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Best Park Orange County 2009 - Bonita Canyon Sports Park and Arroyo Park

Bonita Canyon Sports Park and Arroyo Park

Bonita Canyon Sports Park and Arroyo Park

1990 Ford Road

Newport Beach, CA 92660

949-717-3816

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Is it weird to give the same award to two separate parks? Yes, but no weirder than giving two separate parks the same name. Bonita Canyon Sports Park comprises both a larger area—which offers the baseball fields its name implies, along with an impeccably manicured (Newport Beach! Hello!), verdant stretch of lawn that screams to be picnicked upon and a playground full of safe, modern equipment mostly designed for older kids (ages 5 to 12)—and a smaller one, over where Ford Road dead-ends, with more impeccably manicured, green grass and playthings for the toddler/preschooler set. Confusing as hell, we know. Bear with us. Now, little Arroyo Park, fewer than two miles to the north, also has impeccably manicured fields (a soccer pitch and a baseball diamond), along with more slides and climbing structures for the kids and picnic tables shaded under an elegant pergola. Soooo . . . why do they both win? Because they're connected—by a mostly dirt trail that leads steeply down the hill across Ford Road from the little-kids playground, under the Bonita Canyon Drive viaduct and through Bonita Canyon itself. The ridges on either side are lined with multi-unit dwellings, but the trail itself is a serene slice of chaparral, all skinks, scrub jays, ground squirrels and black phoebes—who scatter when the locals descend with their dogs. Our recommendation: Park up on Ford; go down the hill; saunter over to Arroyo (seriously, this is more of a walk than a hike, great for families with kids); and spread out your wine, cheese, caviar and vanilla Joe-Joe's on one of the pergola tables. On your way back up the hill, turn left through the tree branches, scramble down a steep incline, and you'll find yourself on the banks of a tiny creek trickling out of a pond in a hidden grotto, complete with waterfall, where feral koi swim and crayfish scuttle, a wild gem of a suburban oasis, anything but impeccably manicured.
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