Landscape Architecture

Maruta Gardner Playground at Bonita Cove Park

The Maruta Gardner Playground at Bonita Cove Park Mission Bay is a project dedicated to the Mission Beach community, providing fun and recreation alongside respect and remembrance. The playground’s namesake is Maruta Gardner, a longtime Mission Beach community leader who was tragically killed by an impaired driver while removing graffiti. Prior to her passing, Mrs. Gardner, along with the Mission Beach Woman’s Club, had launched the initial campaign to improve the aging Bonita Cove Park playground.

The project includes a new half-acre reconfigured playground replacing outdated access and equipment, replacement of the comfort station, a new shade structure, enhanced security lighting, and ADA-compliant sidewalk and ramp improvement. At the heart of the playground is a large, sprawling rope climbing structure designed as a nod to the neighboring Belmont Park’s iconic Big Dipper roller coaster. Belmont Park and its history inspired the whimsical cotton candy pink-and-blue color scheme, striped umbrellas, and the picnic shade structure designed to emulate the historic Big Dipper entrance, and ticket booths.

The playground provides a number of unique play elements designed for children of all ages and abilities to aid in their physical and social development. Examples includes single and double-seated swings, climbing equipment, balance equipment, slides, social spaces, hammocks, see-saws, and spinners to name just a few.

One local resident explains how the playground has enhanced the Mission Bay experience for her family: “My grandchildren are 4 and 6 years old and they love it. I can’t get them off of the pink slide and climbing ropes. There’s lots of fun play equipment that holds their attention for hours, going from one activity to another. They never get bored nor do they ever want to leave. The playground was a much needed addition to Mission Bay and it’s kept my grandchildren entertained for hours.”

The Maruta Gardner playground has become a must see (and experience) destination for families living in and visiting our region, and worthy of an Orchid award to the City of San Diego…..make it a pink colored Orchid!

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  • Orchid Nominee

  • Project Address:

    Mission Blvd and West Mission Bay Drive, near the Northwest corner of Bonita Cove

    Project Owner/Developer:

    City of San Diego

    Owner Contact Name/Email:

    Kevin T. Nguyen, Park Designer Public Works Department, email Ktnguyen@sandiego.gov

    Project Architect/Designer:

    Schmidt Design Group

    Image Credit:

    Schmidt Design Group / Kompan Inc.

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Orchids & Onions is an educational and fundraising program of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization dedicated to education and the promotion of outstanding architecture, planning and urban design throughout the San Diego region.

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