If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then kids love it! Here are our favorite duck ponds around Los Angeles that your kids will go quackers for, as all of them let your little ducklings get up close and personal with their feathered friends.
photo credit: Andrea Conway Kagey
Lake Balboa at Anthony C. Beilenson Park
This popular South Valley park is open sunrise to sunset and is a popular attraction for both families and nature lovers. The centerpiece of the park is Lake Balboa, a 27-acre lake that, in addition to the beautiful scenery, acts as a preserve to the hundreds of ducks and wildlife that call it home. In addition to walking the 1.3 mile path surrounding the lake, you can also enjoy a leisurely afternoon of fishing or boating from any of the designated areas or launch ramps. With BBQ pits, picnic benches, playgrounds and bike rentals it’s easy to spend the whole day here. Just keep in mind that because Lake Balboa is a wildlife preserve, they ask that you do not feed these ducks in order to protect their migration habits. So leave the bread at home or use it to feed your own ducklings instead.
6300 Balboa Blvd.
photo credit: Tia Rescott via Creative Commons
Heavenly Pond at Franklin Canyon
Tucked away in the hills off Mulholland and Coldwater, Franklin Canyon Park is 605 acres of wilderness heaven. Located between Beverly Hills and the San Fernando Valley, Franklin Canyon is not only a piece of Hollywood history, but also home to the many ducks that reside at Heavenly Pond year-round. When looking for on-site parking, take your time driving through and stop fully at STOP signs, as patrons have been known to get tickets from the eye-in-the-sky cameras. Past the main parking lot there’s another lot closer to Franklin Canyon Lake. To the west of the lake, a stroller friendly walk will bring you to the small pond alive with ducks, turtles and koi fish eager to entertain your small flock of curious kiddos. Pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the few benches beside the pond or walk a little further east to the picnic grounds by the Sooky Goldman Nature Center. If you choose to bring the four-legged family members along for the fun, the park asks that they remain on leashes so as not to disturb the wildlife. Here are more of our tips for exploring Franklin Canyon.
2600 Franklin Canyon Dr.
photo credit: Meghan Rose
Echo Park Lake
Eastsiders take refuge in glorious Echo Park where they bask in the sun, shade and gorgeous views of down town LA. With pedal boats available for rent at $5-$10 a person, your little ones can really become one with the water fowl as they boat beside them in this beautiful lily pad and lotus dabbled pond. If the kids still have energy after their pedal boat adventure, take them by the playground to work up an appetite before making a quick stop at the Echo Park Café. This park tends to be busier later in the day so if crowds aren’t your thing plan to make it a morning affair. Although the fun is ample, the parking is not, so be prepared to circle the lake to find the perfect spot.
751 Echo Park Ave.
photo credit: Andrea Conway Kagey
Linnie Canal Park
Nestled amongst the canals of Venice, this cute neighborhood park is a hidden treasure for a quaint afternoon of playground fun and duck visiting. The gated playground was renovated in early 2013 and has proper shading and soft floor matting to keep little heads and little toes nice and cool in the warm LA sun. The small pond and stream close to the play area is a popular respite for ducks and birds alike, though the ducks have been known to roam freely and join in the fun on the playground as well, hence the sign asking patrons to leave their dogs at home. Also make sure to keep the snacking to kids only as the park asks that you do not feed the ducks. Like many neighborhood playgrounds, Linnie Canal park does not have a restroom on site and only residential street parking. Because you’re right off the canals, extend your visit by wandering them to look for paddle boarders and little boats. If you’re hungry, you can walk over to Abbot Kinney for a treat.
2401 Dell Ave.
photo credit: Sandee T. via yelp
This popular urban park in Santa Monica has a relaxing, fun vibe and is great for both toddlers and older kids. While the big kids “take to the streets” in the designated bike and scooter area, the toddlers toddle free within the fenced -n playground geared toward kids ages 5 & under. Across the beautiful green grass you’ll find 3 reflecting pools and a mini flowing river that double as a duck and turtle pond with a quaint little bridge ideal for taking pictures or playing “Pooh sticks.” A popular spot for weekend parties, this park has lots of family fun opportunities including a lawn bowling green, two lighted tennis courts and splash pad (open during the summer months). An onsite restroom and clubhouse available for reservations make this an ideal spot for birthday parties, too.
2439 Wilshire Blvd.
Encompassing 18 acres in Manhattan Beach, Polliwog Park is the largest park in the South Bay. The beautiful focal point of Polliwog is the large pond that is bordered on one side by a natural wildlife refuge and is a popular stopping ground for flocks of migratory birds. Dogs are welcomed, but for the sake of the feathered inhabitants, are required to enjoy the park from the designated dog run. In the summer be prepared to rock out with the ducks and geese of Polliwog Park as the park hosts evening concerts in the amphitheater overlooking the pond. While you may appreciate the exercise course for strength training, your little ones will love the 3 different play areas and running through the refreshing misters. Pack a cooler and take advantage of one of the 6 BBQs offered in the picnic area. After lunch take your flock on a tour of the grounds. In addition to the beautiful Rose Garden and the City’s Historical Museum, the southwest corner of the park is where you’ll find the Manhattan Beach Botanical Gardens, which is open to the public on a regular basis. Restrooms are readily available and ample shade is sure to make everyone happy. There are no parking lots on park grounds so your best bet is to find curbside parking along Redondo Avenue and Manhattan Beach Boulevard.
1601 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Cal State University Northridge (CSUN) Pond
Although this pond may technically be on a college campus, the peaceful site is open to the public. Nestled within a protected historical site of Orange Groves, ducks, turtles and Koi fish happily coexist in this sweet little pond. Turtle and Duck food is available for a quarter from a feeder but bringing your own bread or Cheerios is OK, too. Though sunny over the pond, there is ample shade beneath the fragrant orange trees or inside the lovely gazebo adjacent to the pond. If the smell of oranges is just too tempting, go ahead and help yourself, the campus permits orange picking. When school is in session, parking on the campus is tough but there is ample street parking off of Nordhoff or the neighboring residential streets.
18111 Nordhoff St.
photo credit: Andrea Conway Kagey
Los Encinos State Historic Park
Open Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., this state park is a hidden valley gem. Luscious green grass, fragrant citrus trees, ample seating and BBQ pits make this park very inviting for long, lazy afternoons. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood at the corner of Balboa and Ventura Blvd in Encino, it’s more than just a duck pond. A historical site with rich California history, Los Encinos State Historic Park is also home to beautiful Rancho El Encino. This California rancho includes a blacksmith shop as well as the original nine-room de la Ossa Adobe, which are available for free guided tours by appointment. There’s also the two-story limestone Garnier building, which is open for self-guided tours during regular park hours. When you’re done learning about the past, come enjoy the present. Bring your quarters and grab a handful of duck food from the feeders surrounding the fenced in pond and let the little ones have fun feeding the many families of ducks that call this beautiful pond home.
16756 Moorpark St.
Located at the corner of Reseda and Victory Blvd, this park is a nice retreat in a busy part of town. A popular weekend spot, there is something to keep everyone in your family entertained sunrise to sunset. The little ones will have tons of fun in the fenced-in playground while the bigger kids enjoy the outdoor basketball, tennis or volleyball courts. When the summer heat gets too hot to handle, take a dip in the public pool or enjoy the picnic and grilling areas year round. A quick walk behind the 2 baseball diamonds will bring you right to the quaint duck pond overlooking the LA River. There aren’t any feeders at this pond so packing your own duck-friendly food is a must if lunching with the flock is on your agenda.
18411 Victory Blvd
Do you think our list fits the bill? What are your favorite spots for duck watching?
—Andrea Conway Kagey