Category Archives: Parks and Playgrounds

Tantra Park, Boulder, CO

Tantra Park was the first park we visited last Sunday. Based on the map I knew the park was tucked away behind the houses but the park sprawls in an odd shape and I wasn’t sure where the playground structure was located. I looked at the satellite image and misidentified a catch basin as the likely spot.

catchbasin

We parked by the tennis courts on W Moorhead Cir and crossed the street to enter via a path. The path curves behind the subdivision houses and marks the beginning of a dramatic elevation increase. As we walked along the path in search of the playground I saw a sign strongly advising against sledding down the hill because it was steep with no flat area to slow down before you hit hard objects. Of course, now that I’m back with internet, I see that Tantra is a very popular sledding hill in winter. Who knew?1 According to Boulder Families the hill can get quite packed. This site gives you a feel for how it looks in winter. While I can see how some parts of the hill may be too steep I think there are probably other sections that are fine.

After meandering along the path we found the playground structure backing up to the east curve of Tantra Park Circle. However, I’m not sure there is a way from the street to get behind the houses. Possibly the tennis courts are as good a place to park as any.

view2

The playground structures are pretty good for such a hidden park. They have equipment for ages 5-122.

TantraPark

Overlooking the 5-12 play area is another area designed for younger kids that includes a play house and bucket swings.

littleplay

I decided it was time to see what Julian thinks of swings: he approves.

JulianSwing

Calvin was excited that Julian is finally doing something he can relate to and joined us on the swings.

brothersswinging

If you look really (really) closely you can see Julian’s two brand-new teeth, discovered the prior day.

teeth

Beside the younger kid play area there is a covered structure with a picnic table. The picture shows steps from the 5-12 age play area but there is a path curved around the back that allows access to strollers and other wheeled contraptions.

Shelter

Calvin played briefly with some kids but didn’t spend a lot of time on the larger structure.

spiralladder

Instead, he wanted to show off for Julian.

tireswing

The playground equipment was mostly fairly traditional with the exception of . . . something I can’t find the name for. Basically it’s a raised flexible tube, with springs in the middle, that kids can jump on while hanging on to poles. It looks pedestrian when only one kid is on it but if you get multiple kids it can get quite bouncy.

bouncing

Both Calvin and Julian had lots of fun at this playground and if we’re around for winter we’ll need to come back and see if we can do some safe tobogganing.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, curved slide, bridge, ladder, corkscrew climber, driving wheels panel, spiral slide, money bars, tube bouncer, tire swing, bucket swings, moving maze panel, 2-5 year old play structure (mainly house but also a sand tube oddly positioned no where near sand)
Surface Material Small gravel for the larger play area and poured rubber for the younger area
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Small shelter plus trees to the side of the playground
Picnic area Yes, one in covered shelter.
Parking Street parking – Parking across from the tennis courts on W Moorhead Cir about as good a chance as any.
Pros
  • Apparently a fairly popular sledding hill
Cons
  • Very long hike if you need a restroom in a hurry. Not for those being potty trained.


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  1. Actually, given my husband grew up here, I expected him to know but possibly it’s too far south for him to think it worth mentioning.
  2. Whenever I say “5-12” you realize I’m just quoting the official ages, right? My son was ready for the 5-12 equipment by 3 at the latest.

Martin Park, Boulder, CO

We went to two parks on Saturday: Tantra Park and Martin Park . I’m starting with Martin Park because it was a much shorter trip. Calvin seemed to get an attack of self-consciousness when he learned there was a birthday party happening and didn’t want to be around the other kids.

Calvin Despondent on Swing

Martin Park is a neighborhood park but it has a wide variety of amenities including tennis courts, ball fields, a good size shelter, and of course a playground. The playground has equipment for both younger and older kids.

bigequip

The bigger equipment has several different types of slides as well as a bridge.

littleequip

The little equipment has a slide and a tic-tac-toe panel.

Bear Creek runs alongside the park. The side of the park next to the creek has a fence (with openings) presumably to make it harder for children to bolt the moment their guardian looks away.

Overall, even though our visit was very brief it seemed like a nice park.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, tall spiral slide, regular slide, spiral climber, stacked circles that can be climbed but also rotate, covered slide, small double slide, bridge, spring riders, 2-5 equipment, tic-tac-toe panel, bucket swings, regular swings
Surface Material Small gravel
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Didn’t see one but could have missed it
Shade Large shelter with several picnic tables. Also trees that shade one edge of the playground
Picnic area Yes, covered shelter with several picnic tables.
Parking Street parking – parking in the culdesac on Dartmouth Ave is a good location
Pros
  • A lot of amenities for both adults and kids
  • Restrooms!
Cons
  • Nothing obvious


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North Boulder Park, Boulder, Colorado

North Boulder Park

Several years ago we visited North Boulder Park. There was a lot of construction fencing around the park and I kept meaning to go back and see what had been done. Finally, last Saturday, we visited the park again. It turns out they added an adult exercise area.

CalvinExercise3

The exercise equipment was very popular with the kids. It is intended for ages 14+ and younger kids could get hurt if not watched carefully. No adults used it while we were there. However, that probably was because it was quite hot. The adult exercise equipment provides a pretty good view of the children’s playground equipment so, depending on the age and needs of your child, it might be possible to exercise while your kids play.

CalvinElip

Naturally, since this is suppose to be adult equipment it was over-sized for all the kids.

CalvinExercise1

CalvinExercies2

The children’s equipment was traditional but in good repair.

CalvinBigEquip

It had an area for older kids and younger kids.

LittleEqipment

Calvin spent a lot of time in a lovely tree.

CalvinTree

Aside from the playground, the park has a wide variety of activities. There’s a very large field next to the playground which is very popular as a cross country skiing venue in the winter. There’s also a fairly large shelter. It’s right next to the playground equipment but you can’t be under the shelter and see the playground at the same time. However, there are various benches shaded by trees scattered around the equipment area. There’s also a half-court basketball court and table tennis.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, spiral slide, spiral climber, fireman pole, monkey bars, climbing tree, basketball court, table tennis, 2 spring riders, digger, 2-5 playground equipment, small double slide, small covered slide, small curved slide, swings, bucket swings
Exercise Equipment Leg Extension, 2-Level Horizontal Bars, 2-Person Full Bar Exercise, 2-Person Incline Sit-Up Benches, Single Leg Curl, Single Elliptical, 2-Person Chest Press (Accessible), 2-Person Lat Pull-down (Accessible), 4-Person Lower Body Combo
Surface Material Pea gravel (concrete for exercise equipment)
Restrooms Yes (May through September)
Water fountain Yes (very lower water pressure though)
Shade Shade trees and large shelter. A lot of shaded benches but very little shade on the actual playground.
Picnic area Yes, covered shelter with several picnic tables. Also have a couple of picnic tables that aren’t covered as well as 2 grills.
Parking Parking Lot
Pros
  • Adult Exercise Equipment
Cons
  • Very traditional playground equipment, not very challenging for older kids.


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Crestview Park, Boulder, CO

Crestview Park suffered damage during the 2013 flood. The renovations were completed just this summer and the playground looks new and shiny.

Crestview Park

It’s a short walk from street parking to the playground structure. The original park trees are still there and provide several shady areas for sitting. While Calvin played Julian and I relaxed under one of the trees.

Julian on blanket

There’s also several benches and a shaded picnic shelter.

Picnic shelter and bench

The playground isn’t large but it has a nice combination of equipment. It has a basic slide that is built on a small slope.

Slide

There’s a bridge from nowhere.

Bridge

From the bridge you can step on stones, then navigate a net which leads to a house play structure.

Calvin on net

Calvin decided he wanted to pose in the little house.

Calvin in play structure

Calvin ignored the swings.

swings

But did walk over and examine the sand pit, play house, and “wood” table and chairs. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to include our sand toys.

Play house, sand, kid table

No one was there when we first arrived at the park so Calvin wandered around for a bit before laying out on the “log” and complaining there was no one to play with. Fortunately, a couple of kids arrived after that and we stayed until Julian started to get fussy.

Log

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, slide, bridge, net, play house, sand, kid table and chairs, stepping stones, stumps, and logs, one regular swing, two toddler swings
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Shade trees and shelter. There is some shade on parts of the playground. However, there is quite a bit of shade off to the side of the play area.
Picnic area Yes, covered shelter with three picnic tables.
Parking Street parking, requires short walk to playground.
Pros
  • Nice and new
Cons
  • No restrooms or water fountain


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Sandstone Ranch (west side), Longmont, CO

Sandstone Ranch was my favorite park when we lived in Longmont. It has a bit of everything: playground for toddlers, playground for bigger kids, tire swing, and, most importantly in summer, a splash pad! When Calvin was young I adored splash pads because he could get wet without me having to be within arms reach of him the entire time. Today I had to run to Lowes in Longmont so we took a detour to visit the park.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get particularly good pictures this time as Julian was fussy. However, hopefully you can get the idea.

It’s a bit tricky finding the playground for the first time. Drive east on 119 past the Walmart and turn right onto Sands One Dr. Take the first right into the parking lot. Turn right again and follow the road as it meanders west until you end up in a parking lot with the skate park, adventure park, and restrooms.

From the parking lot, the first section is the toddler playground. It has a small teepee, cabin, spinner, spring riders, and musical panel.
toddlerplayground

Behind the first section are farm animal statues for the kids to climb on. There use to be a tractor and a log that the kids could climb through but those must have been damaged beyond repair at some point.

farmanimals

This section also contains a raised sandbox area. It use to have water hooked up which was fantastic. I’m not sure why but the water aspect hasn’t worked for years (possibly sanitary issues?). There’s also a sand area that is level with the ground. There’s a statue of a fish, a frog, and a turtle for kids to crawl on.

sandanimals

The one big downside to this park is it is impossible to watch kids in both the toddler and the older kid section at the same time. There’s wonderful landscaping around the play areas but they obscure the sight lines.

shadedbench

By the toddler section are bathrooms (open in summer), drinking fountain, and a fairly large covered shelter. There’s another shelter close to the splash pad. However, it looks like the other benches will often be in direct sunlight.

The splash pad is one of the best parts of the park. There’s a button to turn the water on. It turns on for several minutes and then there’s an enforced delay of several minutes where the water will not turn back on no matter how many times a child slams the button.

splashpad

Behind the splash pad is the “tree house” play area. Calvin would play on this area, with close supervision, by the time he was two years old and it absolutely terrified me. The New York Times had recently published an article about the dangers of safe playgrounds which I theoretically believed but is much harder to put into practice. Parts of the structure are high enough I have trouble touching them with my hands over my head. Now Calvin is old enough to play in the tree house area without too much supervision and Julian isn’t mobile yet so our visit today was much more relaxing than prior visits have been.

caterpillarslide

The climbing options on the opposite side from the caterpillar slide always made me particularly nervous. Naturally, Calvin loved crawling up them.

treehouse

It’s hard to tell from the pictures that I have but the tree house structure is connected to a small hill with a bridge. There’s a covered slide protruding from the hill.

enclosedslide

There is also a tire swing and a rope climbing structure for older kids to enjoy. There are no traditional swings at this playground.

tireswing

Sandstone Ranch is an entire complex that includes a skate park (close to the toddler play area but mostly hidden from view due to elevation) and sports field. On the east side of the park is a smaller playground area. It has a more traditional-style equipment and I think it has regular swings (though I can’t remember for sure). There are a lot of walking paths that connect various parts of the park and also connect to the St. Vrain Greenway trail.

We don’t visit this park much anymore due to all the great parks in Boulder. However, it’s still worth the occasional visit when the weather is hot.

Summary:

Features 2-5 playground equipment, 5-12 playground equipment, spinner, caterpillar slide, corkscrew slide, covered slide, trapeze steps, leaf steps, small hill, tire swing, water/splash area, sand, spring riders, teepee, statues to climb on, play house, musical panel, rope climbing structure.
Surface Material Poured Rubber, some bark chips
Restrooms Yes, open in summer
Water fountain Yes, on in summer
Shade There’s several shelters by the park which are available as long as no one has rented them. There’s also trees and other landscaping that provides varying levels of shade. The toddler play area doesn’t have a lot of shade. The older kids’ play area has a bit more due to the height of the structure itself.
Picnic area Yes, two covered shelters with multiple picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot
Pros
  • Nice toddler and big kid areas
  • Splash pad!
  • Sand!
Cons
  • Hard to see older kids and toddlers at the same time.


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Melody Park, Boulder, CO

Recently the Boulder Rock’n Moms group was discussing parks and one of the other members mentioned that she thought Calvin and I would enjoy Melody Park. Melody Park is a neighborhood park in Boulder. The Boulder neighborhood parks vary wildly in how good the playground equipment is. Some are pretty small but others can be very nice. Melody Park is one of the latter.

2-5 Playground Equipment

2-5 Playground Equipment

The park has playground equipment for both ages 2-5 and 5-12.

5-12 Playground Equipment

5-12 Playground Equipment

In addition to basic playground equipment they also had a “tire” swing which was a huge hit with Calvin. It’s not a real tire, I’m not sure they do that anymore, and the plastic is a bit light which does make it a little tricky to balance unless you have two kids.

07TireSwing

I suggested Calvin try the regular swings or the spinner but he wasn’t interested.

10Swings

He did, however, greatly enjoy the spinner attached to the 5-12 playground set.

05Spinner

The 5-12 playground equipment blends traditional equipment with more modern options. There are several slides and rope ladders but also features like large plastic rings stacked on top of each other that can be climbed.

06Slide

03Ropeladder

02RopeBridge

08Ladder

09Climbing

Overall it was a very nice park to visit. Calvin obviously enjoyed it as he’s already asked if we can go back to this park.

Summary:

Features 2-5 playground equipment, 5-12 playground equipment, spinners, slides, bucket swings, regular swings, “tire” swing, a variety of types of ladders, hanging pod link, balancing steps, rope ladders, rope bridge
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade At this time of year (March) there isn’t much. There might be more when mature trees on surrounding yards leaf out. There’s also smaller trees that are planted in the park that will eventually provide more shade. In addition, there’s a covered picnic area and there is some shading on the playground equipment itself.
Picnic area Yes, one covered picnic area with a picnic table. There’s at least one more picnic table in the field next to the playground.
Parking Convenient street parking
Pros
  • Really nice mix of equipment for older and younger children
  • Fairly large playground that can keep kids interested for quite a while
Cons
  • No restrooms or drinking fountain


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Horizons K-8 School Playground adjacent to Admiral Arleigh A. Burke Park, Boulder, CO

In 2013 the City of Boulder Parks and Planning and Horizons K-8 School partnered with other organization to update the Horizons K-8 school playground which is adjacent to Boulder’s Admiral Arleigh A. Burke Park. The project was completed in September and I was curious to see what had been done. The playground is accessible to the community during non-school hours.

Based on the website it was unclear to me whether the park itself had a playground or only the school grounds. Driving up, it became apparently the park did not have a playground. However, it did have a shelter with a picnic table and some benches.

01Shelter

Thunderbird Lake is within the park and there are walking paths all around it.

02Lake

The park also contains a wood deck which was designed by a University of Colorado class for outdoor classes and meetings. The deck was suppose to be bigger but a pared down design was required in order to finish it by the end of the semester. There were big signs about not allowing skateboarding which the structure really looks ideal for.

03MysteriousStructure

The playground itself is on school property. It has swings, a tire swing, and a tether ball. It also has new playground equipment which appears to use both the PlayBooster and Evos equipment from Landscape Structures. Calvin immediately gravitated to the roller slide. He slide down it once in the traditional style and spent the rest of the time pretending it was a treadmill.

04RollerSlide

I think the Dakota Ridge Park was the first place I’d seen the Evos equipment. It’s very different from the equipment I had growing up with but Calvin loves playing on it and it provides him quite a bit of climbing and strength exercise. I’m now a fan.

05Climbing

06SwiggleBridge

It's hard to tell from a still picture but these circles rotate.

It’s hard to tell from a still picture but these circles rotate.

08OZone

After spending time on the Evos equipment, Calvin transitioned to the more traditional style equipment. He started with the fish net climber.

09NetClimber

The spring bridge was also fun.

10SpringBridge

I’d seen a lot of double slides before but this was the first triple slide I’d seen.

11CloudburstSlide

And finally, he had to climb up the Corkscrew Climber.

12CorkscrewClimber

Also on the playground was a sand area. However, there wasn’t any built-in equipment for it and I hadn’t brought any of our toys so Calvin ignored it.

All-in-all, it was a very nice school playground.

Summary:

Features Swings (no bucket swings), tire swing, tether ball, roller slide, climber, O-Zone climber, Swiggle Stix Bridge, Gyro Twister, Fish Net Climber, Spring Bridge, Triple Slide, Corkscrew Climber, Loop Arch Climber, Covered Slide, Rush Slide
Surface Material Bark Chips
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade No.
Picnic area There’s a covered picnic table but it’s not very close to the playground.
Parking Fairly convenient street parking
Pros
  • Nice new equipment
  • Lots of climbing options
Cons
  • Playground not available during school hours
  • No restrooms


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Playground at Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland

The absolute best playground we visited in Scotland was on day two at the Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. The playground is located on the far western side of the park. The park map we saw neglected to mention there was a playground and we trudged the entire length of the park, Calvin complaining the entire time, on faith having heard a rumor there was suppose to be a playground somewhere.

I was very relieved when we found the park to see it was worth the trek. The park is spectacular. The main playground equipment is setup like a play castle.

04CastlePlayground

It has all the normal playground features such as slides, monkey rings, rope bridges, etc.

03CastleSlide

06MonkeyBars

08RopeBridge

There’s also a climbing wall so you can storm the castle.

07ClimbingWall

The playground also had a wide variety of spinners ranging from single-person spinners to a giant rope climbing apparatus that also spun.

12Spinnerwithoutsun

09IndividualSpinner

02spinner

There’s also a little kids area and the obligatory themed spring rider.

11LittleKidArea

05SpringRider

And, of course, a log swing that looks like it could be used to ram open (fragile) castle gates.

01logswing

If you’re looking at the park facing south, you can see the play castle overshadowed by the real Edinburgh Castle. (The sun was not kind to my pictures.)

10SpinnerAndCastle

Summary:

Features
Surface Material Mostly poured rubber
Restrooms Yes, relatively close, it appears you usually have to pay but we didn’t the day we were there
Water fountain Can’t remember
Shade Reasonable amount of shade
Picnic area Can’t remember but the park itself has a ton of benches.
Parking No
Pros
  • Nice playground equipment
  • Very scenic backdrops
Cons
  • A bit tricky to find if you don’t know where it is.

Playground at Highland Folk Museum, Scotland

I’ve been meaning to post pictures of the Scottish playgrounds we visited but kept procrastinating. While Scotland isn’t quite as overflowing with playgrounds as Hong Kong is, we visit several nice ones. On our seventh day in Scotland we visited the Highland Folk Museum. We arrived toward the end of the day so didn’t have nearly enough time to wander around. However, right within the entrance is a pretty nice playground area for kids.

Among other things, they have the best tire swing I have ever seen. It’s huge.

01TireSwing

The main playground area had a rustic feel to it.

05springrider

However, they had several more modern pieces of playground equipment also. I’m pretty sure one of our Boulder parks has this one:

03modernplay

They also had a fantastic spinner. I think it would have been even better with more people on it.

02spinner

There was also a single-person spinner and a wobbly balance beam to walk on.

04singlespinner

Away from the main playground area there’s also a digger, fairly close to their sawmill building.

06Digger

Summary:

Features Modern age 5-12 playground equipment, log-house style playground equipment, wooder spring rider, amazing tire swing, large spinner, individual spinner, wobbly balance beam
Surface Material Mostly bark chips
Restrooms Yes, relatively close
Water fountain Can’t remember
Shade The more modern playground is shaded by the trees but the wood-based playground elements don’t appear to get shade.
Picnic area Can’t remember.
Parking Parking for the museum
Pros
  • Best Tire Swing Ever
  • Nice variety of equipment
Cons
  • N/A

Columbine Park, Boulder, CO

After Salberg Park I decided to drop by Columbine Park which was just a few blocks away. Earlier in the morning when I was trying to decide where to go I stumbled across a Boulder City post about their Top 10 Nature Play Parks. Columbine Park was on the list but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be large enough to amuse Calvin for more than a couple of minutes.

Columbine Park was a very pleasant surprise. It doesn’t have any traditional playground structures but still had enough elements to keep Calvin amused. The first thing he did was run over to the “OmniSpin Spinner” which appears to be a modern equivalent of a merry-go-round. It’s definitely a cut above most modern merry-go-rounds but I found it difficult to get up to a nice speed (being pregnant probably doesn’t help). Even though it goes slower, it’s pretty comfortable to sit in. I relaxed in it for a bit and let Calvin (briefly) spin me.

01MerryGoRound

Next up, Calvin climbed aboard the “Oodle Swing” (at least, I think it’s an Oodle swing, definitely similar if it’s not that exactly). Add some pillows and I think it’d make a nice hammock-like swing for a kid to read in.

02Swing

The playground also have several rocks with rope ladders to climb up.

03Climbing

A unique feature of this park is its extended balance path consisting of pretend tree stumps, rocks, log balance beams, and log tunnels. Calvin enjoyed running back and forth on them.

05Balance1

06Log

07Balance2

The park also had a fake “stream” wandering around one edge of the playground area with rocks providing more balance options.

08Stream

The final feature of the park is a tree. Normally, I just mention the man-made structures. However, this was a perfect playground tree. Its branches hang low enough to the ground that children ducking under toward the trunk are nicely hidden. Plus, the branches are low enough to the ground that children can climb up the (sap-leaking) tree. This is probably not an officially approved activity but I liked Calvin have the opportunity to climb on something actually natural, not just nature-imitating. Calvin didn’t go up more than a couple of branches but enjoyed that bit of climbing up by himself.

04Tree

I was amused to see a sign indicating the playground was designed for ages 5-12. I know they have to do this for safety reasons but there was a lot that younger kids could get from this park. I think it’s one we might go back and visit once 2.1 is born.

Summary:

Features Multi-person swing, merry-go-round substitute, lots of balancing elements, several rocks/ropes to climb, good climbing tree
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms No (though there’s an elementary school behind the park that might be available if you get desperate)
Water fountain Yes, it was even turned on
Shade Yes, there’s quite a bit of shade provided by a picnic structure and mature trees.
Picnic area Yes, one covered picnic area with a couple of tables, including wheelchair friendly tables.
Parking Fairly convenient street parking
Pros
  • Lots of balancing options
  • Merry-go-round-like equipment
  • Good climbing tree
  • Interesting multi-person swing
Cons
  • No traditional playground equipment, may bore some kids?
  • No restrooms


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