Field trip Friday: Ardenwood

Cotton Plant

Cotton Plant at Ardenwood

The East Bay Regional Park system has a free entry day every third Friday of the month. We decided to take the opportunity to visit Ardenwood this Friday as it’s one of the few parks in the system that requires a fee.

Ardenwood is an actual working farm located in Fremont. It’s very close to the Dumbarten Bridge. They plant things for sale to the public and has farm related programs geared toward toddlers during the week. Several times during the year, they have special events, such as 4th of July celebration, Harvest Festival, railroad/train day, and Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. We’ve only been to Harvest Festival, 4th of July, and the railroad exhibition.

We loved all of them but these were special events during the weekend, costing lots of moola, even if you had a membership passes to the regional park system. Because of this, I’ve never gotten the membership pass and so have never been to the farm during a weekday. Didn’t seem worth it especially given the hour drive from our house. We’ve got the Little Farm closer to us which also allows you to pet and feed the animals.

Because this was just a play date, we started late and first made a stop at 85 Degrees Bakery to get some bubble tea. It’s 5 minutes away from the farm. We got to the farm itself around 11:45am and met up with our friends while waiting for the train. There is a “train” on the farm, which is like a huge long truck bed dragged by a train on a track. It doesn’t even go all the way around the farm but is still fun for little ones.

After we got off the train, which drops us off close to a working field, we meandered to the Patternson House, which is where the original landowners lived 100 years ago. There are tours available but I think too advanced for the toddler kids.

We finished our lunch on the huge grassy field in front of Patterson house, then meandered over to see the animals and milk a fake cow. Thumper filled a pail with water from a water pump. We then meandered back out again to play in the pumpkins patch, which has a huge hay bale pyramid to climb on, two hay bale mazes, those cutout figures to take pics in, and of course lots of pumpkins to pick if you so desire.

We spent a lot of time here and then rushed off to go to swim practice. All in all an easy going day if you have no expectations. There really isn’t a lot to see on a weekday. Sometimes they have farm activities like feeding the sheep, working on the farm itself, talking about bees etc. But these are also events we’ve seen during our special day visit. In fact we’d just gone to the Harvest Festival last Saturday and it was super great fun. You can make ice cream, corn husk dolls, pick corn, buy bees and learn about bees, look at the birds in the aviary, sometimes there’s a blacksmith, make your own apple cidar, etc.

So I would give it a 3 star out of 5. This is a great place for young toddlers. It’s great to come back again and again I think during the year to see how a farm changes. But we’ve got the Blake garden and the Tilden Little Farm closer to home to do the same thing.

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