When I was young, I went to a babysitter who took care of something like 20 kids my same age and every summer we would go "places" 4 days a week (with the 5th day, Friday, being a movie rental day) and a lot of those places would be parks and playgrounds. There are some interesting playgrounds out there, if you know where to look for them!
In Cerritos, there is Heritage Park, which has your standard playground favorites and a giant grass area adjoining a sports complex, but it also has an island (!) that doubles as a play-adventure area. So Kate agreed to pack a lunch and meet me for a picnic and memory walk through the park.
You cross of one of two bridges to get to the island and enter the play world of Boston in the 1770s. When I was young, the buildings and 'shops' on the island had dirt floors and some had props nailed into the walls and stuff. But in the rebuilding of the island portion in recent years, the storefronts have been revisioned, so that they look like individual shops outside, but are a connected play area that is tied together by a really big play structure. There are all kinds of entry points (ladders, stairs, etc.) that lead to various slides and such and the doorways have signs that denote them as individual merchants, like the shoemaker.
Paul Revere is given a bit of reverence with a giant statue of him at the entrance of the park.
On the island, there is a "shipyard" area that leads to a ship, that may be dinky by 30-something standards, but when you're 8? Whoa nelly - you're on a bonafide ship, baby! Prepare for sail and ready the cannons!
There are also oodles of ducks who live in the moat surrounding the island who are more than happy to relieve you of your breadcrumbs and extra chips.
This poor goose was born with a pretty extreme beak deformity (looks like a cleft pallette) but fortunately, this park has lots of kids with lots of sandwiches and he eats like a king. In fact, he was pretty non-plussed about us walking up to him and taking pictures. Even without a sandwich exchange.
The island also has a 'church' that has a big slide inside. When I was a duckling, the slide inside the church was a cement slide (read: not very fast, boo!) that went from the second level of the church interior down underground and came out on a level about 100 feet away. It was awesome. Whether it was meant to be an interpretation of sinners sliding to hell or a garbage chute for witchburnings, I have no idea. It was just awesome to slide into the darkness of the underground tunnel. (a tip for cement slides: both a handful of sand and plastic wrap from your sandwich under your bum will help you slide faster!) Nowadays, the slide is a generic kind of tunnel slide that comes out of the second story of the church into an adjoining landing area. Not as much of a thrill, in my opinion, but the kids were enjoying it, so... I'm probably just out of touch.
It was fun to go back to a place I hadn't been in to in, literally, decades and see that some of the fun stuff was still the same. Sure, the slides and safety regulations may have changed, but it's still a fun place where kids can play and be creative and enjoy all kinds of revolutionary adventures.
A few more pics