For those who have grown up in L.A., it’s nearly impossible not to have warm, fuzzy flashbacks about Griffith Park: our first pony and mini-train rides; the Sunday-afternoon jam sessions under the trees, where Dad would pound on conga drums with dozens of happy hippie types emanating pungent (then unfamiliar) aromas; birthday parties with piñatas, softball games, cake and ice cream; the fairytale merry-go-round (actually a pretty fast spin for a kiddie ride), which we’d stay on till we were queasy. The family home didn’t have air conditioning, so we’d often round up some blankets, a bucket of fried chicken and an ice chest full of sodas, and spread out on the chilly grass while our apartment cooled down. (Yes, on the extra-sweltering days, we were among the kids frolicking in the giant fountain at Los Feliz Boulevard and Riverside Drive.) Driving by the vast green landscape or bike-riding through the swirling hills and valleys these days, we see a whole new generation of families enjoying the same things. Even with renovations and new additions like the L.A. Zoo’s fancy new sea lion exhibit or the revamped Griffith Observatory (due to open next year), it’s these simple pleasures that are sure to stain children’s brains for years to come — and provide grownups with a green alternative to the plastic playgrounds of the city.