By Erin Mahoney Harris
From squirting splash pads to burbling brooks, these Los Angeles parks, plazas and playgrounds offer refreshing relief on a hot day – and we’re sure to have plenty of those in store this summer.
Downtown’s crown jewel, Grand Park (227 N. Spring St., Los Angeles; 213-972-8080; www.grandparkla.org), has proven a successful gathering spot for concerts, yoga classes and other community events. The highlight of the 12-acre park stretching from Grand Avenue to City Hall is the beautifully renovated Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, which features an expansive splash pad where kids can run around.
The Annenberg Community Beach House (415 Pacific Coast Hwy., Santa Monica; 310-458-4904; beachhouse.smgov.net) might be best known for its beautiful swimming pool, open during the summer for a reasonable day-use fee. But just outside the pool area is an even more accessible (free!) seating area with a water feature. Picnic tables shaded with umbrellas make this a perfect spot to relax and grab a bite, and the Pacific Ocean is just a short stroll across the sand. Other Santa Monica-area playgrounds with water features include Douglas Park, Virginia Park and its newest and most stylish arrival, Tongva Park.
Tucked away in a charming pedestrian plaza between the historic Culver Hotel and Pacific Theaters in downtown Culver City (at 9500 Culver Blvd.) is the Lion’s Fountain, a splash pad surrounding a whimsical dancing lion statue. A Cold Stone Creamery is located just a few steps away, so you can cool off inside and out.
In a canyon that boasts a shallow man-made creek and plenty of shade, Beverly Hills’ Coldwater Canyon Park (1100 North Beverly Dr.; 310-285-6820; www.beverlyhills.org/exploring/cityparks) is a positively idyllic summer destination. Big rocks and animal statues to scramble over keep things interesting for the kiddos, and an adjacent fenced-in playground is a great place to run around after a splash in the creek.
Enjoy a beachy atmosphere without the traffic and parking hassles at Hansen Damn Aquatic Center (11798 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace; 818-899-3779; www.laparks.org/hansen). It gets hot that deep in the San Fernando Valley, but the man-made 1.5-acre swimming lake is cool, and a giant waterslide provides plenty of thrills. Admission is just $2.50 per adult, free for ages 16 and younger. Be sure to bring a tent or umbrella, as shady spots are sparse.