Every year for almost six years now, my nephew has come to visit with us for a few weeks every summer. When we lived in California, this was pretty awesome for him because he got to see his aunt, his cousin, and his grandma at the same time. This year, there was no grandma, just his aunt, and cousin. And most places were closed. Luckily, I’m one of those people who like to research so I had researched a bunch of stuff for the boys to do while my nephew was here.
We did a lot of walking and hiked the relatively short walk around the perimeter of Chambers Bay, twice. I had all kinds of other hikes and activities planned, but the boys were content for the most part to just hang out and finish this game of Zelda, Breath of the Wild they were playing together (they each took one of the switch controllers and controlled half of Link’s body. It was very funny.).
Meanwhile, one of the activities that I had planned but that we never went to do was picking blueberries at Charlotte’s Blueberry Park in Tacoma. Read on to find out more about this hidden gem.
Charlotte’s Blueberry Park is a former blueberry farm that now belongs to the city of Tacoma and has been turned into a park. Half of the original property is wetlands and no one is allowed in those areas. But the parts of the park that was planted with blueberries, are free to be roamed by visitors. And unlike the Curran Apple Orchard Park (More about Curran Apple Orchard Park at the end of this post) does with their trees, there are no bushes that are leased off or rented to individuals. There are no “off-limits” blueberries. The berries are completely available on a first-come basis.
I love u-pick farms. Always have. And some of my fondest memories of my son’s younger years are taking him blueberry picking at a u-pick farm not far from where we lived at the time. So, when I found out that there was a free park that I could pick blueberries at, I decided we HAD to go. Luckily, my son still likes blueberries and he likes it when I get food for free because it means I have more money to spend on other things he likes.
The visits I took these photos during, was actually our second and third visit. On all three occasions, we took our dog with us. Yes, this is a dog-friendly (on-leash) park. There is even a dog bag dispenser at the entrance to the park. She loves walking through the rows of tall berry bushes, most of which are six-plus feet tall. And she adorably loves blueberries herself, so while we were picking our berries to take home, she was feasting on the berries directly off the bushes from branches closer to the ground.
The street this park is located on looks like any other residential street in this area. I couldn’t believe I was turning onto the right street the first time I went to this place and thought I had gotten lost. But we were not and just had a lovely time.
Other draws to this park? A playground with a separate fence around it inside the park. Several picnic tables under the shade of trees along the front of the park. Charlotte’s Blueberry Park is open is all day long (daylight hours).
Negative things that I wish I had been aware of before going to this park?
- Holes. I don’t know what caused them, but there are deep (like six inches and more), steep-sided holes just the right size to catch a foot and twist an ankle. So, we had to watch our steps as we were picking berries.
2. The sun can also be a bit annoying depending on the time of day. We needed sunglasses since so many of the berries we were picking were above our heads. A solution is to only pick berries with the sun at your back, but then we could only work on one side of a berry bush. However, if you go late enough in the evening the trees on the western side of the park will start to shade the berry bushes closest to them.
3. Spiders. There are spiders everywhere. EVERYWHERE!!!!! Big spiders. Small Spiders. Spiders in every shape and form imaginable. And webs. Lots of webs.
4. Blackberries/Raspberries(?) There are pokie, viney, cane-type berries interspersed among the blueberries. They are not being cultivated, they are just wild. Of course, there are not a whole lot of those, but I seemed to have managed to get myself snagged and scratched by every single thorny branch in the park.
Even despite those things, my son and I love this park. It’s fun to pick berries for ourselves and spend time hanging out. And then we get to make some kind of tasty pastry or syrup or jam with the berries we pick.
I’m rating this park a 4 our of 5 stars and DD on the Delighting Delilah scale for Delights Delilah.
For more information about Charlotte’s Blueberry Park, check out the park’s website.
We only pick about a pound at a time (if that), so our cooking projects are pretty small. But it is more about the time we spend doing things together than it is about the end result.
Last time we picked blueberries we made these amazing sourdough blueberry turnovers out of them. My sourdough starter has since died, so I’ll have to start a new one with the dough from my next yeasted baking project.
(A note about Curran Apple Orchard Park: Usually the park has a “Cider Squeeze” every August around the weekend of the 20th-25th-ish or second-to-last-weekend of August, during and after which time apples on unclaimed trees are up for grabs to the public on a first come first serve basis. This year the Cider Squeeze was canceled due to the current limits on gatherings, so I sent a messaged about a week ago to whoever manages the park through the park website asking when public picking was going to be permitted. I received no response so assumed it would be the same as every year, public picking would be permitted on and after the weekend that the Cider Squeeze is usually on.
Randomly I decided to go grab some apples while on an outing with my dog and hurried to the park. As I was getting out of my car some weird guy on a bike pulled up panting and out of breath. I was creeped out because it was late and getting dark (like too dark to read street signs without your headlights dark, because there are a lot of trees in that area – but not technically after sunset) He then proceeded to turn around and start walking back the way he had come. Seeing that he was leaving and I didn’t have to be concerned about being stalked through the park by a random stranger, I continued on with my mission being pulled by my hyperactive dog (who loves the rotten apples in the park.)
There were hundreds of apples just rotting on the ground all over the park. I grabbed a few handfuls from the public trees and headed back to my car. At which point I saw the strange man who had been creeping me out on his bike, had come back after leaving and was standing outside the park, pointing his cell phone in my direction. Maybe taking pictures of me or recording me with his cell phone. Maybe he just wanted some great shots of the sunset clouds. I don’t know, we never talked.
He then took off again while I was heading back toward the gate to leave. When I got to the gate there was a sign facing inward (that I walked right past on the way in and didn’t notice but was only able to read on my way out because it was facing the sunset) that stated that public picking would not start until after August 31st (ie. Starts on September 1st). I was like “Oh shoots! What did I do?”.
I couldn’t put the fruit back, and leaving them at the park would be wasteful, so I’m going to bake an apple pie (and maybe a couple of turnovers). It sucks, and what’s done is done, but I feel like this would not have happened if the park website had just been updated, or someone had emailed me back to let me know that the date of public picking had been changed.
Charlotte’s Blueberry Park is WAAaaayyy better in my opinion just because mistakes like the example above cannot happen there. There is no set time-frame where you can or can’t pick blueberries.
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