If you happen to know any pirates or princesses, ninjas or gymnasts, perhaps you and they might like a turn at a new kind of playground; a less-defined, more rustic place to climb, jump, twirl and wander. Behold, the natural playgrounds blooming around our fair hamlet. At these four natural play areas, you won’t find any bright blue and red plastic or fiberglass slides. No way. Just aesthetically pleasing imagination-generating small play areas full of rustic, native-elements like leaves, sticks, water, sand, stone and wood. Simple and ordinary until your little ones use their power of imagination to make them extraordinary.
Hooray for New Ways to Play
There’s a movement afoot that is generating much buzz amongst the grown ups and the little ones and it’s known as natural play areas. Natural Play Areas focus on social play rather than just straight motor action. Social play incorporates make-believe with construction and imagination. These parks embrace the use of natural (and many local) elements to get young minds building and grinning. They’re not large and they’re not crowded. These natural play areas are definitely worth checking. Go on, let your little ones discover and explore these cool play sites.
Spring Garden Park, Multnomah Village
Spring Garden Park is a sweet destination for active imaginations ready to scamper and swash buckle. It’s tucked away in Multnomah Village but feels downright rural, even in a dense neighborhood. The rad sand box logs mighty real estate (almost half of the park itself or so it feels anyway) and comes equipped with diggers and shovels. Bonus: If you have a dog, it’s alongside an epic, hilly dog park so every family member wins.
Know Before You Go: The downside to this park, no public restrooms, so you may wanna go before heading out.
Blue Lake Park, Fairview
You’re bored to tears of us talking about Blue Lake’s awesomeness, but here is one more FAB reason to go: their natural play space is super cool. Giant wooden xylophone-awesome. Seriously. It comes with 4 mallets, delivers huge toothy grins and impressive melodies. Plus, there are dinosaur bones begging for mini-anthropologists, enough stumps and wood swings to keep young feet busy for days AND plenty of rocks to climb. Important to note is the BYO shovels and trucks for the sand jam. Blue Lake Park also rocks bathrooms a-plenty, three other gross-motor playgrounds, picnic areas, and more room to run, battle dragons or host dance-offs than any imagination can handle.
Silver Falls State Park, Silverton
Waterfalls, waterfalls, and more um…..natural play. Hooray! Silver Falls State Park has a truly lovely natural play area nestled amongst trees, fresh air and general state park gorgeousness. We heart their neighbor, the Oregon Garden ,as a tremendous day-o’-play- for kidlets of all shapes and sizes, so tacking on one more fab reason to spend some downtime in Silverton sounds just about perfecto.
Camille Park, Beaverton
The team at Tualatin Hills Park & Rec Department is crushing it with Camille Park’s 12-acre-sanctuary of splendor. Bring sand related gear and after that it’s every imagination for his or herself. This natural play actually incorporates some metal – to the tune of a slide and swings. You can hug many an oak here, walk,hike or run off a lot of steam and of course, hit the bathrooms before you pile back in the car. Bucolic and pastoral, yet just East of 217.
Sandy Shout Out: More Wood in our Hood
If you reside in SE you likely know this, coming in summer of 2014 to Westmoreland Park will be Portland Parks & Rec’s next foray into a natural playground. Things are pretty torn up right now but by the time we’re aching for new close-in outdoor amusement, this rustic merriment will be ours for the having. Cartwheels and climbing await. What’s more natural than that?
What do you think of natural play areas? We wanna hear from you in the comments section below!
— Liz Overson
Thanks for the photos exploreportlandnature.wordpress.com, greenworks.com, learninglandscapes.net, otak.com and Liz Overson.