Longtime reader, Jennifer, told me about Cordova Park in Mission Viejo getting an upgrade in June 2018.
I didn’t even have the old playground on my blog. It’s a nice park right next to Carl Hankey Elementary and Middle School.
It’s not a playground you’d drive by unless you lived in the neighborhood or really know your way around Mission Viejo.
So when she told me about the upgrades saying there was some “really” innovative stuff going in, I was a little skeptical because I’ve seen over 300 parks over the past 10 years.
I’d say I’m easily amused, but hard to impress. Well, this playground was super impressive! I should have known Jennifer would not steer me wrong.
Directions to Cordova Park in Mission Viejo: Cordova Park is right off Felipe at the corner of El Retiro and Nogal near Marguerite Parkway. It’s in between Oso Parkway and Crown Valley Parkway. You will need to enter the neighborhood off of Felipe. The park is quite long and has a lighted and paved path cutting through it to the south (almost to Crown Valley Parkway). Parking is on the street. (Address: 26931 El Retiro, Mission Viejo) MAP to Cordova Park in Mission Viejo
This park blew me away for two reasons:
- It’s more appropriate for older kids – more risky play opportunities (which are GOOD!)
- Lots of equipment that I’ve never seen before or only seen at a few other parks (for instance, the baby swings with room for mom or dad to swing along with their child – isn’t that so cool?)
Playgrounds are generally safety rated for 2-5 year old OR 5-12 year olds. This playground is designed for 5-12 year olds.
However, there are a few paired play opportunities for parents with baby-swing-age children – like the tandem baby swing, the “Cruise Line” swing where I saw a Dad riding while cradling his baby, grassy space to picnic on a blanket.
(If you like these swings, I have a whole post listing parks with Mommy and Me baby swings.)
The “Cruise Line” appears to be a cross between a zip line an a swing is for group play with kids – there aren’t really rules about how to sit (let the kids figure it out).
The new generation of spinners looks like the purple 2-seater (above) or the stand-up “globe spinner” (below).
They seem quite heavy and even my football player big husband couldn’t get them spinning super fast – but they do spin.
Kids might just need a little help from adults.
This play equipment has an insane amount of free climbing potential. There are ropes, footholds, ladders, and nets.
I loved the “bug” theme with the interpretive signage around the park and butterfly garden native plants.
There are plenty of places for families to sit and watch the kids play, whether in adirondack-style chairs or wrought-iron benches with small tables. It almost feels like living room or patio furniture so you can make yourself feel at home.
I’m not 100% sure, but I think this is a hanging teeter-totter. If you sit opposite your friend, you can bounce them up and down. Beware, though, because it can go REALLY high.
Picnic tables right on the playground (no shade) or in the grove of trees off the playground (natural shade).
If you look at the park on the map, it’s a long grassy park with a paved trail that’s appropriate for walks or bike riding.
2 baby swings (with space for an adult to swing with child) + 2 bench swings.
- Surrounded by two streets, although not very busy
- Very nearby an elementary/middle school – so there is likely pick-up/drop-off time traffic impacts
- A mom wrote me soon after I published this post just to warn about playing during after-school hours because on her trip middle-schoolers were “hanging out, using foul language, blasting music and just being too big and rowdy for kids” for the hour and a half she was at the playground. Probably more fun to go early in the day?
- The hanging teeter-totter can launch your kid really high in the air, so make sure you are supervising this part and give tips on how to hold on!
- NOT designed for toddlers and much more suited to 5-12 year old school age children
- According to my mom source “The Mission Viejo City Campout is in the open soccer field next to the park August 4-5. The city has also approved a single use dog run, community garden and exercise equipment all within walking distance of the park installation TBD.”
- If you are SUPER fearful of your child climbing, then this might not be the park for you — but just know that climbing and risk are actually good for your kids to learn for gross motor development and assessing their abilities vs. risk
- Parking on the street
- Recycled rubber and small sandbox play surface
- Restrooms across the street at the tennis center
- Lots of picnic tables with grills
- Sand volleyball court in the grass
- Shade from nearby trees, but not exactly on the playground
- Easy to view kids
- Official City of Mission Viejo web page for Cordova Park
- Nearest public library: Mission Viejo Public Library
- Visit my South Orange County Parks index to find more playgrounds
- This park is also on my list of Sand Free Parks in Orange County
Originally published in June 2018.