It can seem like you’ve been waiting forever for your crawling tot to take those first few steps, but once they do, you quickly realize you’re facing a whole new world of exploratory bumps and bruises, especially in the early days when things are still unsteady. To help your newly mobile mini practice steps in safety, we’ve rounded up a few of LA’s best playgrounds for new walkers and tumbling toddlers.
photo: Laura G. via Yelp
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South Beach Park
Situated right on the beach boardwalk in Santa Monica, this is the perfect place to enjoy an amazing view while your toddler gives his new walking skills a workout. The entire play area resembles a large boat run aground. It is all rubber padded and there’s no major climbing structures, so young visitors can easily manage the entire space safely unassisted. There are a lot of fun artistic touches at perfect toddler height to entice your little one to stand up and explore. There’s also swings, a small sand pit with a water feature and some spring-mounted boogey boards for when your young walker graduates to pro status (or to keep bigger sibs entertained).
3400 Barnard Way
photo: Elena A. via Yelp
Brandon’s Village at Gates Canyon Park
This shady Calabasas park offers plenty of coverage from the boiling valley sun, but most importantly it’s one of the larger universally accessible parks in LA, which means it’s also extremely easy to navigate for little ones that are just getting their bearings. Split into two large playgrounds, both areas offer full rubber padding, perfect for cushioning any falls. The climbing structures are low to the ground, giving toddlers easy access to climb independently. There’s also tons of tree-covered grass space so you can take a snack break and rest those little limbs.
25801 Thousand Oaks Blvd.
photo: Evan J. via Yelp
Aidens Place at Westwood Recreation Center
Aiden’s place is a Shane’s Inspiration, universally accessible playground, and just like Brandon’s Village, offers tons of padded, low-to-the-ground play space to safely explore. There are several of mini play spots that feature mirrors, knobs, wheels, and other interactive elements, all at perfect toddler standing height to coax your new walker into standing and maneuvering on two legs.The playground is surrounded by tree-lined grass and also features a gigantic, fully-shaded sandpit when you need a break from walking and climbing.
1350 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
photo: Tess M. via Yelp
This park has so many entertaining options, your tots might be too busy looking around to walk, but they’ll definitely have plenty of space to practice those moves when they’re ready. Two-thirds of this massive park is all level-grass (aka no tumble-inducing hills) offering plenty of roaming space. While the central playground and climbing tower skews a little too old for young movers, it does offer some good people watching while you take a snack break. Then, make your way to the far east corner of the park, where you’ll find a mini playground made just for toddlers. The space is entirely rubber-padded and the play structure is small enough that newbies can climb on their own easily. The best part, however, is the view of the runway at Santa Monica Airport, just on the other side of the fence. Kids of all ages (and walking stages) will love watching the planes take off and land as they play.
2600 Ocean Park Blvd.
photo: Shahrzad Warkentin
Since its recent renovation, Roxbury offers padded playspace as far and wide as your one-year-old’s eyes can see, and all of it is covered under massive canopies, so you don’t have to worry about the hot ground when your tot inevitably gives up on walking and realizes crawling will get her there faster. There are two play areas, one tailored more towards the younger playground set, with plenty of swings. The park also offers a small sandpit with a water table and sand diggers, and is surrounded by tons of grassy tree-covered space for more safe exploring.
471 Roxbury Dr.
photo: John B. via Yelp
This nautically-themed, universally accessible park is perfect for pirates in training still getting their land-legs. With the exception of the sandpit, the entire play area is rubber padded and the majority of the climbing structures are easy for toddlers to navigate. It’s also got plenty of shade and is fully enclosed, in case your tot finally gets her rhythm and takes off sprinting. A large grass area surrounds the playground for more obstacle-free open space.
4601 Alla Rd.
Marina del Rey
Got any tips for places to bring your kids who are on the go but none too steady? We’d love to hear your secret spots in the comment section!