If your kid is seeming blasé about the slides and monkey bars at your go-to playground, keep reading. We’ve uncovered a handful of tucked-away D.C.-area tot lots that are stocked with donated toys—think: ride-on tractors, Tonka trucks, and play kitchens—that are sure to reignite your little one’s enthusiasm for the great outdoors. Bonus: You now have a cool neighborhoody spot to donate the plastic playthings piling up in the garage. Armory Tot Lot
The next time you’re window shopping down King Street in Old Town Alexandria with your little one in tow, take note of this tot lot. It’s just two blocks south of the main strip, making it the perfect detour when kiddo gets bored with heels and hair salons. In addition to swings, slides, and sand boxes, the playground (which is on the spot that was once a busy National Guard Armory Building) is chockfull of ride-on cars, wagons, and play yards.
208 S. Royal St. (Alexandria, Va)
Forest Hills Playground
This little park comes filled with sturdy wooden and plastic equipment, a sandbox, baby swings, picnic tables galore, plus a sweet sprinkling of donated toys; so many choices that kids could spend hours (literally) jetting around. With an active community board in place, this park also hosts regular live music performances and parties for families. And, things are about to get even more awesome here—the park will be undergoing a redesign in the spring (2014).
3200 Chesapeake St., NW (Forest Hills)
Friendship “Turtle” Park
The pocket park gets its name because of its huge sandbox filled with stationary ceramic turtles that kids get a kick out of climbing on, “riding,” and jumping off of. The same sandbox can often be found strewn with any number of digging toys, sand sifters, and castle building containers (so kiddo can leave hers at home!). Make a day out of your visit by bringing a blanket to sit on (benches are limited) and a picnic.
4500 Van Ness St., NW (Tenleytown)
Blink and you just might miss this “secret park.” It’s discretely tucked away on a residential street, but loaded with well-kept toys, including tyke cars and bikes, mini tables and chairs, and a toddler hoop. During the summer the park boasts a play-in water fountain and some serious tree shade. If your bambinos work up an appetite, stroll a couple of blocks to bustling U Street for a snack at Oohhs and Aahhs (known for their killer mac and cheese).
911 Westminster St., NW (U St. Corridor)
Does your neighborhood have a fun toy-stocked playground we should know about? Tell us in the comments section below.
Photos courtesy of Ayren Jackson-Cannady, Forest Hills Frank via Flickr, dctots.com, zielinksi_fam via Flickr