On our late June/early July trip to northern California, the boys and I made a plan to visit Berkeley's Adventure Playground. Built in 1979, the Adventure Playground is one of the greatest things the hippies ever did. Inspired by the way kids play on vacant lots using available materials and imagination, the Adventure Playground offers a space for kids to alter the playground they play on using paint, nails and saws.
The playground in Berkeley's Marina is idea for kids seven and older, although younger children are welcome as long as they are within arms reach of their grown ups.
My seven year old entered the playground and was gone, climbing the structures, riding the zip line (for 6 year olds and older, much to my almost five year old's disappointment. We decided we would come back when he was six.).
If playground goers want to use tools or paint, they must earn them:
My youngest found a "Mr. Dangerous", a protruding nail in a play structure, that was promptly nailed flat by one of the blue-hoodied staff.
My oldest earned the use of a hammer by offering up the rope swing to one of the staff who was demonstrating the safe use the equipment to a summer camp tour group. We followed up our visit with a trip to Moe's Books followed by hot chocolate at Caffe Mediterraneum. Moe's is the same as in my memory, but Cafe Med seemed different, although I think all the furniture remains the same. Perhaps all that has really changed is the experience held in my memory.