August 2, 2010

This. Is. It.

Here is  the #1 playground ever created.  We found it by happy accident.  The reason the boys look exhausted at the front gates is that we had already spent three hours in a nearby pool/splash pad.  I kept seeing this park in the distance and was dazzled by the colorful structures.  I decided to hike towards it once we had packed up our towels, cooler, and flip-flops.  It was about 1/3 of a mile past where we had parked the car.  Henry insisted he had enough energy to walk.  He sure did--but I think Liam, in his stroller,  had the best deal of the day.

Every photo you see here was taken at the playground.  I have never seen so many fun, kid-friendly structures in one public park.  (And I've been to a lot of playgrounds.)  The design of this happy space left me in awe.  I tried to take pictures of everything but missed the sand play area.  It has running water!  Another thing you cannot see in the photos is the seating for parents and caregivers.  Typically, this is an afterthought when it comes to play places, but here there were plenty of shaded benches, picnic tables and (bonus!) the kind of three-person swings you might see on your grandmother's porch.  I cannot tell you how welcoming this was.  I felt like I had discovered Shangri-La.  An oasis among the stark, cookie-cutter suburban playlots we've been frequenting.

I'm on a very tight budget this summer but I'm telling you right now:  I'd pay admission to enter this park.  Please don't let that get around, especially since we reside in a neighboring community and not within the actual park district that built the playground.  (I did pay the $10 nonresident rate to swim in their pool--I guess I'm not taking complete advantage of the recreational facilities.)

The next time we visit I will remember to bring insect repellant.  The mosquitoes were brutal, but only on the path that led to the parking lot.  It was as if they had never seen a human before and were absolutely starving.  It was a bit like that commercial where the man places his hand in a jar full of stinging insects to see if the competitor's repellent really works.  I do feel bad for snapping at Henry to walk faster because I was getting completely eaten as we headed to the car. 

This park is a half hour's drive from our house.  The route that takes us there includes narrow, swerving country roads and one main road that is under construction.  By construction, I mean that the road goes from  four lanes down to one in each direction.  It's the kind of roadwork where there's barely enough width for your car and if you sneeze, you will fall off the edge of the jagged pavement into a gravel abyss.  But boy, I can honestly say, that it is worth the harrowing commute.  (I can't believe it, but there were moments when I thought that we should move to this community to be closer to this park.  Unfortunately it's in the wrong direction.  My goal is to be closer to the City, not even further than we are now.)
Is there a national association that gives awards to the best designed playground?  If so, I would not be one bit surprised if this won the grand prize.  There is not one thing I'd change about it, including the fact that universal design was clearly a priority for the planners.  (You can take the special education teacher out of the classroom for the summer but she's still going to notice these things.)
I will try to remember to bring a ball or two next time so the boys can play on the the basketball court.  Look at this: Tons of colorful hoops at various heights--built for little kid fun, not competition.  I'm telling you--this place is GREAT!  Other things that I will pack in our park bag will be sidewalk chalk and plenty of snacks.  There's a huge chalkboard on one side of the music garden.  This area has many percussion-type instruments for the children to explore and experience.  No, seriously, a  m-u-s-i-c garden!  Who designed this place?  Am I dreaming?

I could go on and on, but really, I just need to figure out how to get back to this awesome space--SOON!
Little Liam has never met a slide he didn't climb


  1. Good Lord, that looks amazing! I see a weekend trip to that park in our near future!! I'm so glad you guys had a good time!

  2. That is amazing! Oh to be 5 again and have that playground!

  3. Holy! That does look like an amazing park!!

  4. As Cory would say " What the Hecka" that place is great! Bright, clean, and FUN!

  5. Wow, that sounds (and looks) like one amazing playground!

  6. ummm.... I want to play at that playground! And I don't have any kids yet. :)

  7. Oh, I love all the basketball goals! I always hated waiting my turn and then missing and then having to wait again. I heart your new playground!!

  8. What an incredible playground! Wow!