Are some playgrounds objectively the best, or is it a matter of taste? My kid is still too young to stand or walk without holding onto something, so we take her to a “tot lot” — one that’s not part of a larger playground where big kids (and for us “big” means out of diapers) tromp over and use the age-inappropriate equipment.
So we’re not in our prime playground years yet. I’m looking forward to when she takes full advantage of the good stuff: spiral slides, covered tunnels, climbing walls.
New York has some primo playgrounds for every age. For the toddlers, there are donated (discarded?) plastic walkers at Underhill Playground in Crown Heights and the Harry Chapin Playground in Brooklyn Heights. For older kids there’s the extravagant water park at the Pier 6 Playgrounds, which hums with a thrilling Lord of the Flies vibe. Up in Astoria, Rainey Park has a climbing wall.
Governors Island has super-long slides stretching down hills and the “play:groundNYC” where kids can hammer nails into wood, with big hand-painted signs telling parents to loosen up and let their kids run loose.
What I really love — and what might be making a comeback — is the classic wood style that I grew up with, one far superior to today’s generic staticky plastic. You know, the kind they built on Sesame Street.
None of it is as satisfying as the old wood castles I explored back home — the sprawling school playgrounds in Livonia and Lima, the public playground in Henrietta near the library. Of course, those things rotted into death traps and had to be replaced, so I see the efficient appeal of sturdy plastic tailored to gutted school budgets. But if you know where to find an extant wooden playground in good shape, I want to hear it.
Parents, former kids, and nighttime stoned teens of Lifehacker, what are your favourite playgrounds? What’s worth the extra drive? Where can you drop the kids off, chill out on a good shaded bench, maybe grab something at the snack bar? What playgrounds have unique features outside the usual prefab set of ladders and fire poles? What playgrounds of your youth are still standing? Where can you make memories? What playgrounds are especially good for big kids, tiny kids, or kids with special needs?
Tell us below! Submissions are welcome from country, suburb and city, and anywhere in the world.