With the opening of Grand Park, DTLA just got a whole lot 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.
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 on June 28 after undergoing a $56 million dollar renovation, runs between 1st and Temple streets from Grand Avenue to Spring Street (only the sections stretching from Grand to Hill are presently open). 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.
Phase 2 of the park, scheduled to open in early fall, will add even more green space, finally giving downtowners what the LA Times describes as the closest thing to a front lawn.
Grand Park is the first phase of the Grand Avenue Project, an initiative that will eventually bring a shopping center and high rise condos to the area (though plans have been stalled due to the real estate crash).
Grand-Hope Park: Located cattycorner from Ralph’s supermarket, Grand-Hope Park is home to the only playground 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.
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.
Spring Street Park: Located on Spring between 4th and 5th Streets, this park is presently…a big patch of dirt. Eventually, there will be walking paths, lawns, a fountain, art work—but again, no playground (double boo). Contractors are still bidding on the project, which is tentatively scheduled to be completed in Fall 2013.