Sunday, September 2, 2012

Virginia Avenue Park in Santa Monica

Sunday, September 2, 2012
My Cost: FREE!

2200 Virginia Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90404

After breakfast and some morning naps for the kids, we were trying to decide where to go for the afternoon. Now there are plenty of days - today included - where I would love to stay at home being lazy and watching Redbox movies, (although there is plenty to be done around here in the dishes and laundry departments, and cooking, and de-cluttering...) But with the little ones, that just doesn't feel like an option anymore. Vivi will get restless, she'll end up somehow tormenting her brother for entertainment, someone will end up crying, and it won't be relaxing. Plus, it's way too hot in North Hollywood these days. So it's easier - and quieter - to go somewhere.

I considered just staying close and going to Woodbridge Park, which I blogged about previously (August 18th,) but we both thought a longer drive would be nice. (Kids asleep in car seats = quiet time!) Also, south of the "hill," (i.e. the Santa Monica Mountains,) it is almost ten degrees cooler. So we headed towards Santa Monica, because, in the course of my places-to-go research, I had read about a park there with a great splash pad.

We packed some towels and a small picnic of PB&J. (I also always bring the fully stocked diaper bag, including extra clothes and jackets, and bottles of water. And I keep certain things in the van at all times for outings: folding chairs, a picnic blanket, my hat, and sunscreen.) Then we just headed towards Santa Monica. Thank goodness for smart phones with web searches, and for GPS navigation! I didn't remember the name of the park, so I just searched the GPS for the parks in Santa Monica, and I searched Google to see if any of those parks came up when I searched "Santa Monica splash pad." I quickly found just the place I was looking for: Virginia Avenue Park.

There are two parking lots - one on the southeast corner nearer the lawn (it was being used for soccer,) and basketball courts, and the other on the northwest corner near the splash pad and playgrounds. We stuck to the playground area, but I did notice that these basketball courts are a nicer surface than asphalt, and would be great for a pickup game.

The parking lot closest to the playgrounds also provides access to three other Santa Monica Community buildings: the Patio, the Thelma Terry Building, and The Park Center. The Patio is a building that houses restrooms, (including a Family restroom!) the plumbing for the splash pad, and a space that is used for children's programs, cultural arts, and can be reserved for celebrations. (Today it was being used for a birthday party, and it looked like a nice space for a small group!) The Thelma Terry Building is used for child development and after school programs, and the Park Center is for meetings, fitness (dance, yoga, martial arts,) employment services, etc. Also, on the corner of Pico and 21st street is the Park Center's 2101 building that houses the Teen Center with art, computers, and even a recording studio!

The Thelma Terry Building

The Park Center

There are plans to build a Pico branch of the Santa Monica library adjacent to the Thelma Terry Building. It's projected to open sometime next year.

There is a Farmer's Market every Saturday from 8:00am to 1:00pm.

The playgrounds are nice, but the splash pad is really the star of the show here. It's got all kinds of rotating water jets and the kids can chase around to wherever the water squirts out next. Also nice is there is a good amount of shade around the perimeter, and low walls serve as benches for parents.

Note the shade and the wall seating! Water sprays from the ground, and even three jets out of the wall to the right. 

Vivi was very wary of the water. She didn't really want to play in it.
She eventually got hit by an unexpected stream (because the water rotates through the different jets.)

But she was mostly content to watch the other kids get wet.
Hours 9:00am to 7:00pm daily. Call 310-458-8501 if it's not working.

The play equipment is separated into two areas. The toddler area includes two bucket swings. The older kids' area has mostly climbing toys. I wondered about the choice not to have any shade coverings over either set of equipment. Maybe because it's Santa Monica and the ocean breeze keeps it from ever getting too blisteringly hot. But the direct sun was pretty glaring.

The toddler equipment

Vivi loves the swings - she'll swing every day if she gets the chance!

A view of the older kids' play equipment with the splash pad and Patio, (to the right,) in the background.
I have to say, though, that the most fun Omar and I had today was just laying in the shade on the grass and enjoying the cooler weather and ocean breeze.

The good life!

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