A-tiskit, a-tasket, put lunch in your basket! Kids love to eat outdoors, but you don’t want to bring your blanket just anywhere. The perfect place has three key ingredients: lush grass, beautiful scenery and plenty of things to keep wandering little ones fully occupied once they’ve nibbled their fill. We rounded up our favorite scenic spots to picnic and play all over town.
An expansive sprawl of green respite, Roxbury Park in Beverly Hills features eleven acres of space to play and picnic. Two large, sandy bottom playgrounds – one geared toward tiny tots, and the other designed for older children ages 5 and up – will keep kids active and entertained between bites. Plenty of picnic tables and park barbecues are available, but plopping down on a blanket on one of many shady patches of grass will make a picnic in this locale feel old school and relaxing.
Will Rogers State Historic Park
Once the home of actor Will Rogers, his impressive Pacific Palisades estate now offers great views of downtown, short trails that are perfect for hiking (like the kid-friendly walk to Inspiration Point), BBQ pits, and a grassy expanse for the kids to run around or fly kites. This park is popular with mountain bikers and other fitness gurus, but you’re sure to see your fair share of families on blankets enjoying the sunny weather. Parking is a bit steep at $12 but totally worth it. And don’t forget to tour the house, stables and on summer weekends, catch a polo match!
Malibu Bluffs Park
Having a picnic on the beach is a ball, but some tots aren’t keen on getting sand between their toes or between their ‘sand’wich bread. You can have your cake and eat it too, minus the snatching seagulls, if you head to Malibu Bluffs Park. This six-acre community park overlooks the Pacific Ocean; so you can still feel the ocean breeze and enjoy the gorgeous views. A playground for kids ages 2-12, a whale watching station, and plenty of picnic tables will round out your sunny party.
Burton W Chace Park
If your tots love boats and sea breezes, head to this picturesque park situated in Marina Del Rey. Gorgeous harbor views, grassy hills and summertime $1 water bus rides around the marina will make this locale a hit with aspiring sailors. While there are no play structures here for the kiddos, there are 10 acres of lawn and trees, so there is plenty of room to fly a kite. Bonus: There are also free summer concerts in this park on Thursday and Saturday nights in the summer.
Polliwog Park is the South Bay’s largest park, with 18 acres for play, exploration and of course, picnics. The designated picnic area has plenty of tables and six barbecues. After you eat in this idyllic setting, which boasts a large pond bordered by a natural wildlife refuge, kids can let loose in the play area which features a lighthouse structure, with several fun slides and misters. Babies will revel in the sand area and at the colorful climbing and exploratory equipment. Bring your pooch, because he’ll love playing in the dog run located on the west end of the park.
Exposition Park Rose Garden
Everything will literally be coming up roses at your picnic if you head to the Exposition Park Rose Garden. The roses are in full bloom during the summer months, so be sure to pack a camera for some beautiful photo ops. The fun may continue long after you finish your basket of goodies, since the Rose Garden neighbors the Natural History Museum, where you can behold the Dinosaur Hall, and the Science Center, where a visit to the space shuttle Endeavour is always a welcome treat.
The Old Zoo Grounds at Griffith Park
Here’s a picnic spot where you can picnic and play pretend. Spread out a blanket or take over a table and dig in, then explore the grounds in Griffith Park of what used to be the Los Angeles Zoo. (They say if you listen hard you can hear the sounds of the lions and tigers that used to call the space home still echoing around the canyon…) Kids have a fantastic time playing in old pens and cages, running around on the grassy field and hiking in the hills above. And to burn off any last bits of energy, stop at Shane’s Inspiration as you leave – the large adjacent playground can tire out the most energetic little monkeys.
This Holmby Hills park is one of your posh-er picnic spots – and one that offers plenty to do to keep kiddos entertained. Besides shaded grass for setting up camp, Holmby offers a whole section for picnicking and birthday partying that’s conveniently located next to the playground. But if your energized tots really need to move, they can run around the paths to the stream that winds it’s way around the golf course. That’s right – this park is also a par 3 golf course, and little duffers can rent clubs and play a few holes or just practice putting. Finally, those star tours buses that keep circling? That’s because the giant building that looks like a museum, facing the park, is actually the old Spelling Mansion, and the Playboy Mansion is right around the corner. Posh hood indeed!
Brookside Park at the Rose Bowl
Located at the South end of the Rose Bowl, this expansive park boasts three baseball fields and plenty of open grass for picnicking. Barbecue pits are available so take advantage and grill up something delicious while the kids play at the two playgrounds. Plenty of parking makes schlepping the basket painless. And if it’s an extra hot day, you’re right at the Aquatic Center, where you can take a family dip during open swim hours.
Lake Balboa/Anthony C. Beilenson Park
Have a lakeside picnic at this huge park in Van Nuys, which includes a golf course, tennis courts, and the locally famous running path just shy of 5 miles. In early spring, over two thousand cherry blossom trees bloom and cover the lakeside in a brilliant pink. There is a maritime theme to the accessible playground that features a sensory wall and an interactive drum play area. With plenty of parking, barbeque pits, and big, open spaces to lay down your blanket, this is a perfect place to picnic with ease.
Grand Park in Downtown LA
Special events are offered all year at this 12 acre park in the center of downtown, but even on days without activities, this park offers a lovely patch of green to set up camp in the middle of the concrete jungle. Grab a spot and enjoy people watching while you nosh on a spread from nearby Grand Central Market, Little Tokyo, or Chinatown. Parking is pricey, so ride the Metro to the Civic Center Station in the middle of the park. Also, don’t forget a change of clothes – little ones can’t resist splashing in the great fountain.
What is your family’s favorite place to nosh in the grass?
Photo Credits: Grand Park courtesy of Shannon V. via Yelp, Old Zoo courtesy of Erica B. via Yelp, Lake Balboa courtesy of S.F. via Yelp, allnightavenue via Creative Commons, Vastateparksstaff via Creative Commons and Emi Ruzzin.