Central Park El Camino Real/5th Ave., downtown, (650) 522-7434. Free. Mini train: Sat-Sun 11am-3pm, daily in summer. $1.25. Dating from 1922, this is the oldest municipal park in the county. Facilities include a The Bianchi Railroad mini train--a miniature version of the long-gone Southern Pacific Coast Daylight—plus a botanical garden, tennis courts, and a large, colorful playground.
The park’s tidy Japanese Garden was designed by Nagao Sakurai, a former landscape architect at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Features include a teahouse (no tea service), a central pond divided by a narrow bridge (koi are usually fed at 11 a.m.), two waterfalls, a pagoda, and a shrine. Narrow pathways are designed to make visitors slow down and really look. Rare and unusual plants include a weeping beech and an umbrella pine.
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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers