Sure, running around after our rug rats at home definitely burns off that morning bagel, but nobody wants the stress of chasing a kid down in public. Parks can be serious stress zones for anyone in charge of a tiny person who doesn’t quite understand the word “Stop!” And when you have more than one, and they head in different directions – fuhgeddaboudit!  Before you buy a lasso (and take a lesson in herding cats), here are a few places where your kiddos can run around freely…right up until the fence. Gated parks are the perfect answer for parents who want the fun of outdoor play, without the insanity of constantly corralling your wee ones. And these are our favorites:

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Bronson Park
Even if the morning with your mini whirlwind has left your head spinning, this little hide away will bring back your sense of calm. With huge surrounding trees offering shade and majestic mountains looming, the bustling city feels far away. Park by the entrance to Bronson Canyon and you’ll spot two totally fenced in playgrounds to choose from. The lower one is ideal for your toddler, with two small slides and baby swings, a super safe structure and sand to cushion teeny toes. The upper park boasts an awesome tire swing and suspension bridge that will have your bigger kids in fits of glee while you relax. If you’re still ready for more after all that swinging, bring a picnic to the gorgeous grass area (next to the toddler park) and stretch your limbs while your kids do cartwheels. Or really tire them out (which means extra long naptime!) with a hike to the Bronson Bat Caves.
Potties: No bathrooms on site, just a Port-a-Potty by the parking lot. Bring wipes.
Parking: Free street parking.

Bronson Park
3200 Canyon Dr.
Los Angeles, Ca 90068
Online: laparks.org/bronsonCanyonGP

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Briarwood Park
A pirate ship, slides, climbing structures and two sets of swings (two for babies, two for bigger kids) will keep bouncing bodies happy. The plentiful sand is perfect for digging, and the round cement track encircling the play area just screams for a scooter or trike. Bring a soccer ball and take advantage of the large grass field at the front entrance.
Potties: None on site, so “go” before you go!
Parking: Free street parking.

Briarwood Park
461 Almaden Court
Los Angeles, Ca 90077
Online: laparks.org/briarwoodPk

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Irving Schachter Park
This might be Beverlywood’s best kept secret! Totally enclosed, with two sets of play equipment (one for kids 4-7 and the other for the toddler crowd). Swings, bridges and slides will keep your tots busy until snack time, when you can use one of the benches and tables while you fuel up. There’s loads of clean sand, so don’t forget the buckets and shovels. You might even want to bring a ball too, since the small grass area is just big enough for little legs to practice kicking.
Potties: If there’s an emergency, there’s a Port-a-Potty on site.
Parking: Free street parking.

Irving Schachter Park
2599 Beverwill Dr.
Los Angeles, Ca 90064
Online: laparks.org/dos/parks/facility/irvingSchachterPk.htm
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Playa Vista Sports Park
A park with its own dedicated security guard? You can pretend you’re on the guest list at Sky Bar as you sashay past the gate and gain entrance into this playground heaven. This is a Shane’s Inspiration Universally Accessible Playground, which gives kids with disabilities a safe place to play with and learn from each other. Keep in mind that little kids may need help on the more difficult structures, so get ready to navigate the awesomeness right along with them. Bring a hat to beat the sun, although the ocean breeze will cool your cheeks. After all the fun, you and your tribe may want to kick back over a babyccino at the Coffee Bean a couple blocks away. Who needs the Sunset Strip?
Potties: Clean bathrooms – whoo hoo!
Parking: Free street parking (but be mindful of signs).

Playa Vista Sports Park
13196 W Bluff Creek Dr.
Los Angeles, Ca 90045
Online: playavistaagents.com/SportsPark

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Poinsettia Park
Gated and shaded, what more could you ask for? How about 4 swings at your disposal, great sand to scoop, a dragon fly see-saw and a fun climbing structure with a slide? There’s also a giant grassy field for frisky feet to run their sillies out. There are two exercise stations too, and although they’re meant for grown-ups, kids think it’s hilarious to do Daddy-style bicep curls. And there’s even an extra bonus: the basketball courts are terrific for training wheels. If the big boy ballers aren’t there yet, make use of the space and ride fast and furious!
Potties: Bathrooms in the rec center next door to the park.
Parking: Free street parking (but read the signs).

Poinsettia Park
7341 Willoughby Ave.
Los Angeles, Ca 90046
Online: laparks.org/poinsettiaRC

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West Hollywood Park
This is a one-stop shop for your entire morning, and could even carry you past lunchtime! There are two playgrounds here – one totally fenced in that’s perfect for toddlers, with sand, a climbing structure, a cool tunnel & slide, and swings. Next door is a mini basketball court with a pint-sized hoop that’ll make your small fry feel like Shaq. There are bike and scooter paths and grassy areas with picnic tables. The bigger playground is unfenced and awesome for bigger kids. If you feel like more adventures, walk to the library to play a preschool computer game, color a picture or, of course, read a book! There’s even a fantastic new Jones Coffee inside the library for discerning moms. Afterwards, why not stroll past the pool and let the kids watch the swimmers? Or walk up to Santa Monica Blvd. for some tasty snacks (Millions of Milkshakes is sure to be a hit). You may even want to round out the trip with a spot of fountain watching at the colorful Pacific Design Center (across the street from the park).
Potties: Located in the brick building next to the bigger (unfenced) playground.
Parking: Free for up to 3 hours in the library lot (with library validation), or metered street parking.

West Hollywood Park
647 N San Vicente Blvd,
West Hollywood, Ca 90069
Online: weho.org/index

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Griffith Park Rec Center Playground
This is a hidden little gem in Los Feliz when you’re hankering for a place to let the kids burn off steam. Cute and fully gated, with soft sand and fun play structures that are perfect for preschoolers. At the back of the park is The Los Feliz Nursery School, whose adorable wall paintings fit right in with the playground’s cheeriness. This is the perfect spot to hit up right after they’ve had to behave indoors for that trip to nearby Costco. Pack up those giant boxes of baby wipes and 5 minutes later you’ll be sitting bench side while your bargain-hunting babes play happily.
Potties: Bathrooms by the rec center (behind the tennis center office).
Parking: Free in the lot next to the park (near the tennis courts).

Griffith Park Rec Center
3401 Riverside Dr.
Los Angeles, Ca 90027
Online: laparks.org/griffithparkRC

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What are your favorite playground spots in LA? Are there any other gated parks we should check out?

–Elena Wurlitzer

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Photos courtesy Elena Wurlitzer, e-cleaning.info, wechealthunit.org, whitethreads.wordpress.com, and goplayinla.com