By Zach Koepp
What excites a true Angeleno isn’t what the millions of tourists fly in to see each day, but the hidden gems within the city. No matter how knowledgeable one is of Los Angeles, they don’t know everything about everywhere. There is always a place that has yet been recognized by the greater mass market, a place that makes an Angeleno smile and realize the joys of why they live here. This week’s hidden gem is really three-in-one, the Dog Parks at Playa Vista.
Within a short walk, Playa Vista offers three differently designed dog parks that can satisfy any breed of dog, or better yet, give your furry friend three different experiences in the same day. If you’re like me and have a have high-strung breed of dog, like my Border Collie, a three-park stop will not only satisfy them but ensure a quality night’s sleep for the loveable and energetic fur balls that play such monumental role in our lives.
We know animals have a complete disregard for suppressing their emotions. There is no truer evidence than when one approaches Bluff Creek Dog Park, one of the three gems. Out of the numerous times I’ve frequented Bluff Creek, I’ve never seen a leaving dog not clench her/his leash and resist in the opposite direction of their owner or walker. It is simply the Disneyland of dog parks. Located at 12604 Bluff Creek Drive with the hours ranging from 7:00 am – DUSK on Monday through Friday and 8:00 am – DUSK on Saturday and Sunday, this park is the only one of the three with pet turf instead of grass or wood chips.
The sophisticated design of Bluff Creek offers three rolling turf hills separated by water canals and sidewalks. Innovative structures have been built to ensure shade for owners and dogs at any time of the day. There is ample seating and a separate gate for smaller dog breeds, which offer a mini-version of the same amenities. During my countless times there, I’ve witnessed true friendships formed between dogs and their owners. A relaxing atmosphere that must be credited to the full-time security guards who are always readily available. Even though they’re needed on very few occasions, the guards have never failed to diffuse a situation and keep the peace.
Next is Oberrieder Dog Park, about a five-minute walk from Bluff Creek, located at 5349 Playa Vista Drive. The hours of operation are every day from 7:00 am – DUSK. The design of this dog park is simple but ideal for energetic dogs to play catch or run around with their newfound friends. Shaped in a long oval with different varieties of trees from Palm Trees to Pines, the ground is laid with fresh woodchips and maintained hourly. Under the trees are shaded benches for owners, or tired dogs. There are water dishes that conveniently fill with the push of a pedal. Most of the time owners are responsible for pushing the pedal, but my dog, along with several others, has figured out a way to hydrate himself when needed. It’s bittersweet watching our babies grow into (nearly) independent souls.
Last of the three is Longwood Dog Park located at 5831 Seawalk Drive. Longwood is the only park in Playa Vista that is open after dark. It opens at 7:00 am and closes at 9:00 pm every day. Longwood is similar to Oberrider, but has the design of a smaller rectangle. Because it is smaller, it is more intimate and consists of two parts, one for smaller breeds and one for larger breeds. Both have fresh woodchips and trees and I’ve met several people who are there without a dog to simply sit on the park bench, smell the mixture of the wood chips and blooming trees, and read a book while the infectious energy of playful dogs surround them. If your dog has a medium energetic temperament, this is the place to go. It offers plenty of space to play catch or run around while not being daunted by the larger size of a park like Oberrider. It also offers the same push-pedal watering system. Being closest to Bluff Creek, if you want to treat your dog and yourself, but don’t have the time to go to all three, the best option is to take your dog to Longwood, burn some energy and then take she/he to Bluff Creek where they can go socialize and play with their other friends on the rolling turf hills.
The Playa Vista community is progressive in its entirety and out of all the places I’ve been or lived in Los Angeles, it is my favorite. Their mission to create a friendly and innovative atmosphere directly translated to their decision and design of the dog parks. The unsung heroes of Playa Vista are the security guards who so intently make it their mission to create a comfortable and safe environment for the dogs and their owners. If you haven’t yet been, it’s best to just see for yourself.