My two young sons and I have been going to the same few parks since they were born. We all love being outside, playing together, finding new friends and I love the fact that they are free! Researching local parks for a company picnic, I came upon huge lists of all the local parks I’ve never even heard of – and an idea was born! Visit and enjoy as many parks as we can in all seasons to find the best! … Or just play around as much as possible.
A little about us…
My name is Bronwyn, I like parks so crowded with people that you lose yourself and I love deserted playgrounds. Adrian is 3 and a half, he prefers walking to running and likes gross things that I don’t want him to play with. He loves swirly slides and the swings. Isaiah just turned a year old, he likes any animal that he can grab and stick his face on. He also enjoys swinging and yelling as loud as he can in the open air. These two adventurers are happy to join me on my park find and I hope you find equally great company to join you on yours!
Pirate Park in Bethany (NW Portland)
In the middle of a suburban neighborhood an adventure awaits young pirates and their parrots (or little brothers, as I like to call them). This park is AWESOME. Two substantial play structures both shaped like pirate ships; one ship for the youngin’s – shorter slides, easier to climb, closer to the ground – and one ship for the older folk. At either end of the playground are identical swing sets and in the middle is a BIG sand pit with a push-button water fall! This is where we spend most of our time, building castles and sand lady bugs – a new one Adrian did all on his own! This park is primarily playground structure, but there are walking trails and some small fields a short distance away. I have to pry Adrian’s little fingers from the waterfall when it’s time to leave.
Tualatin Hills Nature Park (Beaverton)
At the entrance to this park is the Nature Park Interpretive Center, which houses a small library, classrooms for preschool, a nature store, meeting room and exhibit area. My friends actually held their wedding reception there! The park itself is forest with paved and non-paved trails. Both of my children love to wander the paths like new explorers, finding newts, listening for birds and squirrels dropping nuts. Several times now we’ve even had deer cross our paths. Bridges span marshlands and creeks. Wild bunnies run past, making my boys squeal. Several different trails lead to different things or circle back. The park is highly frequented but it never seems “busy” with how big the park is (222 acres!) and everyone you meet is extremely respectful and friendly. This is the park that Adrian requests more than any other… “Mom! Lets go to the nature park, I NEED to see some slugs!”
So this is my free idea! Go find new parks for you and your family; you could even make a log book, take pictures, and describe unique experiences. Not only will you be having fun discovering new places, but you’ll have a wonderful memory book, too. It would be great to hear from you about the fun things you find!
Here in the Portland Metro area we are lucky to have www.thprd.org and www.portlandparks.org which will give you complete lists of all the parks. Here is a link to all the National Parks www.nationalparks.org and I’ve been googling “New York parks”, “Kansas parks”, etc. and found many websites with lists. Or go old school and peruse a map! Another, more involved, park finding tool is to read books about your town, a lot of the time they make mention of parks that no longer have names or have hidden entrances. Its a great way to find a one-of-a-kind park.
I hope you have fun park hunting! We’ve already begun and we love it!