Today's guest blogger is Heather Manning who lives in Bethlehem, Pa. with her partner and their sons, Lucas and Miles. Together they hike, paddle, run, swim, visit farms, and attend festivals throughout the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley area. Her blog originally appeared on Kids Outdoors Philadelphia, a free online community from the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Gone are the days of the playgrounds from when I was a kid, growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s when we slid down hot metal slides, swung on swings with old rusty chains, bobbed up and down on unbalanced teeter totters, and ran on gravel or blacktop where you were sure to skin your knee if you fell. While these playgrounds seemed to be a whole lot of fun when I was a kid, today’s playgrounds truly cater to our children and their imaginations. They are safer, more creative, and offer a much wider variety of equipment for them to enjoy.
Below are my top 5 picks in the Philadelphia area, Lehigh Valley, and surrounding areas.
Kids Castle, Doylestown
Kids Castle is located in Central Park in Doylestown, Bucks County. This newly refurbished playground is absolutely amazing, with eight stories of tunnels, towers, twists, turns, slides, and mazes. Outside this wooden castle are swing sets and other playground features. There is only one entrance/exit, which makes it safer and more secure since it is a fairly large playground. It is also extremely clean and well cared for. This playground is actually still being updated and will continue to be improved through 2014. It was ideal for my family as my two sons are 6 years apart in age; my 8-year-old Lucas enjoyed the upper stories of the castle, climbing his way up in the towers and racing down one of the 30-foot slides, while my toddler Miles and I explored the ground level maze, looking at the artwork on its walls.
Cedar Beach Park, Allentown
Cedar Beach Park, located in Allentown, Lehigh County, is a relatively new park. It is an enormous 19,000-square-foot playground with lots of modern and unique equipment, such as a giant rope formation that looks like a spider web and some different twists on traditional playground equipment. This park really has it all. The floor of the playground is a rubbery surface, making it much more cushiony in case of falls. It also has plenty of benches and a pavilion with picnic tables for parents to sit and watch their children. Lucas loves running from tower to tower, playing hide and go seek with his friends and walking across the “tight rope” to the huge web in the center of the park. Miles enjoys banging on the bongos and crawling through the tunnels. Since we live close to this park, it is one to which we go often.
Laury’s Station, Coplay
Laury’s Station playground in Coplay, Lehigh County seems to be a hidden gem in the Lehigh Valley, as it is a fantastic park in a rural setting that never seems to be crowded. Right next to the town’s fire department, this playground’s theme surrounds fire stations making it loads of fun for little ones to use their imaginations. The equipment mimics a real fire station, fire truck, and a rescue helicopter. Miles loves to play here, but it is still very enjoyable for Lucas as well. They both have plenty to do and have fun pretending to be firefighters climbing up into their “fire station”.
Parkside Place Complex, North Wales
Similar to Kids Castle, Parkside Place Complex in North Wales, Montgomery County is an enormous wooden playground full of all sorts of mazes with secret passageways, towers, swinging bridges, climbing ropes, unique slide features, and creative fun for kids. This playground is sure to keep your little ones imagination running wild. There are age appropriate areas for little ones as well as for older children. Located in a wooded area, it’s shaded by plenty of trees, and there are also picnic areas nearby.
Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, Philadelphia
Located in East Fairmount Park, this playground was recently renovated and is appropriate for children 10 years old and under. There is a gigantic wooden slide that is incredibly fun as well as all sorts of equipment for kids to bounce on, climb, ride, and use their imaginations. The equipment here is very imaginative and there is plenty of room. The equipment is really spread out across the park’s 6.5 acres and it seems like they have thought of everything. The Playhouse is designated for children 5 and younger, and is divided into separate rooms with kitchen sets, an indoor tricycle room, puppet theatres, and much more. It is the perfect setting for young children and toddlers. There are also various events that take place here, so be sure to check out their calendar of events.
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