If you've been following the previous posts here and here chronicling my attempts to entertain two pre-schoolers downtown as the mercury zoomed well over 100, then you may have noticed one unbeatable toddler spot was overlooked: The Grand Park Splash Pad.
I get giddy just typing about it. An entire city plaza devoted to jets of water and screaming kids. This park will elicit pure, unadulterated joy...
Your children will be so freakin' entertained by this magnificent park that you get to pretend that they're not even there and read the New York Times in peace. Now that is a park, my friends.
I dragged my feet taking the boys there all week because of this:
Check out that mountain of toddler crap on the front of my bike. How could two half-pint children add up to two gallons of water play accessories?
Biking all that "stuff" to DTLA from Silver Lake wasn't the issue. That's why Henry Cutler put eight gears on my Workcycle. The real effort involved packing it. The reason we hadn't hit up the splash pad earlier in the week was because I was too lazy to hunt for all the water park accoutrements spread amongst two cars, bike bags, the pool bag, the garage shelves, bathtub etc. After every beach excursion I obsessively, meticulously store all of that sandy crap in one place in the garage. Then the beach stuff re-animates like Woody from Toy Story and hides in different parts of the house. I swear Toy Story is like a documentary film.
Not to mention, how did I get suckered into buying all of this junk in the first place? Our parents didn't find it necessary to sherpa sun block, sun hats, long sleeved water shirts, water shoes, bathing suits, towels, organic snacks, toys, and filtered water in reusable BPH free water bottles for us. From what I can recall, the only thing my parents packed us for a day in the water were towels and carbonated corn syrup. Then they'd send us off in the open bed of some dad's pick up truck where I, and a dozen other six year olds, inhaled second hand smoke from someone's uncle who couldn't stop talking about how much better the drummer of Def Leppard was since his arm got amputated in a car crash.
Our ancestors had children so they could put them to work on the farm as soon as they could crawl. Once that was no longer necessary, our parents' parents simply drank and ignored their children until the kids lit something on fire or grew old enough to send them money. Our parents ordered us out of the house on summer mornings and told us not to come back until it was dark. We had to raise ourselves and now we are expected to also raise our own children. Frankly, our generation got the short end of the stick.
Since my child momentarily blushing results in accusations from my wife that I neglected to empty an entire bottle of Consumer Reports Highest Rated Sunscreen on his cheeks, I have to plan a visit to the splash pad with the same amount of effort required for Eisenhower to drop the 101st Airborne into Normandy. Which is a lot more work than I am accustomed to putting into this parenting thing. I procrastinated the search for the missing contents of the pool bag until the morning of the boys' last day of camp in DTLA. Then I ransacked the house in a mad dash to get us out the door in time while blaming everyone else for slowing me down. What can I say? I excel at parenting.
Editor's note (Ha! I obviously have no editor): On the day I biked the boys to the splash pad I never left my chair in the shade to photograph them playing. Thus, I'm inserting photos from previous excursions.
The splash pad is never this empty except on cold, overcast days. It's usually jammin'.
Our splash pad outing was glorious. Once you finally get there, parenting at that park is ridiculously easy. The geniuses who designed Grand Park put the bathrooms just twenty feet from the water, so as soon as you spot your child doing the pee-pee dance you can drag them to the bathroom faster than they can scream in protest. Better yet, there is a Starbucks thirty feet from the water where you can fill up on enough caffeine to give you the energy to act like you enjoy your children for the rest of the day. I'm also a big fan of overpaying for Starbuck's cheese and fruit plates since I'm never going to be organized enough to pack my own.
The only challenge at the splash pad is grabbing a table and chairs in the shade. Definitely try to arrive early to beat the crowds. It's an open city plaza with a paucity of trees, so if you don't snab one of the coveted tables next to a shade tree or under the Starbucks's patio cover, you're toast. Figuratively and literally.
Following a splash pad outing, your child is guaranteed to fall asleep earlier than usual that evening. Enjoy the respite. They'll be up at the crack of dawn the next day...
This is what childhood is supposed to look like.
HOW WE GOT THERE
Due to the heat, once again, we stuck to the sidewalk on the shady side of Hill all the way up to the park. The splash pad is just east of Grand Avenue in Grand Park between Hill Street and Grand Avenue.
On the way home, we biked two blocks on the Hill Street sidewalk south (walk the bike for pedestrian safety around the subway stop if you are unable to safely, slowly navigate it on your bike) then turned right into the 2nd Street tunnel where there's a bollard protected bike lane to Figueroa. At Figueroa, the bollards disappear, but a the bike lane continues all the way to Toluca Street. Hang a right on Toluca, then a quick left onto the sidewalk past the Bob Barker Marionette Theatre. Very carefully ride on the sidewalk along Glendale Blvd. all the way up to Echo Park lake.
Bike on the sidewalk all the way around the lake then pedal up Park Avenue on the sidewalk to Sunset Blvd. When riding with a kid, I stick to the sidewalk along Sunset Blvd. As always, if you're riding on the sidewalk you should be traveling no faster than the speed of a slow jogger. Assume every blind driveway or doorway has someone about to jump out. Take it slow. The journey is the destination.
Congrats, you just saved a massive sum of money by not parking a car downtown, enjoyed a great adventure with your kid, and possibly extended your life by utilizing active transportation. You won the day...