We just got back from a trip to Boston, the city that I grew up in. It was the first time Addison visited “mama’s home” as she quickly started calling it. She had a wonderful time park hopping with her Grandmarie.

The heart of Boston is the Public Garden, home of the swan boats and Mr. & Mrs. Mallard and their eight babies. In addition to the ducks and swans and other birds, there are turtles and squirrels and dogs, even horses carrying policemen. There are fountains and flowers and musicians and big trees to play hide and seek with.

And if that isn’t enough, just across the street on one side is the Boston Common. The Esplanade is just across a bridge on the other. There were even two playgrounds within a couple of blocks of where we were staying. Playgrounds that were mostly vacant in my day were now filled with children and one even had all sorts of toys for the neighborhood kids to play with. It was like a little public preschool (which, considering the cost of in Santa Monica, might not be such a bad idea).

Needless to say when we got back home we were park sick. But that seemed silly. There are plenty of parks in Santa Monica — 26 in fact (we checked). So we made it a point to check out some of them to see how they compared to those in mama’s home.

Palisades Park

We’ll always be partial to Palisades Park. It’s a block and a half from where we live and is probably largely responsible for the fact that I didn’t go out of my mind as a first-time mommy. No matter how overwhelmed or isolated you might feel, one look at the vastness of the Pacific seemed to help put things in perspective. And there are always other moms with babies, people out walking dogs and nurses walking the elderly to meet and greet.

It was where I spent hours pushing a stroller trying to get Addison to sleep. It was where she practiced walking, fell in love with dogs, learned to kick a ball and first begged me to prop her up so she could sit in a tree. We spent a big portion of her first 18 months in that park, but then one day she outgrew it and when she did, we moved on to …

Reed Park

… where you can now find us at least once or twice a day. The park is mostly enclosed and the equipment is a little kid friendly, but while the surface directly adjacent to it has a bit of give, there is still quite a bit of concrete. Another drawback is that there is only one baby swing. (Addison’s Grandmarie actually called it sadistic.) People are generally fairly conscious of little ones waiting but there are always one or two swing hogs (usually parents on their blackberries) who just won’t take a hint. Luckily the park is about to undergo a renovation and a woman on the team assured me that there were more baby swings planned for Reed Park’s future.

It can also be quite cold at the park. The adjacent buildings shade the park and create a wind tunnel so bring a sweater just in case. The other thing to keep in mind is that it’s not completely enclosed. I’ve nearly had a heart attack chasing Addison down the entrance ramp to make sure she didn’t chase a ball right into the street and I’ve seen kids vanish onto the adjacent basketball courts while parents chat nearby.

Dorothy Green Park

This newly named park along Ocean Front Walk definitely has swings as well as other exercise equipment that other parks don’t have, like balance beams, rings, poles, and rope climbs as well as bars of all kinds — monkey, even, uneven — in perfect miniature for tots, adult sizes and everything in between. The park is right on the beach and there’s no shade from the sun so don’t forget sunblock and hats.

We’ll be back with more on Santa Monica parks.

Find a calendar with local events, helpful links, and more adventures of Addison, Zora, and Dash at smatoz.blogspot.com.

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