Well, if it’s good enough for Harry and Wills… we find this a very royal way to spend a day. Head up to the Will Rogers State Park one weekend in the summer to take in a Polo match or two. It’s majestic and relaxing to lounge on a blanket with a picnic brunch or lunch and watch horses pound up and down the field right before you – and little horse lovers will delight in seeing (and between games, meeting and patting) ponies in colorful socks. And while you can feel perfectly posh about your outing, it’s also a free activity that is casual and inviting – in other words you needn’t be a peer or a princess to have a royally great time.
No Thrones Necessary
A blanket or a couple of beach chairs will do just fine. Seating is anywhere along the side of the playing field, right next to the parking lot. Which is awfully convenient for those who are toting tiny tots in addition to snacks and other gear. Matches are played most summer weekends (Saturdays from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm and Sundays from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm) on the field in front of Will Rogers house. Oh, and the flushable thrones are right next to the house, too. There are plenty and they’re clean.
You know polo is played on horses, and they have a mallet thing; you’ve seen the little guy on Ralph Lauren clothes. But that’s about it. So here are a few basic rules to help you get into the game:
– The object of the game is to move the polo ball down-field, hitting the ball through the goal posts for a score.
– A team is made up of four polo players.
– A polo match is divided into timed periods called chukkers. Each chukker is seven minutes long.
– Typically, each team wears a different color. So pick your kids’ favorite color and start cheering.
Tea and Crumpets
Or kombucha and kale chips – whatever snack floats your boat. But do bring a picnic, as this is one ideal spot to dine al fresco. If this isn’t your hood, let us recommend two outstanding nearby spots to pick up snacks:
– If you swing through Pacific Palisades on your way here, we recommend a stop on Sunday at the gorgeous (and celeb filled) Farmers Market for fresh fruits and a dash through Maison Giraud for the best croissant on the Westside.
– If you go through Brentwood, we love Brentwood Country Mart for picnic fair. Indulge in a Sweet Rose treat, get caffeinated at Caffe Luxxe and then get goodies to go from Farm Shop.
Head to the House
For a man that owned everything from here to the ocean, Will Rogers had a fairly simple house, but it is beautiful and the tour is given by docents who are all big fans of the polo playing cowboy and will entertain you with funny stories about Will Rogers and old Hollywood.
If your kids are too small to take the tour, simply stroll the grounds and wander up to play hide and seek in the stables. Horse lessons are often going on, which you can watch, or gaze at the beauties as they graze in the pastures. Ranch House tours on Saturday and Sunday are from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, on the top of the hour.
Take to the Trails
For spectacular ocean views, take the moderate 3-mile loop to Inspiration Point. It’s an easy enough amble for kids (and parents wearing flip flops instead of hiking boots). Or take any of the other trails that amble off in many directions. (If you follow the Rustic Canyon trail, you only have to go about .3 miles to find a shady stream to splash in.) The stables and wide paths means that kids are often delighted to find themselves hiking alongside a four legged friend.
Up to the Highest Heights
One last tip: come early or stay late to take to the polo field yourself with your kite – it’s one of the best kite flying spots in the whole city.
Will Rogers State Park
1501 Will Rogers State Park Rd
Los Angeles, Ca 90272
Matches are free and open to the public all summer. Saturdays from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm and Sundays from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Now go polish your tiara. The Queen wants to have tea next weekend.
Have you seen (or played) polo? What’s your favorite sport to take the kids to see?
Images courtesy of Meghan Rose, Jodi Summers via flickr, diffenbacher.com