Holiday outings at East Bay Parks include Victorian fun at Ardenwood Farm

Victorian era holiday decorations on display at the historic Patterson House at Ardenwood Farm. (Photo by Jurek Zarzycki courtesy Ardenwood Historic Farm)

SF EAST BAY AREA, CA (Nov. 27, 2022) — Victorian era splendor will be on display in December at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont during a “Christmas at the Patterson House” program, Fridays through Sundays, Dec. 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18.

From 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day, costumed docents will lead tours of 14 rooms of the mansion decorated with Victorian-style holiday ornaments.

The schedule calls for 20-minute Tot Tours for all ages, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., downstairs only and wheelchair accessible. Full tours for age six and older will be at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m., lasting 45 minutes.

These are drop-in tours; no registration is necessary. Tickets will be sold at the door as space allows. Fees are $3 for adults and seniors, $2 for ages six through 17, and free for children 5 and under. There are separate fees for Ardenwood entrance. For information, call 510-791-4196.

Programs at Ardenwood recreate life on a restored, turn of the 20th century estate. It is also a working farm. It’s located at 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, just north of Highway 84. For information, call 510-544-2797.

Get Outside

Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton is the venue for the next meeting of the informal “Let’s Get Outside Club.”

Naturalist Betty Villalta will lead a beginners-level hike there from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4. Minimum age is eight, and parent participation is required.

This is a drop-in hike; no registration is required. Parking fees apply. Meet at the park’s Lakeside Picnic Area. Bring water and a snack or lunch.

The club offers an easy to moderate, naturalist-led hike on the first Sunday of every month. All are welcome.

Shadow Cliffs is on Stanley Boulevard east of downtown Pleasanton. For information, call 510-544-3234.

Bird watching

Look for resident and migrant water birds with naturalist Gisselle Hernandez during a drop-in program from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4 at Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore.

The program is for ages eight and older; adult participation is required. All levels of birding expertise are welcome. Bring binoculars and bird guides if you have them. Some binoculars will be available for loan.

Meet Gisselle at the Del Valle marina. The park is on Del Valle Road off Mines Road about nine miles south of Livermore. There’s a parking fee of $6 per vehicle.

Black Diamond Mines

The naturalists at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch lead a “Saturday Afternoon Stroll” almost every week. It’s a two-to-three mile hike to explore the park’s varied plant and animal life.

There’s a stroll from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. Minimum age is four years and parent participation is required.

Or you can meet one of the park’s snakes-in-residence during a program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4 with naturalist Jessica Kauzer.

Minimum age is two years. Jessica will show the snake and talk about how snakes contribute to the local ecosystem.

Registration is not necessary for either program. Both meet at the uppermost parking lot on Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4. The programs are free; Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 when the kiosk is staffed. For information, call 510-544-2750.

Birds and sheep

Lambs are the stars of a program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 in the Little Farm at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley with naturalist Jenna Collins.

Visitors can meet the Little Farm flock, find out what sheep’s wool feels like, then make their own mini-sheep from wool to take home.

The program is wheelchair accessible, drop-in, and free of charge. Meet Jenna at the Environmental Education Center. It’s next door to the Little Farm, at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.

Tilden naturalist Anthony Fisher will lead one of his Monday birding walks from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Dec. 5 at Shimada Friendship Park in Richmond.

This is an easy walk to see the birds and enjoy some ornithological lore. The park is at Peninsula Drive and Marina Bay Parkway. For information, call 510-544-2233.

Oyster Bay

Next in the Hikes for Tykes series is a walk from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline in San Leandro to enjoy birds, butterflies and bay views.

These are drop-in programs — easy walks for parents with small children. For the Oyster Bay walk, meet the naturalist at the park’s Neptune Drive entrance. Call 510-544-3187 for information.

These are just a few of the programs available in the Regional Parks. For full information, visit

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at