August 23, 2014

DTLA Parks Guide

With the opening of Spring Street Park, DTLA just got some more badly-needed green space. But Grand Park isn’t the only park in DTLA. Below are some places for you to check out if you’re looking for a space to let your toddler blow off steam.

Spring Street Park: Located on Spring between 4th and 5th Streets, this park is home to one of the two playgrounds in DTLA. It’s also become ground zero for resentment from some dog owners who think that the park should include a fenced dog run instead of a kid space. Things have gotten pretty ugly on Facebook and news sites such as Brigham Yen’s blog and the LA Downtown news (read more about it here). It’s really too bad because this is a lovely little space that includes a lawn, fountain, and plenty of seating. With parents meeting regularly at the playground, Spring Street Park is evolving into a locus of family life downtown in much the same way as Grand Hope Park (see below)

Grand Hope Park: Located cattycorner from Ralph’s supermarket, Grand Hope Park (note: NOT the same as Grand Park, just with a confusingly similar name) is home to one of two playgrounds in DTLA. The playground is nice and new (all of the equipment was replaced about a two years ago) and the rest of the park is lovely too—there’s a lawn perfect for t-ball, two fountains, and an adult workout area. The park is patrolled by guards from FIDM, which maintains the park, keeping it trash-free and safe. Kid-friendly events held at the park include an annual Halloween party and Easter egg hunt.

Grand Park: We visited Grand Park on opening weekend and all I can say is it felt like Christmas. The 12-acre park, which reopened in 2012 after undergoing a $56 million dollar renovation, runs between 1st and Temple streets from Grand Avenue to Spring Street. It features terraced gardens, an event lawn, and a Starbucks. No playground (boo), but it has what is probably the most awesome park feature in Los Angeles: a giant splashing pond that stretches nearly the width of the park. Put your kid in a bathing suit and turn them loose while you sip an iced coffee in the shade.

Maguire Gardens at the Central Library: Located on the Flower Street side of the Central Library’s campus, this park features winding paths, lawns, shade trees and a tiered fountain. The library itself offers free entertainment for kids every Saturday at 2 p.m. and there are several restaurants inside and adjacent to the library building, so this is a great place to bring your kid if you have an afternoon to kill and don’t feel like getting in the car.

California Plaza: Located on Bunker Hill, California Plaza isn’t technically a park, but my kid loves to hang out here anyway. Getting there is half the fun: Angels Flight takes you up the hill for only a quarter. The plaza includes a giant synchronized fountain and during the summer it’s home to the Grand Performances series, with events like the Dirty Dancing Dance-a-Long and Ozokids, a chance for kids to shake their maracas. Christmas season brings a giant holiday display with model trains and a visit from Santa Claus.

Walt Disney Concert Hall Garden: This park is hard to find since it’s hidden away at the top of a narrow staircase on the southwest corner of Disney Hall. In addition to the usual trees and grass, the park features a fountain shaped like a rose and made from broken china. The park is adjacent to the William M. Keck Children’s Amphitheatre, home to the World City performance series.

James Irvine Japanese Garden: Located at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center at 244 S San Pedro St., the garden features a 170-foot stream flowing from a waterfall. This isn’t a place for running around (or for dogs, which are not allowed), but is more for quiet contemplation and a chance to get away from the noise of DTLA. The garden is a popular wedding spot so call before you visit to make sure it’s open, especially on the weekends.

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About Alisa Rivera

Alisa is a writer whose work has been featured in the Oregonian, the Syracuse Post-Standard, Latina magazine and other publications. She has also had her short fiction published in the Berkely Fiction Review and Iris: A Journal About Women. Alisa and her husband, James Hightower, have been happily raising their son, Nathan, in downtown Los Angeles since 2008. You can learn more about Alisa's work at www.alisarivera.com.