Many thanks to 510families reader, Rosemary, for telling us about the fairies hiding out in Alameda. I explored the magical island with my daughter and we had so much fun!
Alameda is known for its old school charm, family friendly beaches and retro character. But what you may not know about Alameda is there are hundreds of fairy doors, houses, and residences scattered all throughout the island. You have to look down near your feet and ankles to find these sweet little fairy doors and small villages hiding in plain site. A busy adult might not notice them at all, but a curious toddler will see them for the magic they are.
A man named Fred Hogenboom and his granddaughter, Serena, started crafting beautiful petite fairy doors and decorations, and installed them secretly throughout Alameda. Since then, lots of people have been making and finding these tiny treasures throughout the island. He still distributes printed maps of where to find them from his business, Fred’s Wrenchouse, but we found some of the neighbor-maintained google maps (linked below) easier to use while we were on the go.
Just when you thought you’d discovered all the fairies and gnomes in the East Bay, you can once again delight your children with whimsical fairy houses throughout Alameda and Bay Farm Island.
Sprinkled all throughout Alameda are fairy doors, fairy houses, and full blown fairy estates. Some are even lit up for the holidays! The fun thing about the Alameda neighborhoods is not only are there planned fairy houses, but also many creative people have decorated their front yards just for fun. You can discover small treasures in every part of Alameda.
How to plan a successful fairy hunt in Alameda:
Use the Magical Fairy Map via Google Maps while you’re doing other things in Alameda. Thanks to Jeannie Ederlyn and Dale Yun of the Alameda Island Fairy Doors & More Facebook Group, there is an updated Google Map pinned to the top of the page. We looked for the fairy residences on the map that were closest to our favorite Alameda playgrounds. We found several very sweet fairy residences close to Littlejohn and Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.
Find your ABC’s. Go on a directed treasure hunt around the gorgeous northern Shoreline of Bay Farm Island for all the letters of the alphabet. Devin Grigg and his son created a letter hunt on the bay trail. The “A” fairy door starts at Adelphian Way, SF Bay Trail Access, near the Headlands. The “Z” fairy door finishes just by the Harbor Bay Club, before the bridge.
The trek is just under 2 miles one-way, so if you have little children and want to see the full alphabet, come prepared with a stroller, water, hats, all the snacks and dressed on layers because it’s breezy by the water. You can also break it up over a few different days; we saw older children with bikes and scooters.
Pro tip: Public restrooms with soap and sinks are located near letters “J” and “T” (no changing tables though).
Pro tip: I brought walkie talkies to add to our scavenger hunt fun, so my kiddos could talk to each other from a distance while hunting for fairy doors.
Much of Alameda is flat making it great for families with strollers, scooters and bikes. Wonderful, clean parks and playgrounds are some of the best in the East Bay. Thoughtful neighbors are adding more whimsical fairy doors all the time. So while there is a map, new doors are always going up, so keep your eyes open and stay curious!
Maps to the Alameda Fairy Doors
Follow the alphabet path on this neighbor-generated map below.
[All photos used with permission]