There’s a shiny new playground in Panorama City and it’s the perfect park for just about everyone. Not only is this inclusive spot tailored for kids of all abilities, it’s also one of those rare, magical spots that manages to offer something entertaining for kids of all ages. So bring the babes, bring the tweens, bring the water, hats and sunscreen (this is the Valley in the summer, people!) and have some outdoor fun before heading back to school.
Built and designed in partnership with Shane’s Inspiration and First 5 LA, among several other organizations, the new playground features two brightly colored, large climbing structures, swings, a sand table and a zip line, all of which can be accessed by kids of any ability. Centered between the pool and the baseball field at the Sepulveda Recreation Center, the sprawling play area is not fully enclosed, but it is surrounded by walking paths and plenty of grass, providing a safety net for those tots that tend to be runners.
If visiting on a hot day—and who are we kidding, every day in the valley is hot—be prepared for the inevitable “can we go in the pool?” Luckily, there’s so much to do at this playground, that your kids can easily be distracted from the allure of the somewhat scary looking water slide next door, if you don’t feel like a pool day. (And if you do, sweet! You can spend the whole day in one place. Just bring a picnic.)
All Aboard To Fun Town
Travel and adventure is the theme of the new playground. The smaller of the two play structures is designed to look like a whimsical train. The rubber padded play-space is for the younger set, featuring tunnels, slides and low climbing walls at each train section, all connected by bridges. With several massive trees towering overhead, there is plenty of shade to keep your adventurous little ones cool as they climb around and pretend to be train engineers. The only downside is the obstructed line of sight, which makes keeping an eye on your explorer from the surrounding benches a little tricky, though not impossible.
The larger play area resembles an airport tower, complete with an orange windsock fluttering from the top. A modern merry-go-round, a tall curved slide, a rope web, monkey bars and, a perenial playground favorite roller slide offer plenty to explore, but the real gem of this spot is the zip line. Kids (young and old) are willing to bear the sweltering heat to line up for their turn to climb onto the rope seat and whiz across the sand pit. You might even be tempted to take a turn if the gaggle of waiting kids will oblige…The second zip line features an accessible seat with a safety bar, so that anyone can enjoy the thrill of the ride. This is the only section of the park without much shade, and despite the two small built-in canopies, it can definitely get a bit hot. The merry-go-round, for example, is a no-go in the midday sun.
It’s All In The Details
One of the best parts of this new playground are all the bells and whistles, and by that we literally mean bells and whistles. Both play areas have musical instruments, like bells, drums and xylophones integrated into the structures. Besides making music, kids will also have fun making silly faces in the curved mirrors and communicating in code, using the hand gestures they can learn from the giant sign language guide.
Learning In The Park
If summer has your kids suffering from a case of brain drain, then this park is the perfect place to brush up on some learning. Thanks to the Talking Is Teaching campaign, the playground serves as something of an outdoor classroom, with plenty of learning opportunities around every nook and corner. The play space is outfitted with signage designed to encourage engaging conversation with kids. With questions like “What sounds do you hear?” and “What shapes do you see?” you can get your tiny thinkers working their brains, as well as their bodies, when they play.
There is plenty of free parking in the lot and on the street, though it may get a little packed when there’s a game at the baseball field.
Though they’re not new, there are two bathroom areas accessible to the playground. One is located at the auditorium behind the basketball courts. The other facilities at the pool center are closer, but they’re locked when the pool is not open.
Sepulveda Recreation Center Inclusive Playground
8801 Kester Ave.
Do you have a favorite playground that entertains all ages in your neighborhood? Let us know in the comment section below!
—written and photos by Shahrzad Warkentin