July 23, 2018

Get Out and Play: How Healthier Generation Staff Stay Active in the West

This post is part of Healthier Generation’s summer blog series highlighting creative ways to keep kids fed, active and engaged all summer long.

Parks are the heart of every community and an integral part of a city’s design. They have the power to bring people together through physical activity, provide learning opportunities in wildlife exploration and bring clarity of mind for emotional well-being.

In honor of the National Recreation and Park Association’s Park and Recreation Month, we asked some our staff — who span the country working toward our mission of giving every child a healthy future — to share their favorite local parks and what activities they enjoy doing there.

Here is part 4 of 4, highlighting parks from the western part of the United States:


Portland, OR

"Luuwit View Park offers a great view of Mount St. Helens when the sky is clear. The park features a variety of play structures, outdoor musical instruments, plus a huge sandbox with a faucet for water play with trellises of plants that will grow into a tunnel. My family enjoys climbing to the top of one of the globes, spinning on the mini merry-go-round, playing in the sand and having picnics."

The playground in Westmoreland Park is unique as it is made from primarily natural materials (logs for climbing, rocks, sand play) near nature trails, a creek and a large man-made lake with ducks and geese. My family enjoys going there to watch the ducks, climb the logs and build an extensive water channel system in the sand that can carry a stick all the way to the drain.

-Nell Tessman, Corporate and Foundations Grant Manager

"Growing up in Portland, Peninsula Park has always been one of favorites; it represents so much of my childhood. Located in North Portland, it is a short walk away from my childhood home. I can recall many summer days and nights spent there. From playing on the traditional playground, taking swimming lessons in the outdoor pool, exploring the rose garden, to having a picnic lunch — those were the best days of summer. I still enjoy going there today, especially when friends come to visit — to walk around the park trails, read and picnic.

The other two in my top three favorites list (my list could go on for days) are Blue Lake Regional and Laurelhurst Park — both have lakes that are great for wildlife viewing. Blue Lake offers paddle boat rentals, bike paths and disc golf — my favorite activities to do while visiting the park. Every summer, I look forward to exploring new parks in the area, especially through the Summer Free for All program. This program was around when I was a kid, and through it I was able to enjoy free lunch in neighborhood parks, rock climb on the portable rock climbing wall, and make new friends. Many moons later, I still love attending the movies and concerts they host in the city’s parks throughout the summer!"

-Alexandra Brown, Marketing Specialist


Los Angeles, CA

"Griffith and Pan Pacific Park are two of my favorites in Los Angeles. Both have rich cinematic history and have been featured in many films, most famously in James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause” (and more recently, “La La Land”) at the observatory in Griffith Park. In addition, Griffith Park offers lots of great hikes — for both families and the more advanced hikers. A trip there would not be complete with a trip to the observatory at the top; it is one of the best public astronomy learning centers in the world. When I think of Los Angeles, I often think of these two parks for the way they look and how integrated they are into the fabric of the city!"

-Ian Zurzolo, Manager of Business Sector Strategies


"Echo Park, located in northeastern Los Angeles, features a scenic lake with stunning views of downtown skyline. Its grassy areas make it the perfect set up for a picnic and there are also paths for walking or jogging. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can rent a pedal boat."

-Amira Resnick, Manager, Strategic Partnerships


Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

"Within a 15-minute drive of our house is Palos Verdes, a big peninsula that is mostly residential, and has some of the most amazing cliff-side parks and hiking trails. The best part is that most of the places there are dog friendly, so this is our #1 choice to go hike, walk around and picnic with our dog! Palos Verdes Nature Preserve is a huge and gorgeous area. We come here for cliff-side hiking overlooking the Pacific Ocean; you can climb down to a small rocky beach (extreme caution advised as this is can be dangerous), and picnic on the cliffs. On a clear day you can also see Catalina Island across the ocean."

-Julie Aksoy, Program Evaluation Manager


If these are in your area, we hope you’ll visit and try a new activity! And if not, we hope you’re inspired to get out there, explore and play in your local parks. Tweet us @HealthierGen to share your favorite neighborhood park and #HealthySummer activities!