Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grant Rea Park, Montebello CA: Review

One of the city’s largest parks, Grant Rea has a lot of features. It is probably why many of the area residents chose it as their #1 birthday party spot.

There are four shelter areas, five baseball diamonds, batting cages, a barnyard zoo, a large play structure, a small play structure, a swing set, a water play structure, and large grassy fields. A horse and bike trail are adjacent to the park.

Grant Rea is easily an “all day” park. With so many features it’s easy to stay all day. I arrived at the park on a Monday a little before 10am and some families were setting up for the day. They came with coolers, chairs, blankets, bathing suits, the works! Mature trees shade most of the park play area and trees shade some parts of the ball field viewing areas. The fields are used by the children of Montebello throughout the year and are transformed into soccer and football fields in the fall. There is a snack shack that is occupied by the league parents on the weekends.

The play structures are suited for all ages. The smaller structure is for younger children and features climbing areas and slides. The larger structure has higher climbing areas and slides, and a big orange fish bridge. The kids loved the play structures but didn’t liked getting shocked by the static build up on the slides.

Three shelter areas can be reserved for gatherings, they are located at the south end of the park near the water play area and playground. Shelter #1 is shown on the left in the photo, and Shelter #2 is on the right. Both Shelter #2 and #4 are adjacent to the water play area. I called the city to inquire about the missing Shelter #3 and they said it's on the north end of the park adjacent to a baseball field. The shelters have six picnic benches, are shaded by a roof, have a BBQ grill and a trash can. If you are out of luck reserving a shelter for your party, don't let that stop you from having a party at Grant Rea, lots of families bring in their own sets of tables and chairs and mark off an area with decorations.

The water play area was a big hit with the kids at the park. There are no information/warnings/rules posted about the water area. The water is activated by placing hands on a pole with a rounded black top. There are water cannons, a rainbow that continually sprays, and buckets that fill up and dump out with a huge splash. The water area is not shaded at all so make sure to slather on the sunscreen. Kids can go in barefoot or with shoes. A city employee once told me that the water play is auto controlled by temperature.

It’s been a while since I visited the barnyard zoo. When I was a kid it was free to go in and all they had was the barn and nearly every animal had mange. I was surprised to see that they have added a lot to the area.

There are pony rides, a merry go round, mining for “gold”, a “train” ride, fishing, and of course the zoo. All have a cost from $2-3 and look a little dilapidated. There are two picnic areas in the zoo that can be reserved for parties and the zoo offers a traveling zoo that can come to your school or party for a fee.

They have a Barnyard Zoo $7 Weekend Special which includes a pony ride, train ride, and merry go round.

I thought the pony rides to be the best value. For $3 each child gets two turns around a fenced in track led by a friendly vaquero. If you want to take pictures he’ll stop the kids at the end for a pose.

The batting cages are only open in the afternoons so we missed out. There are six cages of varying speeds up to 90 mph. They have equipment to lend if want to try your hand at it on the spur of the moment.

Near the batting cages you can get a good view of the horse and bike trails, there are a lot of stables to the south of the park and it’s fairly common to see someone riding. There used to be access to the bike trails from the park near the baseball fields but at the time there was some construction and it was closed off. The bike trails can still be accessed from Lincoln Avenue near the dam just north of the park or just south of the park across Beverly Boulevard.

There are at least two sets of bathrooms at Grant Rea, one near the play area and another near the ball fields. There may be a third near Shelter #3 but I could not get access due to construction. Like most park bathrooms they are on the gross side and smell. The picture here is of the bathroom near the play area, it had paper, but it needed a good scrub and power wash to be decent.

The entire park is plagued with mud puddles. In the fields, near the zoo, near the shelter and water play area, it’s pretty bad. There are a lot of trucks and a lot of foot traffic in the park and it all creates big puddles, watch your step. If area has experienced a dry spell it may not be as bad.

On any weekend the park can be packed, with half a dozen birthday parties going on and league play on the fields it can be difficult to find a parking spot. Most families find extra parking on Rea Drive or in the neigborhood to the north of the park which can be quite a hike on a warm day with kids in tow.

600 N. Rea Drive
Montebello, CA 90640

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