Summer is winding down and you’ve explored all our best pools, water holes, beaches and splash pads. If you’re looking for a change of pace, branch out and explore the city’s grandest public fountains with your little splashers. And bring plenty of pennies because these fab fountains are definitely worth your wishes.
photo credit: Shelley Z. via Yelp
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Best For Bathing Beauties: Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain at Grand Park
In the heart of downtown’s spectacular Grand Park, is a fountain so gloriously fun for tiny tots, they’ll never want to leave. The Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain is a breathtaking site to behold on its own, but what makes this hotspot so enduring to kiddos is the interactive splash pad with alternating jets that beg tikes to wade and frolic until their pruned little piggies can’t take anymore. Kids should definitely bring a change of clothes—they (and in turn, you) will get soaked. Mom and dad will love that the area is clean (even the restrooms), offers plenty of seating and features a Starbucks at the ready. Parking is available in nearby lots, but we suggest saving yourself the headache (and moolah) by taking the Metro Red Line to Civic Center Station.
210 N. Grand Ave.
photo credit: Christopher R. via Yelp
Best For Wee Ones: Tongva Park Fountain
The fountains and interactive water features at Tonga Park are great for toddlers, there is soft rubbery flooring at the sprayground and loads of things to discover, all of which make this our fave fountain for those under 5. While the fountains aren’t the giant gushers like the others we’ve picked, they’re trickling, cascading and flowing-in other words, perfect for little explorers to see how water works and while the fountains aren’t for playing in, they can get wonderfully wet at the aforementioned sprayground. There are amazing free programs on weekends and you’re steps from the Pier and the beach, making it a destination for a whole day of discovery, even if you don’t happen to live in Santa Monica. Throw in the fact that there are clean bathrooms and it might become your favorite wet spot in the city. Get our inside scoop on exploring the park.
1615 Ocean Ave.
photo credit: DaveBloggs007 via Creative Commons
Best Artful Water: Peace on Earth Fountain at The Music Center Plaza
The most photographed piece of public art in Los Angeles (bet you didn’t know that!), the Peace on Earth sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz was erected in 1969 and has become an integral part of downtown’s cultural landscape. Sure, it’s a stunning part of The Music Center courtyard, but what tots really dig is the fountain that surrounds it. 280 water jets burst out of holes in the pavement tiles, double-dog daring kids to get as close as possible to the playful spray. Parking is available in The Music Center Garage or nearby Walt Disney Concert Hall for a fairly hefty fee. Again, the Red Line to Civic Center may be a much more affordable (and better people watching) option. On performance days (and performances of Toyota Symphonies for Youth or World City Music on Saturdays, across the street at the Walt Disney Concert Hall are awesome musical outings for kids), snacks are available in the courtyard shop.
135 N. Grand Ave.
photo credit: Jennifer O’Brien
Most Historical: William J. Mulholland Memorial Fountain
After your little ones have exhausted the ponies, train, merry-go-round (and you) at Griffith Park, head directly across the street for a beautiful breather at one of LA’s most historic fountains. Recently restored to its former fabulousness, the William J. Mulholland Memorial Fountain (named after the “father of the LA water system,” as Chinatown fans know) is truly one of the most peaceful respites you can find in the city. Surrounded by a lush garden, tikes will love dancing waters that shoot 50 feet in the air every few minutes. It’s also a popular spot for wedding and prom pictures, and seeing grownups in gowns is an extra added treat for princess loving petites. Plenty of seating is available on surrounding benches and offers kiddos a perfect place to catch the water show or even curl up with a good book afterwards. Parking is plentiful in the park’s lot.
Riverside Dr. and Los Feliz Blvd.
photo credit: Gateway Fanfare Fountains via Facebook
Better (And Closer) Than Vegas: Fanfare Fountains & Water Feature at Gateway Plaza
If you suddenly find yourself in San Pedro one weekend, check out the Port of Los Angeles’ mind-blowing water extravaganza, the Fanfare Fountains at Gateway Plaza. This incredible fountain has a similar look and feel to Vegas’ famous Bellagio fountain with good reason. The exact same company designed both. Fanfare is the largest water feature in California and will impress even the most finicky fountain fans with beautifully choreographed shows set to music as water is propelled 100 feet into the air. Shows are every 10–30 minutes throughout the day. Be sure to double check the schedule for exact times depending on season and time of day. Free one-hour parking is available at the LA Cruise Ship Promenade.
Cruise Ship Terminal Entrance at Harbor Blvd. and Swinford St.
photo credit: Jessica Ritz
Best When It’s Breezy: Echo Park Lake
Some of our favorite fountains you can enjoy casually. This one is best appreciated with a little work. The fountain in the middle of Echo Park Lake shoots geyser-like into the air, and while you could watch it from shore, little daredevils like to get as close as possible to the geyser mist…which means you need to rent a pedal boat. (Rental cost: $5/kid, $10/adult per hour.) Get up as close to the fountains as you like, where the spray will cool you down almost as much at the frozen chocolate dipped bananas you can enjoy back at the boathouse when you are done getting wet. Get our inside scoop on exploring the lake and park at Echo Park Lake.
751 N. Echo Park Ave.
photo credit: Alana M. via Yelp
So Obvious You Forgot About It: The Grove
This almost seems too evident to mention, but for that very reason, it belongs on the list. It’s not the biggest, or the wettest or the most historic. But for small fry and tired parents, it may be the easiest and most relaxing fountain that’s still awe inspiring for littles. Located right next to a big green space for running around, with a bridge perfect for pitching pennies, and next to the statues of a lemonade stand and hose (that sometimes spouts water, so they can get wet) and filled with koi, this fountain was also built by the Bellagio fountain designers and “dances” every hour to songs by Dean Martin, Kool and the Gang, Lionel Richie and others. The water spurts 60 ft. up and at night the accompanying lights dazzle tots. Not to mention, you can stock up at BabyGap, Splendid and Janie & Jack at the shops and reward their good shopping behavior with fountain watching, trolley riding and ice cream. Manufactured? You bet, but that doesn’t detract from the convenience or awe at all.
189 The Grove Dr.
Note: Due to drought conditions, any of these fountains could be turned off for a short period. As of August, 2015, all are currently still spouting (using recycled water) with the exception of the Mulholland Memorial Fountain, which is temporarily shut off for the peak heat of summer.
What are your family’s favorite fountains around town? We’d love to hear!