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Visitor Center Info

1252 McKay Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501

 > Visitor Center Brochure

Phone Numbers
Toll Free: 888-EBPARKS (888-327-2757), option 3, extension 4520

Local Weather
View Map 
Google Map

Visitor Center Hours
Wed - Sun
Oct - Feb
  10:00am to 4:00pm
Mar - Sep
  10:00am to 5:00pm
Unless otherwise posted.
Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

Parking Fee
$5 per vehicle when kiosk is attended
$4 per trailered vehicle
Buses: $25/per bus.

Picnic Reservations
1-888-EBPARKS or 1-888-327-2757, press option 2

Naturalist Programs
Program Information

For Educators
Plan a field trip to this park

Nature Nearby Newsletter
Newsletter articles by the Park District's Interpretive, Recreation, and Aquatics staff

Emergency Number

EBRPD Headquarters
1-888-EBPARKS or 1-888-327-2757

See Also
Crown Memorial State Beach


Crab Cove Visitor Center

Crab Cove Visitor Center

About The Visitor Center

Crab Cove Visitor Center at Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda celebrates 35 years in 2014. Since 1979, we have been connecting people with the marine and shoreline life, as well as Alameda history. You can see bay creatures in the 800-gallon aquarium system, use interactive stations for varying age groups to view microscopic animals, build a crab from the inside out, or get a lug worm's view of the mudflats. You'll see amazing depictions of the underwater world of San Francisco Bay. At the Visitor Center you can also plunge into San Francisco Bay without getting wet, or travel back in time to Alameda's colorful past.

Submit Your Photos to the EBRPD Photo Pool

These entertaining educational opportunities all have a serious purpose--to increase public understanding of the environmental importance of San Francisco Bay. There is strong emphasis on the interdependence of marine life and shore life and on the urgency of preserving the marine and estuarine environment.

Dedicated to interpreting relationships between people and the earth's marine environment, this center attracts visitors from all over the Bay Area.

A focal point for this educational effort is the Visitor Center's Old Wharf Classroom. There, in a picturesque setting, youngsters and adults alike can learn about such topics as shoreline wildlife and the food chains that sustain all living creatures.

The waterless plunge takes the form of a display case showing a cross-section of bay, with lifelike models of shoreline and underwater animals. Adjacent rooms contain an aquarium and lots of interactive exhibits.

Education continues just outside the center, where the Crab Cove Marine Protected Area, at the foot of McKay Avenue, was designated the first California estuarine marine reserve. Its mud flat and rocky shore area are an important wildlife habitat. Collecting or disturbing creatures in this protected area is forbidden, thus preserving a unique shoreline environment for study and education.

Tides change daily, so it is best to consult a tide chart to plan your visit for the appropriate date and time.  You will be able to see most intertidal life at a tide that’s at least 2 feet or lower.  Links to NOAA tide websites are found in the lower right portion of this webpage.

Naturalist-guided programs for school groups and other organized groups are available Wednesday through Friday by advance reservation. See the Field Trips page for details or call visitor center at (510) 544-3187. Weekend programs provide exciting opportunities for you to learn about Bay ecology and the local area; go to our program guide Web page to download our monthly program guide to see a list of upcoming activities.


Park Calendar


KQED Quest, East Bay Regional Park District, and the Encyclopedia of Life Pilot Project: Improving Science Learning through media creation and global partnerships.

The Encyclopedia of Life, KQED-Quest, and the East Bay Regional Park District have partnered to pilot a collaborative program using media to enhance environmental education experiences for youth visiting Crab Cove Visitor Center at the East Bay Regional Park District. Three 5th Grade classes from Arroyo Seco Elementary School in Livermore, CA. visited Crab Cove Visitor Center in the Spring 2010 to participate in the Bay Lab Field Trip Program. Each student was given the task of becoming a Citizen Scientist observing the diverse ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay. In the Aquarium Study and Media Portion of their visit, students were asked to observe four species commonly found in the Bay and draw and record their observations. Additionally, students participated in Seine Netting in the subtidal zone, Quadrant Studies of Mudflats, Mud Investigation, and Salinity Studies.  Following the student's visit to Crab Cove Visitor Center, staff from KQED-Quest and the East Bay Regional Park District used the student's recorded observations and drawings to create short media pieces featuring their observations.


Up until the late 1930s, the area now occupied by the visitor center was part of a thriving resort community featuring bathing spas and an amusement park. Later, during and just after World War II, it was the site of the U.S. Maritime Service Officers School, a training base for Merchant Marine commanders. What is now the visitor center building was the base infirmary.

Our "Memory Lane" self-guided trail leads you from the time California Indians lived in the area through the Victorian era and military history.  The tour is available on your mobile device or pick up a brochure in the visitor center.

ADA accessibility iconAccessibility

The visitor center is wheelchair accessible.

To Reach The Visitor Center

From Cities to the North, take I-80 West to I-880 South and take the Broadway exit. Turn right at the light onto 5th Street. Stay on 5th Street following the signs to Alameda. Go through the Webster Street Tunnel (Tube) to Alameda. See in Alameda below.

From Cities to the South, take I-880 North. Exit at Broadway in Oakland. Turn right on Broadway, right on 7th Street, and right on Webster. Go through the Webster Street Tunnel (Tube) to Alameda. See in Alameda below.

From Walnut Creek, take Highway 24 West to I-980, towards downtown Oakland. Exit at 12th/11th Streets. Continue on Brush Street to 5th Street. Turn left on 5th Street and stay in the left lanes, following the signs to Alameda. Go through the Webster Street Tunnel (Tube) to Alameda. See in Alameda below.

In Alameda, continue on Webster Street across town. Turn right on Central Ave., go one block, and turn left onto McKay Ave. (at Foster's Freeze). Crab Cove is at the end of McKay on the left.

Click here for public transit information.


The Crab Cove Visitor Center is a Certified Green Business. To learn about the program and its requirements, visit:

The California native plant garden surrounding the Crab Cove Visitor Center is an Advanced Certified Wildlife Habitat.  Learn more about the program and how to become certified


Crown Beach Map

Trail Map

Click the map image below to see an enlarged version.

Crown Memorial State Beach Trail Map
Directions for navigating the enlarged map:
When the enlarged version of the map opens click on the 'Full Expand' icon in the lower right hand corner of the map to see the 'Actual Size' map.

'Full Expand' icon > Full Expand

When the 'Actual Size' map is viewable, you can 'Click-Hold and Drag' the mouse button (left on a PC) to reposition the map, as desired.

'Single-Click' on the 'Enlarged' or 'Actual Size' map to return to the park page.