Motherhood

The World’s Coolest Playgrounds

Neptune Park

Do you have any beloved playgrounds where you live? Our boys are always begging to try out new ones, and these 14 incredible parks around the world (with wild slides, castles and even airplanes you can climb on) would be worth a trip…

Above: Neptune Park Playground, a 30-foot climbing pyramid in Saratoga Springs, Utah, is taller than most two-story houses, and is one of the biggest playground structures of its kind. The woven ropes that stretch across each level are for climbing — and catching anyone who falls. Plus, what a view!

Monstrum coiled snake playground in Denmark

Monstrum coiled snake playground in Denmark

This coiled snake, in the Danish woods, is meant to be discovered by families walking through the forest. There are lots of little spots where you can climb in and out, during a game of hide-and-seek.

Monstrum Fortress City playground in Denmark

The Fortress City in Denmark is an adventure land — with a castle, streets and town — where children can run, play, hide and pretend. I love the way the company Monstrum envisioned kids using the space: “The houses around the castle are connected in such a way that the children can crawl from house to house without being seen and suddenly appear in a new place.”

Crochet playground in Tokyo by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam

Japanese fiber artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam has created several playgrounds with her colorful crochet structures. The best-known one is in the “Woods of Net” pavilion at the Hakone Open Air Museum, west of Tokyo. She hand-knitted the climbing and swinging structures over the course of a year.

Kolle 37 playground

Kolle 37 playground

Kolle 37, a construction playground in Germany, might make some parents a little nervous. Kids can play with hammers, saws, nails, wood and shovels — as well as pottery kilns, a blacksmith forge, rabbits, guinea pigs, gardens, and a bike rental shop where the older kids can work. Since the playground is being built by the kids, it’s always changing. There are a few craftspeople to keep an eye on things (like building fires!) but otherwise kids are encouraged to come and hang on their own. (P.S. Remember this?)

Nishi Rokugo Koen tire playground in Japan

Nishi Rokugo Koen is a creative vintage playground in Tokyo. Kids can play with sand and more than 3,000 tires – including Godzilla, spaceship and robot sculptures.

City Museum playground

City Museum playground

This four-story play sculpture outside the City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, is made from reclaimed materials with the city’s borders. There are sky-high tunnels, fire trucks, airplanes, long slides and two enormous ball pits you can dive into.

Brumlebyen in Copenhagen

Brumlebyen in Copenhagen has three crooked houses, a bakery and ice-cream shop for kids to climb around. Plus, swings!

Rainbow mountain slide in Japan

How gorgeous is this mountain slide in northern Takatsuki, Japan? It has rollers, and you sit on a little pad to slide down.

Swing time in Boston

Architects Eric Höweler and Meejin Yoon created Boston’s Swing Time with 20 swings illuminated by LED lights. When they’re still, the swings give off a soft white light that glows at night; when they’re in motion, the light turns purple.

Playground sculpture by Tom Otterness in Manhattan

“Playground,” an adorable brass sculpture by artist Tom Otterness, doubles as a jungle gym in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.

Clemyjontri Park in Virginia

Clemyjontri Park in Virginia

At Virginia’s Clemyjontri Park, kids of all abilities can play together. The Liberty Swing can accommodate wheelchairs, lowered monkey bars provide easy access, and braille and sign language are featured around the park. Bravo.

Have you been to any of these? Do you have any beloved playgrounds in your neck of the woods? At the end of the day, my kids also love the quiet and simple Cobble Hill Park. Just a slide, a sandbox and a spider.

P.S. Parenting around the world, including Italy, Iceland and Japan. Plus, a hidden playground in Manhattan, and an AMAZING slide in Gothenburg, Sweden.

(Kolle 37 photo with girls by Elizabeth Donius. Japan rainbow slide photo by Jeffrey Friedl. Monstrum playground photos from Monstrum’s site.)

  1. Erin says...

    The Smith Family Playground right outside of Philadelphia is amazing.

  2. You should write a part 2 and include the amazing gulliver playground in Valencia Spain. Google it, it’s great.

  3. Wow, these are amazing playgrounds. I wish there were one of them in London. Pen x

  4. Jill says...

    I thought of another ‘park.’ It has an entry fee. It is a wonderful place. Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, TX. From the website as to why it is set apart, “While other theme parks accommodate people with disabilities and/or special needs, Morgan’s Wonderland was created with them in mind. This park was built to emphasize inclusion, so we want everyone to come and enjoy Morgan’s Wonderland! This unique park was created to enable everyone to come together and have fun, regardless of their abilities. However, instead of building a park and then making accommodations for individuals with special needs, our Morgan’s Wonderland team began by identifying what obstacles and barriers occur within the special-needs community and then designed our park to help individuals with special needs overcome those challenges and be able to have fun like those without limitations.”

    There are wheelchair accessible swings, warmed water at one of the splash pads and wide ramps on the playscapes. My twin girls love this place.

  5. Those are really cool playgrounds! Thanks for the pictures and inspiration, how a perfect playground for children might look like

  6. in Manhattan, there is this amazing playground where adults have to sit outside and wait.

    Imagination.

    My kids loved it!

  7. We haven’t been to any but St Louis City Museum is on our bucket list. We have fun playgrounds in Chicago as well. Maggie Daley Park is quite impressive. http://maggiedaleypark.com/

  8. Amanda Cranney says...

    We have this awesome playground near us in Bucks County, PA. It’s called Kids Castle.
    http://www.savekidscastle.org/

  9. Stephanie says...

    Whenever we visit Vienna, we go to the Motorikpark 22, it is great for parents as well! The whole family can have fun, exercise, play, it’s amazing!!! http://www.motorikpark-wien.at/

  10. Magan says...

    Just moved to Tokyo and the initial thrill is wearing off. Trying to entertain 2 toddler boys in this is city just got a lot more interesting!!! Thanks so much for this.

  11. Vicki says...

    Clemyjontri is just a a short drive down the parkway for me, and it truly is an amazing park. The colors alone are exciting. The one drawback is that it has a real lack of shade, and I’ve been there on summer days when the VA sun was beating down hard. Otherwise, it’s really fun, and the fact that it accommodates so many types of children is really inspiring.

    • We used to live in VA, and visited Clemyjontri park, too. Completely agree — lack of shade in the summertime was brutal. Otherwise, amazing park!

  12. Jill says...

    The playground at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris is amazingly wonderful. My twin 8-year-olds love it — totally worth the 2.5 euros!

    • JessicaD says...

      This was one of my girls’ highlights of visiting Paris! They still talk about how great the playground was!

    • Suzanne says...

      Sue, so glad that you wrote this! I live in the Aspinwall borough of Pittsburgh and can attest to the magic of the Tom Otterness structure and the Aspinwall Riverfront Park. The park is one of my children’s favorite places in the city. As you said, we are blessed in Pittsburgh with many wonderful kid friendly amenities!

  13. Madeline says...

    Apex, NC (a suburb of Raleigh and Durham) opened a kid- and adult- friendly obstacle-course park, a la American Ninja Warrior. It’s fun and humbling – my grip strength is, apparently, a fond memory from childhood.

  14. Cait says...

    There is a park that is placed out on Hoboken (NJ) Pier C in the Hudson River that overlooks the New York skyline. Wonderful playtime for the kids and killer views for the parents!!

    http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/project/pier-c-park/

  15. Oh man, that mountain slide!!! Love that mountain slide

  16. Mary Mammano says...

    May there always be people who believe in playgrounds because there will Always be kids who love them. Mary

  17. neisha says...

    In montreal they have teter totters that light up and play music as you use them right down town all winter (swings in the summer). They are fun for adults and kids. Brilliant designhttp://www.quartierdesspectacles.com/en/activity/16362/luminotherapie-8th-edition

  18. It makes me seriously proud, that you have three Danish playgrounds on the list. But honestly – Danish playgrounds are generally amazing. I realized after living in Paris, where they are fairly generic, how much more playful the Danish ones are. There is even one in Copenhagen, were all the famous towers of the city are built for kids (the round tower, significant church towers etc). It’s so inspirering!
    http://files.guidedanmark.org/files/382/382_4772.jpg?qfix

    That being said, I haven’t seen the one in Brumleby before – and it’s 10 minutes from my home. I need to go there!

  19. Ilona says...

    LOVE Maggie Daley park in Chicago, and closer to home there’s Bewilderwood in Norfolk, England https://www.bewilderwood.co.uk/ Not sure it counts as it’s not free, but it’s a huge wild adventure park with trolls and little tree houses, lots of climbing frames, slides, a den-building area, zipwires…

    • Rebekah says...

      I was surprised this didn’t make the list. It’s wonderful! Next time we visit Valencia my son will be old enough to play there. :)

  20. Pam says...

    Thomas M. Menino Park in Boston is an inclusive playground with accessible play equipment and some great views.

  21. Sheri says...

    We had the chance to visit the playground at Bowood, an old English manor in England. (An entrance fee to the playground helps to support the maintenance of the old house.) It was unlike anything my kids had every played on. Think balance beams three stories up and really tall, steep slides. The highlight is a slide the local kids have nicknamed “the death slide” because it has a vertical drop. They were enthralled, and we had to pull them away at the end of the day. It made me realize that children love the ability to take calculated risks, and actually learn pretty quickly to manage their own limitations. http://www.bowood.org/childrens-activities/adventure-playground-and-soft-play-palace/

  22. Rose says...

    I grew up around the corner from a playground in the middle of the woods. Big slides, climbing thingies and squirrel and gnome themed devices. It was THE way to describe where I lived: Oh I live next to the playground in the woods. Kids would go nuts when they heard that. We had a subscription and could walk in whenever we wanted. In late summer, towards the end of the season, our whole neighbourhood would organise a BBQ where we’d eat sausages from the local butcher and make campfires and bring flashlights to walk around the playground after dark (it is huge).

  23. Hilde says...

    Ohh I walked past that one in Berlin! Def. coming back when my kiddo is old enough, it looked ridiculously awesome.

    Also, I feel this could have also been on the list: Geoparken in Stavanger. It’s a playground made from recycled parts from old oil rigs!

    http://www.norskolje.museum.no/forside/barn-og-unge/geoparken/

  24. So great! I work with a non-profit organisation called Playground Ideas that has a website full of free resources that anyone, anywhere can use to create playgrounds for kids using recycled materials like old car tires. People have used our designs and handbooks to create play spaces in over 100 different countries, usually where they have few playgrounds or resources like these for kids. We take it for granted, but being able to play freely in stimulating play spaces is an incredibly important thing for kids and their brain development! Thanks for posting about it… Joanna

    • Tina, nyc. says...

      Joanna, what an amazing non profit you work for!!

      Thank you for sharing and I am on your website already.

    • Malia says...

      Thank you for sharing this! My son’s school will be building a new playground eventually and since I’m likely co-chairing the playground committee, I’ve been needing some guidance.

  25. Ashley F. says...

    Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey, Ca. So many memories…

  26. Mbb_London says...

    There’s an excellent playground in Millenium Park (former site of the 2012 Olympics) in East London. It’s absoultely worth the trip!!

  27. eliza says...

    I grew up in Utah County and squealed at the cover photo! Neptune Park is a blast—if you climb up on the Fourth of July or Pioneer Day (a state holiday) you can see hundreds of fireworks shows across the surrounding cities:)

  28. alena says...

    Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey! It has a hedge maze and a real steam engine for kids to climb on. I remember punching my best girl friend in the stomach while playing tag in the hedge maze because she was about to tag me, but it still remained my favorite park. Kids, right?

  29. Alexandra says...

    I went to college in St. Louis and I can attest that City Museum is so fun for adults too! I went several times–with freshman floor mates, friends, a boyfriend–and each time had such a blast. What an amazing, creative place for people of all ages!

  30. Parrish McWhorter says...

    I went to the City Musuem as a junior in high school and even then it was straight magic!

  31. WOW i would love to be playing at these playgrounds too!

  32. Raleigh says...

    Shout out to my cousin, the landscape architect on the West Commons mostly-accessible playground in Carmel, IN. <3 My older brother is severely mentally impaired, with significant physical disabilities as well. Our dad designed a wheelchair-accessible playground picnic table for his school in the 90s, and accessible play has been near to our hearts for a long time. http://landscapearchitect.epubxp.com/i/869117-sep-2017/51

    For other accessible parks in IN, visit https://www.accessibleplayground.net/united-states/indiana/ I'm in CA now, but have a soft spot for my Midwest roots.

  33. Tonya says...

    The All Abilities Park in Roundrock Texas is pretty intriguing.

    • Jill says...

      Added that to our summer bucket list.

  34. Bailey says...

    This post and all the comments would make for a great map guide! You could do a series of “Readers Recommend xx Around the World.” This one would obviously be xx=Playgrounds, but think of all the possibilities! It would tie in so well with the motherhood around the world posts. They’d be such handy little travel guides so you wouldn’t have to dig through so many comments to remember that one playground that someone mentioned in Valencia when you’re in Spain, for example.

    • Allison says...

      I LOVE that idea! It would be cool to have a map that links us back to your articles and reader recs – I am heading to Florida next week (Key West) and would love any tips! (TripAdvisor doesn’t often have the mom of young toddlers perspective) I know we’ll stumble upon a park and great eats when there, but I also remember a post of Joanna’s that said planning the trip is the best part :)

  35. Michelle says...

    Watkins Regional Park in Maryland also is very cool. The main playground is themed after the Wizard of Oz. But the park also has a really cool mini-train ride, a beautifully restored carousel, and a small zoo.

    • Kelsey says...

      I was going to mention this one!

  36. kenya says...

    They should include the Watkins regional park in Maryland that is a wizard of Oz themed playground its gorgeous

  37. China says...

    We went to London with our kids (1.5 and just over 4) last summer and loved the playgrounds! The Princess Diana playground is particularly wonderful. It’s inspired by Peter Pan with a giant pirate’s ship in a sand pit, little streams, a fort, a tree-top walk, all kinds of little grottos. By the end of the afternoon my kids were nearly naked and covered in sand – it was amazing! Best of all, it is fully enclosed and there are workers at the gate who won’t let out unaccompanied kids (no adults without kids are allowed) and if it gets too crowded people have to wait in line (a long wait is pretty rare), which means that if kids are old enough you really can just relax and let kids play all over (obviously not possible with our crazy 1.5 year old, but I can dream!)

    • Jessica says...

      We went to this playground a couple years ago and loved all the features that you mentioned. Also, the snack cafe was a nice touch.

    • Jenny says...

      Yes, recently moved to London and this is a great one! Also a great location for sightseeing/strolling in Kensington Gardens.

    • Sophie says...

      Yes! I nannied in London a few years ago and loved taking (bigger) kiddos there. I literally lay under a tree and read my book while they ran wild!
      Also amazing and in London is the Olympic park playground. There’s a fantastic water play area for younger children and an amazing big climbing area for older children, all made out of really natural looking tree-stumps and branches. So cool!

  38. Liz says...

    The City Museum is the best!!! They created Monstro, the outdoor part, several years back, and the inside is really cool too. The building is an old shoe factory. As a St. Louis native it’s one of my favorite spots to bring guests when they come visit my hometown. I remember taking my older cousins (about 12 and 13 at the time) when I was a little kid. They thought it would be boring because it’s a “museum” but they had an absolute blast.

    Since I’m now a transplant to Boston, I can tell you that the big swings on the Lawn on D are more of an Instagram trap than anything else ;)

  39. Meghan says...

    Proud Northern Virginian here: Clemyjontri Park is amazing! So glad to see it featured on this list :)

    • April says...

      Yup, my kiddos age 7 and 4 love Clemyjontri park. It’s huge and there’s just so much to do!

  40. Whitney says...

    There is a park in White Bear Lake MN (Tamarack Nature Centure) that has a gnome house, river feature, a log and sticks area to build forts, and a huge vegetable garden that kids are encouraged to weed and pick produce from. It’s amazing – our friends and we love it so much.

  41. Stephanie says...

    Kolle 37 reminds me of “The Office” episode in which Dwight tries to build a daycare at Dunder Mifflin, featuring a bucket of plastic sporks and an Insane Clown Posse poster.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  42. Kim says...

    There’s a pretty amazing new playground in Bellevue, WA outside of Seattle.

  43. Hannah Atkinson says...

    Here in Auckland, New Zealand, we have an amazing place called Woah Studio (https://whoastudios.co.nz/)! It has a new playground based on Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam design, a new traditional play area with castle and boats etc, puppet shows and a family-friendly cafe with amazing food. There is a small fee to go but its such a fun place and a must do for any families visiting Auckland.

  44. Kay says...

    When I moved to Luxembourg I tripped out to the amazing playgrounds around the entire country. There’s a fantastic, GIANT pirate ship playground in centreville and it’s a hit among kids of all ages + adults. A few kilometres further is Spillplaatz Scheiwisschen aka Castle Park, which is smaller but equally fantastic.

    The other thing that blew my mind is that when parents in Luxembourg (whose capital city’s population is 60% expats from other EU countries) bring their kids to the playground the kids are left to play on their own. There is zero helicoptering, zero suggesting of activities or narrating what the kids are doing. The children are given complete free range, and adults join upon request…and in the meantime they’re free to enjoy wine/cremant (Luxembourgish champagne)/beer because drinking in public is totally fine in this marvellous tiny country :)

  45. Beth says...

    The City Museum is one of the most incredible places in the US. It really is like no other place I have been to before. We have family in Saint Louis and going there is always a priority when we visit. If you do things right there, you will get hurt, lose your kids, and experience moments of legitimate fear!

  46. Kit says...

    My favourite little-kid summer memories are from a not entirely “up to code” storybook village in the middle of cottage country (I can still smell the cedar wood, dirt, and sunscreen).

    The connected Danish playhouses looks amazing. There’s something about army-crawling into secret spaces adults can’t fit that makes these places so fun and special as a kid.

  47. Nagore Marin says...

    You missed the Gulliver Park in Valencia, Spain! It is super cool! :)

  48. Phoebe says...

    Anybody in Arlington, VA should check out Rocky Run Park in Clarendon! It’s not huge, but my husband and I used to live across the street and it was a favorite with all our nieces and nephews. It has a great climbing structure with a big slide, as well as swings, a sort of rope course, and a great section for younger kids too! Bonus – it’s wonderfully shaded for our muggy northern VA summers and has bathrooms too!

  49. sara says...

    My son loves kolle37 in Berlin. And the best parents are not allowed on it, only on saturday they can come in. There is a waiting area for them. And a camp fire is on the whole day.

  50. Tiffany says...

    I live down the street from the Berlin Kollowitz 37 construction playground, You mention that kids are encouraged to play there without their parents. That’s incorrect. Parents AREN’T ALLOWED INSIDE! Ha. They have a little building that’s called the “Eltern Ecke “ which translates to the parents corner where the grownups have to wait. At first the idea of 6 year olds with hammers and nails freaked me out a wee bit. However now with a kid of my own, I think it’s awesome!

  51. Jenny says...

    These are awesome! Another vote for Adventure Playground in Berkeley. We recently went to Switzerland and went to the most amazing playground high up in the Alps in a town called Allmendhubel. You have to take a (very steep!) cable car to get there. I wish I could post a picture because it was mind-blowing. Not only were the views absolutely breathtaking, but the playground itself was really creative and unique- a zip line, really tall, pretty flower sculptures, wooden role play structures where you could pretend to milk a cow…I could go on and on!

    • ~Heather says...

      We were there two years ago with our kids two and it was such an amazing playground and trail. My kids thought the best part was me slipping on an alpine cowpie and getting covered in poop.
      Anything to make the kids happy, right?

  52. Julia says...

    The Knitted playground in Hakone, Japan has not operated since at least 2016, they closed it due to some security reasons:(

    • EK says...

      I was just there in November and it was open! So amazing.

    • Jennifer says...

      Actually, it has been reopened since July of this year :)

  53. In my day job I work in park department and we love to collect community perspective! This is very good one!

  54. Amanda says...

    Thank you! Starting a list on google maps with playgrounds not to miss! Can be useful when traveling!
    If you’re in the cold north, also think about indoor playgrounds. Adventure Peak in Edina, MN has been a hit with our kids even though they’ve only been there a few times when visiting family!

    • E says...

      Um, this is ten minutes from my house and I’ve never heard of it. Thank you!

  55. Elizabeth says...

    Never underestimate the power of a playground! I’m a first grade teacher and got a new student today, he was so sad and shy and didn’t want to talk to anyone all day but then at lunchtime when he saw our (very simple) climbing frame his whole face lit up and he ran off to play and made some new friends. I can only imagine how many kids would love some of these incredible ones!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      how sweet, elizabeth!

  56. Bets says...

    I’d love to take my daughter to the playground in Hell’s Kitchen, I’m always looking for ones that don’t have swings. She would swing for hours and hours and sometimes Mom just can’t handle it! I still want to take her to the park in NJ with construction vehicles that you posted about years ago.

  57. Danielle says...

    The Beauvoir School playground in Washington, DC is open to the public on the weekends. It’s made of natural materials, and blends into its surroundings, including the National Cathedral, which is in its backdrop. It’s the most fun play space, and it reminds me of the beautiful playgrounds we saw all over Paris. I would add this to a list of playgrounds to visit, but keep this pro-tip in mind: there are no open bathrooms on the weekend!

    https://www.beauvoirschool.org/page/about/visit-our-playground#

    • Stephanie says...

      Yes! I was also going to add about the Beauvoir playground. There’s no other playground like it in the DC area.

  58. Kaitlin says...

    The roller slide in Japan reminds me of those conveyor belts in old grocery stores…we used to put our groceries in a bin and then roll them to the parking lot where we could load them directly into our car!

  59. My small(ish) town of Tulsa, Oklahoma is currently building a 65+ Acre park called A Gathering Place for Tulsa and it is the largest private gift to a public park in U.S. history. It is being designed by renowned landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and we can’t wait for it to open! Many of the park’s fun features were brought in from Denmark and resemble some of the parks you featured in this post. It’s a HUGE deal for our city and we are very excited!

  60. Elizabeth N. says...

    We went to Virginia’s Clemyjontri Park the last time we visited my parents. It was late fall so there weren’t a ton of people. It is a huge park with things to do for kids of all ages. I hope they will be able to maintain it for years to come.

  61. Alice says...

    There’s a nomadic Kolle 37 in the U.K!
    I took my eldest to it when it was in Edinburgh as part of the festival this year. They get children to construct adventure playgrounds and then play freely in them. So much fun. They’ll be up in Edinburgh again next year, for anyone visiting/local and they’re a feature at many of the family friendly British summer festivals. Well worth checking out.

    http://www.woodlandtribe.org/edinburgh.html

    I would go to Japan JUST to visit that mountain slide!

  62. Jillian says...

    We love going to Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, CA, which was designed to be a socially inclusive playground for children of varying physical and cognitive abilities. It’s not just accommodating for children with physical disabilities but those with autism, cognitive and developmental issues, or sensory challenges as well. There are “Retreat Cocoons” if children need a break from play or sensory overload, an interactive music zone for those who have trouble communicating verbally, and a two-story, wheelchair-accessible tree house. It’s a wonderful reminder that children just want to have fun with each other, regardless of their shape, size, or abilities!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that’s so wonderful, jillian! the idea of retreat cocoons brings tears to my eyes.

    • Leah says...

      Love Magical Bridge paluground! Such a special place!

    • Sasha says...

      What a wonderful place! I hope this inclusive idea catches on in other communities.

  63. Katherine says...

    There is a playground near us in Richmond that is called the “Tot Lot.” It has a small slide and some swings, but the main draw for my three year old is a fleet of cozy coupes that others have left behind as their children grow up. My son loves driving them, pushing them, parking them and collecting them. It is also across the street from a great Cuban restaurant. On Saturdays, we stop there for brunch and cafe con leche and then go to the playground. It is a win for all!

  64. Robin says...

    I live just up the street from Neptune Park in Utah :) My son’s too young to climb on the structure, but I’m sure he’ll be all over it in a few years!

    • Di says...

      My parents live a few minutes away. I live in another country now but immediately recognised the Wasatch Front in the background! #utahn

  65. Ann says...

    We used to go to Clemyjontri all the time until we moved more westward last year. I like to call it Loseyourkid Park because it’s so massive and keeping track of more than one kid, especially if they’re little, is nearly impossible. Still, it’s an incredible place and we have lots of fond memories

  66. Rae says...

    The Japanese fiber artist mentioned above has a climbing structure in Winston-Salem, NC! It is housed on the property of the W-S Children’s Museum and it is our favorite part of the whole wonderful museum!

    Now that I have kids, one of the first things I do when traveling to any new place is investigate the nearby playgrounds. It has become such a pleasurable part of traveling because we tend to meet local families and experience the area in a less touristy way. I will miss our playground excursions when my littles become too big!

  67. Solana says...

    Your kid’s boredom is solved at Fanuel Park on Mission Bay (San Diego). The park has a wonderful play structure along with watching sailboat races, kite surfers, pelicans diving for fish, or throwing rocks in the bay.

  68. We went to the Hakone Open Air museum a few years ago with our daughter and even though she was a bit too young to climb around in the nets, she loved being pushed around in the donuts on the ground (they’re also covered in knitted netting). The whole museum is amazing!

  69. Ksenija says...

    In Valencia Spain they have an amazing Gulliver park. This surreally large play park is constructed to resemble a giant stylized Gulliver which kids and adults can climb all over and slide down. It was really difficult to leave the park :)

    • Bailey says...

      I LOVE THE GULLIVER PARK! My stepbrother and his family live just around the corner, and I was completely blown away (and very jealous of his two little ones) when I first saw it. Such an incredible playspace!

    • Joanne says...

      Another vote for Gulliver here. We visited this summer. Valencia is a great city for visiting with the littles and Gulliver is the highlight.

  70. Kate says...

    It’s been over a year since I visited City Museum and I’m still raving about it!

  71. Tina, nyc. says...

    Preston’s Hope playground at the Mandel JCC of Cleveland Ohio is amazing. (Mailing address is Beachwood, Ohio)

    It was designed as a fully integrated playground experience for children of all abilities.

    If you are driving through northeast Ohio and are on 271 it is moments from the roadway and Totally worth a stop. As an aside, the JCC has the only kosher Subway sandwich shop in america.

    http://prestonshope.com/virtualtour.htm

  72. julia says...

    we live in seattle and there is a lovely new play space that opened this summer just across the lake (in bellevue). it’s a beautiful place for kids of all ages and all physical abilities. i love seeing kids with different abilities playing side-by-side with one another, laughing, and having adventures. http://redtri.com/seattle/new-redesigned-bellevue-downtown-park/

  73. michelle says...

    We love City Museum so much we got hitched there!!

  74. Jenn says...

    The Jamie Bell Adventure playground in Toronto, ON is also a great local treasure.

    • Christine says...

      Yes!! My nephew adores that place, it’s really fantastic.

  75. Yellow coiled snake, in the Danish woods are at.. http://www.skovsnogen.dk (Skovsnogen Deep forest Artland) 20 km from the original Legoland in Denmark. They also got the 4m tall sad falen moon. You can sleep in Thoreau Cabin (shelter) and sent the 3m tall Chanel no 5 flacon made of concrete and 8g of Tibetan black musk made by the danish artist Nanna Abell.

  76. erin says...

    I live near the Boston one, they also have tons of lawn games and a stage where bands perform, and there are always all sorts of activities planned there with tons to do for kids. They also have plenty of adult nights (in October they had a flannel night) and there is a bar where you can buy drinks, both alcoholic and non alcoholic…

    • KL says...

      Love Lawn on D!

  77. Sasha says...

    I love this post so much! Thanks for the fun dreaming.
    We don’t have particularly fun play grounds here (cold and icy, or everything is hot and too crowded), but we are so lucky to have more wild adventuresome places than I can count. My children spent so much time gliding on iced over river bends, stomping through deep snow, climbing trees, discovering baby garter snakes, robin’s nests full of eggs, crossing log bridges, sledding, listening to baby hawks in the nest and finding pellets and broken egg shells, collecting leaves, bones, fallen nests, rocks and fossils, becoming giddy when we saw river otters or beaver or foxes or moose, climbing boulders and mountains, throwing rocks in rivers, getting reminded not to stray too far from grownups because bears and mountain lions, getting dirty, wet, cold, and tired.

  78. Mac says...

    I can vouch for City Museum in St. Louis. Listen, I know saying “it’s so fun!” isn’t a super helpful description, but it’s so fun.

  79. Lauren says...

    I live 10 min from Clemyjontri Park in McLean, VA. It truly is amazing!

    • Sarah says...

      I grew up in McLean but moved from the area out to Seattle 7 years ago. I wish we had this when I was little! Amazing.

  80. t says...

    I am fascinated how some playgrounds resonate with my kids and others fall a bit flat. My children always have a great time playing at any playground but why they request to return to some and not others is a mystery to me.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i agree! sometimes a random-seeming place is a total hit, and a place with more bells and whistles doesn’t appeal. fascinating to observe :)

  81. I can say with certainty that I have never seen anything like these in person. Wow! We didn’t have those kind of playgrounds when I was a kid!

  82. Kate says...

    We traveled down from Chicago to the Carbondale, IL area for the eclipse back in August and this park was one of the highlights for my kids, (and my husband) they still talk about it all the time. This family took a tragedy and turned it into a park and memorial for their son. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/jeremy-rochman-memorial-park

    • Emma says...

      I’m from Carbondale! I was too old for the playground when it was built but I have loved taking my nieces and nephews there over the years. Make sure to come down for another eclipse in 6.5 years!

  83. Oh, this inspires me to think about a fun road trip when I’m back in the States to tour some of these playgrounds! (I’d have to grab one of my adventurous friends with kids, but I’m sure that wouldn’t be too difficult as I’m such a big kid at heart!)

  84. Meghan says...

    Growing up I remember the variety of parks near my house in the order of desirability:

    1. Not even a park, just some traffic islands in a nearby residential area with a couple of trees.
    2. The park in a rougher part of town that my parents never wanted to take me too, so it seemed so much more alluring.
    3. The playground in the big park across the street that was all the way on the far side of the park.
    4. The playground in the big park across the street that was a 2 minute walk from my house.

  85. Meg says...

    I am rarely a cheerleader for Atlanta, but the Noguchi Playscape in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park is a playground made of modern art. WildWoods at the Fernbank Science Center is also pretty great. :)

    • Hahaha! “Rarely a cheerleader for Atlanta” — me too, Meg. Lived here for 10 yrs on and off and still trying to be one of those “#weloveatl” people, but it doesn’t come easily.

      I agree though, Noguchi Playscape is pretty legit.

    • Sarah Beth says...

      I was hoping someone would call out the Noguchi Playscape! I adored going there as a little girl– such a treat to go to the Piedmont Arts Festival and then play on the weird, cool playground! Piedmont Park was pretty rough when I was little, so it was extra exciting. We took my daughter to play there last spring while visiting the dogwood festival. She was too young to enjoy most of it, but I still thought it was beautiful and magical and can’t wait to bring her back in future years when we’re visiting my parents (I live in Chicago now with my own little family).

    • Mike Milligan says...

      I am pleased to hear of your appreciation for the Noguchi Playscape in Atlanta. I am very proud of my wife Margo, who spearheaded the project in 2015 on behalf of Herman Miller Cares to renovate this treasure–the only Noguchi Playscape in the United States. The renovation was completed with support from the City of Atlanta, and a large team of civic-minded, and highly skilled craftspeople from elite, Atlanta furniture manufacturer Geiger International. A very important work in a very beautiful park–easy to cheer this!

    • Heather says...

      + a train ride through the woods. + an adorable little farmyard with animals. + you can camp there! We took our kids camping there this summer and with the playground and all the attractions it was an ideal introduction to camping for our 2 year olds (who my husband ended up taking back to our house to sleep that night while I stayed in the tent with big brother). https://www.instagram.com/p/BaIPS8qHRd-/?taken-by=hevuva

  86. Amanda says...

    I was in St. Louis for work a few years ago. I’m an attorney and I was there for an oral argument at the 8th Circuit. After the argument I had some time before I needed to be at the airport so I went to the City Museum. It was awesome! It was weird to be an adult, in a suit, alone at a playground, but I’m glad I checked it out! Now that I have a toddler I would love to take him to any of these playgrounds!

    • Heather says...

      I love this.

  87. Heather says...

    When I saw that picture of the slide in Japan I felt my heart tug with a desire to ride down that slide right this second. We are trying to pack for Christmas travel, make sure all of the gifts have arrived before we leave, remember to give gifts to all of the teachers and helpers in our lives, secure the dog-sitter… Meanwhile, work and life continue to chug along with needs and urgencies springing up as per usual. It is a peak time of feeling like I need to control everything and feeling like I have no control. What an exhilarating exercise in mindfulness it would be to just let go, ride down a slide, accept that I have no control, enjoy the trees and wind in my face.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Take me with you!!!! :)

    • Lisa says...

      Me three! I had the exact same feeling. Oh, to be a kid (or to feel like one) again!

  88. Amanda says...

    Cocoa Castle (free!) in Hershey PA! Just rebuilt in 2027!! Highly recomend! Plus very close to Hershey Park and Chocolate World! :)

    • Amanda says...

      *2017

  89. Carly says...

    I’m sure someone’s gonna mention this as well, but Maggie Daly park and Millennium Park in downtown Chicago are awesome all year round. In the winter you can skate around the ribbon and in the summer you can splash under the iconic faces.

  90. Annie says...

    The City Museum in St. Louis is also great for adults! At night, it’s adults only and they sell drinks and the adults can do all the playing and exploring they want! I should also mention, there are many floors of fun indoors too!

    • I was hoping City Museum would make this list!

    • Agreed! It is so fun. I make a stop any time I am driving through St. Louis.

    • Emma says...

      I was going to say the same … it’s definitely not just a playground. The ferris wheel on the roof! the multi-story slide!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s incredible, annie!

    • Erin says...

      The first thing I thought when I saw the photo was that I want to do that! Happy to hear that’s actually a possibility!

    • deanna says...

      Yes! It is absolutely NOT just for kids! In fact, my friend and I went there and had an amazing time. We climbed through the airplane structure, went on the rides on the roof(!) and just generally had a blast. It’s so interesting from a design standpoint. Worth a trip to St. Louis, whether it be for adults flying solo or families with kids in tow.

  91. Kelly says...

    These all look amazing! But I love your local park too – just amazing what simple playground space and greenery can do for city kids!

    Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, and the 606 trail/parks are our local favorites.

    • Lynn says...

      Penny Park in Evanston is also worth checking out!

  92. Bora says...

    This makes me want to make a sort of bucket list of playgrounds to visit before adulthood. We’ve been to the slide in Gothenburg and we talk about it very often. My son was only 3.5 and barely remembers it. Worth another visit!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that slide is phenomenal. i’ve always wanted to visit gothenburg, it seems like a wonderful place.

  93. Michelle says...

    We love Clemyjontri! We had a joint birthday party there for our 4 and 2 year olds this year. It’s always crowded, so we try to go in winter on an unusually warm day to avoid the crowds.

  94. Christine says...

    Love love love that city museum got a shout out. If you ever come to St. Louis to check it out; there are so many kid friendly (and free) attractions here. – we also love Kids Corner in South Haven Michigan!

    • Lynn says...

      It’s worth noting that the museums in Forest Park in St Louis are FREE! That’s a rare thing these days!

  95. Natalie says...

    Next to the Seattle center there is an artist designed playground that is over an acre in size. For children of all abilities. It’s a pretty incredible public space in the heart of the city.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is wonderful!!!

    • Emily says...

      Second this park! It’s beautiful, fun and just a little bit scary (tall climbing structure). There are musical elements, too. A great place to go if you’re visiting the Space Needle or nearby museums.

    • Kel says...

      Yes! We were up for our Seattle Christmas weekend with Grandpa on Saturday and spontaneously decided to stop by this playground at about 5 pm before the long drive home. It’s nestled under the lit Space Needle (with the elevator taking people up and down) the trees and museum are all lit up, frosty breath and laughing and shadows darting all around. Plus the structures are built to sound tones and notes as kids play. My kids are 8, 12, and 14 and playing night tag there was the highlight of their day. Pretty magical!

  96. MyHanh says...

    Good Morning!
    I think you can tell a lot about a culture by their playgrounds. I actually visited Kolle 37 while in Germany for a weekend flea market! It definitely felt rustic and Rousseau-ian. The playground was spacious and seemed to invite children to interact, tinker, and experience. There was almost a tinge of disregard for safety! But I think that’s part of the process. What a fun post.

  97. Sarah says...

    oh my gosh, i would love to go to any of these places!

  98. Here in Berkeley we have a playground very similar to Kolle 37. It’s called the Adventure Playground and it’s built out of reclaimed materials such as wood, tires, ropes, nets, old boats, bits of playground equipment… The playground alone is pretty amazing but the best part is that kids can add to it with real tools and paint. Or they can build their own projects to take home. It’s right on the water with views over San Francisco Bay and it’s free! You can see our first visit here: http://www.littlehiccups.net/2016/07/berkeleys-adventure-playground.html

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for this, sally! we’re coming to the bay area next week and i’d love to take the boys. xoxo

    • Allison says...

      Yes, I thought that was Adventure Playground at first! It also has a mini-zipline!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so cool!!

    • Lauren says...

      Adventure Playground is really amazing! It is only open on weekends during the school year so plan accordingly if you’re planning a visit. And wear play clothes! :)

  99. Julia says...

    This past summer my sister (who are all adults) and my mom went to city museum while visiting ST Louis. It was so fun and a little scary how high up some of the things were!

  100. laura says...

    um, i want to play in these myself.

  101. Erica says...

    The Clemyjontri Park is so incredible, and beautifully planned, except for one thing – the complete lack of shade. Anyone who has spent a summer in Northern VA will know it gets crazy hot and humid, and this park is just incredibly hot. I still can’t figure out why there are no trees or proper shade over the play structures?? Other than that, it’s adorable!

    • Felicia Rogers says...

      Completely agree!

    • Heather says...

      Haha, we live near Clemyjontri, too, and it is such a lovingly thought-out playground that it’s almost astonishing that no one thought of shade.