Category Archives: Parks and Playgrounds

East Boulder Community Park, Boulder, CO

The weather has calmed down a bit, at least for the moment. Boulder has great parks but, sadly, they don’t have water features nor a lot of shade. Thus, most summer days I was unwilling to drag myself to the park. Then, we had a lot of lovely rain that turned into flooding. Even I must admit we got too much rain. Several days after the flood the weather was in the lower 70s and sunny, perfect park weather. Unfortunately, every park we tried was closed due to flooding or the roads to the park were closed.

Today, we tried another excursion, this time to East Boulder Community Park. I also made sure to check ahead of time that it wasn’t on the closed park list and all the roads to it were open.

playground5-12

This playground is in a large park complex that includes a rec center, lake, dog park, tennis courts, handball courts, and squash courts (we have these in the US?). The playground itself is very nicely designed. Most of it is fenced in, probably to prevent the ducks from getting in, but it also nicely corrals the children. In addition, there’s a very wide variety of playground equipment for all ages as well as shaded picnic tables.

Before we entered the playground area, Calvin got distracted by the lake and the ducks. However, Calvin lost interest fairly quickly.

communityparklake

As soon as we entered, Calvin headed straight for the prominent reptile. He was going to climb up on it but the sun had made its surface fairly hot.

alligator

After the reptile, Calvin headed straight for the play area designed for 5-12 year olds.

playground5-12

This play equipment had a couple of unique features. One of them was the rollerslide.

rollerslide

Calvin managed to do fairly well on the roller log. He keeps getting bigger . . .

logroll

The equipment also had three different types of bridges: an arch bridge, belt bridge (basically reinforced rubber), and a “clatter” bridge.

archbridge

beltbridge

clatterbridge

It also had “enrichment” options such as the maze panel, tic-tac-toe, and bubble panel.

mazepanel

tictactoe

bubblepanel

I was fascinated by the “spiral climber.” They were pretty big steps but Calvin managed.

spiralclimber

Also, Calvin is hanging on better to overhead equipment. This is the trapeze horizontal ladder. He couldn’t manage to get to the next trapeze bar but hung on this one for a fairly long time.

TrapezeHorizontalLadder

Calvin briefly went over and explored the equipment designed for 2-5 year olds but found it fairly uninteresting.

playground2-5

There is also a “club house” and a contraption that looked like it was suppose to be hooked up to water. However, it wasn’t turned on.

clubhouse

Most of the surface material was sand. However, they had an official sandbox as well as a digger.

sandbox

However, the highlight of the visit was probably the discovery of the “playworks” structure. At first it looks like just another piece of playground equipment. However, if you look closer, you can see it has various tubes running through the structure as well as tethered shovels to pour sand into the tops of the tubes.

sandplayworks0

sandplayworks1

The tethered shovels were good in that they wouldn’t walk away. However, they are a bit awkward to use. Fortunately, I had brought along Calvin’s shovel, pail, and dump truck just in case we discovered sand. This allowed Calvin to put sand in his bucket and lug it up, and then use his shovel to move the sand down to his dump truck at the bottom of the tube.

sandplayworks2

This is a very nice playground. I’ll definitely plan to visit it again in the future.

Summary:

Features 5-12 year old equipment, 2-5 year old equipment, club house, sand box, sand play works (tubes and shovels), sand digger, roller slide, covered slide, bridges, tic-tac-toe, maze panel, bubble panel, spiral steps, trapeze horizontal ladder, log roll, regular swings, bucket swings, track ride, spring riders
Surface Material Mostly sand but some poured rubber
Restrooms I assume there are restrooms in the rec center but didn’t see anything obvious near the playground
Water fountain Not sure
Shade Shaded shelter with picnic tables. The 5-12 year old play equipment does get some shade from trees but the rest is un-shaded.
Picnic area There are two small covered shelter with picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot for both the playground, community center, and everything else in the area.
Pros
  • Amazing variety of equipment for a fairly small area
  • Has a nice variety of things for children to play on regardless of age.
  • Lots of nice sand play options
Cons
  • Nothing obvious


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Scot Carpenter Park, Boulder, CO

One Sunday, a couple of weeks back, the weather went from being oppressively hot to comfortable temperatures with a slight drizzle. I jumped at the opportunity to go outside in reasonably nice weather and decided to take Calvin to the park.

Calvin had asked me the previous day if we could go to the “rocket park”. He meant the Scott Carpenter Park which is probably most famous for the 4-story rocket. When he was younger Calvin had to be coached up by daddy. However, now he blithely scrambles to the top by himself.

01rocket

Upon first entering the park, there are two large metal discs that allow you to make echoes.

07rocket

The rocket is the most prominent feature in the playground. However, it has quite a few different play areas.

02rocket

There’s a sand area that I think is suppose to be moon-crater-like.

03rocket

Calvin enjoyed scrambling up the rock.

04rocket

Even though Calvin is comfortable with the biggest structures now, he still likes scrambling through the little toddler tunnels.

05rocket

There’s also a couple of space-themed spring riders. This one is a two-seater that he convinced me to hop on with him after the picture.

06rocket

All-in-all, it’s a very nice park. The only slight downside is it’s so popular it can become mobbed.

Summary:

Features 4-story rocket!, sand pit, playground equipment for everyone from toddlers to older children, swings, bucket swings, spring riders, slides, spiral slide, covered slide, double slide, echo panels, ladders, climbing nets, fireman poles
Surface Material Mostly pea gravel but some poured rubber
Restrooms I think there are restrooms, or at least a porta-potty but I forget to check for sure. The Scott Carpenter pool is right next to the playground and they must have restrooms there.
Water fountain Not sure
Shade Shaded shelter with picnic tables. However, none of the playground equipment is shaded and it’s of older materials and may get hot.
Picnic area There is one covered shelter with picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot for both the park, the pool, and everything else in the area.
Pros
  • Rocket!
  • Has a nice variety of things for children to play on regardless of age.
Cons
  • Can be very crowded at times.


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Holiday Park, Boulder, CO

While visiting the Reading in Spires Little Library, Calvin wandered over to play at the playground equipment. This park had almost nothing indicating its name or purpose. However, based on the a sign advertising “movies in the park”, I eventually decided it must be a Holiday HOA created park. Unlike our HOA, there were no nasty signs telling non-residents to leave immediately1.

moviesinthepark

The playground isn’t large but has a nice selection of things to climb.

Kompan "Triple Shifter"

Kompan “Triple Shifter”

They had several large rock-like sculptures that I thought Calvin would enjoy climbing. However, we mostly hid under the larger one avoiding the rain.

The plaque on one of the rocks says it's by Monolithic Sculpture Inc.  This appears to have been a Boulder company at one point.

The plaque on one of the rocks says it’s by Monolithic Sculpture Inc. This appears to have been a Boulder company at one point.

Landscape Structures "SpringRing Bouncer"

Landscape Structures “SpringRing Bouncer”

We didn’t spend a huge amount of time at this park. However, that was mainly because I wanted to go see the next little library. Calvin probably would have had fun for another half hour if I had let him.

As we were walking back to the car, I noticed one of the surrounding buildings is guarded by gargoyles.
gargoyle

Summary:

Features climbing structures, ring bouncer, pretend megaphone, pretend binoculars, stairs to nowhere
Surface Material poured rubber
Restrooms No restrooms πŸ™
Water fountain None
Shade Very little. Eventually some of the trees may grow tall enough to provide shade. The largest rock allows some huddling under.
Picnic area There are a couple of picnic tables
Pros
  • Interesting things to climb on
Cons
  • No bathrooms of any kind.


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  1. Our HOA probably does it for safety reasons . . . or something. Personally, the more kids there are in the park, the happier I am because Calvin will play with them instead of asking me to play with him.

Christiansen Park, Boulder, CO

One the way home from the Arapahoe Ridge Park we stopped by Christiansen Park. This park is more of a neighborhood park in size. It has a nice structure and some swings but nothing that makes it overly unique.

christensenpark

Calvin immediately became enthralled with the chalk hopscotch markings that had been left on the sidewalk.

hopscotch

The playground equipment had both a double slide and a spiral slide.

doubleslide

These are the first dinosaur spring riders I’ve seen.
dinosaurspringrider

Calvin enjoyed hanging upside down on the bike rack.

bikerack

Calvin particularly enjoyed the sliding pole. He went slid down it several times. However, the last time he got a friction burn and decided it was time to go home.

slidingpole

Summary:

Features Double slide, spiral slide, age 5-12 playground equipment, bucket swings, swings, dinosaur spring riders, sliding pole, shaded bench and picnic table, biking paths
Surface Material Sand with poured rubber underneath the double slide
Restrooms No restrooms πŸ™
Water fountain None
Shade Shaded shelter with picnic table. There is also a shaded bench.
Picnic area There is one covered shelter with a picnic table
Pros
  • Nice neighborhood park
Cons
  • No bathrooms of any kind.


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Arapahoe Ridge Park, Boulder, CO a.k.a. Rock Park

We haven’t gone to the park recently because it’s been beastly hot (i.e. above 80 degrees). Last week wasn’t too bad but I spent much of the week wandering around to various libraries looking at their ILS (catalog system). Fortunately, mom was around to watch Calvin since preschool had their summer conference and was closed Wednesday-Friday. This morning I took mom back to the airport. When I arrived back home I was shocked to see it was still in the 70s. I had planned to do USEFUL THINGS but decided we needed to grab the opportunity to go to the park while the weather was bearable.

Today I decided we’d go to Arapahoe Ridge Park. I saw a post about it on 8Z Real Estate that sounded interesting1

ArapahoeRidgePark

In some ways, the park is very traditional. It actually has a real merry-go-round which I didn’t realize still existed in any Boulder parks.

merrygoround

What really makes this park stand out though is the rock cave and tunnel system. It’s a man-made structure that has numerous tunnels kids can wiggle through as well as a large cave area that can fit quite a few children. Most parks we’ve visited have one or two mothers with their young kids. However, when we arrived at this one there was a swath of older neighborhood kids who were hanging out in the cool cave area.

rockcave

The tunnels were fun looking but definitely sized for children, not adults. One father was playing tag with his kids. He did manage to wiggle through the tunnels without getting stuck but his kids had a definite advantage.

rocktunnel

Calvin enjoyed clambering on top of the rocks.

rockwalking

rocksitting

Calvin called the little cave a house.

inrockcave

rockhole

The park also has an older-style playground which apparently use to have a slide but, according to the 8z site, was removed because it allowed the kids to go too fast. What remains is a tic-tac-toe feature, which Calvin got me to play with him, and 3 steering wheels.

steeringwheels

Summary:

Features Rock cave and tunnels, bucket swings, tennis court, ball field, tic-tac-toe feature, steering wheels, spring riders merry-go-round, grill, shaded picnic table, shaded benches
Surface Material Pea Gravel
Restrooms No restrooms πŸ™
Water fountain None
Shade Shaded shelter with picnic table. There are also several shaded benches. However, most of the play equipment, except in the rock cave, is out under the sun
Picnic area There is one covered shelter with a picnic table
Parking Parking was a little odd. There doesn’t appear to be any official parking lot so we ended up parking in one of the cul-de-sacs that were close to the park.
Pros
  • Rock cave/tunnel
  • Merry-go-round
Cons
  • No bathrooms of any kind.


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  1. The 8z post says there is a baby bucket swing as well as a regular swing. All I saw were 2 bucket swings, no regular ones.

Herbert Park, Lincoln, NE, USA

We’ve been in Lincoln for the past couple of days visiting friends. We’ve spent most of this time playing board games that are way above Calvin’s current abilities. While we do this he watches an excessive amount of videos or plays with Legos. However, I’ve been trying to make sure he has at least one active thing to do each day.

Yesterday I took Calvin to Herbert Park which is relatively near our friends’ house. I forgot my phone to take pictures. However, the visit didn’t last as long as I was expecting. The park has a wonderful old-fashioned merry-go-round. Anya and I pushed Calvin on it for a pretty long time. Then, he went over to the swings. I gave him one big push on the swing and Calvin regurgitated supper. So, we decided that was enough park for the day.

Today, Jaeger and I took Calvin back to the park, before supper, and this time I remembered my phone. This park is hidden away, Anya didn’t even realize it was there before I found it on the city’s list of parks with playgrounds. It wasn’t clear where the park entrace was so the first time I went there I went south on 81st and turned left on Trail Ridge Rd. I found a place to park but it required hiking through a field to get down to the playground. This time I turned right and was able to park close to the playground on Apache Trail.

HerbertPark1

Calvin remembered the merry-go-round fondly from our last visit and immediately headed to it. I did agree to push him on the merry-go-round again but limited it to shorter pushes with more breaks in between.

merry-go-round

Calvin briefly played with the spring rider but didn’t find it nearly as novel as the merry-go-round.

springrider

The playground also had some traditional playground equipment that is technically rated for ages 5-12. It had both a curved slide and a straight one. Calvin pretended the equipment was a ship and slid down the slide to get to a life raft, which was a rubber square.

slide

The park has a digger but it’s a little too big for Calvin and also isn’t in top condition (though still workable).

digger

Jaeger pushed Calvin a bit on the swings without any unfortunate incidences this time.

swings

All-in-all, it’s a nice little park. We’ll probably visit it again next time we’re in Lincoln.

Summary:

Features Swings, bucket swings, merry-go-round, digger, age 5-12 playground equipment, slide, circular slide, 2 spring riders
Surface Material Rubber for most of the area with a sand/pea gravel combo for the swing and digger area
Restrooms Yes! There’s a porta potty across the bridge next to the park entrance
Water fountain Yes, next to the porta potty
Shade There are a several mature trees that offer shade for the benches, not as much shade for the playground equipment
Picnic area Several picnic tables including a covered shelter on the other side of the bridge
Pros
  • Merry-go-round! (hard to find these days)
  • Bathrooms and water fountain
Cons
  • Playground equipment is not too old but is showing signs of very minor wear
  • It’s a little hard to find the right place to park on the first visit


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Park East, Boulder, CO, USA

Today we visited a park that Jaeger use to play at when he was a child: Park East.

ParkEastSign

This park also benefited from the 2011 Capital Improvement Bond. According to Jaeger’s mom it’s a great improvement. Sometimes I wonder about how Boulder spends its money but I love what they’re doing to the playground equipment.

This playground is definitely more traditional than Dakota Ridge Park.
playground

Calvin enjoyed spinning around on their stand-up spinner.

calvintwirls2

So did Nana.

NanaandCalvinSpin

He also briefly enjoyed the “turtle” spring rider.

calvinbounces

However, I think his favorite playground feature was the ring-a-bell panel. I was a little disappointed by it because there weren’t enough tones to play any sort of song. This didn’t seem to bother Calvin.

calvinmusic

The playground had several swings. They had a couple regular swings, a couple of toddler bucket swings, and then an odd molded plastic bucket swing. My best guess is it’s for people with disabilities but I’m not entirely sure. Calvin tried it out but didn’t seem very excited by it.

calvinswings

A couple of the older park features still exist such as the shelter, though it has a new wheelchair ramp up to it. Also, there’s a couple of trees that fascinated Calvin because they were surrounded by a foot or two of concrete.

tree

There was also a little climbing wall and rock that Calvin scampered on.

calvinclimbing

climbingwall

All-in-all, it’s a nice little neighborhood park but probably not one I’ll go out of my way to visit again.

Summary:

Features Double slide, swings, bucket swings, molded bucket swing, stand-up spinner, small climbing wall and rock, Stationary Monkey Rings, Ring-a-Bell Panel, Basketball court
Surface Material rubber
Restrooms No restrooms πŸ™
Water fountain None
Shade Shaded shelter with picnic table. There are plenty of trees but only some are close enough to provide shade near the playground
Picnic area There is one covered shelter with a picnic table
Pros
  • New equipment
Cons
  • No bathrooms of any kind.


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Dakota Ridge Park, Boulder, CO, USA

Today was another New Park Day. This time we went to the Dakota Ridge Park. I hadn’t been in this Boulder subdivision before. It’s on the far north west side of the city. The park is surrounded by fancy row houses. The park itself is very new and modern looking.

dakotaridge

I miss the old-style playground equipment: real teeter-totters, merry-go-rounds, and tall straight slides. However, after playing at this park, I have to admit there’s something to be said about the newer playground equipment also. This park was full of all sorts of things for Calvin to climb on. Not the traditional playground equipment but ropes, rings, and springs.

evos

O-Zone Climber

O-Zone Climber

Cycler

Cycler

Blender Spinner

Blender Spinner

Swiggle Stix Bridge

Swiggle Stix Bridge

Helix Net Climber

Helix Net Climber

RingTangle Climber

RingTangle Climber

Hemisphere Climber

Hemisphere Climber

In addition to all the fantastic climbing equipment there was also what I think is suppose to be a traditional merry-go-round substitute. Calvin thought it was amusing but I was disappointed with how hard it was to make go a decent speed. (Though Calvin did fall off once since there’s almost nothing to hang on to.)

Supernova Ring

Supernova Ring

All the fancy equipment is nice. However, Calvin got almost as much kick from running up and down the detention basin.

basin

The park also had a large rock to climb. Calvin was able to climb up by himself but not down.

rock1

rock2

Technically, all this stuff I’ve been showing you is rated for kids ages 5-12. However, the park does have a small play structure for younger kids.

smallstructure

Underneath the small slide is a section that has rings you can slide back and forth on horizontal poles. Almost like baby’s first abacus. Calvin quickly decided these were donuts and I was given one with chocolate sprinkles and one with vanilla sprinkles. Calvin is a huge fan of sprinkles and insists that his donuts must have them.

donutes

After donuts, Calvin drove the bus to take me to the library.
bus

Calvin had a lot of fun at this playground and threw a minor temper tantrum when I decided it was time to go. Too much of a good thing, I guess πŸ™‚

dog

Summary:

Features Areas for ages 2-5 and 5-12, small slide, swings, bucket swings, all sorts of rope climbing equipment as well as a rock to climb, spinning ring (kind of a merry-go-round substitute)
Surface Material rubber
Restrooms No restrooms πŸ™
Water fountain None
Shade Several man-made shade areas. Trees have been planted around the playground so more natural shade may be available in a few years.
Picnic area There are two covered areas that each have a picnic table.
Pros
  • New equipment
  • Lots of things to climb on
Cons
  • No bathrooms of any kind.


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East Palo Park, Boulder, CO, USA

A couple of years ago Calvin, Nana, and I had a little extra time and decided to stop at the East Palo Park. I don’t remember much about it except it had a couple of interesting features but no shade and no bathrooms. Since today was forecasted to be in the mid-seventies, it seemed like a good day to try out a park that wouldn’t be suitable for hotter summer days.

Upon arriving at the park, I was pleasantly surprised to see it had been newly updated1.

eastpalo1

After getting out of the car, Calvin immediately ran to the older section of the playground which included a curved climber and new-style teeter totter.
curvedclimber

teetertotter

The old digger sand area was also still there but was greatly improved with the addition of some shade.

shade

digger

The new playground structure is in the style of a tree house. It even has a little pretend raccoon sticking out from a hole.
raccoon

bridge

tunnel

treestumps

climbing

The playground has three different surfaces. The area with the swings and teeter totter has pea gravel, the digger area has sand, and the new equipment has the new-style poured rubber. I’m still dubious about rubber. I’ve seen too many playgrounds where it hasn’t worn well and doesn’t get replaced. However, Calvin liked the brightly colored patterns. He jumped in the blue circle and pretended he was playing in a pond.
puddle

As a bonus, the playground appears to be in the flight path for planes landing at the Boulder Municipal Airport.

Summary:

Features Slides, swings, bucket swings, climbing net, new-style teeter totter, diggers and sand, curved climber, horse spring rider, small climbing wall
Surface Material pea gravel by the swings, sand in the digger area, and rubber for the main playground equipment
Restrooms No restrooms πŸ™
Water fountain None
Shade several man-made shade areas
Picnic area There is a picnic shelter that provides shade with two picnic tables as well as several open-air picnic tables.
Pros
  • New equipment that looks nice and is safe.
  • Diggers and sand!
  • Has a large grassy field nearby for sports or just running around.
  • Airplanes overhead!
Cons
  • No bathrooms of any kind. This would have been a major problem for Calvin a year or two ago.
  • Most of the playground equipment is rated for 5-12 year olds. Calvin had no problem with any of the equipment but, with the exception of the spring horse and bucket swings, there isn’t much for young toddlers.


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  1. Upon returning home, I found this pdf from just last year discussing the playground improvement project.

City Park, Denver, CO, USA

Since Calvin is getting picky about his playgrounds, I decided I might as well play along and post profiles of the various parks we visit.

Calvin didn’t have preschool and I decided against trying to work today. So, inspired by Dr. Mike’s most recent podcast, I decided to plan some sort of outdoor activity. Originally, I was thinking of going up to the mountains but decided a mountain excursion would be better for a time when it was too hot down here.

Several months ago our family visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. As we started to drive home I caught a glimpse of an interesting looking playground next to the Duck Pond within City Park. Today, Calvin was interested in visiting a new park so I packed a lunch and we hopped into the car1.

CityPark1

The playground in City Park is a whimsical wooden structure that has areas for both young and older children. The younger area is partially enclosed by a fence and contains some toddler swings, a jeep, an area to play tic-tac-toe2, some structures to clamor on, and a concrete elephant.

Calvin Riding the Jeep

Calvin Riding the Jeep

Calvin riding the elephant

Calvin riding the elephant

The older kid section had several different equipment groupings that look like they’d be perfect for tag. There were also regular swings as well as an odd tire swing. Overall, the structures looked fun but the playground is definitely aging. In some places the bars had gone missing and plywood had been nailed to keep kids from accidentally falling through. At one point Calvin started shaking a railing and I stopped him because I was afraid he might manage to pull it loose.

Calvin Climbing

Calvin Climbing

cityparkclimbing2

cityparktightrope

cityparktireswing

citypark2
Summary:

Features Wooden play structures, slides, swings, bucket swings, tire swing, rope net, jeep spring rider, monkey bars, monkey rings, balance rope
Surface Material Bark chips
Restrooms A large porta potty is close to the playground with several smaller ones a little bit further away.
Water fountain Didn’t see any
Shade The playground is surrounded by mature trees and there are several shady areas.
Picnic area There are several picnic tables close to the playground equipment. While I didn’t see any covered picnic tables, several are shaded by dense trees.
Nearby Attractions Duck pond, Denver Zoo, and Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Pros
  • Interesting multi-level playground equipment
  • A good amount of shade
  • Restroom nearby which looks like it’s available year-round (though it is a porta potty with no sink)
Cons
  • The parking is free but may be difficult to find later in the day due to the playground’s proximity to the zoo and museum
  • The entire area is overflowing with geese so don’t plan to picnic on the lawn which is littered with feces from the geese. However, the playground itself seems free.
  • The wooden railings are wearing out

cityparkgeese

Overall, Calvin seemed to have a good time though it didn’t keep him occupied for as long as I expected. We probably would have stayed longer if there had been more children his age.

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  1. Ok, that makes it sound like it was a quick and easy process. However, nothing is that quick or easy when it involves Calvin.
  2. Is this a game little kids play?