Playgrounds are the only place in the whole wide world where your sole responsibility is to have as much fun as possible—besides Vegas. Kids can be an astronaut soaring to the moon on rocket swings or archaeologists in search of buried treasure (or mom’s iPhone) in the sand. From Dino digs to pirate parks, seaside swings to sparkling streams, check out the very coolest playgrounds LA has to offer.

Jack on Playground Slidephoto credit: Jennifer O’Brien

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. 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
Phone: 310-317-1364

Malibu_Bluffs_Playground_Via_Go_Play_In_LAphoto credit: Go Play in LA

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. 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.
Phone: 818-880-6461

Gates_Canyon_Via_Go_Play_In_LAphoto credit: Go Play in LA

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, little ones 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
Phone: 818-756-9743

Lake_Balboa_Park_Via_Go_Play_In_LAphoto credit: Go Play in LA

Lincoln Park – Burbank
We have to thank 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 or ice cream trucks 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.
Phone: 818-238-5300

Lincoln_Park_Via_Yelpphoto credit: Deidre H. via Yelp

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 for playtime and Rose Bowl Aquatic Center for swimming.

360 N. Arroyo Blvd.
Phone: 818-771-5544

Reese's_Retreat_Playground_Via_Go_Play_in-LAphoto credit: Go Play in LA

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
Phone: 323-913-4688


photo credit: Go Play in LA

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
Phone: 310-253-6470

Culver_City_Park_Via_Jennifer_OBrienphoto credit: Jennifer O’Brien

La Laguna Playground at Vincent Lugo Park – San Gabriel
A tip from Aimee G., another RedTri reader (you are our best sources for finding the coolest stuff) led us to check out this historic playground, which is often called “Dinosaur Park” by locals. The playground was designed by a Mexican concrete artist named Benjamin Dominguez in 1965. It’s a sand lagoon, filled with 14 concrete creatures and monsters that kids can use for climbing, playing, sliding and imagining. It was saved from demolition in 2006 and is currently being restored. It’s a different, imaginative and fabulous playground for kids, and has made several national lists of “best playgrounds in the country.”

Wells & Ramona Streets
San Gabriel
Phone: 626-308-2875

la laguna park

photo credit: Friends of La Laguna

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
Phone: 310-285-6820

Coldwater_Canyon_Park_Via_Go_Play_In_LAphoto credit: Go Play in LA

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.

601 Club View Dr.
Los Angeles
Phone: 310-276-1604

Holmby_Park_2_Via_Go_Play_In_LAphoto credit: Go Play in LA

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
Phone: 310-458-8300

South Beach Park PLayground_Via_Facebookphoto credit: South Beach Park Playground via Facebook

Glen Alla Park – Marina del Rey
Once again, our amazing 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
Phone: 310-396-1615

Glen_Alla_Park_Via_Go_Play_In_LAphoto credit: Go Play in LA

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 in LA! Curly slides, wavy slides, winding wack-a-doodle slides. There are quite a few play areas to choose from, so if you have an afternoon to spare, start at one end of the park and work your way to the other.

1601 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach
Phone: 310-802-5408

Polliwog_Park_Slides_Via_Go_Play_in_LAphoto credit: Go Play in LA

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