By Ned MacKay
The presents will have been opened, the turkey served, and everyone will be looking for something to do besides standing in line to see “Star Wars.” Well, the East Bay Regional Park District is ready to help.
Although park district visitor centers will be closed on Christmas Day, the parks and trails will be open as usual for hiking, bicycling, and even picnicking if weather permits. Generally park hours are from 8 a.m. to dusk.
And park district naturalists have scheduled lots of family-friendly programs in the days following Christmas.
One option is Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont, where monarch butterflies are stars of the show. Ardenwood’s naturalists will conduct monarch-themed slide shows and greenhouse visits from 11 a.m. to noon on both Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 26 and 27.
Ardenwood is located at 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., just north of Highway 84. Winter admission is $3 for adults, $2 for children ages 4 through 17, and free for kids under 4 years old. Parking is free. Call (510) 544-2797 for information.
Nearby at Coyote Hills Regional Park, naturalist Francis Mendoza will lead an early but easy bird-watching walk from 8 to 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 27. You may see winter migratory birds, raptors, and maybe even a burrowing owl along the way. All levels of bird expertise are welcome.
The walk is for ages 15 and older, and parent participation is required. Bring water, sunscreen, and binoculars or scopes. Meet at the park’s Quarry parking lot, which is on Patterson Ranch Road about half a mile in from the park entrance. Call (510) 544-3220 for information.
At Sunol Regional Wilderness, naturalist Katie Colbert plans a “Gift-We-Can’t-Return” family hike from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26. It’s an easy two-mile walk to enjoy seasonal beauties and signs of wildlife.
The park is at the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road five miles south of I-680 in southern Alameda County. For information, call (510) 544-3243.
Up the road at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, there’s a Holiday Open House from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 26 and 27, and again on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 30 and 31.
Crab Cove naturalists plan a smorgasbord of special activities during the open houses, including nature crafts, games, and interaction with the center’s resident snake and turtle.
From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day there will be videos about bay and ocean creatures, with popcorn and cider served. From 1 to 2 p.m. it’s Bird Bingo time. From 2 to 3 p.m. there’s a family nature fun treasure hunt using map and compass. And from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. you can watch the staff feed the fish in the center aquarium.
Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Alameda’s Central Avenue. For information, call (510) 544-3187.
Looking ahead, the Wednesday Walkers will close out 2015 with a walk on Dec. 30 through several of the labyrinths at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in the Oakland hills.
Meet at 9:30 a.m. under the shade shelter at Sibley’s main entrance on Skyline Boulevard, a short distance south of the intersection with Grizzly Peak Boulevard.