tilden, lawrence & pizza

We had beautiful weather in the Bay Area last week (now it’s raining) and my son asked to go to the beach this past weekend. I thought about taking him to Muir beach but it seemed like a far drive just to let the kid play in the sand. Plus there was the risk that it’d be cold and windy at the beach, which is no fun for anyone. Where is a beach closer to Berkeley? Lake Anza, of course. Just a hop, skip and a jump away in our friendly neighborhood Tilden park. We grabbed our sand castle making tools and hiking shoes (in case we wanted to walk the trail around the lake) and drove up the hill. As we followed the signs to Lake Anza, the road was closed. The sign said, “Subject to closure November through March.” Boo. Sorry kid. No beach today. Want to see some animals instead? Yeah! So we head down the road to Little Farm, where there’s cows, pigs, goats, geese, basically every animal you’d find on a farm. You can feed the animals too, but you have to bring your own lettuce and celery – no other kinds of foods. After seeing the animals, we had a little picnic lunch on the grassy field next to the farm. Our son got his fill by playing in the sandbox at the playground. There were a ton of other kids there, and we could see why. It’s kid heaven: animals, playground, rocks to scramble over. There’s also a smaller lake just beyond Little Farm that is picture perfect with a nice trail around it. Tilden provides so many fun opportunities for kids (and adults). There are the steam trains, the merry-go-round, Lake Anza, the botanical garden (which I have yet to visit!), not to mention all the great hiking trails. We love Inspiration Point which has spectacular bay views and is paved for a stroller-friendly walk/jog. Walk a few miles, and the paved trail becomes a dirt path through cow grazing pasture. It’s pretty cool to see cows along your hike in Berkeley! We’ve just about taken every visitor we know here for a nice introductory hike to see the splendor that is living in the East Bay.

On Sunday it rained, as promised. It’s always hard to entertain kids at home on a rainy day. We thought about driving over a bridge to take the kids to the Cal Academy of Science or even to check out the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, and almost forgot that we have the Lawrence Hall of Science right in our backyard. For a $50 family membership, which is tax deductible, it’s a lot cheaper than the Cal Academy and it feels good to support a University institution. Our kid loved playing in both the indoor and outdoor spaces. I love Berkeley. If I didn’t live here, I’d drive here to hang out.

After a nice weekend staying around town, I decided to make pizza at home and use up some ingredients I had. The result: kabocha squash, goat cheese, caramelized onion & olive pizza. Hubs was skeptical at first when I told him I was making squash and goat cheese pizza, but even he said it was good. I used the wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s and used pesto as the pizza sauce. I also added sprinkling of shredded gruyere and pine nuts. A good end to a very good Berkeley weekend.

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