Alameda's Fairy Doors
By Jessica, who is not photogenic, and her kids, who are
Here in Alameda, there is an absolutely ubiquitous infestation of… (you may have already guessed based on the title above) fairies. Specifically, their doors. No matter where you wander in Alameda, you're almost guaranteed to run across a brightly painted little door gracing the base of a maple, oak, elm or any other tree that grows here. Sometimes the fairies make their homes in those wooden pillars that keep cars from driving down footpaths. I guess fairies can't tell the difference. Whatever the case, one of my favorite ways to pass a Sunday is to load my preschoolers into their wagon (or into a bike trailer, or onto their scooters) and go searching for fairy doors! So if you're looking for an achingly wholesome, family-friendly weekend adventure, you've come to the right webpage.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
Honestly, everywhere, but there are some specific spots where the fairies tend to cluster (think of it like the equivalent of apartment living for fairies). If you're an adult whose heart has long since been sucked dry of magic and wonder, you can find them in advance on the Alameda Island Fairy Doors Google Map, lovingly maintained by a Facebook group of the same name.
If your imagination is still alive and well, or if you're lucky enough to have children, or nieces and nephews, or grandchildren, or are just a fantastic babysitter, come down to Harbor Bay and go for a search along the beautiful Bay Trail in between the Harbor Bay ferry and the Bay Farm Island bridge! There's a door for every letter of the alphabet (or so I've been told) but I've never found them all. Maybe you can! For more info and a truly aww-inspiring history of the fairy doors, visit 510families.com.
WHAT TO BRING
Technically you don't need to bring anything to look for fairy doors, but it'd be in poor taste not to bring some blueberries or raspberries to offer to the fairies. Your kids (or you) will certainly want to snack on some as well. You can be extra sneaky and convince your kiddos that fairies love carrot sticks or tiny heads of broccoli just to see if they'll eat some too. I get about 50/50 odds with that one.
Beyond that, bring some sunscreen, sunglasses and maybe a magnifying glass to see if you can catch a glimpse of one of the fairies! Binoculars are a great idea too, as the views from that section of the Bay Trail are pretty gorgeous, and there are a lot of shore birds to see.
How you travel the trail is really up to you: littlest kids might enjoy the sights from a jogger stroller or a kids bike trailer (we rent both, FYI), while toddlers and older might do better on bikes, trikes or scooters. It's juuuust long enough that walking might be rough on anyone under, say, 8.
After you're done searching for fairies (and do leave a comment if you find all the doors!) take a breather at any of the open spaces and enjoy some lunch. There are picnic tables and plenty of grass (mostly goose poop-free) to settle in with some sandwiches or kiddie charcuterie (that's what I call cheese, crackers, salami and grapes when I want to feel fancy). The wind is usually decent, so what the heck, go wild and bring a kite as well.
Wanna take it to the next level?
- Bring tiny presents for the fairies (all compostable please)
- Bring tiny toys to stage photos in front of the fairy doors (take your toys home with you though)
- Host a tiny foods fairy picnic (finger sandwiches, mini cupcake wedding cakes, thimble cups, etc).
- Create your own fairy doors at home to attach to your own trees. (Fairies are able to create a home as long as there's a door on the tree, though you won't know if one's moved in until the door is "magically" decorated overnight. You're welcome.)
And that's it! You can easily spend a couple hours searching for fairy doors and enjoying the sunshine out in Alameda. Happy searching!
Thanks for sharing this! I did this with my 7-year old daughter, and she loved it. I printed the map, and we walked around finding different fairy doors. We live in Alameda too, so it was super convenient.On August 04, 2022