Oakland stowaways (and visiting Berkeley’s Little Farm)

Hudson and I tagged along with Aron a couple of Sundays ago, when he took off to Oakland for a conference. The city is only an hour away, but I’m always game for any sort of getaway. Here’s a little look at the ups and downs of our 24 hours on the bright side of the Bay–which I think you will agree,  I could have better planned.

It was a sunny, warm day and there were actually a few people using the pool. (Hudson pointed to it saying “Poo,” and a friend on Instagram added “I hope not kid.”) There’s such novelty in a hotel room with a toddler and it was pretty amusing to just watch him bounce around the room—hiding behind curtains, looking out the window and spotting BART, trying to climb atop the giant bed. Of course then we realized that we hadn’t any idea what to do next.

As usual, the answer was “eat.”

We got coffees to go from The Arbor Cafe and the three of us made a light meal of cheese and spread at The Sacred Wheel in Temescal, which had delicious sandwiches and knowledgable, friendly staff who happily let us all sample.

Aron was excited to try a beer made with salt water at The Trappist, a Belgian and specialty beer shop and bar on the border of Oakland and Berkeley on College in Rockridge that I would have loved to have spent more time in… if only minors were allowed.

We hadn’t made any dinner reservations, so from there we had a series of dinner fails as we went down the list I’d quickly put together (and as the toddler in the back seat great more impatient)… Juhu, the new Indian street food place we were going to try was closed Sundays, as was the next place we drove to–Adesso—and there was a two hour wait for Boot and Shoe Service and no tables available for Camino… We decided to go to a Vietnamese spot I’d heard good things about, Le Cheval. And, funny enough, it turned out to be across the street from the hotel. So we parked back at the Marriott, walked across the street, and ordered Negronis (stat).

It was a large space with a bit of a banquet-hall feel, but the food was pretty delicious. And, most importantly, Hudson slept without trouble that night–even while we checked out hotel cable.


The hotel itself continued to provide a fair amount of amusement, but the big plan was that I would take Hudson to Fairyland (a storybook theme park that’s been open for 60 years) at Oakland’s Lake Merritt park while Aron was in meetings. Too bad I hadn’t looked it up in advance to learn that it’s closed early in the week.

Instead I drove to Berkeley’s Tilden park to visit its lovely “Little Farm.”  We got lost along the way (beautiful views but man, that was a long drive) and stopped to ask directions when a firetruck and a bulldozer more or less simultaneously crossed our path. It would have appeared that Hudson thought my plan to continue on to find the farm (rather than stay and stare at these incredible vehicles) was the worst idea. Ever.

Eventually he got over it and we found the most picturesque little farm among the Berkeley hills, with pigs and sheep and cows and ducks and chickens. You are invited to bring along celery and lettuce to feed the animals (nothing else), and it’s free to visit. And then there’s a playground beside the parking lot in case running up and down hills wasn’t exercise enough!

Tilden Park is such a gem—a kid-friendly animal farm, a miniature steam-train railroad, a botanical garden, a vintage merry-go-round, and walking trails with groves of beautiful trees and views of the bay . I can’t wait to check out that railroad one day.

Lunch after Tilden was another fail, though: I tried to go to Bakesale Betty… closed Sundays and Mondays… and then searched and searched for another parking spot when I realized that Pizzaiolo is practically next door… meter broken. I threw up my hands and jumped back in the car and Hudson had a nutritious lunch of crackers and banana in the back seat.

And like Hudson with the firetruck, I eventually got over my growling, empty stomach when Aron told me the hotel would extend check out to 3pm and Hudson took a nice, long two hour nap in the room.

Oh, Oakland–I can see I might like you a lot. Let’s try this again sometime, shall we?

What should I plan to do next time?

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