We have reviewed parks and playgrounds across the U.S. Here you’ll find our top picks from Arkansas to Washington.
Peabody Park (North Scott Street, Little Rock, AR)
This park has underground tunnels, a tube slide, a climbing wall, a space net and a large water spray area with motion-censored waterspouts.
Fairyland Amusement Park (699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, California)
Fairyland is America’s first storybook theme park. There are colorful kid-size rides, such as the Jolly Trolly (the oldest ride at the park) or the Wonder-Go-Round (a whimsical carousel with an Alice in Wonderland theme). There are live animals throughout the park along with a children’s theater.
Admission: $7 for adults and children 1 and older; free for children under 1
Berkeley Marina (160 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA)
Although this playground is one of the oldest in the United States (opened in 1979), it has all the adventure-playground standards, along with a zip line and a painting area.
Central Park, Adventure Playground (7111 Talbert Avenue, Huntington Beach, CA)
At Adventure Playground, located next to a pong, kids can hammer, saw, climb, and even build a raft. It is great for children 6-12 years old and is open only from mid-June through mid-August of each year (exact dates may change each year). Adult supervision is required and a small fee is charged. Enter from the Central Library parking lot.
University Community Park (1 Beech Tree Lane, Irvine, CA)
This park has cargo nets and waterslides, but the fun doesn’t end there. They also offer classes in tool safety and outdoor cooking. They are currently under renovation but expect to re-open Spring 2010.
Douglas Park Playground (2439 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA)
This Santa Monica playground has ladders, climbing walls, ropes, and pulleys with buckets to give children a rigorous and fun physical challenge while engaging their imaginations. There’s also a seesaw for 20 which makes for a great play experience.
Shane’s Inspiration (4800 Crystal Springs Road, Los Angeles, CA)
Shane’s Inspiration, located in Griffith Park, offers armchair swings for Mom and baby, tire swings for older kids, and an area for tots to ride bikes and scooters. There’s also a space adventure on the Lucky Star Chaser, where kids can man the flight deck and communicate with the crew through talk-tube radios.
La Laguna de San Gabriel (300 West Wells Street, Los Angeles, CA)
Known to kids as “Monster Park,” La Laguna de San Gabriel has large-scale concrete aquatic creatures that offers children an opportunity to climb around them along with trigger their imagination.
Koret Children’s Quarter (Bowling Green Drive, near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Kezar Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA)
Built in 1888, this is believed to be the first public playground in the United States. It was designed to mimic San Francisco. The park still has the original carousel. Kids love the area for making mud pies, and the archeological dig where they can scrounge for “bones” and “artifacts” in the dirt.
Yerba Buena Gardens Playground (Howard Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets, San Francisco, CA)
This Playground is located on an upper level of the Moscone Convention Center. The Play Circle includes sense-based play elements, including a man-made stream, an oversize xylophone, and optical devices. There’s also a 25-foot tube slide, a functioning carousel that dates back to 1906 and a Learning Garden.
Angelo J. Rossi Playground (Edward Street at Arguello Boulevard, San Francisco, CA)
This park, with its modern play structures, is as visually pleasing as it is fun. There’s also a separate area for the little ones. Families appreciate the many picnic tables. Bonus: the park is adjacent to the public indoor Ross Swimming Pool.
Lakeside Amusement Park (4601 Sheridan Boulelvard, Denver, Colorado)
This family-run amusement park is known as the White City for its glittering display of over 100,000 neon lights. The park has 55 rides. The classic wooden Cyclone roller coaster was built in 1940 and was named one of American Coaster Enthusiasts’ Coaster Landmarks in 2003.
Admission: 50 cents a ride
Holiday World (452 East Christmas Boulelvard, Santa Claus, Indiana)
This family-owned theme park was originally created as a way to bring Santa to Santa Claus,
Indiana, year-round. The park now not only celebrates Christmas but also Halloween, July 4, and Thanksgiving. The bonus: A water park that houses the country’s tallest water drop.
Admission: $36 for adults; $28 for children
Key Lime Cove: Indoor Waterpark Resort (1700 Nations Drive, Gurnee, IL)
This 65,000-square-foot island-themed indoor water park is a tropical paradise any time of year. It’s only a short drive from Chicago
or Milwaukee and the forecast is always at 82-degrees.
Carousel Gardens Amusement Park (New Orleans City Park, 1 Palm Drive, New Orleans, Louisiana)
Carousel Gardens’s antique wooden carousel is one of only 100 in the country. The beautifully renovated carousel has earned this park a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
Admission: $3 for adults and children 3 and older; free for children under 3
Storyland (New Orleans City Park, 1 Palm Drive, New Orleans, Louisiana)
Adjacent to the Carousel Gardens is Storyland, which has more then 25 climbable storybook exhibits all sculpted by New Orleans Mardi Gras float makers.
Admission: $3 for adults and children 3 and older; free for children under 3
Germantown Playground (17920 Germantown Park Drive, Germantown, MD)
This playground, although a little small, has lots of imagination-sparking materials, including a curved climbing wall.
Playland (Exit 19 off Interstate 95, Rye, New York)
Playland, the only American park to be owned and operated by the government, has retained its original architecture and art-deco beauty. It has most of its original rides, like the Derby Racers and the 75-year-old famous Little Dipper roller coaster. Bonus: Beach access, a swimming pool, a pier, and an indoor skating rink.
Admission: $30 for adults; free for children under 36 inches
Adventure Playground at Central Park (68th Street & Central Park West, New York, NY)
This playground is a favorite of New York City kids. Located in Central Park, it has a sandstone fortress and a climbing pyramid.
Billy Johnson Playground (Central Park, near East 67th Street)
This park has a stone bridge, sand-carpeted ground, and wood-built playground equipment. Bonus: A 45-foot-long slide cut directly into an enormous boulder.
Nelson A. Rockefeller Park (Chambers Street, at the Hudson River)
This Battery Park City playground is known for its wooden structures, hiding places, and
moveable parts. The pedal carousel delights younger children, and the giant net suspended high above the park provides a unique thrill for older kids.
Riverside Park Playgrounds (Riverside Drive, between 72nd and 125th Streets)
Along the tree-dotted paths at Riverside Park, you will discover a string of 14 distinctive playgrounds, including a series of animal-themed ones: Hippo, Dinosaur, Beaver, Camel, and Elephant. And don’t miss River Run Playground for a fun, and peaceful water-play experience.
Kalahari Resorts (locations in Ohio, Wisconsin and most recently, Virginia)
This Ohio resort offers two surfing simulator rides, water coaster, lazy river, bowl ride, wave pool, body slides, tube slides, raft rides, interactive water play structure, activity pools, and indoor/outdoor whirlpool saunas.
Enchanted Forest (8462 Enchanted Way SE, Turner, Oregon)
This park has an area designated as storybook land and lots of kiddie rides, along with the Big Timber Log Ride, the biggest log ride in the northwest, for older kids. The park also has areas for families to picnic, plus the famous Fantasy Fountains water-and-light show.
Admission: $10 for adults; $9 for children; free for children under 2
Great Wolf Lodge (Pocono Mountains, PA; see website for other locations)
Great Wolf Lodge is North America’s largest indoor waterpark resorts. Besides the waterparks, there are themed restaurants, interactive arcades, full service spas (and even a version for kids!), and fitness centers.
Hershey Park (100 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, PA)
The Park is filled with great family fun, including the roller coasters and water rides. Hersheypark offers “Chocolate Currency” in $1, $5, and $10 denominations. Don’t forget to buy some Chocolate Currency and save it as a fun souvenir of your trip (or use it as cash within
Admission: Buy your tickets online! One-day admission: $52.95 for adults; free for children under 2
Idlewild Park (Route 30 East, Ligonier, Pennsylvania)
This park has been named by Amusement Today as the second best kids’ park in the world.
It is divided into seven themed areas, the two most popular are Olde Idlewild and Mister Roger’s Neighborhood of Make-Believe. There is also a turn-of-the-century mining town and the Jumpin’ Jungle, a shaded play area with ropes, ladders, nets, and slides.
Admission: $29 for adults and children 2 and older; free for children under 2
Sesame Place (100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, PA)
Sesame Place has lots of whirling rides, water slides, colorful shows & furry friends from Sesame Street.
Storybook Island (1301 Sheridan Lake Road, Rapid City, South Dakota)
Storybook Island is an eight-acre family theme park with live theater performances and over 140 fairy-tale sets. The fairy-tale sets include themes from old nursery rhymes as well as newer sets from Disney movies and cartoons. Bonus: Storybook Island Children’s Theatre.
Wilderness at the Smokies in Tennessee (also check out Wilderness at the Dells in Wisconsin)
Wilderness at the Smokies is a NEW full-service resort that offers something for everyone, including: The Smokies’ premier all-season indoor waterpark, two outdoor waterparks (seasonal), arcades, restaurants and shops.
Powell Barnett Playground (352 Martin Luther King Jr. Way)
Powell Barnett has unique toys for kids to spin, twirl, twist, and whirl. There’s a tricycle road maze, a two-story slide and a spider-web climber. The park’s play structures were created by Kompan, a Danish company renowned for its modern and innovative playground equipment.
Warren G. Magnuson Park Playground (7400 Sand Point Way NE)
The Seattle Parks Department refers to this playground as the Emerald City’s “crown jewel.” At 20,000 square feet the park offers a stunning view of Mount Rainier. The “air, land, and sea” playground was designed partly by children and built entirely by volunteers. It has three large climbing structures, one designated specifically for toddlers.
Cal Anderson Park (West 11th Avenue and Howell Street)
This playground, opened in September 2005 on top of the Lincoln Reservoir, was covered after 9/11 due to safety concerns. Its mammoth fountain sprays water from the reservoir below. The park also offers a bouncy play surface, fun lounge-chair swings, and ride-on toys.