As a traveling family, you’re probably always on the lookout for awesome family-friendly attractions. Obviously, zoos, museums, and national parks all make the list. However, many families also find great fun in seeking out new playgrounds.
You may be wondering why anyone would use precious days of exploration on playgrounds. After all, aren’t they all pretty similar, with their standard swings and slides?
The answer to this is—believe it or not—a resounding no. Many people are surprised to learn about all of the amazing playgrounds the US plays host to. Dozens of our country’s playgrounds go way beyond offering the standard equipment, and encourage kids to use their imaginations and think outside the box while enjoying unique structures unlike those found at any other playground.
Want to expand your adventures to include some of these incredible play areas? We definitely suggest stopping at the 14 must-see playgrounds below.
#1: Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, MD
We are all about theme parks here at Fulltime Families, but we also adore a good themed park, especially one that is absolutely free of charge. Watkins Regional Park in Maryland fits this bill just fine.
The entire playground is themed after The Wizard of Oz, and the bright colorful play structure couldn’t be more attractive to a child’s imagination. If you love the classic stories of Oz, you’ll adore this amazing park.
#2: Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, IL
Located in the heart of Chicago, Maggie Daley Park is an absolute gem. While the park does include plenty of green spaces, the ability to see the city skyline from the park certainly is unique.
The park is split into several different themed play spaces, meaning your kids can find the spot that best suits them, while you can still keep an eye on them. Visitors love the climbing wall found here, and the many unique climbing structures and slides are great fun as well.
#3: Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, CA
This park is amazing in a few different ways.
First, the space is set up to be inclusive. This means that kids of all abilities can enjoy what the play space has to offer.
We also love that the playground features some unique equipment rarely seen elsewhere. This makes for a fun afternoon of play that is sure to put smiles on your kids’ faces.
#4: Jungle Gym at the Nashville Zoo in Nashville, TN
The largest community-built playground in the country, the Jungle Gym at Nashville Zoo is definitely worth a visit. The playground features all kinds of slides, tunnels, and climbing structures, and thanks to its size, it’s sure to keep everyone occupied for a while.
Sure, you’ll have to pay the $11 entry fee to visit the zoo, but we actually think this zoo is worthwhile as well. Why not just make a day of it?
#5: Clemyjontri Park in McLean, VA
Another great playground that aims to include everyone, Clemyjontri Park in Virginia is as colorful as it is fun. We love that everything in this play area is accessible. We also love the miniature train that takes kids on rides around the park, as well as the cute little carousel.
#6: Downtown Container Park Playground in Las Vegas, NV
Finding family-friendly fun in Vegas is not as hard as you might think. One of the best things to do with kids is head over to Container Park, where all of the structures are made using old shipping containers.
Not only will you find some awesome shops and eateries here, you’ll also find an amazing playground made using containers, a heaping helping of imagination, and a truly incredible slide.
#7: Chapman Adventure Playground at Gathering Place in Tulsa, OK
Often referred to as the “Disneyland of parks”, the Gathering Place is one place you absolutely must see when passing through Oklahoma.
This enormous park features all kinds of fun, but the most incredible thing found on the property is the collection of playgrounds. Since they’re split into several different “lands”, there is enough to do here to fill an entire day with climbing, exploring, water play, and more.
#8: Lions Park Playscape in Greensboro, AL
A truly unique play space that was made by college students using nothing but galvanized drums, Lions Park Playscape is essentially a giant maze. Kids love getting lost in this maze while playing hide-and-seek and other such games. Climbing on the drums is encouraged, and the whole space is perfect for imaginative play.
#9: Adventure Playground in Berkeley, CA
Speaking of imaginative play, those looking for the ultimate exercise in imagination simply must visit an adventure playground.
One of the best in the country is the Adventure Playground located in Berkeley, CA. Here, kids are handed tools and supplies and encouraged to think outside the box, get messy, and create their own play environment.
It is beyond incredible to see what the kids come up with, and much more memorable than your typical playground.
#10: Artists at Play Seattle Center Playground in Seattle, WA
Artists at Play is one of those surprising parks found right in the middle of an urban area. The playground has a seriously enormous 30-foot climbing tower and slide, as well as an awesome merry-go-round. The musical instruments found in the play area are also tons of fun.
Best of all, this incredibly different and exciting play area is located within walking distance to many Seattle attractions, making it easy to add this fun stop into your visit.
#11: City Museum in St. Louis, MO
The ultimate play area, City Museum in St. Louis may not advertise itself as a playground, but that is exactly what it is. The entire museum is made up of climbing structures, slides, tunnels, and secret passageways.
Every room has a theme, and slipping from one room to the next (or even one story to the next!) is surprisingly easy once you find certain passages. This place is so fun that even adults get in on the action. Just be sure to bring knee pads!
#12: Domino Park Playground in Brooklyn, NY
Located on the site of the old Domino Sugar Refinery, Domino Park is a beautiful space located right in the middle of Brooklyn. The playground is a work of art made using upcycled pieces from the old refinery, and those who pay attention will notice it is also a history lesson, leading kids through 150 years of sugar production.
#13: Play:ground in Governors Island, NY
Another fabulous adventure playground, Play:ground in NYC is very similar to the Adventure play space mentioned above. Expect your kids to get dirty and know going in that this is nothing like a traditional playground. That is, while there is a little kid side and a big kid side, no parents are allowed inside.
This allows the kids to play and create freely using all kinds of tools, nails, woods, and a variety of recycled materials.
#14: Neptune Park in Saratoga Springs, UT
The star of the show at Neptune Park is the gigantic pyramid climbing structure. This is the largest pyramid play structure in the world, and is expertly designed to keep kids climbing and testing themselves while also preventing them from falling more than six feet.
Other fabulous features include some super interesting swings and spinning toys, as well as a space for little ones to climb and play.