New Year brings in-person programs back to East Bay Parks Visitor Centers

New Year brings in-person programs back to East Bay Parks Visitor Centers

SAN FRANCISCO EAST BAY AREA, CA (Jan. 2, 2022) — The new year brings resumption of in-person programs at East Bay Regional Park District visitor centers, in addition to the online programs that will still be offered via the park district website,

For example, the visitor center at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont is open and wheelchair accessible from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, masks are required and social distancing must be maintained.

The center offers Discovery on Demand, a naturalist-hosted program, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Discovery includes a variety of hands-on activities, craft projects, and watching live animal feedings. All ages are welcome, though parental participation is required.

Butterflies and native resources

The naturalists also offer programs at the center’s nectar garden every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to noon. There’s a vivarium where butterflies and other insects go through their life cycles. You can learn about pollinators, and how to set up your own native plant garden.

And there may be time to register for an ethnobotany hike from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 8 with naturalist Dino Labiste. Dino will point out plants that are used as food, medicine and tools by the Ohlone Peoples, and discuss California Native techniques used to manage the land and restore natural resources.

The program is for ages eight and older, and free of charge. Registration and parent participation are required. To register, call 888-327-2757. Refer to course 42934. For information, call 510-544-3220.

Visit Coyote Hills at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. Parking costs $5 per vehicle.

Ardenwood Historic Farm

Nearby at Ardenwood Historic Farm, you’ll find Victorian fun and games on the agenda from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9. Visitors can try out stilt walking, and play a variety of old-time games. The program repeats at the same time on Jan. 23.

Ardenwood re-creates life on a prosperous 19th century estate. The centerpiece is the beautifully restored Patterson House, once home to the family that established the farm in the mid-19th century. Attractions include farm animals, harvesting in season, a narrow-gauge railroad, and a variety of special events.

Visit Ardenwood at 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, just north of Highway 84 in Fremont. For fees and hours of operation, call 510-544 2797.

Tilden Nature Area

The Environmental Education Center at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley offers all kinds of programs showcasing the natural history of the park.

The Naturalist’s Trail is a series of easy, guided walks around the Nature Area from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sundays, Jan. 9, 16 and 23. Meet at the EEC, which is at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive.

Another program, led by Tilden naturalist Gail Broesder, is the Over-The-Hills Gang. The informal gang consists of hikers ages 55 and older who enjoy exercise and nature exploration in various regional parks. Gail plans another hike from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at Leona Canyon in Oakland. Meet her at the trailhead at 770 Canyon Oaks Drive off Keller Avenue. There are no facilities at the trailhead.

For more information on EEC programs and Gail’s next hike, call 510-544-2233.

Big Break Regional Shoreline

You can always find something going on at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. The visitor center there has exhibits on the remarkable natural and cultural history of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Visit their outdoor amphitheater, a scale model of the entire Delta waterway, a place to launch kayaks, and a pier from which abundant wildlife can be observed.

The visitor center offers free public programs every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The January program kicks off with “Flyway Highway: Birding Road Trip.”

And kids will enjoy Big Break Littles programs on the first and second Tuesday of the month from 10 to 11 a.m. For January, enjoy “Bird Bingo.”

Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. Call 510-544-2753.

For complete information on all the regional park district parks, trails, visitor centers and programs, check out the newly designed website,

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