Park It by Ned MacKay: Labor Day weekend in the regional parks

If you’re not leaving town on Labor Day weekend, there are all kinds of enjoyable activities planned close to home in the East Bay Regional Parks.

Check out Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont, which will stage its annual Rail Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Monday, Sept. 1 through 3

The fair features all kinds of railroad-themed diversions: an 1890 steam locomotive, steam train rides, model trains, early day gas engine displays, live music, a hobo game, and more.

There are also tours of the historic Patterson House, farm animals, and other special activities for children ages six and under. There’s food for sale at the Farmyard Café.

Ardenwood is located at 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, just north of Highway 84. Admission to the fair is $13 for adults ages 18 and older, $9 for children 3 through 17, and free for ages 2 and under. Parking is free. For information, call 510-544-2797.

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Nearby Coyote Hills Regional Park plans a Labor Day Fun program from 10 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3 outside the visitor center.

Bring your picnic and join in old-fashioned games including a sack race, egg relays, tug-of-war, and kick-the-can.

Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway.

There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle; the Labor Day event is free. Call 510-544-3220.

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All things fish will be the focus of the Crab Cove Fish Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, with all kinds of crafts, games and activities.

The mobile freshwater fish exhibit will be on display all day. Behind the scenes tours of the center’s aquarium will be at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Free fishing lessons with all gear provided will be offered every half-hour from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Trout Unlimited volunteers will give fly casting and tying lessons all day long. And there will be a fish on a bicycle parade around the festival from noon to 12:30 p.m. Decorate your bike or yourself as a fish; the best decorations win prizes.

The center also will host Labor Day open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3. There are songs and stories by the shore at 11 a.m., family nature fun at 2 p.m., and fish feeding in the center’s aquarium at 3 p.m.

There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle in the center’s small lot or the large lot at Shoreline and Otis Drives. All festival and open house activities are free of charge. Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Alameda’s Central Avenue. Call 510-544-3187.

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Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley also has scheduled an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3 at the Environmental Education Center.

Crafts, games and other nature themed activities are on the agenda. Other activities are planned through the weekend. All are free of charge.

The center is at the end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive, accessible via Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Canon Drive in Berkeley. Call 510-544-2233.

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Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch will offer one-hour underground tours of the Hazel-Atlas silica mine throughout Labor Day weekend.

Tours start between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on a first-come, first-served basis at the park’s visitor center.

To tour the Hazel-Atlas Mine you must be age seven or older and parent participation is required. However all ages are welcome at the underground Greathouse Visitor Center, free of charge.

Black Diamond Mines is at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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Speaking of labor, beavers are renowned for their work ethic. You can learn all about North America’s largest rodent during a program from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2 at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

Big Break also hosts Delta Discoveries, with hands on arts and crafts activities, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

The park is at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

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If you’re making last minute camping plans, unfortunately the family campgrounds at Anthony Chabot and Del Valle Regional Parks are sold out.

On Labor Day itself, picnic areas will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s best to arrive early, especially at parks with swim facilities; Labor Day is one of the busiest in the regional parks.

When you visit, please be aware of and abide by fire safety rules; this is an especially dangerous time of year for wildfires. Please also cooperate with any instructions from lifeguards, rangers, firefighters and police, especially if there’s an emergency.

There are plenty of fun activities on schedule in the East Bay Regional Parks. For a complete list, visit And have a happy, safe, Labor Day weekend.

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