The next time your kids seem to be spending more time with screens than the sun, head to Echo Park Lake to spend a picture-perfect day in the heart of Los Angeles. A boat ride, a nice lunch, a trip to the park’s playground — what could be better?
Around the palm-ringed lake, you can hear the strangely soothing white noise of LA traffic nearby; the lake’s water, as always, is blue and calm. Strap on your life jackets and climb aboard one of the four-seater pedal boats lining the dock, making sure everyone’s settled before you shove off on your paddling adventure. The kids obviously want to make straight for the towering water geysers spouting out from the lake’s center, so you obligingly churn your boat in that direction as the kids giggle with anticipation. Your little crew gets near enough to feel the fountain’s spray, drawing out squeals and laughs as everybody pedals like mad.
Make a full circle of the 13-acre lake, stopping to take in the glittering view of the downtown skyline and to snap a family selfie or two. If your legs aren’t tired yet, make one last loop around the water flumes to cool off before you head back to the dock.
After that little workout, stop inside the boathouse for a bite to eat at the hippest park cafe in the city, Square One at the Boathouse. Open until 5pm every day, the lakeside cafe serves an eclectic (and blessedly kid-friendly) selection of housemade pastries, breakfast items like brioche French toast bites, or lunch plates like grass-fed burgers and organic hot dogs. If you have room for dessert, tell your little detectives to listen for the sound of a jingling bell outside. Follow it to the park’s pushcart ice cream vendor and grab some ice cream sandwiches or a classic Bomb Pop as a reward for all the pedaling you did out on the water.
Top off your visit to Echo Park Lake with a stroll around the surrounding pathway, shaded by a mix of palm trees and California sycamores and decorated with breathtaking pink and purple lotus flowers. You even get to say “hello” to the families of ducks and turtles swimming in through the lily pads and lotus beds.
As the day winds down, your kids still seem to have plenty of energy to burn, so make your way to the park’s playground for some climbing and sliding. On your way out, bid this urban oasis farewell by returning the fond wave of the park’s iconic “Lady of the Lake” statue, making promises to return soon for another day of fun on the water.