Ardenwood Farm Is The Place To Be

Our first adventure to the Bay Area was a vacation to see where Hubby’s new office was located. While he worked, Bee & I were at a loss of exactly what to do or where to go. We were great explorers in our own Pacific Northwest backyard and even on holidays to visit friends. But how to approach what was soon-to-be our new home base? Hubby was lucky enough to have been raised in the Tri-Cities area so he knew how to navigate around, all the spots to see, and then some!

On our way to drop him off every day, we passed by the sign for Ardenwood Historic Farm. He admitted it was one place that he had never experienced or visited even though it was right down the street from his childhood home, his High School, and now even his new job. That intrigued me. And upon seeing a banner announcing their annual Rail Fair I just knew we had to visit because of Bee’s love of trains (or actually all things transportation)!

Run by the East Bay Recreational Park District, Ardenwood is nestled right where the I-880 & I-84 (Decoto/Dumbarton Bridge) intersect. And tucked back from Ardenwood Boulevard one would never know how amazing and immense this park property really is. With an historic Victorian-era mansion, working farm, enclosed railway and station depot, open picnic areas, and lush forests covering over 205 acres there is something for everyone in the family here!

The main building on the site, the Patterson House (run by the City of Fremont) dating back to the 1850s, is a glorious testament to the original “growth industry” of the Silicon Valley…farming! On the National Register of Historic Places, this mansion is open from Thursdays through Sundays for tours led by period-dressed docents. They even have times set aside on Friday afternoons specifically for families who want to go through the house with children under 6 (and thus necessitating a shorter/more concise tour).

In addition to the main mansion, there are several outbuildings that include a windmill, blacksmith shop, milk house, greenhouses, barns, a granary, and various others. This is truly a working and active farm that appeals to all ages and walks of life. Where else can one make an entire day of a picnic, be up-close-and-personal with farm animals, eat food made in wood-burning antique stoves, learn various turn of the 20th Century homemaking and agriculture lessons, ride a train, and watch people smithing items for use on the farm?

Bee and I have been here at least a couple dozen times since moving here. It is generally a weekly adventure for us to take a day just to relax and participate in farm life (which sort of reminds me of the romanticized childhood farm I grew up on). Between the Toddler Time classes on Tuesdays to the weekend activities (such as farm chores for kids, outdoor games, cooking demonstrations, monarch chrysalis hunting, and Victorian crafts) to the special events they host throughout the year, this is a place that we will keep coming to again and again. In fact, you’ll see a few posts in the coming weeks about some of their annual gatherings that really endear memories in a child’s eyes!

Location: Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94555
Phone: 510-544-2797
Thursday – Sunday: 10 AM – 4 PM (Open on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day; Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
Cost: Tuesday, Wednesday, & Saturday*: $2/adults (18+ years), $2/Seniors (62+ years), $1/Children (4-17 years), and FREE/Children under 4.
Thursday, Friday, & Sunday*: $5/adults (18+ years), $4/Seniors (62+ years), $4/Children (4-17 years), and FREE/Children under 4.
*This is based on their Summer rate good from April 1, 2011 to November 20, 2011.

Special Event Entry Fee**: $8/adults (18+ years), $6/Seniors (62+ years), $5/Children (4-17 years), and FREE/Children under 4.
**Special event entry fees may vary. Please call (510) 544-2797 for updated information.

DO be willing and prepared to spend a whole day here.
DO bring a picnic lunch.
DO bring a stroller if you need one as they are allowed.
DO bring cash if you would like to purchase anything from or donate to the Railway Museum or the Blacksmith Shop.

DON’T let your children pick & pull up the plants {I have seen some horrific things} as this farm takes great care and many volunteer hours to be as vibrant as it is.
DON’T take the view from Ardenwood Blvd. at face value. This park is so big and isolated you’d never know it from the street.