One of my favorite parts about Los Angeles is the abundance of parks — from tiny neighborhood gems to acres of protected land in the middle of the city. No matter where you live in the sprawl, there is a probably a beautiful park just right around the corner. But, for all my eastside dwellers, or for anyone looking to experience some eastside charm, here’s a list of my top ten favorite parks in or around east Los Angeles.
1. La Laguna Park
Located in San Gabriel Valley, La Laguna Park, also known as the dinosaur or monster park, features 10 concrete creatures, perfect for little climbers. Please note that it does require some supervision as this park does not meet modern safety standards. However, it’s been loved by locals for generations and is top of my list for unique parks.
2. Grand Park
Located in downtown, the Grand Park playground is a must-do. The $1 million playground is tiny but completely fenced in (hooray!) and includes imaginative and interactive features for all ages, including a 20 ft. treehouse. In the summer, bring the swimsuits and let your kids splash around in the Grand Park Fountain.
3. Reese’s Retreat
Located in Pasadena next to Kids Space, Reese’s Retreat offers hours of entertainment thanks to it’s pirate ship play equipment. Reese’s Retreat is a universally accessible park, similar to the popular Shane’s Inspiration park in Griffith Park. However, Reese’s Retreat is much more intimate, making it a great alternative for those who find Shane’s Inspiration too busy.
4. Lacy Park
The perfect picnic park, Lacy Park in San Marino features acres of sprawling green grass, a huge paved bike loop, a rose garden and an adorable playground. Bring the scooters, your blanket, and enjoy a leisurely afternoon. Note: This park does charge a fee for non-San Marino residents on the weekends so go during the week if you can.
5. Arlington Gardens
Arlington Gardens truly feels like a secret garden in the middle of Pasadena. Located between the busy streets of Arlington and Orange Grove, you can drive past the park and never know it’s there. Inside the park, enjoy the meandering paths, local flora and fauna, and hidden benches, perfect for a picnic.
6. York Park
The tiniest playground in the middle of Highland Park, York Park is a perfect place to experience some eastside charm. Let your little ones run free, the whole park is completely fenced in, while you enjoy some tasty treats — Donut Friend is right across the street, as is Belle’s Bagels. And most days a local taco truck parks right in front of the park.
7. Earnest Debs Park
If you’re looking for a place to escape the city, Earnest Debs Park is your spot. Located in Montecito Heights, take a short hike up the top and be rewarded by a hidden lake right in the middle of the city.
8. Vista Hermosa Natural Park
Located in Echo Park, Vista Hermosa Natural Park features the best views of downtown LA. Enjoy a kids play area, a relaxing grassy field, and a short trail all perched above DTLA. There is a parking lot, but it’s quite small. However there is also two hour parking on the street.
9. Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is often overlooked for it’s sister park, Echo Park. But, just like Echo Park, Lincoln Park is a sprawling retreat with a pond, bbq pits, plus play areas, tennis courts, soccer fields and more. And, unlike Echo Park, it’s never crowded and there is parking galore.
10. Los Angeles State Historic Park
Los Angeles State Historic Park features a sprawling 32 acres of open space right next to Chinatown. It’s ideal for flying kites and located right next to the metro Gold line. Because this park is new, the first 13 acres opened in 2016, the trees are new too, so it’s best on cloudy days.