With BlackBerry in hand, Bryan Levy chased his 18-month-old son, Leo, and daughter Maya, 3, down a slide at the Clark Street playground. It was their first time in the Long Beach park that is nestled in the Canals neighborhood.
"This place is great" Levy, an Oceanside resident, shouted into his smartphone. "Right on the bay and down a quiet street!"
Adelaine Gray, nanny to three boys ages four and under, said the newly refurbished playground is all about the picnic tables. "Clark Street has the most, and they all have a cover for shade," she said.
Trending as the playground of choice in Long Beach, Clark Street's amenities suits the needs of toddlers and young adolescents: a splash park, spider climber made of rope, a walking path along the bay, bathrooms, and the standard slides and swings. But that doesn't mean the five other playgrounds around the city are getting any less use.
Magnolia Boulevard playground has been a popular stomping ground for families all over Long Beach. It's central location next to the boardwalk is key, and the compatibility with the boardwalk makes it ideal for parents looking to complete their workout with an afternoon at the playground, which has a multi-use apparatus that allows kids to swing, climb and slide.
Elyse Pollack, instructor of Stroller Strides, and mother of a two-year-old, choose to hold her exercise workouts for moms at Magnolia precisely for the convenience. "And the swings," she added. "Swings are important to little ones and Magnolia has the most."
Ciara Doherty, mother of Alexis, 2, and 8-month-old Cayden McCormick, drives to Magnolia twice a week, even though Clark Street is closer to her home.
"Magnolia is compatible with my stroller," Doherty said. "Everything's in one spot, so I can keep up with my daughter without having to walk away from my baby."
With a splash park installed last year, Georgia Street playground is like a revolving gate. The West End's main playground, Georgia attracts streams of children throughout the day. Parents flock there for the social interaction with their neighbors and the variety of playmates for their children.
East End resident Brian Fahy often breaks up his routine to take his two children, Ella, 2, and 8-month-old Brendan, to Georgia for play dates. "I like the hustle and bustle of the West End, along with the shade and lack of time delay in the sprinklers," Fahy said.
For Emily Hudson, the water doesn't make the park at Pacific Boulevard at Shore Road. "It's the sand and proximity to the beach that does," said Hudson as she chased her 4-year-old, Evan.
The only playground located on the beach, Pacific is set next to the beach entrance and concession stand, providing families with a haven when a day at the beach takes a toll on their children.
"If they get to ornery, you can walk them over to the playground without taking your feet out of the sand," Hudson explained.
Long Beach's parks system, which includes playgrounds at the Recreation Center on the bay and the Leroy Conyers Park in the North Park neighborhood, has come a long way from simple slides and swing sets. Since 2004, the city has spent about $2.5 million on renovations and upgrades at the playgrounds that now offer enough equipment genres to appease all appetites.
"It's a reflection of where we live," said Megan Conner, mother of teenage boys, watching them skateboard in the skate park at the Rec Center. "It's a small beach community, yet we make ourselves unique. The playgrounds seemed to be created to resemble the neighborhoods they were built in. We're lucky to have so many options."