Park It: Family-friendly Halloween fun on tap in East Bay open spaces

If you’re looking for some not-too-scary Halloween-themed activities that you and your kids will enjoy, look no further than the East Bay regional parks, where naturalists have scheduled several family-friendly activities.

Sunol: At Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County, naturalist Kristina Parkison plans a session with “Not So Creepy Critters” from 10 to 11 a.m. Oct. 30 at the park’s visitor center. Toads and snakes have a bad reputation, but Kristina will explain how they play important roles in healthy ecosystems.

The visitor center has several of the critters in residence. No registration is required for the free drop-in program. Sunol has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. The park is at the end of Geary Road, off Calaveras Road, 5 miles south of Interstate 680 and the town of Sunol. For information, call 510-544-3249.

Livermore: Staff at Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore plan a nature-themed “Spooky Scavenger Hunt” from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 31. Drop by the Rocky Ridge Visitor Center any time during those hours, pick up a scavenger hunt list to complete, return and tell naturalist Alex Collins about your adventures. Costumes are encouraged.

The program is free, and no registration is required. Del Valle has a parking fee of $6 per vehicle. For more information, call the Sunol Wilderness phone number above. Del Valle Regional Park is at the end of Del Valle Road, off Mines Road, about 9 miles south of downtown Livermore.

Fremont: At Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont, naturalist Mindy Castle will lead three Halloween-themed programs Oct. 31. All are drop-in, with no registration required. Ardenwood’s entry fees apply. Once inside, the programs are free. The first is a show from 10:30 to 11 a.m. featuring the farm’s handmade puppets. It’s a Halloween take on a classic tale: “Three Little Witches.” Multiple shows are planned.

Then from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m., meet Mindy at the Ardenwood granary to create and dress up your own Halloween doll, made from clothespins as they did back in the 19th century. And from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. it’s pumpkin playtime. Mindy will lead Halloween farm games in the farmyard. Ardenwood is at 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., just north of Highway 84. The farm and its activities recreate life on a prosperous 19th century estate. For information, call 510-544-2797.

Morgan Territory: It’s not necessarily Halloween-themed, but naturalist Kevin Dixon will lead another in his series of “Beautiful Brunches” hikes from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Oct. 31 at Morgan Territory Regional Preserve in eastern Contra Costa County. Meet Kevin at the park’s staging area on Morgan Territory Road. Bring your favorite food and drink, wear comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes and plan for a 2-mile hike.

There’s abundant wildlife and a rich history at Morgan Territory, which offers beautiful views of Mount Diablo and the Central Valley. The brunch hike is free of charge, and there’s no parking fee, but registration is required. To register, call 888-327-2757 and select option 2.

Online: There’s always something fun and interesting to do in the regional parks. For a full list of events, visit the East Bay Regioanl Park District’s website at

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

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Author: Ned MacKay