When we first had Buddy, we lived about 30 minutes away from where we live now. We had 3 playgrounds/parks within very easy walking distance of our house and had many others just a short drive down the road. I had grown up in the area and generally had a good idea of where the best parks and playgrounds were located, though our absolute favorite, Twin Oaks Park, was a hidden gem until Buddy came along and a friend suggested it to me.
Twin Oaks Park (photo from www.playstlouis.blogspot.com)
Needless to say, when we moved last summer, it was a bit of a shock to find that we didn’t have ANY playgrounds or parks within walking distance. No more stroller walks to the park for us. (I have the extra 10 lbs to prove it…and that was BEFORE I got pregnant again!) We had spotted a park or two as we drove around looking at houses & noted their locations, but once we moved in, we found that we were quickly lacking variety. What’s a parent to do?
Today I want to share some tips for locating those “hidden gem” parks that are likely just enough off the beaten path to make them hard to find, but extra special places to play.
1. Use your local county or city’s parks & recreation website! These not only share locations of parks, but often times will include information giving you a heads up about what to expect at each park. Is there a playground? Pool? Walking trails? Pavilion? Restrooms? Ball fields? etc…
Your county not listed? Just do a google search for your county’s parks and recreation department!
2. In the St. Louis area you can also use www.playstlouis.blogspot.com to locate great parks near you! Easy to use, this site allows you to search by region, city, child’s age, or even by what kind of playground surface that particular park uses. Amazing! There are lots of photos of each park and you can even submit new parks that haven’t yet been added. A terrific resource.
3. www.playgroundmapper.com–This site has a few flaws but is a nationwide searchable website that allows you to locate parks in your area. Like Play St. Louis, Playground Mapper allows you to add playgrounds from your area that may have been missed. It’s been around since 2008 but looks like it may not have been updated in a few months. A great place to go if the other resources didn’t work for you.
4. Ask around! We found some of the best parks by talking to our new neighbors who have kids. They have already been in our position and were happy to offer up some of their favorite locations as well as why they love them. (Sometimes it’s not all about what equipment is available, but more about how few people know it’s there…making it a less crowded option!) Shy around the neighbors or none of them have young kids? Try asking other parents at your child’s local school, at your place of worship, your grocery checker, or your local librarian. Chances are someone will be able to point you in the right direction!
Now get out there and enjoy this beautiful spring weather!