I don’t know about you, but as a mom to little ones, I’m always on the look out for new parks to check out. Although we definitely have our favorites we like to visit, it’s always fun & exciting to “play” somewhere new… that’s why I LOVE Michele & her website Fun Orange County Parks. But rather than try to explain who Michele is & what she is all about, why don’t I let her do it in her own words…

Basically, I’m a nut when it comes to my enthusiasm for parks and play. Add a talent for writing, a compulsion to organize information, ridiculous attention to detail, and a desire to share all this good stuff and you’ve got Fun Orange County Parks on Play Parks Central.

How does it work? I play with my team of expert playground testers (7 year old son and 3 year old daughter – and any other kid we can drag into the mix). I talk to the locals to find out the REAL highlights and hazards. I take tons of photos and post them to the blog, along with a map link and checklist. Then I cross my fingers and hope for comments.

My biggest wish is for more experts (that’s you!) to share their experiences. Only mommy’s know a day at the park with a 15-month old — who trips on everything and eats bark — is different from the school-aged kid who wants slides to be bigger and faster. So if you decide to try out Aliso Beach Park and you don’t agree with my assessment, please share your own story in the comments.

Better yet, I’ll have really done my job if you are inspired to fill out my form sending ME to YOUR favorite park. I live for those days! A new playground experience? Guided by someone who knows the inside scoop? Hurray!! Each individual contribution builds a stronger resource. And if you run a website, like Just Spotted, I reward you with a link back to your site.

My website is all about finding play parks. I want my visitors to have fun. I always say, “If just one mom brings her kid to a new park, then I’ve done my job.” When I asked my computer-literate son what I should write for this post, he said “You’re a good park finder. You find parks and say ‘This one has a bathroom and that one doesn’t.’ The parks we find are always good. Your website stands out – how you use the real pictures of the park. I think it’s a kid-friendly park website to look at because it has all the options of which parks you can go to.”

Fun Facts
Newest Site Resource:
A link to dog-friendly parks under the Orange County Resources menu.

Most Useful Post also wins as Hardest Post to Write:
“Direct Links to City Website Parks Pages”

Proudest (Unofficial) Partner in Play:
I found KaBOOM (“a national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds”) through my work on Play Parks Central. They named me one of their “Playmakers in Action” for 2009. I try to help their worthy cause by spreading the word about their social network and Playspace Finder.

Who under-utilizes this resource?
I think it’s PERFECT for parenting groups, like MOPS or MOMS Clubs. It would make playgroups SO much easier to plan. I’ve done all the work, they can just link to the site. It’s also a great place for those planning birthday parties – I’ve had visitors e-mail me and we work together to find the best location.

What else am I crazy about?
My husband of 15 years, LEGOS, new music, Trader Joe’s, sunsets over the Pacific, easy recipes, and Yosemite.

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So next time your looking for a new place to “play”, be sure to check out Fun Orange County Parks. Better yet, next time your at the park, any park, be sure to share your playground experience with Michele, so that we can all benefit!

xoxo, K