Take a break from the slide, monkey bars and teeter totter routine. These unstructured playgrounds bring play to a whole other level with zip lines, rope swings and giant logs to climb. Kids will use their creativity as well as their muscles to explore and build new worlds. Flip through the pics to find one near you!

Discovery Hollow at Tamarack Nature Center – White Bear Township, Mn

Discovery Hollow at Tamarack Nature Center is ideal for wanderers, explorers, curious kiddos and eager beavers alike! It has a hobbit house structure (with living roof); a big sand pit; The Stream, which allows kids to play with water flow, sound and movement, and The Wood: an area full of sticks and logs for kids to drag around and make forts and stacks. While the water flow in the stream doesn't happen in the coldest months, the nature play area is open year round and The Cliff area, designed for climbing, becomes a sledding hill for local kids. There's also a large garden on site, miles of walking trails (where you can spot owls at dusk and see tons of fall colors) and snowshoeing/cross country ski trails for the winter. The center even offers rentals.

Good to know: Pack food for hungry bellies because it’s on a big property outside of White Bear, there are no nearby snacks, and your children will not want to leave.

Online: ramseycounty/parks-rec/tamaracknaturecenter/discoveryhollow

photo: courtesy Ramsey County


Know of an unstructured playground near you? Give it a shout-out in the comments below!

— Kate Loweth & Gabby Cullen