Santa Monica’s brand new public space, Tongva Park, had a soft opening this week and opens officially on October 19. With the gates down, and the sun shining brilliantly, it’s hard to believe that the world hasn’t quickly flocked in to fill this delightful space. Located on 7 acres inside the Santa Monica Civic Center, it’s easy to access from all sides and convenient to Santa Monica Place.
When we visited, it was sprinkled with intrepid early visitors — kids meandering happily, folks riding bikes and playing chess, skateboarders trying out the soft-surface of the kiddie park (a place they’ll probably be banned from soon!). With newly planted greenery, and barely a stone out of place, Tongva shines like a newly minted penny and it’s hard not to fall quickly in love.
All the more reason to dash down as soon as possible and explore it’s pristine environs. We found street parking near the Santa Monica Courthouse, but you could easily park at Santa Monica Place and simply cross the street on the park’s northern border. Try lunch in the mall – we love True Food Kitchen (for your tweener vegans) and Pizza Antica.
If you’ve been to NYC in the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the The High Line – a terrific public space that occupies an old elevated train track along the Hudson that is filled with happy denizens all day long. The same guys that designed The High Line — James Corner and Field Operations — developed Santa Monica’s new space, and they did it in just over a year. The paths cut graceful swaths through native grasses and benches sprinkle the area in leisurely fashion. An extensive kid’s playground, with climbing structures and cool bumpy slides, looks like a place stroller moms will spend many a morning, and the graceful, swelling structures that frame an ocean view along the Pacific edge of the park beckon to a camera’s frame. With shaded areas, sunny stretches, water elements and views that are relatively building-free, Tongva Park is a marvel of urban planning.