- Written by Dana Wheatley; Photo: Dana Wheatley
Last summer my son, Gordie, and I visited over 50 parks and playgrounds as part of the KaBOOM Park-a-Day Summer Challenge.
KaBOOM is a nonprofit organization who envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child. For KaBOOM’s Second Annual Park-a-Day Challenge, parents were challenged to take their kids to as many parks and playgrounds as they could, map them on KaBOOM’s map of play and share their experiences over the summer.
I had already started a blog to help parents find great indoor and outdoor places to play the previous summer, so this challenge sounded like a perfect fit. We managed to hit several of Calgary’s major parks, all of Calgary’s outdoor spray parks and wading pools, and many, many playgrounds. Although we certainly had a great time, I think the most important thing that I’ve gained from this experience is an appreciation for how good the parks and playgrounds in Calgary really are. For a large urban centre, we have lots of green space and tons of safe places for kids to play.
I can’t imagine too many people will visit as many playgrounds as we do, but if you’d like to see some of what Calgary has to offer, here are some great places to start. I’ve compiled a list based on our experiences over the past two years of what I think are five of Calgary’s best playgrounds.
Five of Calgary’s best playgrounds
1. Prestwick Pirate/Castle Playground – 1 Prestwick Manor SE. This playground provides such a wonderful imaginative play backdrop. It has two large play structures: one shaped like a pirate ship and the other like a castle. I haven’t seen anything else quite like it. Gordie’s review - “Wobbly bridges are fun!”
2. Nellie Breen Park – Inglewood – 14 Street and St. Monica Avenue SE. This park has been created as a real community space where people of all ages can congregate. Much of the equipment is designed so that it can be used by people of many different ages and ability levels, just in different ways. The carpet-like Flooring further enhances its inclusive design. Gordie’s review – “I liked walking over the ropes!”
3. Valleyview Park – Dover – 28 Street and 30 Avenue SE. This is a beautiful park with two excellent accessible playgrounds. There is a spray park and preschool playground inside a fenced area allowing for a lot of safe freedom for even the littlest kids. For schoolaged kids, there is a large playground within sight just up the hill. Both playgrounds have a type of equipment that is uncommon in Calgary and allow kids to take ageappropriate risks. Gordie’s review - “The motorcycle bouncer was awesome!”
4. Springborough Playground – Springbank Hill – Springborough Boulevard and 26 Avenue SW. This playground has something for everyone. The largely accessible flooring and ramps make it really appealing for early walkers and the large climber is set up so kids can move around without having to touch the ground. It also has a really popular large spinner, which is really easy to turn. Gordie’s review - “The bridge!” (He loved the challenge of the ladder bridges.)
5. Helicopter Playground – Parkdale/West Hilhurst – 5 Avenue and 27 Street NW. This helicopter-themed playground is big and has a lot of variation in the equipment. It will appeal to children of all ages and has largely accessible flooring. Gordie’s review – “Going up the stairs and down the slide was super fun!”
Dana spends her free time seeking out the best indoor and outdoor places to play in Calgary with her son and blogging about them. For more information, visit www.calgaryplaygroundreview.com.