Can I get a drum roll, please? Here are the BEST Playgrounds in South Puget Sound, arrived at through a totally unscientific process that involved me sitting and thinking of all the awesome places to take your kiddos. 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.”
For our friends in Federal Way and NE Tacoma, the Center at Norpoint is a one stop shop! With a playground, spray ground, walking trail, zip line, and large field, there’s something for everyone! There are 2 separate play areas, one for the preschool set and one for older kiddos. There are bathrooms available right at the playground as well. Like many parks, there is no shade, so bring your sunscreen or even your beach umbrella. Plenty of room for parents to set up a space and let the kids play. We like to venture down to the field with our soccer ball or even fly a kite, as it’s often windy here at this park on a bluff. Read more of our thoughts in our full review of the Center at Norpoint.
This isn’t the most exciting playground around, unless you’re the mother of a 2 year old who seems bent on running into traffic! I’ve got two words for you: FULLY FENCED. The Tot Lot is located at 555 Contra Costa across from the Fircrest Community Center, just down the street from the pool.
Bradley Lake is 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? It’s crowded. In the summer this place is a magnet for day care groups and field trips. This park also made the list of Best of Western Washington’s Best Playgrounds.
This playground has it all: bridges to cross, trees to climb, and a water pump. While it won’t hold the interest of older kiddos for very long, little ones will be in heaven at the Discovery Pond. If it starts raining, check out the exhibits inside the building where kiddos can explore some animal friends like frogs, fish, and bees or try on animal costumes! The trails around Snake Lake are great for budding naturalists, too. 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.
I got a kick out of hearing how many families call this Castle Park! This playground has a great, fort-like structure, plus a sandbox and equipment suited to younger children. It’s 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 for them.
This playground has truly amazing play equipment unlike any I’ve ever seen, and we’ve checked out our fair share! There’s plenty of appeal for older kids and a sandbox for younger ones. Downside? The whole town will be there with you. Go on a grey day, and you’ll have a little elbow room.
Cool historical fact: The woman for whom the park is named, donated funds from her estate to establish a public playground “for girls and women as well as boys and men”. There is a spray ground, a super sized climbing structure, as well as a smaller version for the preschool set. There are also some really cool pieces of equipment that are sort of updated versions of merry-go-rounds and teeter totters, as well as a set of swings and and a small climbing apparatus. In the summer, check out Kandle Pool for awesome outdoor swimming fun that’s great for ALL ages.
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. Note from SFM: Yes, there are homeless folks who hang out in the grassy area at this park, which is also right by the well-staffed community center and parks department. I have not personally been bothered by anybody here and have always found the park to be well kept up and clean, But, as always, your personal comfort level may vary, so do what works for you and your family!
Located right off of the 320th exit on I-5, this park is easy to access and has lots to do! It looks like a big castle, complete with turrets and a painting of ivy growing up a climbing wall. The entire front area of the playground, which is “sunk” into a wood-chipped area, is designed with 5-12 year olds in mind, with higher places for climbing, running, and swinging. While this playground is HUGE, it also requires a lot more attention from parents to make sure your kiddos don’t run off or stray away. If your kiddos are good at checking in and old enough to play by themselves, this is a winner.
If you’re looking for a playground with a view, it doesn’t get better than this! Sweeping views of the Sound where you are perched atop a hill make for what has to be the best playground with a view in America. There are a variety of playground sections for different age groups, including a cordoned off tot area. Kids above 5 will enjoy the obstacles and places to explore. Best of all, it’s fully fenced, with covered seating for the adults. Do note that there is NO shade. So, if you’re going in the summer, bring your water bottles and sunscreen. Read our full Playground Report of Chambers Creek.
If you loved the views at Chambers Creek, get a closer view from the playground at the new Point Ruston. The playground is made to look like a large ferry, and kiddos can pretend they are charting their own course across the Sound. There are no bathrooms at the actual playground, but if you walk around back front near the parking there are public restrooms inside the facility. If you have time, check out the cool historical info, artifacts, and photos about Point Ruston’s past. You’ll also want to check out the Grand Plaza Sprayground, open from noon-10pm, daily. This is more of a splashpad for littles, but it’s free and even has a light show at dusk. Read our full review on the spray ground with tips from the folks at Point Ruston on parking and bathrooms.
Think my list is off base? Let me know! Seriously! If I’ve missed a favorite park or playground hang out for you and your crew, please do chime in!
Looking for summer fun? Be sure to check our our South Sound Summer Fun Guide.