We met up with lots of kids from EG's daycare, since this was the last day of 'summer break' before EG starts her time in the 2.5 year old classroom tomorrow.
Sorry the pictures aren't that great- I just had my cell phone...
The space is accessible from Redondo Beach Blvd, not Manhattan Beach Blvd. The park is absolutely enourmous, but if you start on the Redondo Beach Blvd side, look for the large building with the writing on it that says "Parks Make Life Better." I recommend parking away from the lake, towards the smaller play area with the swings. That's a bit closer to the splash pad.
It's the same area as the pool, which is manned by lifeguards and the building has a nice bathroom with showers. We didn't take advantage, but it would have been very easy to have showered off before we went home.
I made EG wear her water shoes, but most of the kids went barefoot. For this I say know thy child. EG is prone to running and interacting and moving quickly, so I know she needed to wear them. Even with them on she still had one fairly bad spill, and cut her knees open just towards the end.
Despite any confusion on the website, it's open from 10am during the 'summer' which seems to be May to October all week long. Then during the 'winter' October to May it's open only Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am. When we got there just at 10am it wasn't very crowded, but by the time we left at about noon, there were definitely at least 50 kids playing around and enjoying themselves.
Technically I guess they don't allow food in the area, but there was no one outside monitoring anything. Pluses and minuses I guess, because we definitely saw some of the older kids running and playing aggressively and there wasn't any type of lifeguard or supervision for them either. On the other hand, it meant that all our friends and us were able to enjoy our lunches outside in the sun- and it was nice to sit there and eat a bit while enjoying the water play.
I recommend something really simple- I brought tuna fish and a plate with a fork, but it was way to much for EG to manage. Sandwiches and snacks are better, and another mom brought left over pizza, which I thought was a fabulous idea.
Additionally I guess we're not supposed to bring any type of 'personal' toys, but the bucket we brought was a definite need. EG loves to pour and dump the water, and without the bucket it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun for her.
We had a few moments of 'sharing' but most of the kids were really good about knowing what was there's and what wasn't and it didn't create too much drama.
All in all, definitely worth it. Totally free, and a great experience for the littles.
Of course when we got home after nap what did EG want to do... I'll let you guess:
Yup- play with water...