LA’s Best Playgrounds for Babies, Toddlers & Big Kids

LA's Best Playgrounds for babies, toddlers and big kids
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If there’s one thing every kid is clamoring to do after a long year cooped up at home–it’s going outside to play! We’ve rounded up the best playgrounds in Los Angeles that will instantly take this year from bummer to best ever in no time! Don’t forget to check LA County Parks for information on any closures or safety protocols you still need to know during your visit.

photo: Jennifer O'Brien

DTLA: Grand Park Playground

Maybe it’s the super long tube slide, the never-ending rope ladders or the soft play hills and tunnels that feel straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, but Grand Park playground will forever be one the best playgrounds for toddlers in LA. With City Hall, Grand Central Market, Angel’s Flight and Bae Ice Cream in Little Tokyo all within walking distance, you can make a whole day of it exploring downtown.

200 N. Grand Ave. 

RELATED: Fun Activities, Culture & Cuisine for Kids in Little Tokyo

Fairfax District: Pan Pacific Park Playground

Walking distance from family-friendlly mothership, The Grove and The Original Farmer's Market, Pan Pacific Park features three different playground areas that offer inclusive play for all abilities. In addition to the kids playground, there are basketball courts, a top-of-the-line athletic field, and plenty of picnic and barbecue areas.

7600 Beverly Blvd. 

Santa Monica: Tongva Park Playground

Right across the road from the Santa Monica Pier is another little piece of kid park paradise—the Tongva Park playground. With an awesome climbing wall, three tall slides that are built into the hillside, whirly twirly seats that spin, climbing structures and a roller slide, your littles will love spending an afternoon here. And when the temps heat up, there’s even a splash pad to help kiddos cool off.

Know Before You Go: Look for metered street parking by the Starbucks on the south side of the park. If that fails, you can always find a spot at the nearby Civic Center. And it you’d rather forgo parking all together, take the Expo Line to the last stop at Colorado and 4th street—from there, it's a quick and easy walk to Tongva Park.

1615 Ocean Ave. 
Santa Monica

RELATED: 30 Fun Activities to Do in Santa Monica With Kids

Santa Monica: South Beach Park Playground

Ship ahoy! Located on the Santa Monica beach next to one of LA's best bike paths is a nautical playground fit for all sorts of swashbuckling 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 floors so parents breathe out a sigh of relief while they breathe in that fresh ocean air.

3400 Barnard Way
Santa Monica

Beverly Hills: Coldwater Canyon Park Playground

With plenty of shade, a lovely stream and tall billowing trees, Coldwater Canyon Park is one of our top go-tos whenever we’re in Beverly Hills. This gorgeous spot oozes peace and tranquilty and is perfect for an afternoon picnic or playdate. After kids work up a sweat on the playground, they'll love taking a cool dip in the stream.

Know Before You Go: While you’re more than welcome to picnic anywhere you like in the grass, picnic tables must be reserved ahead of time.

1100 N. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills

Malibu: Malibu Bluffs Park Playground

What’s better than a day at the playground? A day at the playground with mind-blowing views of the Pacific Ocean. Your beach bumming brood will dig Malibu Bluffs Park with its huge playground, sandpit, zip line and climbing wall. After they work up an appetite, stop by Malibu Farm right down the road for a bite overlooking the water.

24250 Pacific Coast Hwy.

RELATED: Your Family Guide to Malibu

Malibu: Malibu Park at Cross Creek Playground

Open just a couple of years now, this first-responders-themed playground offers a fire truck, police car, lifeguard station and more for kids to explore. Designed by the same nonprofit that brought LA Shane’s Inspiration in Griffith Park, the equipment is accessible and inclusive for children of all abilities.

23401 Civic Center Way

RELATED: Have a Firefighting-Obsessed Kid? Then This Firefighting Museum Is a Must-Visit

Griffith Park: Shane's Inspiration Playground

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—also known as one fo the best parks for kids in Los Angeles. And after extensive renovations a couple years back, the playground is better than ever. Littles will love playing on the ship, the double-arched buddy zip line featuring a high-backed seat, and even an accessible merry-go-round! The 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

RELATED: 13 Free (or Really Cheap) Things to Do in Griffith Park

Griffith Park: Fern Dell Playground

Located at the end of the kid-friendly Fern Dell Trail, this towering nature-inspired playground was recently refurbished. 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 

Burbank: Mountain View Park Playground

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: Johnny Carson Park Playground

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.

Van Nuys: Lake Balboa/Anthony C. Beilenson Park Playground

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 and toddlers have more than enough elbow room to swing, shimmy through tunnels and romp around on the jungle gym.

It's lakeside bike path is one of our favorites with kids! Your little two-wheelers can pedal 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 the ducks do!

Know Before You Go: Afternoons tend to get busy, so if you plan on renting a bike or paddle boat, we recommend arriving earlier in the day.

6300 Balboa Blvd.
Van Nuys

Granda Hills: Bee Canyon Park Playground

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

Chatsworth: Chatsworth Park South Playground

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

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.

Woodland Hills: Woodland Hills Park Playground

We all know how hot Los Angeles can get (especially in the Valley) so finding a playground with ample shade is a huge plus in our book! 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

Pasadena: Reese’s Retreat at Brookside Park Playground

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 pirates-in-training 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, this park is very close to family favorite 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's schedule before you head to this park to avoid crowds and parking fees.

360 N. Arroyo Blvd.

Culver City: Culver City Park Playground

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 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 sandcastles.

9910 Jefferson Blvd.
Culver City

RELATED: Biking, Hiking & Eating in Culver City

Baldwin Hills: Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area Playground

Clocking in 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!

Know Before You Go:
For an extra special treat, cross the Park to Playa pedestrian bridge near the Japanese garden and pay a visit to the Stoneview Nature Center—it’s amazing!

4100 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Baldwin Hills

Marina Del Rey: Glen Alla Park Playground

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 gang 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

Highland Park: York Park Playground

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. York Park is also securely gated and enclosed so you can breathe easy that your little escape artists will be safely contained.

4948 York Blvd.
Highland Park

Manhattan Beach: Polliwog Park Playground

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

Torrance: Los Arboles “Rocket Ship” Park Playground

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 plan ahead just in case!

5101 Calle de Ricardo

Irvine: 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 your 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, a 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 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, we recommend bringing a change of clothes (there are hoses near the bathrooms to spray the kids down before it’s time to go). Also, the water pump station is closed every Mon. for maintenance.

—Shahrzad Warkentin, Jenifer Scott & Jennifer O’Brien


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