Playgrounds have come a long way since the early days of hot, steel slides and open-backed infant swings. Safety is a big issue on today’s playgrounds, but, thankfully, so is imagination and ingenuity.
1. Nishi-Rokugo – Tokyo, Japan.
In Japanese, Nishi-Rokugo means Tyre Park. The Kawasaki plants are located not far away, so it’s possible they donated the 3,000 tyres that make up the dinosaurs, monsters, bridges, slides, swings, and all the loose ones there for kids to stack and hop on. But this sand-bottom park is hardly just for kids. Parents can haul tyres up specially designed tyre steps and tube down wide concrete slides.
2. The Fruit and Scent Playground –Liljeholmen, Sweden
A banana slide, strawberry spinners, a pair of cherry swings, an orange see-saw and a watermelon jungle gym are all part of this unusual, small park in the south of Stockholm.
3. Clemyjontri Park – Fairfax County, Virginia
Not just the name is unusual. This is one of the few playgrounds in the world where children with disabilities can play side-by-side with able-bodied children. The entire park is equipped with ramps for wheelchairs and the ground surfaces are specially designed with a non-slip material. The park is named for Adele Lebowitz’s (a major donor) four children: Carolyn (CL), Emily (EMY), John (Jon), and Petrina (Tri). Mrs. Lebowitz and her husband were also sponsors of a local children’s television show, The Pick Temple Show, in the 1950s. The star of that show, a clown named Bozo, was played by Willard Scott. Bozo, who later morphed into Ronald McDonald.
4. Pruessen Park – Berlin, Germany
Is this the only playground in the world created specifically for seniors? Anyone under 16 is not allowed inside Berlin’s Pruessen Park, nicknamed the “Playground for Grown-Ups.” The equipment is specifically designed for people over five feet tall and caters to Germany’s fastest growing age demographic.
5. Zabeel Technology Park – Dubai
Dubai’s Zabeel Technology Park has two zones featuring futuristic technology and alternative energy exhibits, a series of high tech interactive displays, and a maze modeled on the solar system.
6. Takino Hillside Park – Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, Japan
The Children’s Playground in the Takino Hillside Park in Japan borrows ideas and images from nature. Varied lighting and sound conditions create a unique sensory experience for kids. Check out the cool net play tool in the rainbow nest dome. You can see how a lot of the park is built into, and under the hill.
7. St. Kilda Adventure Playground – Adelaide, Australia
St Kilda Adventure Playground is one of Australia’s best known parks and covers 4 hectares along the beautiful South Australian seafront (not that I am biased). The park opened in 1982 and recent upgrades include a wooden castle, a small maze, and a submarine, nicknamed “The Yellow Submarine.” The park's biggest attraction is the beached pirate shipwreck, which is especially popular with dolphins and other sea wildlife.
8. Teardrop Park – New York City, NY
Located between residential buildings in Battery Park City, and built for a whopping $17 million, the park features prominent rock outcroppings, geologic formations, a secret path, a bluestone ice wall, a humongous, almost dangerous looking slide, sandboxes, water play areas, a reading space with rock seats, and places to rock hop.
9. Yerba Gardens – San Francisco, California
The rooftop at Yerba Gardens in San Francisco is home to one of the most elaborate playgrounds ever constructed. Aside from the ice-skating rink, bowling center and the 130,000 square feet of open space to play in, the playground includes a beautiful 103-year-old hand carved carousel. The Zeum carousel was constructed in 1906 but could not be installed in San Francisco as originally planned because of earthquake issues. It was eventually housed at Luna Park in Seattle, where it was the only piece of equipment to survive a horrific 1911 fire. The city of San Francisco bought the carousel from a collector in 1998 and restored it to its original condition. It now serves at the centerpiece in Yerba Gardens
10. Playground – Boadilla del Monte, Spain
Spanish architects Eduardo Navadijos and Csaba Tarsoly designed this stunning modern playground with the intention of giving children inspiration to pursue their dreams in an airy and cool environment.