In a place like Los Angeles where playing outside is a year-round deal, kids can’t get enough of all that outdoor fun. Consider building a playground in your own backyard and get your children involved in making this wonderland a family affair.
1. Build a tree house: Unfortunately, palm trees don’t make for great tree house support. Aside from this abundant plant, Los Angeles indigenous timbers include hardier, more appropriate structures for a secret playhouse in the sky. Pick a tree that’s closer to the ground so that your kids can assist, even if it’s just to hand dad or mom a nail or hammer. Plans for simple tree houses are available through Stiles Design, which includes carpenter tips for all ages.
2. Dig in: A mud hole seems like a bad idea for keeping your kids clean, but if you believe it’s OK to get dirty once in a while, get digging. The kids will surely be in tow for this task. Don’t dig too deep, but give yourself enough room to fill the hole with a couple inches of water. Kids will love racing through this outdoor pit on foot or on their big wheels.
3. For the yardless: If you lack a yard, an ordinary L.A. sidewalk will do. Utilize this seemingly ordinary space for the timeless game of hopscotch. All you need is a handful of chalk and some refreshing takes on this classical children’s game to get you and your kids hopping about.
4. Swinging: Find a sturdy tree in the back yard and locate the thickest branch. From the sturdiest point of this branch, while still maintaining a safe distance from the trunk, secure two long ropes. Ensure these ropes are the same length and attach a seat to both for a homemade swingset. The most important step in this process is finding a good distance from the ground to the seat, allowing your child optimal control and comfort.
5. Ramp it up: Nothing says fun to certain L.A. children than their own backyard skateboarding ramp. Of course, this isn’t a good idea for beginners, but for kids who have the right acumen and substantial protective gear, it can be a perfect release for energy. Deciding between a kicker ramp or a grind rail will depend on what your brood of skaters have in mind, but helping out with this process should be part of the fun.
2420 Hyperion Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Hours: Mon to Fri – Noon to 6 p.m., Sat – Noon to 5 p.m., Sun – Noon to 3 p.m.
For protective gear, check out L.A. Skate for padding and helmets needed for safety’s sake. Sales staffers working at this east side locale are friendly and helpful, giving the rider as much advice as he or she requires and then some.
Eagle Rock Lumber and Hardware
2223 Fair Park Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Hours: Mon to Sat – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sun – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Find the right boards to build a sturdy skateboard ramp and rope to build a secure swing all in one place at Eagle Rock Lumber and Hardware. This handy store is also ready with other staples like nails and clamps needed to build proper backyard playground projects.
2281 Honolulu Ave.
Montrose, Ave. 91020
Hours: Mon to Sat – 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For a cool place to pick up rad miniature big wheels, visit Tom’s Toys, an old school establishment that’s well stocked with the right stuff to get your kids ramped up and ready for their backyard mud hole adventures.
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Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist. Check out her articles on Examiner.com.