Park-sick after visiting relatives in Boston, Addison and I decided to check out some of the many varied parks Santa Monica has to offer. For the first article we didn’t have to go far. Palisades, Reed and Dorothy Green are all in our regular rotation, but as we continued our tour further afield, trying to cover more ground, we enlisted Zora and Dash to weigh in as well. Here’s what we found:
2439 Wilshire Blvd.
If you are looking to cool off, Douglas is a favorite in the summer when the sprinklers are on (in August). Zora and Dash love to feed the ducks and watch the turtles at the pond. The large park has playground equipment and picnic tables, but it is only fenced in on one side, which makes it difficult for moms with multiple children to keep track of their little ones and it’s sometimes so crowded it’s tough to make sure kids get a chance to use the equipment. When Dash was a toddler he used to go at 7 in the morning so he didn’t have to suffer the drama of a big kid swiping his swing.
1401 Olympic Blvd.
This is a new favorite. The playground is small but less crowded than some of the others in town, which is a big perk during peak after-school hours. Plus, parking is usually available in the lot. And there’s a skate park where Addison could spend hours watching the boarders do tricks.
633 Kensington Road
This park is perched on a hill overlooking the ocean. It’s fenced in. It has great kid-sized equipment with that great bouncy surface and picnic tables to snack at. You can take classes at the community center or take your dog to the dog park, which Zora absolutely loves. Even though she doesn’t have a pet, she likes to chase dogs around and pet them. Both dogs and owners are usually most appreciative.
1406 Marine St.
This is another great place to hang out before and after community classes. The playground surface could be more kid-friendly but there is a tire swing, a real old-fashioned teeter-totter and a slide that you run up a grass hill to get to. It also has a SMALL “Birthday Pavillion” with picnic tables and BBQs.
Virginia Avenue Park
2200 Virginia Ave.
This park is nice because it has two separate playgrounds for smaller and bigger kids. There’s a lot of green space, fountains in the summer and lots of activities. It’s a great place to hang out after the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. There’s a Kidz Zone from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (summer hours) with free crafts and games for kids under 12. There are also three camps and a daily free lunch program in the summer for kids 18 and under (a last vestige of Prop. A).
2600 Ocean Park Blvd.
Clover Park, located adjacent to the Santa Monica Airport, is enormous in size so it can be tough to keep track of kids but it has some unique features. There’s a paved street where kids can practice biking or skateboarding, a huge rocket ship tower to climb that gives you a great bird’s eye view of the place, and a full playground with an old school teeter-totter and tire swing. There is also plentiful parking in the lot as well as shady picnic tables. Some kids get a kick out of watching the planes take off at the airport.
Ozone and Seventh streets
This park is on the other end of the spectrum. It’s a small, enclosed park with two playgrounds for kids. It’s a great place to picnic and one of Addison’s little friends has hosted a successful birthday party as well as other group outings there.
Fourth and Strand streets
Even the smallest of parks can be fun. Addison had a grand time running up and down the hill one day in this picturesque park. There is one piece of public art and a restroom, plus some benches. It’s really all about the view here though and the cool ocean breezes.
Parks aren’t the only places to let your kids burn off energy. You can also use the playground facilities at many of the local schools after school (or camp) and on weekends. Check online at www.smgov.net for more info. And if that’s not enough park for you, Santa Monica is in the process of building two new parks at the Civic Center: Palisades Garden Walk and City Hall Town Square.
Find a calendar with local events, helpful links, and more adventures of Addison, Zora, and Dash at smatoz.blogspot.com.