or more ahead, dates fill fast. A.P. is open 11am-5pm. The weekend time slots are 11a.m.-1 p.m. , and 1:30a.m.-3:30p.m.  

Weekday reservations are determined by weather and staff availability.

Follow the steps below to make your reservation.

  • Groups of five or more children must make an advanced reservation and pay a fee.
  •     Fees are: 
      5-10 children   $73 per 2 hours
  • 11-20 children $103 per 2 hours
  • 21-30 children $146 per 2 hours. 
  • 31-40 children  $174 per 2 hours. (No weekends- weekday-O.K.)
 Additional information for group reservations. This link has details on how to do a party and what to expect from your experience here.

Your reservation is not confirmed until all three steps are complete: 

1. You have spoken to us in person or on the phone and we have penciled your request onto our calendar. 510 981-6720.

Send in the form and payment ASAP!

 If someone else calls and wants the date you spoke to us about and  we have not received payment and your reservation form , we will call you to confirm and might give your date to someone else.

2. We  receive a completed reservation form  group reservations  and full payment made out to the City of Berkeley. We do not take credit cards. Do not mail your form in without talking to us first, we may not have your date available.

3. Payment must be made no later than 2 weeks before the trip.

4. Once we receive payment, you will receive an email confirmation from us.

 5. That confirmation and playground information needs to be read by the adults who are going to be supervising before they come into the playground so they know what to do
If you want your receipt, we can mail it to you with your confirmation, otherwise it will be stapled to your confirmation form and kept here in the office.

Arrive early, Do NOT come directly into the playground with your group. Check in with the adventure playground staff and let them know your group is there. Then, take your group and show them  where the restrooms are.  When you return the staff will come outside the playground and greet your group on the hill to do the orientation/ safety talk.  

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

 If you have to cancel your reservation, Please call us promptly 510 981-6720  as we have waiting lists for dates. Do not assume we will cancel on you. We need to hear from you that you are no longer interested in the date.  In order for you to get your money back, you need to cancel no later than 7 days before your date.
Rain dates can be rescheduled or if you need a refund you need to send the receipt and a letter explaining why you need to cancel to the Nature Center office. 

The public will be in the playground during reserved times. Having a reservation means no other groups will be allowed in during your time. All other groups will be asked to leave.
Listen to the sounds of Adventure Playground on National Public Radio.  

We do have  JOB OPENINGS for the  summer now. Weekdays and one day each weekend. If you are interested in interviewing for a position 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 descriptionPDF Application & AdventurePlayground Supplemental Questionnaire 

Please mail it to:

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


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Berkeley Marina, 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