Editor’s note: Los Angeles County parks are open with safety protocols in place. Visitors are required to wear face masks, practice social distancing and limit visits to 30 minutes. Click here for more information.

One of the best ways to entertain kids during a pandemic? Take them to a playground. Even with LA’s current Safer at Home guidelines, playgrounds have remained open. If you’re worried about social distancing, we’ve found a few hidden gems that are almost never crowded. As for the rest of the Los Angeles playgrounds on our list, we recommend going early on weekends or sticking to mid-week visits to avoid the busiest times. Read on to find your next playground destination.

Granada Hills

Hidden Gem: Been Canyon Park

Tucked in a residential neighborhood bordering Granada Hills sprawling O' Melveny Park, the playground at Bee Canyon Park can only be accessed by crossing a cute wooden bridge. The playground has a larger structure for older kids, and a smaller one for littles. While the equipment is beginning to show its age, the bucolic, hidden setting is what makes this place so special. 

13150 Sesnon Blvd.
Granada Hills
Online: laparks.org/park/bee-canyon

Burbank

Hidden Gem: Mountain View Park

Small but impressive, this neighborhood park remains under the radar for most. It's located in the Rancho Equestrian area of Burbank, where stables abound and cars stop for horses. (You might even see one during your visit—giddy-up!) Big kids will love the tall, sloping slides in the larger play area, while tots can explore a smaller structure with a climbing wall and faux cave and boulders. There's also plenty of sand for diggers to enjoy.

1401 W. Riverside Dr.
Burbank
Online: burbankca.gov

photo: Shannan Rouss

Johnny Carson Park

A second Burbank find, the playground at Johnny Carson Park has bridges, ladders, rings and beams to challenge kids climbing and coordination skills. Another perk? A large grassy area for running around, and a path for practicing bike riding. And although the park is in an urban setting, you can cross a bridge behind the playground to discover a sweet little nature trail. 

400 S. Bob Hope Dr.
Burbank
Online: burbankca.gov

Griffith Park

Hidden Gem: Fern Dell Playground

Located at the end of the kid-friendly Fern Dell Trail, this towering nature-inspired playground was just refurbished in 2019. Designed for kids ages 2 to 12 years old, it's fully equipped with five slides (including three that are 8 ft. high!), plus a rope ladder, climbing rocks, tree stumps, lily pad ladder and more. For some reason, the playground hasn't yet made it onto Griffith Park's official map or the LA Parks website, but trust us, it's there!

2333 Fern Dell Dr.
Griffith Park 

Shane’s Inspiration

As the first universally accessible playground on the west coast, this special place has set the bar for how much fun kiddos of all abilities can have when given the chance to play together. And after renovations in 2019, the playground is better than ever. 

New and improved elements include a ship, double-arched buddy zip line featuring a high-backed seat, new surfacing, and even an accessible merry-go-round! The new playground also offers sensory-rich, musical instruments and Too Small To Fail early childhood interactive literacy panels to encourage families to talk, read and sing to their little ones. 

4800 Crystal Springs Rd.
Griffith Park
Online: shanesinspiration.org

Fairfax

photo: Courtesy of City of Los Angeles

Pan Pacific Park

Walking distance from The Grove, this centrally located park has a new-ish playground that opened in Nov. 2019. The colorful equipment is tucked under large shade canopies and offers inclusive play for all abilities. The playground refresh is just one of the recent improvements at Pan Pacific Park, where you'll also find new basketball courts and a new athletic field.

7600 Beverly Blvd. 
Fairfax
Online: laparks.org/reccenter/pan-pacific

Downtown

Grand Park

Sure, you’ve brought the kids to splash in the fountains at Grand Park, but the magical playground across the street is a destination of its own and certainly not to be missed. Among the many highlights your small Sneetches will enjoy are a custom treehouse, super long roller and tube slides, rope ladders, tunnels, and a soft (simulated forest) floor. There are also three platform levels tucked inside the climber that offer a “kids-eye-view” of the sprawling park and breathtaking cityscape. It’s almost as if this place was lifted right out of Whoville itself!

Know Before You Go: And oh, the places you’ll go…downtown! While you’re here, be sure to snack at Grand Central Market, soak up the art at the Broad Museum, have lunch at Clifton’s Cafeteria and load up on books (maybe The Lorax?) at The Last Bookstore. Then grab a scoop of gelato at Gelateria Uli and see the sights from the SkySlide!

200 N. Grand Ave. (Playground is on southeast end between Broadway & Spring)
Downtown Los Angeles
Online: grandparkla.org

Santa Monica

Tongva Playground

Tucked away from the tourists and the hustle and bustle of the Santa Monica Pier, you'll find this 6-acre oasis converted from a former parking lot. There's plenty of space for kids to run and climb—all on a soft, spongy surface that minimizes the risk of accidents. Little ones can scale the inclined climbing wall, then slide down one of three slides. Up top, there's also a climbing structure for older kiddos. But wait: there's more! On warm days, there's a grotto-like water area for splashing around. 

Know Before You Go: Look for metered street parking by the Starbucks on the south side of the park. If that fails, you can can always find a spot at the nearby Civic Center.

1615 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica
Online: tongvapark.smgov.net

South Beach Park

ooks like a ship has run ashore on the Santa Monica beach boardwalk directly across from the water and turned itself into a playground fit for all sorts of aquatic adventurers. With climbing ropes, swings, a roller slide, and sandpit with water pump, your curious captains will have a blast pretending they are ocean explorers adrift at sea. A soft rubber padded play area covers the entire park’s floor making parents breathe out a sigh of relief while they breathe in that crisp ocean air.

3400 Barnard Way
Santa Monica
310-458-8300
Online: smgov.net/

Beverly Hills

Coldwater Canyon Park

Beverly Hills continues to keep it classy with this picturesque park and playground located just 10 minutes down the road from Rodeo Drive. Beautifully kept grounds complete with shaded benches throughout this peaceful paradise offer an ideal spot to sit back, relax and renew your sense of zen (until that is, you need to referee battles over slides and sand toys). The piece de resistance here is a sparkling stream for kids to play in the water during warmer months!

Know Before You Go: This park is a hotspot and tends to be crowded on the weekends so plan accordingly.

1100 N. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills
Online: beverlyhills.org

Malibu

Malibu Bluffs Park

You’ll have views for days at this 6-acre park while your little lobsters scrabble all over the expansive playground, sandpit, zip line, and climbing wall! Oh, and did we mention there is a whale watching station? With the Pacific Ocean shimmering below (and Pepperdine University across the street), this spot is a perfect place for everyone to blow off a little steam (and maybe even catch a glimpse of an ocean animal or two along the way)!

24250 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Malibu
Online: malibucity.org

Hidden Gem: The Playground at The Park at Cross Creek

Opened in spring of 2019, this first-responders-themed playground offers a fire truck, police car, lifeguard station and more for kids to explore. Designed by Shane’s Inspiration, the equipment is accessible and inclusive for children of all abilities.  

23401 Civic Center Way
Malibu
Online: malibuparkatcrosscreek.com

Van Nuys

Lake Balboa/Anthony C. Beilenson Park

Lakes in Los Angeles are not the norm so if you’re looking for a playground that feels more like a weekend getaway than just another city park, Anthony C. Beilenson Park delivers in spades. 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 romp around on the jungle gym.

There’s also a lakeside bike path where you can pedals past gaggles of honking geese and quacking ducks. Once your brood has had their fill of land-based activities, hop in a swan paddle boat (for a small rental fee) and tour the lake the way ducks intended!

6300 Balboa Blvd.
Van Nuys
Online: laparks.org/aquatic/balboa

Chatsworth

photo: Shahrzad Warkentin

Chatsworth Park South

In keeping with its rock-filled surroundings, this massive park is all about climbing and boy does it deliver! From rock walls to a giant web, tree stumps to a man-made boulder, if you can climb it, this playground has got it. If your little billy goats are climbing the walls at home, let them loose here where they can scamper until their hearts (and hooves) are content.

Know Before You Go: If your toddling tots are still too tiny for the big playground, make your way to the smaller, shaded one tucked behind the recreation center.

22360 Devonshire St.
Chatsworth
Online: laparks.org/park/chatsworth-park-south

Woodland Hills

Woodland Hills Park

We all know how hot Los Angeles can get (especially in the Valley) so finding a playground that is super shaded is a huge plus in our book! Recently renovated Woodland Hills Park has two separate play areas, both catering to different age levels, that are fully covered by bright blue canopies. There is even a fully shaded picnic table area.

5858 Shoup Ave.
Woodland Hills
Online: laparks.org/reccenter/woodland-hills

Pasadena

Reese’s Retreat

A’hoy mateys! Reese’s Retreat inside Pasadena’s Brookside Park offers pint-sized pirates a coveted chance to channel their inner Captain Jack Sparrow. Your swashbucklers will have plenty of room to hoist the sails and fire the cannons while they guide their trusty ship over a padded ocean floor. This universally accessible play space also features tons of swings and slides for landlubbers 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.

Know Before You Go: If you want to make a whole day of it, the park is very close to the Kidspace Children’s Museum and the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center (swimming anyone?). The parking lot is free but not when there are major events taking place at the neighboring Rose Bowl. Make sure to check the Bowl schedule before you head to this park to avoid crowds and parking fees.

360 N. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena
Online: facebook.com/reesesretreat

Culver City

Hidden Gem: Culver City Park

Part playground, part futuristic art installation, this intimate hilltop play space showcases much more than just monkey bars and seesaws. Whimsical, state-of-the-art play equipment using was created to challenge the younger set both mentally and physically. Nearby, older ones can try out a fitness hike up the famous Culver City stairs or strap on a helmet and hit up the skate park. For those littles who want to get their hands wet, there’s a sand and water area with a working water pump and water wheels where they can build dams and construct sand castles.

9910 Jefferson Blvd.
Culver City
Online: culvercity.org

Baldwin Hills

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

At 338 acres, this urban oasis is one of the largest inner-city parks in Los Angeles, making it a great spot to let your wolf pack run free for an afternoon. Sure, there are a couple of cute playgrounds here but the big draw is the natural beauty plunked smack dab in the middle of the city. Babbling brooks, a Japanese garden, a small but charming waterfall, and a duck-filled pond are only some of what makes Kenneth Hahn so special. Throw in family-friendly hiking trails, spectacular views of the city, acres of grassy fields and even an actual visitors center and you’ve got yourself a diamond in the rough just waiting to be explored!

4100 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Baldwin Hills
Online: parks.lacounty.gov/kenneth-hahn-state-recreation-area/

Marina del Rey

Glen Alla Park

This nautically-themed, universally accessible park is perfect for young scallywags who like to make a quick getaway. This fully-enclosed playground has oodles of swings, slides and enough climbing things to fill an active tot’s afternoon. Because of the flat, expansive layout, it’s pretty easy to have eyes on everyone (which is super helpful if you’ve got a larger brood in tow). Glen Alla also has plenty of shade, picnic tables, and a large grassy area surrounds the perimeter, in case you decide to let your Houdinis loose outside the gates for a bit.

Know Before You Go: The delicious Del Rey Farmer’s Market sets up shop on the sidewalks surrounding this park every Fri. afternoon from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. This can be a fun bonus to a Fri. park visit but it also makes the already tricky parking options that much slimmer so plan accordingly!

4601 Alla Rd.
Marina del Rey
Online: www.laparks.org/park/glen-alla

Highland Park

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

York Park

York Park was built on the site of a former gas station, and while the parklet covers just a third of an acre, it is a little slice of metropolitan magic. While you won’t find much in the way of grass, the urban space is covered with a bright teal and orange, shock-absorbent surface and two main play surfaces. With a snake slide (clearly the kid fave at this park), an urban forest and musical instruments, this pocket park provides outside entertainment in the middle of the city and is a perfect place to stop and let the kids run wild before hitting a hipster hang that will fuel them up with sweets (Donut Friend and Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is just across the street). York Park is also securely gated and enclosed so you can breathe easy that your tiny trendsetters will be snug as bugs!

4948 York Blvd.
Highland Park
Online: laparks.org/park/york-boulevard-park

South Bay

Polliwog Park

Covering 18 acres, Polliwog is one of the largest parks in the South Bay and boasts a scenic amphitheater overlooking a giant duck and turtle-filled pond as well as a botanical garden, natural wildlife refuge, picnic tables, gazebos, and even a museum.

But honestly, who cares about all that when you have one of the coolest playground slides in LA that features curly slides, wavy slides, and winding wack-a-doodle slides. With three expansive play areas to choose from (including a concrete boat in the middle of a sand ocean), it’s best for your mini minnows to start at one end of the park and work their way to the other. Make it a family furry affair and bring your pup on this outing as there is a large dog run on one end of this pooch-friendly park!

1601 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach
Online: citymb.info

Los Arboles “Rocket Ship” Park

Blast off to Torrance’s “Rocket Ship” Park and treat your little space cadets to a 28-foot-tall rocket tower they can actually climb inside of and slide down (after they’ve simulated a proper launch of course). Situated on top of a hillside, this hidden neighborhood gem of a park offers spectacular ocean views stretching from the Santa Monica Bay to the San Gabriel Mountains. With a mix of new and old playground equipment, scenic swings and sand for days, your young rocketeers will certainly be over the moon!

Know Before You Go: Kinda like space, there are no restrooms at this park so good to have a travel potty on hand just in case!

5101 Calle de Ricardo
Torrance
Online: torranceca.gov

Worth the Drive

Adventure Playground

You’re going to want to pack an extra set (or two) of clothes before heading out on this adventure. One of Irvine’s best-kept secrets, this University of CA Irvine adjacent park is chock-full of everything your little loves could possibly want and more! Prepare for the rugrats to get nice and dirty here as there is a large mud play area as well as water pumps on deck to help build that perfect sand castle.

Along with an incredible castle-like structure, tree house, kid’s fort building zone, concrete slides, and even a sensory garden, your little piggies will never want to leave!! The best part for parents? This park is fully enclosed so while the kiddos wallow in the muck, you can sip coffee and watch them go hog wild from the comfort of a (clean) bench.

Know Before You Go: There is little shade here so hats and sunscreen are a must. Because of the mud and water features at this park, it’s highly encouraged to bring changes of clothes as there are hoses near the bathrooms to spray the kids down before it’s time to go. Also, the water pump station will be closed every Mon. for maintenance.

1 Beach Tree Lane
Irvine
Online: cityofirvine.org/parks-facilities/adventure-playground

–Jennifer O’Brien, Shahrzad Warkentin & Jenifer Scott

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