Category Archives: Parks and Playgrounds

Westmoreland Park Nature Play, Portland, OR

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go down to Portland to visit my grandmother. We decided to stay at a hotel downtown near OMSI1. I was delight to discover that our Pacific Science Center membership included a reciprocal agreement with OMSI, along with other science center/museums, for free general admission. We all went our first day. However, on our second day Calvin wanted to go back but Julian wanted to go to a playground instead. Several years ago my mom sent me an article about a trend toward natural playgrounds in Portland. I had been wanting to visit one for years but the timing was never convenient. However, Julian’s wish to go to a playground seemed like a good time to try one out.
Natural Playground with slide, rock towers, and logs.
Julian and I hopped into the car and, trusting Google maps, successfully found the Westmoreland park. There didn’t seem to be a parking lot but street parking was adequate, at least for a drizzly day2. The first thing we saw was a grassy area with a bunch of picnic tables.
picnic tables
From the picnic area we crossed a bridge to get to the play area.
Bridge between picnic area and playground.

View from bridge

View from the bridge.


Julian immediately headed for a group of logs installed horizontal to the ground.
Julian crawling on logs.
He was so proud when he was able to stand up and walk on them.
Julian walking on the log.
These logs led to a tower of rocks for kids to climb.
Julian climbing rocks.
There were a variety of other wood climbing options but they were too big for Julian. I think Calvin would have enjoyed them if he had been there.
Wood climbing tower.
Another wood climbing option.
They also had some logs propped against a small hill. Julian seemed to enjoy climbing them but they didn’t keep his attention as much as the horizontal logs did.
Julian climbing up logs.

There was also a sand area which Julian enjoyed.
Sand pit with toys and stumps.
It looks like in summer there may be an option to play with water in the sand which would be fantastic.
Water Spouts.

Overall, it was a fun playground and a lovely park to visit. However, I’m not convinced the “natural” play area has any innate advantage over the more traditional playground.

Summary:

Features Many climbing opportunities on logs, stumps, and stone, small slide, sand area, water area (I think) in summer.
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Lovely mature trees that look like they might provide a nice amount of shade.
Picnic area Yes, though main picnic area isn’t within site of the play area.
Parking Street parking.
Coffee None.
Pros
  • Natural aesthetic makes for a nice change.
  • Large sand area
Cons
  • Not much for really small kids.


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

  1. Still my favorite science museum.
  2. Contrary to what the pictures show, the park had a lot of people in it. I was just trying to avoid taking pictures of other people. This is one reason I haven’t done a post about Gas Works Playground yet. It’s always mobbed and impossible to avoid pictures of other children.

North Transfer Center Playground, Seattle, WA

One of the things I like about our current house is we live within walking distance of three playgrounds. The North Transfer Station playground recently re-opened1. It’s nature themed so Julian refers to it as the “tree playground”.
Main playground equipment
The main play structure looks like a tree fort. Complete with little critters hiding in the tree.
Raccoon peaking from tree trunk.
Julian enjoyed walking up and down the climbing logs.
Climbing logs up play equipment.
There were also fake tree stumps dividing the main play structure from the climbing net. The stumps were handy for the parents to sit on.
Tree stumps.
The logs were fun to balance on.
Logs to balance on.

Across the road, on the transfer station side, there’s a variety of equipment for stretching and some strength exercises. Technically, they’re not for kids but Julian enjoyed them anyway.
Pull up bar.

Balance Equipment
Sit up Equipment.

Overall, it’s a fun park and Julian has requested we visit several times since our initial visit.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, slide, log climber, ladder, Centipede Climber, talk tube, periscopes, net climber, logs to walk on
Exercise Equipment (on other side of the road) Springer, bench, stepper, pull-ups, sit-ups, stretch
Surface Material Mainly wood chips and some poured rubber
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Not much.
Picnic area A couple of small picnic tables.
Parking Street parking.
Coffee About a block from The Essential Baking Company.
Pros
  • A nice basic playground.
Cons
  • No bathrooms.
  • Not much for really small kids.


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

  1. It had been closed due to substandard initial work.

Webster Park, Seattle

Back in November Julian and I went to the Webster Park Playground which is near our rental house in Ballard. It’s right next door to the old Webster school1. I loved the bright colors of the playground equipment.
Brightly colored play structure.
This playground looks primarily designed for ages 5-122. There wasn’t a playground structure designed for 2-5 year-olds. However, they did have swings for both young and older kids. In addition, there was a sandbox with some community toys!
Sandbox with toys.
Julian particularly loved climbing on the net rope strung between two large climbing boulders.
Climbing net and rocks.
The playground is “interactive”. I didn’t try it, but there’s an app you can download from Biba to use with the playground.
Biba app sign with info on how to download the app to play with it in the playground.
The park also has a basketball court, grass lawn, and a sundial.
Sundial.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), telescope, drums, interactive Biba app, wheel panel, gears panel, rope ladder, tunnel, climber, double slide, curved slide, climbing rocks, rope net, number panel, sandbox, community sand toys
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms No
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. (Not sure if they would shade the play equipment in summer).
Picnic area No.
Parking Currently there’s a parking lot by the old school. That will disappear if the school opens with its current proposal.
Coffee No.
Pros
  • A variety of options for older kids.
  • Sandbox!
Cons
  • No bathrooms.


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

  1. This use to house the Nordic Heritage Museum which recently moved to a new location.
  2. With the caveat that my kids start playing on the 5-12 equipment by 2 1/2 or before . . .

Update: Wallingford Playfield, Seattle

Update
I’m doomed. I just read on the Wallyhood blog that Wallingford Playfield’s playground is now closed. Given my past experience with construction projects I have no faith it will re-open before we move or my kids are too old to appreciate it1. That said, the proposed play structures do look very nice.

Original
Last 4th of July I was by myself because the kids were with Jaeger’s parents and Jaeger was still in San Francisco. I headed to Gas Works Park to view the festivities but it was a little crowded for my taste so I decided to wander around and see what houses were for sale. I like walking around neighborhoods because you see things that aren’t as obvious when driving. On my quest, I ended up walking through Wallingford Playfield and was delighted to see that it had a large wading pool.

We ended up buying a house within walking distance of Wallingford Playfield2 and, on one of our numerous visits to the house, the kids and I dropped by the playground.

plaground-structure2_small

Wallingford Playfield has a traditional-style playground. It has both a very nice structure for older kids as well as a smaller structure for younger kids.
Play structure for 2-5 year olds.

Julian enjoyed moving the rings back and forth on the smaller structure.
Three bars with rings that can be moved back and forth.

Calvin was excited to see that the playground has a traditional merry-go-round. It also has a traditional tire swing.
merry-go-round picture

Julian loved the digger. Unlike most playground diggers, this one isn’t in a sandbox. It’s just digging the surrounding dirt/mud. Julian also loved climbing the rocks that surrounded the play area.
Julian using the digger to dig mud.

The wading pool had been drained for the season but I’m looking forward to taking the kids there next summer.
wading-pool_small

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), tire swing, 2-5 year-old play structure, merry-go-round, digger, rocks, trees, large half-circle climbing structure, circular monkey bars, seasonal wading pool, climbing wall, curved slide, tunnel slide, ladder, fireman pole, tunnel, chain net, steering wheel panel, corkscrew climber, simplified abacus panel, small curved slide, bridge, double slide, tennis courts, soccer fields
Surface Material Mostly wood chips. Parts are surrounded by poured rubber
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. The larger structure has a roof on some sections and underneath is fairly shady.
Picnic area Yes, multiple picnic tables.
Parking Street Parking
Coffee No.
Pros
  • Nicely balanced play structures. Something for every age.
  • Has both merry-go-round and tire swing
Cons
  • No coffee.


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

  1. Right before we moved to San Francisco the Balboa Park Pool closed for renovation and is still closed.
  2. Jaeger claims I think everything is within walking distance, which is somewhat true. However, this is also within walking distance for Julian.

Roxhill Park, Seattle

Ok . . . it’s been a while. So much stuff has happened and I didn’t have the time or energy to record most of it. However, I took my kids to Roxhill Park today1 and I got inspired to do another playground post. The last one was when Julian was a baby and we still lived in Boulder, CO.

We went to Roxhill Park on the recommendation of the Seattle Family Adventures book. It’s down in West Seattle so driving was the only practical way to get there for us. Google Maps took us to the southern side of the park. However, we did find both the playground and parking lot located near the northwest corner.

South side of playground with playground structures and swings.

Roxhill Park has two castle structures. One for ages 5-12 and one for 2-5. The smaller castle was cute and had a small double slide.

Small structure with double slide.

The structure for older kids was much bigger. Though, it also only had one slide.

5-12 Castle Playground Structure

While this playground does have things for smaller kids to do, it excels at climbing options for older kids. On the north side of the playground there is a large dome-like structure that has various types of climbing nets for kids to climb.

North side of playground. Shows the climbing options.

Then, there’s another structure that has plastic climbing holds to scramble up.
Structure with plastic climbing holds.

It also has more traditional playground equipment such as monkey bars and hanging rings. Julian particularly liked the balance poles.
Julian crossing the balance poles.

As I mentioned, the playground does have some things for smaller kids. In addition to the small play structure, there are also swings for all ages as well as a nice sand play area.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, curved tunnel slide, corkscrew climber, money bars, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), 2-5 year old play structure, small double slide, sand, small climbing wall with rope, rope climbing structures, other climbing structures, new-style merry-go-round (seats 4), balance poles, small bridges, fireman pole (attached to rope structure), rope ladder, skate park, ball fields
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. Depending on the time of day, significant parts of the playground are in shade.
Picnic area Yes, multiple picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot.
Coffee2 Starbucks in nearby Target.
Pros
  • Really nice climbing options
  • Target (with embedded Starbucks) one street over. Convenient for emergency diaper pickups and coffee.
  • Sand play area.
Cons
  • Not as much stuff for little kids to do compared to other playgrounds.


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

  1. Yes, we now live in a Seattle. Everyone is still a little surprised.
  2. This is a new category for Jaeger.

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.


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

  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


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

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.


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

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


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

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.


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map