It’s Park Week – All Week Long!

About once each month, T’s school puts out the memo that it’s “park week.” That means that the different classrooms go to the nearby playground on alternating days of the week. It’s so nice that there’s a park close enough to school that the teachers can and are willing to take the kids off-site and broken down into smaller groups to go play somewhere different on occasion. That and I’m sure the change of scenery not only does the kids good but also helps the teachers get some needed change of pace as well.

It usually takes the entire morning for the little local field trip given that the walk each way is a good 15-20 minutes (hey, it is a walk consisting of 25 three- to six-year-olds after all) plus a nice 45 minute chunk of play time. Can’t say school isn’t doing its job of exercising the wee ones now, can we? I love that T gets to attend a preschool like this, where a kid can be a kid – and, token-free!

Mother's Beach back in July 2010 - we happened to be there on opening day of the new play equipment!

Feeling inspired, I decided to take school’s Park Week idea a few steps further and organized our own park week outside of school, too. Last week and in addition to the school park outing, T and I went to three of T’s favorite parks: Mother’s Beach; Seal Beach Playground; and Marina Vista Park and Playground.

T climbed the "big rock" all by himself; admittedly, I was nervous. I also eventually helped him down.

The first stop was Monday at Mother’s Beach, or “blue park” as T calls it (for its blue equipment and surfaces). This park sits beachfront to Alamitos Bay on Naples Island in Long Beach and just across the bridge from Marine Stadium. As its name indicates, Mother’s Beach is the perfect spot for kids and parents to enjoy a variety of activities together and apart. There are vast grassy areas for pick-up soccer games, there’s the beach for ocean sports, water, or sand play, and of course, there’s a playground. In my opinion, nothing tops Mother’s when it comes to play equipment. The playground was rebuilt and ADA-upgraded about a year or two ago, and it’s all state-of-the-art playground equipment atop a mixed-surface (part recycled tire surface, part sand areas) for kids of all-ages. The rest of the park’s facilities (bathrooms, showers, and lifeguard station) just reopened this past month after a complete tear-down and rebuild. And just this past week a brand new snack stand called MOM’S Beach House opened (also in the new park building), all thanks to the owners and crew over at Alfredo’s Beach Club. My friends had brunch at MOM’S on its opening weekend and only passed along rave reviews for both the food and the atmosphere (al fresco dining under umbrella shades with views of the water through the park). We only hope that the upgrades that have graced Mother’s Beach these past few years help to improve the park and playground’s image within the local community overall.

Our hearts are with Seal Beach during this tragic time.

Our next park week outing was on Wednesday, and we headed down to Seal Beach Playground. This, too, is a park right on the beach, but a bit different from Mother’s Beach in that it’s set up “tot lot” style – or, surrounded by walls and gates to keep the wee ones contained. Seal Beach Playground is a popular spot for those with toddlers or those with two or more kids to keep track of and watch. Seal Beach doesn’t boast a large playground, but it gets the job done for the one- to two-hour play date for the six-and-under set. There are swings, slides, climbers, monkey bars, and lots and lots of sand to dig into. Sadly on this particular day that we ventured into Seal Beach, it was the same day of the horrific Seal Beach salon shooting. Once we’d heard what was going on not even 1/3 mile away as we played at the park, needless to say we cut our trip short; we all thought it was best that we go home, hug our kids, and return on a day that seemed more appropriate. My thoughts continue to go out to the families and friends impacted by this terrible tragedy.

T shares his sand toys down at Marina Vista Park and Playground.

Our last play date during T’s extended park week took place on Thursday at Marina Vista Park and Playground. Affectionately known by T as “green park” for its green playground equipment, this park while near the beach is not on the beach but across the street from it, but it still gets great ocean breezes and, hence its name, owns a nice view of the waterfront. Marina Vista like Seal Beach is another small, cozy playground for setting up play dates with friends; though the play equipment is not fenced, it’s fairly easy to provide boundaries for the three-and-up age group in that many trees line one side of the playground, while a small, grassy ravine borders the other. Tennis courts and a nice-sized parking lot make up the other perimeters to the playground. Or if you want to give smaller boundaries, the play equipment does sit inside a bordered sandbox of sorts. Now that T is a bit older, I just tell him that if I can see him, he’s fine – otherwise if you don’t set limits ahead of time, yes, the kiddos could run behind the fencing of the courts or over the grassy knolls and into the seemingly endless all-purpose fields and easily slip out-of-sight. There’s also plenty of sand here for sandbox-style playing, too, which works out perfectly for all the kids when someone at the park brings in a bag-o-sand toys (like I usually do).

Hope you enjoyed today’s tour of our local parks! And it probably sounds crazy but this list hardly scratches the surface of parks we frequent on a regular basis. We are so fortunate to have so many choices here in our community and neighboring communities for free, frolicking fun… hope you are able to take full advantage of the parks and rec facilities in your area, too, especially before the weather turns into true fall. Happy playing!