Round, round, round you go. Where you stop? Anywhere with monkey bars and a ginormous tube slide.
Your little playground enthusiast loves to twirl, slide, run and climb. When you’re looking for a new place to cut loose, download Playground Pointers. The app created by two local parents has a database of more than 700 Chicago playgrounds. It gives you an overview of each with maps, photos and insider tips. We gave the app a whirl one recent afternoon and found that what could have been a wild goose chase to find outdoor fun was instead, well … a walk in the park.
The app is available on iTunes for $1.99 — money well spent, considering the amount of good info it has. Its vast directory includes playgrounds across the city, from Rogers Park to Bridgeport, and nearby suburbs. Co-creator Mistie Lucht, a mom of three, gathers all the data and has visited more than 200 sites to provide accurate reviews. Her business partner and dad of four, Chris Cooper, takes care of the tech side of things.
At a basic level, use the app as a directory and look up playgrounds by name. You’ll see their map placement and, in many cases, the kind of equipment they feature (swing sets, slides, teeter totters, etc.). That’s in addition to tiny but important details, like if the sites have shaded areas, access to public transportation, water fountains, picnic areas, and nearby food and drink.
The Search Function
Along with being a great A-Z list, Playground Pointers is a search tool and GPS. You can get directions to any playground from your current location — something that comes in extra-handy when errands, or just the urge to explore, take you away from your usual stomping ground.
You can also search by geographical area. Want to plan an outing to Dunning on the West Side? Plug in the zip code (it’s 60634 and 60635) and see all the playgrounds that pop up. Or, search by features, such as splash pads, baby swings or picnic tables to find a new favorite. (For the record, we’re fans of the splash pad at Adams Playground Park, and Playground Pointers is, too.)
The Personal Touch
Stretch out the fun beyond the swing set and into the surrounding neighborhood. With the app’s Perfect Playground Day function, you can read about other attractions and activities in the vicinity of playgrounds. Mistie can vouch for each (she’s made the rounds, after all) and has even taken photos so you can get the lay of the land.
Plans are in the works for it to be possible to set up play dates, text and email from within the app.
Welcome to the jungle gym, everyone.
What’s your favorite Chicago park? Tell us in the Comments section below.
— Kelly Aiglon
Photos: Courtesy of Playground Pointers