Can I get a drum roll? Here are the Top Five Playgrounds in South Puget Sound, arrived at through a totally unscientific process that involved me sitting and thinking. Thanks to those of you who chimed in on the Facebook page. I loved hearing your nicknames for your favorite parks. My husband reminded me that when our oldest was small his favorite was, “The park we goed before.”
5. Bradley Lake Park-Puyallup One of the only playgrounds in the state specifically designed to be fully accesible for children with special needs. The bright, colorful structure swarms with kids on a sunny day. There is an older, more traditional structure that will appeal to grade schoolers, and the trail around the lake is a great place to ride bikes or watch fishermen. Downside? Crowds. In the summer this place is a magnet for day care groups and field trips. Put on a coat and go today, and you’re likely to have the place to yourself!
4. Discovery Pond at the Tacoma Nature Center-Bridges to cross, trees to climb, and a water pump. Won’t interest older children for long, but little ones will be in heaven. There are some small exhibits in the building, and the trails around Snake Lake are great for budding naturalists. The Nature Center offers classes for home schoolers and is a great resource for Scout groups and others. Note: Check the schedule before you go play, as the Discovery Pond is sometimes reserved for special events.
3. Fort Steilacoom Park, Lakewood-I got a kick out of hearing how many families call this, “Castle park.” Great, fort-like structure, plus a sandbox and equipment suited to younger children. A wonderful place for active, imaginative play for kids of all ages. Downside? It’s easy to lose sight of kids in the turrets and tunnels. SFM tip: Teach your kids to yell, “Here I am,” when you call.
2. Sehmel Park, Gig Harbor-Truly amazing play equipment I haven’t seen at any other playground, and we’ve checked out our share! Plenty of appeal for older kids and a sandbox for younger ones. Downside? The whole town will be there with you. Go on a day like today, and you’ll have a little elbow room.
1. Discovery Playground at Les Gove Park, Auburn Designed to be accesible for children with special needs, it features a merryground, climbing wall, and a sensory garden. Some truly first class equipment, and it’s right next to the sprayground and the White River Valley Museum. We went a few weeks ago and had the place largely to ourselves. It’s really worth a day trip.
Edit: I wrote this list before the new playgrounds at Chambers Creek in University Place and Kandle Park in Tacoma opened. Both definitely belong on this list. Rather than bumping any of the others off, I’ll just tell you to check them out, too!
Btw, my Runners-up are definitely worth a stop, too!
If I’ve missed a favorite park or playground hang out for you and your crew, please do chime in!