Berkeley | Adventure Playground

Take a quick glance at the photos below (ignoring the title text!) The place may look like a large junkyard. But in this junkyard, kids can have a hammer, saw, and paint like it’s Neverland! Zipline across the yard passing by two boats, and you can pretend to fly like Peter Pan. Gather your kids, be prepared to get dirty, and let your imagination run wild! Welcome to Berekely Marina’s Adventure Playground!

Adventure Playground

Address:

160 University Ave.

Berkeley, CA 94710

 | Yelp | 

Adventure Playground is a 40 year old park, located in heart of the Bay Area, sitting at the edge of the Berkeley Marina. With FREE admission, parents with older kids, have a park open to creative hands, and open to imagination. Written as one of the Top 10 Best Playgrounds in the National Geographic, Adventure Playground has won the heart of many parents and children.

There’s fun in the simple things. A wonderful way to exercise cause and effect with our children. Parents (moms in general) come in your dirty/gym clothes, this isn’t a place to look cute, but to get down and dirty with your kids, grabbing a hammer, nails, and some paint!!

Explore the playground, adding additional details with the wood located in the back. Add on to the already built playground, or find an open space, and create something on your own.

Open during the weekends during the school year, but open all summer months long! Adventure Playground was a destination as my family had our annual summer visit to the Bay Area, while we stayed in San Francisco. My boys (ages 6 & 10), had an excellent time, where we didn’t want to leave. I was so unprepared, not knowing my children wanted to stay hours until closing.

Be Prepared During Your Visit!:

  1. Dirty Clothes/Gym Clothes
  2. Sneakers/Tennis Shoes
  3. Bring Extra Clothes
  4. Baby Wipes
  5. Snacks! Already prepped lunch!
  6. Cooler – Water bottles/Juice Boxes!

My boys loved working with the hammer and saw (mommy – overlooking everything.) NOTE, this isn’t a place for young young children. Seriously, this park is definietly for the older kids. But whatever parenting style you are (helicopter, ghost, no-boundaries) your children will have fun regardless!!

Overall, I can see why this is ranked as one of the Top 10 Outdoor Playgrounds in the nation. You can come knowing that your kids will get dirty and might rip their clothes, and with having two boys, that is the most important thing. Knowing that you’re kids will have FUN!! Adventure Playground in Berkeley  is just another reason why I love the Bay Area so much!!! Wish I had this as a child! My boys are so lucky their mama will always find a time to take them when in town!

 

Santa Cruz Weekend

Last weekend my husband and I enjoyed President’s Day weekend in Santa Cruz, CA to celebrate out 16 year anniversary! That’s right, highschool sweethearts, turned parents, to now husband and wife. It sounds crazy and out of order, but we love it! It’s us!!! We’ve been together so long that it’s a clear come every anniversary (Feb 15th) the day after Valentine’s, we’ll usually plan a getaway for us to relax, and enjoy each others company. This year, since we’re now residing in Sacramento, and due to the last minute planning of our trip, we couldn’t branch out as far as we wanted with the time frame give. But Santa Cruz, has always been a favorite, so check out every year or so. This time….Without the kids.

Where we stayed:

Hotel Paradox

Address:

611 Ocean St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

As we arrived to Hotel Paradox, we were welcomed to an awesome florescent sign at the front of the hotel. Modern lighting sitting against a cemented wall, leading you into a chic boutique hotel. My husband and I walked into the lobby and were greeted by the front desk, which was behind a huge fallen eucalyptus tree, as the reception desk. What a great wow factor!!!!!

Now I can go on with all the adorable swanky details in the hotel. From the succulent floor markers, clean poolside cabanas, heat lamps, the gorgeous fire pit, and tasty food. Hotel Paradox is your Santa Cruz hipster heaven of reclaimed wood and sleek design touches.

With just a short walk through San Lorenzo Park located right behind the hotel, you don’t need to worry about driving and finding parking downtown. My husband and I walked majority of the time of our stay. An amazing PLUS, it was walking distance to Trader Joes, Rite Aid, and also a Whole Foods!!

Hotel Paradox is such a great home base location for tourist. Since it wasn’t the season for the beach, the Boardwalk wasn’t an attraction to check out. But, if it were the season, there’s a shuttle to the Boardwalk!!!

The following day we walked through the park, and over the river which took us directly to downtown Santa Cruz. We started each morning with coffee from Santa Cruz’s coffee roaster, the Verve.

Verve locations we checked out:

Pacific Avenue

Address:

1540 Pacific Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Seabright

Address:

104 Bronson St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

 

If you’re a coffee drinker or not, Verve is a Santa Cruz must!!! The coffee is amazing and the atmosphere is great at every location. Their latte is smooth and rich, and their coffee is definitely high quality. I do recall my husband saying their pour over was $7, which is ridiculously expensive, maybe because it’s their higher quality bean, on top of being a touristy spot. Overall, the Verve will serve you well, if you pay them a visit. I’d compare them to Blue Bottle or Temple if you’re familiar with your California coffee roasters.

We explored through Pacific Ave. as we shopped at local novelty shops, book stores, and even got to catch a movie at the Regal movie theater. There would be pockets of time, were we even walked back to the hotel for a small cat nap/recharge (times we usually don’t get while having children!)

Evenings were fun, as my husband and I would start drinking close to dinner time, and bar hop. One night we hung around Joe’s Pizza & Subs to catch the NBA All Star game. After a couple beers, and pizza slices, we found ourselves at Penny Ice Creamery.

The Penny Ice Creamery 

Address:

913 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
When talking about Santa Cruz with friends, I’m sure somewhere in the conversation The Penny Ice Creamery will be mentioned. Their delicious artisinal ice cream made from scratch, and toasted marshmallow fluff, is what gives The Penny Ice Creamery all hype it deserves. With it being the only ice cream shop in Santa Cruz making small batches in house – this ice cream shop has that distinctive edge.
Open daily til 11pm (Cedar St.) this is the original location for The Penny Ice Creamery. I was able to try the Dark Chocolate Sorbet and Tahitian Vanilla with the marshmallow toasted fluff. Fresh and flavorful,  you can’t really go wrong here. When it comes to fresh ice cream, it all the texture and taste, which beats out store-bought. Coming in, I knew the marshmallow fluff would be on the sweet side, so I paired it was simple yet decadent classic favors. If enjoying a junior sized waffle cone, double scoop ice cream with warm toasted fluff, buzzed at 10pm on Sunday means not being an adult, we cannot be friends.
Along with many cities I’ve visited within the past 2 years, Santa Cruz has a special place in my heart. Only one hour away from San Jose, going straight down I-17, Santa Cruz has the beach, coffee, and small town feel….California at it’s best small scale. It’s no San Diego, but it makes the Bay Area natives, and people from all over visit SC to relish it for its beach town vibe, and family owned businesses. 
 

Anniversary Getaway

Sonoma Welcome

Over the weekend, Derrick and I celebrated our 14 year anniversary in the Springs neighborhood of Sonoma. We rented out an absolutely stunning  Sonoma wine county estate so close to the square. Lately, I’ve been obsessing about getting new furniture for our home from places like Z Gallerie and Restoration Hardware, because of all the shows I’ve been watching on HGTV like Fixer Upper. But Derrick always brings be back to earth after saying what’s wrong with my current system of Craigslisting items or searching for fine unique pieces from Antique faires and flea markets at bargain prices. (He has a point.) But, he does understand why I obsess over fine chic stylish home decor. So, what better way than living in a home already completely furnished for a weekend!

Our anniversary date is the day after Valentine’s so typically, we always combine the two and make a nice romanic weekend out of it. We’ve always have done weekend getaways to fine/artistic and stylish places, such as an art gallery boutique hotel in the French District of San Francisco. Located in the French Quarter and crossroads of Union Square, the Financial District, and right at the Chinatown Gate – Hotel De Arts in San Francisco, has an amazing selection of rooms, with simple, modern clean hotel furnishings. (We stayed in the Sam Flores room, in 2009)

Another year, we stayed at the Inn At DelMonte Beach in Monterey, now Hotel 1110 (in 2012). We were able to experience “Euro-Californian vibes,” that highlighted art, design, textile, fixtures, and other vintage accents (something I’m totally all about!) With a free artisan cocktails, and roof-top ocean views, the experience we had at DelMonte/Hotel 1110 was pretty unforgettable. We also had a romantic rooftop couple massage over sunset!

Exterior

The Sonoma house was located in a quiet neighborhood nestled between downtown Sonoma and popular Sonoma wineries. It’s a few miles from Sonoma square (fabulous restaurants like Girl and The Fig and El Dorado Kitchen) and a short bike ride to wineries, including Hamel Family Winery, Valley of the Moon and B.R. Cohn.  The owners also had two new beach cruiser bikes are provided for our riding pleasure!

In the Springs, Fetters Hot Springs (is where we were stayed) had funky, ethnic, rundown and building up architecture. The Springs has what passes for affordable living with a spicy Hispanic flavor, taco trucks ply the cheapest and tastiest fast food you can find up and down the highway. With countless cafes, thrift shops, movie theatres, it felt just like my hometown of Hayward, but with a classic sophisticated twist!

Entryway
Upon arrival, Derrick and I took a quick tour around the house, and just relaxed in the amazing living room containing a replica Eames lounge chair. Derrick didn’t understand the deal about this recognizable mid-century classic. Until he sat on it. For the weekend, it was officially “his,” chair.  Every time we were home from a day of shopping and cruising around Sonoma, I found him on the sophisticated stylish, and luxurious comforting lounge chair.

Bedroom

The newly remodeled 2 bedroom (both queen beds)/2 bath, modern/rustic style Sonoma home with mountain view, had a Master  en suite bathroom and a top-of the-line Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Luxe mattress. It was so comfy, it was hard to get up every morning to start our day! Our weekend was focused on relaxing, with no special romantic dinners, or evening strolls. Just to be away from all the home stress, kids, work, and just enjoy each others company, celebrating our 14 years of love.

Patio

We enjoyed a Saturday morning Valentine’s brunch at the Fremont Diner, just along Highway 121, in the Carneros district between Sonoma and Napa. Reimagined down-home Southern comfort dishes, drawing crowds. We arrived just in time before the lunch rush. We sat in the shared patio seating on roadside diner picnic tables, which was delightfully awkward?! Depending on your comfort level, you can chose to sit inside, or in the outdoor “shared,” seating. Due to the foot traffic of the place, we decided which of the two choices was faster to get seated!

Altogether, our weekend was surely needed. We both have been working really hard, and needed time to focus on us as a couple. Having two nights away from everyone, including our children was a great plan to rejuvenate, recharge, and refresh. I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s weekend! I look forward to another mommy/daddy weekend.

Smiles