Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Strongsville Community Park, Strongsville, OH



What an amazing park in the 1990s wooden castle style!  Huge, well organized, so much to try and do...swings, balance beams, a sitting area, climbing, hiding, wiggling, running.  We went in September and it was so worth the drive (271 S to 71 S to the 82 West exit....turn off 82 by the Target).  The pavilion is a wonderful option for snack time.  Parking is adjacent and accessible. 

Definitely a grade A experience.

SKiP (Stow Kids' Playground), Stow, Ohio

What:  a huge wooden complex in Stow, Ohio.  Castles, play areas, sand pits.
Where:  Stow, Ohio.  3870 Darrow Road.
What's good:  pretty much everything.  Parking is close by and accessible.  There are public restrooms and ADA picnic tables.  Enclosed, so you don't need to worry about someone bolting (a la Ellie). 
What's bad:  it's not right around the corner from the Cleveland area, but with Route 8 open and improved, it's a quick 40 minute drive, and so worth it.
Grade:  A



Beautiful, wonderful Bexley Park, which was an ideal play environment for children with special needs as well as typically developing children, was destroyed by arson last night.  We are so sad in this house, so happy we have so many photos of us playing there, but unsure as to how the gap in our playground lives will be filled as the city decides how to regroup from this horrible event.  More importantly, we are horrified that someone would commit this kind of crime, this crime that takes from a community in such as personal, tangible way.  As Emma rightly noted, "The police need to catch that bad person and put him in grown up time out."  Indeed, young Padawan.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Woodland Park Zoomazium, Seattle, WA

And now for something completely different…

Seattle is renown for chilly, rainy weather. Exactly the kind of weather that causes parents to tell their children “I think we should stay inside today” when they look out the window. While this is largely a lie that we tell people from California so they don't move here, there are enough rainy days for it to be a consideration. So on our first trip to the zoo I was happy to find, of all things, the “Zoomazium” - an INDOOR playground and activity center! Dave loves the Zoo like any four year old, and we have a membership and try to go every weekend that we are together. Woodland Park is pretty good about making sure that they have covered areas to view as many animals as possible, and by providing an indoor play space they truly make going to the zoo a year-round activity.

The Zoomazium is a large (Approx. 150’ by 100’) building with high ceilings and plenty of natural light. Alongside the usual adult size door is a child-size entrance. Off to a good start.

Inside, there are three distinct areas. The entire left side of the large, open design is taken up with an arts and crafts area, and space for zookeepers to bring in small animals for “show and tell” opportunities. Very cool, but all of the action takes place on the right.

Closer to the door is an area for children under four, enclosed by a two foot high fence. Inside are a variety of age appropriate climbing and crawling spaces, as well as stuffed animals, puzzles, and a foam-rubber “Dinosaur Egg” from which parents can help their child "hatch". Holy Kodak Moment, Batman!

The Big Kahuna, as far as Dave is concerned, is the four to eight year old play area at the rear right of the building. This is made up a natural-looking rock climbing structure complete with a rope bridge, sliding board, and caves to crawl through. This is where Dave spends most of his time and is ideal for very active, creative play.

In the right rear corner is the “Treehouse”, a two story enclosed climber with a spiral slide appropriate for five to twelve year olds. Dave has tried the Treehouse but gets stuck on the spiral climbing pole and I have had to squeeze in and help him down a few times. He ends up wanting to be bigger, and I want to be smaller. At least Dave will eventually get what he wants.

The floor of the play space is made up of fairy thick rubber padding the texture of a wrestling mat. The rocks, however, appear to be cast concrete. This is my only concern with the Zoomasium, and it is minor if you supervise your child and know their limits.

Woodland Park Zoo’s Zoomazium is a great place to take your kids rain or shine. There are enough activities that Dave is usually good to go for up to two hours, and he almost always sleeps the entire drive/ferry ride home.

Friday, July 2, 2010

and another joins the fray

Eric is a wise old friend with an active little boy and they prowl the Pacific Northwest.  Look for postings about the Seattle area soon!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Roxboro complex, Cleveland Heights, OH

What:  Roxboro School complex, Cleveland Heights, OH

Where:  there...off of Fairmount...sort of (more of that to follow)
What's good:  the climbers are the older wooden style, but they are ample and appropriately sized.  I like the wide space for RUNNING, which is always a good option.  The pavilion provides excellent seating for shade and snacks.  Slides are covered for the most part, which in the summer sun is key in Ohio (burned butts are no fun).  The school is in a quiet neighborhood and not on a main street.  Fenced along the sidewalk.
What's not good:  the parking lot for the playground is way behind the school building and completely inaccessible from West Saint James.  You have go take Colchester to Woodmere to North Park and then sort of do a dodge and tuck into the lot.  If you don't plan this, your kids will be in the car screaming that they want out (like mine were) while you frantically try to find a place to park the van.  The parking lot is accessible, of course, but it is tricky to find your first time out.
Overall grade:  even with the wonky parking, the amazing pavilion and good layout rate this playground a solid B.

Let's welcome...

a new contributor to the world of playground review.  JAK is a cool dad with cool boys.  Thanks for stepping up!