Whether you’re 2 or 62, taking a speedy ride down a really good slide is a sure way to put the wind in your hair and a smile on your face.
The Bay Area is filled with a number of unique and special slides worth the drive for those who love the thrill of a fast ride and entertainment at no cost. The parks with old-fashioned concrete slides usually have plenty of cardboard for visitors to borrow in order increase speed and make for a smoother ride, but many families bring their own as a precaution.
Be extra courteous in the mini-parks, where some visitors have complained about being shamed by the neighbors for being too loud. And be aware, only the larger parks have bathrooms. Here are the best slides around the Bay Area:
Codornices Park – With so much to do, this woodsy city park is a great place to unwind for hours. On top of the to-do list is a single, 40-foot concrete slide popular with all ages. There are also multiple play structures, a gated area for tots, baseball/softball fields, a basketball court and picnic areas with barbecues. Hiking trails, a creek, vista views and a tunnel leading to the Berkeley Rose Garden make this park a favorite for nature lovers. 1201 Euclid Ave., Berkeley.
Dorothy Bolte Park – There’s a single, 40-foot concrete slide at this small, hillside neighborhood nook park featuring children’s play structures in sand and grassy areas. 540 Spruce St., Berkeley.
Koret Children's Quarter – There’s plenty for kids to do at this Golden Gate Park playground featuring long, twin concrete slides and a restored 1912 wooden carousel ($1-2). The historic play structures are complemented by more modern apparatus, making this destination popular with locals and tourists. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Bowling Green Drive.
Helen Diller Playground – One of the best views of downtown San Francisco and the Bay can be found on top of the 45-foot metal slide at this busy Mission Dolores Park play area. A second, shorter but super wide slide is also a favorite at this busy destination playground featuring much for kids big and small to enjoy. Church and Dolores Streets.
Esmeralda Slide Park – In the 1970s, a group of Bernal Heights neighbors convinced the city to build these twin metal "secret slides" tucked between homes in a residential neighborhood with stairs leading to Bernal Heights Park. In modern times, a large group of neighbors landscaped it to its safer and more polished state. Esmeralda and Winfield Streets.
Seward Mini Park – This tiny Castro District park features a small community garden and two long, steep concrete slides that were designed by a 14-year-old girl by way of a 1970s design competition. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, and otherwise gated. 30 Seward St.
Magic Mountain Playground – Slay imaginary dragons and rescue royalty at this medieval castle-themed playground featuring one of the longest enclosed slides in California. It has vast play areas for kids ages 2-12. Just down the road is CuriOdyssey, a children’s science and wildlife center. 1701 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo.
Magical Bridge Playground – The gentle, wide roller slide at this inclusive playground is one that children with mobility challenges can enjoy, too. It’s not a slide for thrill-seekers, but it is unique to the area and a lot of fun. The park itself is designed especially for children with physical and cognitive disabilities to be able to navigate with ease. The first such park in the area, the Magical Bridge Foundation plans to open four more inclusive playgrounds in the South Bay. Also, enjoy a community stage with free summer concerts and an active library and community center at the Palo Alto location. Mitchell Park, 3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.
Brigadoon Park – Three steep and curvy concrete slides make this neighborhood park a great place for slide races. A padded landing provides cushion for those who pick up too much speed. You’ll also find play structures for younger and older kids, lush lawns and a picnic area. Brigadoon Way and Maloney Drive, San Jose.
Malaika Fraley is a calendar editor at Bay Area Parent.