Foothills Park, a 1,400-acre nature preserve in Palo Alto, is great way to experience the outdoors without having to drive too far away from the comforts of home. Some of the activities that children can enjoy inside Foothills Park include: Have a Picnic. The park has seven picnic areas with tables, barbecues and restroom facilities. Some of the picnic areas are along trails; others, like the Oak Grove group picnic area, are next to large, sunny fields where children can run to their heart's content. Take a Hike The park has fifteen miles of hiking trails, with varying degrees of difficulty. Wildlife roam freely throughout the park; keep your eyes peeled for deer. Enjoy the Lake. Make sure you hold your little one's hand as you approach the dock at Lake Boronda, because he's sure to stand close enough to the edge to fall in. While the lake does not permit swimming, canoes are available for rent in the summer. If you want to stay away from the water, it's an easy 20 minute walk around the lake, not counting the time you're sure to spend on the tiny island connected to the lakeshore by a small wooden bridge. My children call it Treasure Island, and many a child has released his inner pirate on that island, pretending to hunt for buried treasure, or hiding from smugglers along the paths and shrubs. Go Camping. Towle Camp has 8 tent camping sites and is open every night from May 1st to October 1st. There are no showers, so many families choose to spend just a night or two at the park. It's a great spot for a first camping trip (after the back yard, that is), because the campsites are in the midst of nature, yet close enough to civilization for parents to "abandon ship" if their little camper decides, at ten o'clock in the evening, that outdoor camping is not his style. Residency Requirement:Unfortunately, Foothills Park is open to Palo Alto residents and their guests only, and proof of residency is required -- so if you're not a Palo Alto resident, find a friend who lives in Palo Alto and plan an outing together.