Water Fun Around the Bay
Swimsuit: check. Towel: check. Sunscreen: check.
The summer months have arrived and now all you need are places to enjoy the sunshine and water. There are so many different ways to enjoy H2O in the Bay Area. Whether you want to get your adrenaline going on big water slides or you just want to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach, there are plenty of options. Just remember to always watch your kids in the water so they stay safe.
Slip and Slide
California’s Great America – Enjoy roller coasters and waterslides. This amusement park features Boomerang Bay Beach Club, which offers waterslides, a lazy river, wave pool and more. The water park portion of Great America is open June-Labor Day weekend. Admission starts at $39.99 online. 1 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara. 408-988-1776.
Gilroy Gardens – In addition to rides, Gilroy Gardens now has water features including water slides, paddle boats, interactive water attractions and more. The water area is open through summer. General admission starts at $37 online. 3050 Hecker Pass Highway, Gilroy. 408-840-7100. gilroygardens.org.
Hurricane Harbor – The former Waterworld California has become Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord. It has thrill rides like Break Point Plunge and Cliffhanger and areas for little ones like Caribbean Cove. Tickets start at $43.99 online. Open May-Sept., check website for days and times. 1950 Waterworld Parkway, Concord. 925-609-1364.
Raging Waters San Jose – Northern California’s largest water park features 23 acres of water slides for big and little kids and adults. There are rides and slides; waves, rivers and pools, and kiddie slides. It’s open May 18-Sept. 8. Check calendar before you go; there are certain dates when the park is closed. $33.99 online, $39.99 at the gate. 2333 S. White Road, San Jose. 408-238-9900.
The Wave Waterpark – The City of Dublin’s water park features a tower of six water slides, a splash zone for toddlers and a sports pool. It also offers recreational swimming and swim lessons. It’s open through the summer. $11-17. Emerald Glen Park, 4201 Central Parkway, Dublin. 925-556-4590.
Cull Canyon – This lagoon is popular with families because its shallow waters are perfect for little ones who are just getting used to the water. Toddler floatie vests are available to borrow. Find plenty of picnic tables outside the gates. Lifeguards are on duty April 27-Sept. 2 on weekends and holidays and May 27-Aug. 16 for weekdays. $2.50-3.50. 18870 Cull Canyon Road, Castro Valley. 510-544-3076.
Maria B. Freitas Park – The splash pad allows kids to activate the water by putting their hands on a center pipe. Water sprays at kids from all directions, making it a great destination on a hot day. The park also includes a playground and amphitheater. FREE. 81 Trellis Drive, San Rafael. 415-485-3070.
Ryder Court Park – This park has a seasonal splash pad along with picnic pavilions, barbecues and a playground. FREE. 1801 J. Hart Clinton Drive, San Mateo. 650-522-7000.
Shadow Cliffs – This haven for swimming and fishing is just a mile from downtown Pleasanton. Boat rentals and food concessions are open seasonally. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months. There’s also reservable picnic areas. $6 vehicle fee. 2500 Stanley Blvd., Pleasanton. 888-327-2757, option 2.
Yerba Buena Gardens Children’s Playground – Kids can splash in a stream and fountain, fly down a 25-foot-long tube slide, scale a climbing wall and more. FREE. 750 Howard St., San Francisco. 415-820-3550.
Hamilton Recreation Center – This recently renovated indoor swim center features a large, heated pool, two waterslides and swim lessons. Call for recreational swim prices. Geary and Steiner streets, San Francisco. 415-292-2008.
Morgan Hill Aquatics Center – With two large water slides, a water play feature, splash pad, full size competition pool and warm pool for lessons, this is a great place to swim and have fun this summer. Recreational swim is $7-16 (memberships are also available). 16200 Condit Road, Morgan Hill. 408-782-2134.
Peninsula Jewish Community Center – This aquatic center has indoor and outdoor pools, Whirlpool and kiddie pool. It also offers swim lessons and classes. Call for open swim prices. 800 Foster City Blvd., Foster City. 650-212-7522.
Robert Livermore Aquatic Center – This center offers a zero-depth pool with an interactive play structure and water slide and a main pool with 13 lanes. It also has classes and lessons. Note: The center has been undergoing construction this year but is scheduled to reopen this summer. $5-8 for recreational swim. 4448 Loyola Way, Livermore. 925-373-5750.
San Ramon Olympic Pool and Aquatic Center – There’s a 50-meter pool, 25-meter pool, play structure pool, inflatable obstacle course, water slide, diving board and picnic areas. Recreational swim is $5. 925-973-3240. 9900 Broadmoor Drive, San Ramon.
Waterworks Aquatics – Offers a family swim night, lap swim times, recreational swimming, classes and more. $6 for recreational swim. 1120 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose. 408-279-1700.
Aquatic Park Cove – This small beach near the Maritime National Historic Park is a great spot to enjoy beautiful views while kids splash in the calm surf and serious swimmers do laps. It’s also close to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. Open at sunrise. FREE. Beach and Hyde streets, San Francisco. 415-561-7000.
Capitola City Beach – Areas of this sandy beach are protected from large waves, which makes it a great destination for families. With its colorful buildings and great restaurants and shops, the city of Capitola is fun to explore. There’s metered street parking. San Jose Avenue and Esplanade. 831-475-6522. cityofcapitola.org.
Crissy Field East Beach – This sandy beach is known as one of the greatest kite-flying destinations in the world and offers spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the downtown skyline. There are picnic areas and tidal marsh overlooks. Open 24 hours. FREE. 1199 East Beach, San Francisco.
Crown Memorial State Beach – With its calm surf, picnic areas, barbecues and an unbeatable view of San Francisco, this is a perfect beach for families. Bathrooms are available. There’s a $5 park fee during the summer, but free street parking is also available. Eighth Street and Otis Drive, Alameda. 510-544-3175.
Hearts Desire Beach – Unlike many beaches in the North Bay, this beach, nestled in Tomales Bay State Park, has calm waters that are perfect for families with new swimmers. There are also picnic facilities. Hiking trails will take you to Indian Beach, Pebble Beach and Shell Beach. $8 parking fee. 1100 Pierce Point Road, Inverness. 415-669-1140.
In downtown Oakland, Lake Merritt offers a variety of boating options. Families can rent canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, row boats and sailboats. The Lake Merritt Boating Center offers youth boating and sailing lessons and camps. At Jack London Square, families can rent boats or SUPs from California Canoe & Kayak (calkayak.com/store-information) or attend one of their many paddleboard and kayak classes.
At Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda, Boardsports California offers windsurfing, kite board, SUP and kayak rentals. It also has a variety of water camps for kids.
Protected from the rough surf, Bolinas Lagoon is a peaceful place to paddle with youngsters. Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards are available at Stinson Beach Surf and Kayak. In Sausalito, Sea Trek provides kayak and SUP rentals, as well as monster paddle boards that can carry up to six people and dogs. It also offers day and overnight camps for kids ages 9-15.
Get up close to harbor seals, birds and otters at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay. Half Moon Bay Kayak Company rents kayaks and SUPs and offers tours. It also offers a kids’ kayaking trip and a summer camp.
At the Redwood City waterfront, Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation has sailing classes and camps for kids who are just learning, as well as more advanced sailors. Nearby, Spinnaker Sailing School and Sequoia Yacht Club also provide sailing classes for beginners and experienced sailors.
With its stunning views, San Francisco is a great place to try boating with your family. Captain Kirk’s San Francisco Sailing offers sailing charters from San Francisco, Sausalito and Oakland as well as sailing lessons. If you just want to get your feet wet at paddling sports, head over to City Kayak in South Beach Harbor at Pier 40. It offers kayak, SUP and canoe rentals, as well as classes and trips of varying intensity. It also has a week-long paddling camp for ages 8 and up.
At Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, you can rent pedal, rowboats and electric boats at the historic boathouse. Boaters at this lake can travel under old bridges, visit the Chinese pagoda and follow turtles as they swim.
Silicon Valley and Coast
Tucked in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains, Stevens Creek Reservoir offers beautiful scenery for boating. Outback Adventures rents kayaks and SUPs and has introductory paddling and SUP classes.
From the Santa Cruz shore, Kayak Connection rents both kayaks and SUPs and provides tours and classes in the area.