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12 Playgrounds That Make You Want to Be a Kid Again

Ah, the playground. The one place in the whole wide world where your sole responsibility is to have as much fun as humanly possible (okay, the one place besides Vegas). A place where kids become astronauts soaring to the moon on rocket swings, dig through sandboxes in search of buried treasure (or mom’s iPhone – again) and scamper through tunnels with more twists and turns than an Amanda Bynes tweet. Fortunately, LA has zillions of groovy playgrounds to choose from, and we’ve put together a list of the creme de la creme so you spend less time wandering and more time gettin’ your play on.

Jack on Playground Slide

Malibu Bluffs Park – Malibu
Some things are well worth braving the bumper-to-bumper headache on PCH and this is one of them. Malibu Bluffs Park serves up playtime with a heaping side of jaw-dropping views. Here, kiddos hop from slide to slide with Pepperdine and the shimmering Pacific as their backdrop. The ocean-themed playground is well-maintained, and the bathrooms at the Michael Landon Community Center are actually clean (what! what!). If you’re in the mood to picnic, there are plenty of tables and a large grassy area so kids can run like the wild-eyed banshees they are.

Bonus: The park also features free wi-fi so you can obsessively update Facebook with each precious moment in real time. The grandparents will thank you.

24250 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, Ca 90265
Phone: (310) 317-1364
Online: ci.malibu.ca.us/Facilities/Facility/Details/Malibu-Bluffs-Park-6

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Gates Canyon Park (Brandon’s Village) – Calabasas
Nestled in the tranquil hills of Kardashian Country, the vibrant colors of Brandon’s Village at Gates Canyon Park instantly plant a smile on even the fussiest tot’s face (Hallelujah!). Giant yellow canopies shade most of this universally accessible (inclusive to kids of all abilities) play space, making it a perfect spot for families to hit up on those blindingly sunny afternoons. There’s also a basketball court, tennis courts, covered picnic area with barbecues and tidy bathrooms that don’t require a Silkwood shower after using them.

25801 Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Calabasas, Ca 91302
Phone: (818) 880-6461
Online: cityofcalabasas.com/vtour/gates-canyon/gates-canyon.html

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Anthony C. Beilenson Park (formerly Balboa Park) – Van Nuys
If you’re looking for a lakeside playground that feels like a weekend getaway from the city, Anthony C. Beilenson Park delivers and then some. With a universally accessible play structure that’s almost as big as the park itself, littles have more than enough elbow room to swing, shimmy through tunnels and frolic on the jungle gym. Picnic tables are plentiful, making it an ideal spot for birthday fetes. There’s also a delightful bike path that takes adventurous tikes past gaggles of honking geese and quacking ducks (no feeding allowed though, much to their chagrin).

6300 Balboa Blvd.
Van Nuys, Ca 91316
Phone: (818) 756-9743
Online: laparks.org/dos/playground/facility/balboaUAPk.htm

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Lincoln Park – Burbank
We have to thank our oh-so-awesome Red Tricycle reader Esther S. for recommending Lincoln Park in Burbank. We certainly see why she gave props to this intimate neighborhood gem. Not only is the playground shaded by a canopy to keep kiddos cool from the valley heat, but it’s fenced in as well to prevent tots from tearing off towards irresistible pups, ice cream trucks or wayward Tonight Show hosts that may wander by. Local families who frequent the park have also generously donated various ride-on toys and other sand pit knick-knacks that are available for kids to use during their visit.

Bonus: The park is right next door to the Buena Vista Library, so pick up your tike’s favorite read then make a wish at the fountain.

300 N. Buena Vista St.
Burbank, Ca 91505
Phone: (818) 238-5300
Online: visitburbank.com/what-to-do/lincoln-park

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Reese’s Retreat – Pasadena
Ye had us at pirate ship! Reese’s Retreat inside Pasadena’s Brookside Park offers pint-sized buccaneers the chance to play Captain Jack Sparrow for a day. Replete with canons, sails and a padded ocean floor, kids can swashbuckle with glee across the playground’s main attraction shouting things like, “Walk the plank, Grandma!” and “Me parrot’s got scurvy!” This universally accessible play space also features tons of swings and slides for mateys of all ages, as well as a cool sand and water area that’s guaranteed to leave a lasting impression in ye car (aaarrrggghhh!). We highly suggest bringing an extra change of pantaloons.

Bonus: The park’s really close to the Kidspace Children’s Museum and Rose Bowl if you happen to be catching a game.

360 N. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena, Ca 91103
Phone: (818) 771-5544
Online: facebook.com/reesesretreat

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Shane’s Inspiration at Griffith Park – Los Feliz
As the first universally accessible playground on the west coast, this special place set the bar for how much fun kiddos of all abilities can have when given the chance to play together. From its airplane cockpit and train to the monkey bars and rocket ship, this play space literally has something for everybody. The fact that it’s tucked into the wooded wonderland of Griffith Park is just a super cool bonus. Speaking of bonuses, you’re also steps away from the LA Zoo, carousel, Griffith Park Observatory, Travel Town, Old Zoo Grounds, Autry Museum and more pony rides than you can shake a carrot at.

4800 Crystal Springs Rd.
Los Angeles, Ca 90027
Phone: (323) 913-4688
Online: laparks.org/dos/playground/facility/griffithUAPk.htm

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Culver City Park – Culver City
Redesigned and reopened in 2012, Culver City Park looks part playground, part futuristic art installation. This intimate hilltop play space showcases much more than just monkey bars and seesaws. State of the art play equipment using whimsical shapes was specifically developed to challenge tikes both mentally and physically. There’s also a sand and water area where kids interact with a working water pump and water wheels, build dams and construct sand castles that would put Frank Gehry to shame. Though there isn’t much coverage over the playground itself, a shaded grassy area offers respite from the warm California sun and provides the perfect backdrop for a game of Red Rover.

9800 Jefferson Blvd.
Culver City, Ca 90232
Phone: (310) 253-6470
Online: culvercity.org/Government/PRCS/Parks/ParkSites/CCPark.aspx

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Coldwater Canyon Park – Beverly Hills
This stunning jewel of a park is exactly what you’d expect from fancy pants Beverly Hills. Pristine grounds, blooming flowers, animal sculptures, immaculate playground equipment and the star of the show – a sparkling stream for kids to frolic along. Oh, and more nannies than a Mary Poppins convention. Shaded benches throughout this peaceful paradise offer an ideal spot to sit back, relax and renew your sense of zen (that is until your tots try to tear each others hair out in a battle for slide domination).

1100 N. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, Ca 90210
Phone: (310) 285-6820
Online: beverlyhills.org/exploring/cityparks/coldwatercanyonpark/

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Holmby Park – Westwood
Set in the foreground of the infamous Spelling mega-mansion, Holmby Park is a delightful getaway for Westside families. Meticulously maintained grounds, two playground areas, giant trees that beg kiddos to linger with a good book, a pitch and putt golf course and lawn bowling deliver a day at the park that doesn’t disappoint. There are also plenty of barbecues and picnic tables, so gather up the extended family (the fun ones anyway) and make it an event.

Celeb Bonus: The legendary Playboy Mansion is right up the street. We imagine that even Hef brings his bride to the park from time to time. After all, it’s an incredible spot for kids.

601 Club View Dr.
Los Angeles, Ca 90024
Phone: (310) 276-1604
Online: laparks.org/dos/parks/facility/holmbyPk.htm

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South Beach Park – Santa Monica
Santa Monica’s first universally accessible playground opened in July to rave reviews from the younger set. Now seaside tikes of all abilities can finally whoop it up together under the Santa Monica sunshine. This cheery beachfront park features a marine theme with an adorable boat as the focal structure surrounded by swings, slides and colorful bouncy surfboards. There are also water and sand play areas that encourage face-to-face interaction among kiddos.

2600 Barnard Way
Santa Monica, Ca 90405
Phone: (310) 458-8300
Online: facebook.com/smbuap

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Glen Alla Park – Marina del Rey
Once again, our amazeballs Red Tricycle readers (Sashique and Stephanie D.) come through with another fab playground. After seeing multiple kudos for Glen Alla Park in Marina del Rey, we checked it out for ourselves. Universally accessible? Check. Fully enclosed? Check. A canopied sea theme structure with oodles of swings, slides and enough climbing majiggies to fill an active tot’s afternoon? Check, check and check. The park also offers beautifully maintained green areas, picnic tables, and tennis and basketball courts. RT readers, you were right. This one’s a keeper!

4601 Alla Rd.
Marina del Rey, Ca 90292
Phone: (310) 396-1615
Online: laparks.org/dos/parks/facility/glenAllaPk.htm

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Polliwog Park – Manhattan Beach
As the largest park in the South Bay, Polliwog Park features a lovely amphitheater, several grassy areas, picnic tables, a pond, gazebos and even a museum. But honestly, who cares about all that when you have some of the coolest playground slides we’ve seen in LA! Curly slides, wavy slides, winding wack-a-doodle slides. Slides out the ying-yang, people! There are quite a few play areas to choose from, so if you have an afternoon to spare, why not start start at one end of the park and work your way to the other? Did we mention slides?!

1601 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, Ca 90266
Phone: (310) 802-5408
Online: ci.manhattan-beach.ca.us/Index.aspx?page=377

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Want more great playgrounds?  For the little escape artists, we also love these fenced in parks.

Our readers have been so incredible with playground ideas, we’d love to know what LA parks you feel have the best slides? Best swings? Best water play? Best views? Give us a shout!

–Jennifer O’Brien

Images courtesy of Jennifer O’Brien, Go Play in LA, Deidre H. via Yelp, South Beach Park Playground via Facebook

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