Creative Leap

Creative Leap (photo credit:

Sooner or later, if you’re a parent, you’re going to take your kids to the park or want to engage your kids in a variety of activities. And, one of the best things about our Valley is how many different options there are to choose from.
Lake Balboa in Van Nuys, California

Lake Balboa (photo credit: Makaristos/Wiki Commons)

Best Park – Lake Balboa

6300 Balboa Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91316

We still refer to our favorite as “The Duck Park,” although its official name is Lake Balboa/Anthony C. Beilenson Park. And yes, it’s got a 27-acre man-made lake that is home to all kinds of water fowl. You can also fish, play with remote-controlled boats and enjoy a nice walk around the lake.

You won’t do much walking once your kids are too big for the stroller. That’s because this park has a gorgeous 19,600 square foot play area, where your kids can bounce and swing and climb to their hearts’ content. This is the Valley’s only universally accessible playground (one of 10 in the LA Parks system) “where children of all abilities can play side-by-side.”

Castle Park

Castle Park (photo credit:

Best Miniature Golf – Castle Park

4989 Sepulveda Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(818) 756-9459
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Another city-owned gem is Castle Park in nearby Sherman Oaks. This is the home of many a Valley kid’s birthday party, thanks to three lushly landscaped 18-hole courses, batting cages and a video arcade.


Storyopolis (photo credit:

Best Story Time – Storyopolis

14945 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(800) 958-2537
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Kids do not live by play time alone. Fire up their imagination at Storyopolis, the famous bookstore-plus-art-gallery for children. Their knowledgeable staff holds story time every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ($5.00 admission), and also family events most weekends.


Skateland (photo credit:

Best Roller Skating – Skateland

18140 Parthenia Street
Northridge, CA 91325
(818) 885-7655
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You and your kids can experience what a 70’s roller disco was like at Skateland, which has been hosting Valley skaters for over 50 years in this location. If your kids need lessons, they can get them here. If they’re already proficient skaters, you might prefer to sit on the sidelines with a laptop and take advantage of the free wi-fi.

Best Indoor Playgrounds

The Playroom

The Playroom (photo credit:

The Playroom

14392 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 784-7529
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Valley summers are hot (and the winters can be, too), so it’s no surprise that air conditioned indoor playgrounds are popular up here. The Playroom caters to children under five. It’s spacious, friendly and clean. (The staffer I spoke with assured me that the ball pit is washed nightly.)

Creative Leap

Creative Leap (photo credit:

Creative Leap

19300 Rinaldi Street, Unit M
Northridge, CA, 91326
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Older kids will enjoy climbing and hiding from one another in the three-story play structure at Creative Leap. They can also bounce, slide, climb the rock wall, and crawl inside the tunnel network to their heart’s content.

The Jump Around

The Jump Around (photo credit:

The Jump Around

21515 Parthenia Street
Canoga Park, CA 91301
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One of the newest Valley play spots is aptly-named The Jump Around which boasts a host of inflatable moon bounces, obstacle courses, and slides… as well as a castle-themed playhouse and a small game arcade.

– Donna Schwartz Mills is the creator and blogger of SoCal Mom.