Redwoods! History! Sandy beaches! Every July is National Park and Recreation Month celebrating our local parks and recreation areas and the staff that run them. In addition to providing a green spot to frolic, picnic, or just walk and enjoy nature, parks and recreation spaces often play a vital role in protecting public lands, preserving wildlife habitats, and maintaining our national resources. According to the National Park and Recreation Foundation, there are more than 11 million acres of open, green spaces across the US to visit. At Gaia Passages, we encourage curiosity and awareness of the natural world for our next generation of Earth stewards. And we believe our families and communities are strengthened when we are able to connect deeply with nature, Earth wisdom, and each other.
We are lucky that public parks and open lands and natural wonders are in abundance in the Bay Area. And since a dose of nature has proven to improve your mood, self-esteem, and brain power, why not take advantage of the 3 National Wildlife Refuges, 1 National Monument, 1 State Forest, 1 National Seashore, 1 National Memorial, 3 State Reserves, 2 State Wildlife Areas, 19 State Parks, 2 National Historic Sites and 1 National Recreation Area in the San Francisco Bay Area today, this holiday weekend or this summer?
If you want to hug a redwood or plan a day trip or find a camping spot, this list of Bay Area state parks can help you get started: BAY AREA PARKS
Not sure where to start? We have a few local parks located in our own backyard.
A FEW LOCAL PARKS TO GET YOU STARTED
Joaquin Miller Park – OAKLAND, CA
There are over 80 parks in Oakland. And Joaquin Miller Park takes you from the hustle and bustle of the city directly into the Oakland wildlands and “one of the few Redwood forests to flourish today in an urban setting.” And in addition to the beautiful native Coast Redwoods, there are over 200 species of plants, hawks, skunks, lizards, and wild turkeys with hiking trails, bike paths, horse trails, and picnic spots for everyone to enjoy. Find out more about visiting the park, trail maps, and what you need to know before you go here: Joaquin Miller Park Info
Point Reyes National Seashore – POINT REYES, CA
Just about an hour north of the Bay Area is the Point Reyes National Seashore with sandy beaches, colonies of elephant seals, whale watching, and even a 30-foot waterfall on the beach at Alamere Falls. If you’d like to hike, splash in the water or learn about the coastal Miwok or the important work of lighthouse keepers, Point Reyes National Seashore should be added to your to-do list. Learn more and plan your trip here: Point Reyes National Seashore Info
Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline – SAN LEANDRO, CA
The Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline is a park located on the San Leandro Bay with access to picnicking, kayaking, hiking trails with wetland views, and bird spotting of over 200 kinds of birds, everything from geese to shorebirds to water birds to burrowing owls living their best lives. A formal extensive tidal marsh, the park protects what remains of the Oakland Estuary marshland and was named after Martin Luther King Jr. in 1992. Learn more about the parks attractions, hours, and how to get there here: Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Info
Presidio of San Francisco – SAN FRANCISCO, CA
There are over 400 national parks across the country and if you want to mix hikes, geocaching, areas for picnics, and iconic views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio of San Francisco might be the spot for you! A new feature, Battery Bluff, which is reimagining urban parks, opened on April 23 and the Presidio Tunnel Tops, featuring a campfire circle, opens this July. Learn more about The Presido and its birding, biking, and StoryWalks here: Presidio Info
Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline – RICHMOND, CA
The Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline is located on the water and features a picnic area on a tree-shaded lawn surrounding a saltwater lagoon, a secluded cove with a swimming beach, a fishing pier at a historic site a hilltop with lovely panoramic views of the North Bay Area and the Golden State Model Railroad Museum, a model railroad museum. Learn more about the park and its attractions here: Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline Info
Rosie the Riveter National Park – RICHMOND, CA
Only one of the 400 national parks across the country features this iconic World War II figure. If you like to mix history with your trip to nature, you may want to visit the Rosie the Riveter National Park right here in Richmond, CA! The Park has a number of permanent and temporary exhibits about the history of Richmond’s wartime industries and workers and highlights the role of women and African Americans. The Park was also the workplace of Betty Reid Soskin, a now-retired ranger with the National Park Service, who retired at 100 in March 2022 and was the oldest National Park Ranger serving the United States. Learn more about Betty and the Park: Rosie the Riveter National Park Info
Everyone has the right to access to enjoy the cultural, historic, and natural resources found across the state and country. Two programs are in place to give 4th graders and their families (and in one case, friends) access to parks, open spaces, nature, and museums with free passes for students in their fourth-grade year and summer.
The California Adventure Pass
“Mountains, deserts, forests, rivers … the choice of where to visit is yours.”*
Want to picnic in Jack London State Historic Park? Try to wrap your arms around a giant tree? Visit an old mine in Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley? Ride the rails at California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento? The California State Parks Adventure Pass is free for all 4th graders and their families (and friends!) to visit 19 California State Parks. Learn more and sign up for your pass here: CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PASS
Every Kid Outdoors National Parks Foundation Pass
“Did you know that you own millions of acres of national parks, historic structures, cultural artifacts, ancient forests, snow-capped mountains, and clear blue lakes? Our federal public lands and waters belong to all Americans and are waiting for you to explore them!”**
Find your new favorite park! There are over 400 national parks across the country. Want to take your kiddo to Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay or Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois or Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado? Whether it be hiking or camping or learning history at a national park, the National Parks Foundation offers a new program, #EveryKidOutdoors, to give every 4th grader and their family access to thousands of parks and recreational areas around the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States. Find out the details and get your free family pass here: EVERY KID OUTDOORS PASS
* California Adventure Pass website
** Every Kid Outdoors website