Gone are the days when a playground was just a few swings, a slide and some monkey bars. Playgrounds of today have totally upped their game to be pleasing to the eye as well as functional play structures. We found some brand-new and some newly-renovated playgrounds all over the Bay Area that have cool design plus awesome features like a hummingbird garden, a skate park, retro-style cement slides and water features to splash around in. Read on and plan some time to check them out!

photo: SF Recreation and Parks

San Francisco

1. Mountain Lake Park
This recently-renovated city park sits just south of the Presidio. The under 3 set can play in their own self-contained toddler area that only has one gate to enter and exit (essential for toddler containment). Big kids will enjoy using the stairs or the climbing wall to reach the top of the cement slide and then grabbing a buddy to slide down together. There’s also a great rope climbing area with gorgeous views of nearby Mountain Lake.

Location: One 11th Ave., SF
Online: sfrecpark.org

photo: SF Recreation and Parks

2. In Chan Kaajal Park
This park is the first brand new playground to be built by the SF Rec Department in over a decade. Meaning “My Little Town,” In Chan Kaajal celebrates the indigenous Mayan American communities of the Mission who lobbied for years for its creation. Included in the park are an outdoor performance area, sprawling lawn and every kid’s dream on a warm day – a water feature that commemorates Mission Creek which once ran through the area. Kids of all ages will love the many climbing and swinging structures available.

Location: 17th Street and Folsom, SF
Online: sfrecpark.org

photo: SF Recreation and Parks

3. Hilltop Park
Hilltop is most well-known for its giant 70-foot sundial and its skatepark. If you haven’t been there in a while, recent renovations will make you want to drop by for another afternoon of play. The massive cement slide is still in place (bring your cardboard if you have the need for speed) but the playground at its base is totally new and totally cool. Kids can climb on the tree-shaped merry-go-round and the rubberized flooring will protect from any falls. Plenty of benches surround the action so that parents can take a break.

Location: La Salle & Whitney Young Circle, SF
Online: sfrecpark.org

photo: SF Recreation and Parks

4. South Park
South Park is the oldest public park in San Francisco. Taking up almost 34,000 square feet of space, the park is a favorite lunch spot for those working in the surrounding businesses. Recent park improvements include the addition of a butterfly garden and a massive serpentine climbing structure for kids of all ages. Grab a spot on the net swing and enjoy the afternoon.

Location: 64 South Park Ave., SF
Online: sfrecpark.org

photo: Santa Clara County Parks

South Bay

5. Hellyer County Park—San Jose
South Bay parents have been flocking to this brand-new playground since its opening in September. The massive structure includes two 3-foot climbing towers, a conical merry-go-round, toddler play area and log climbing structure. A splash pad and waterfall arch make this a perfect spot to gather on a hot day. Bonus: new shade sails were added to keep the sun off the kiddos.

Location: 985 Hellyer Ave., San Jose
Online: sccgov.org

photo: Alley T. via yelp

6. Steve Carli Park—Santa Clara
Steve Carli Park recently underwent a major playground renovation much to the delight of local kids. The big kid structure includes three slides, ropes, ladders and tons of opportunities for climbing. A separate small toddler structure has a mini slide and climber. Possibly the best feature for parents of little ones are the two parent-tot double swings where you can pop your tiny person in the bucket swing while you sit on the swing facing them. Brilliant! The playground is well-shaded with lots of benches to stop for a snack break.

Location: 1045 Los Padres Blvd., Santa Clara
Online: santaclaraca.gov

photo: SuYen N. via yelp

7. Tamien Park—San Jose
This long-awaited park has finally opened its phase one playground and the kids are in love. Shaded sliding areas, a twisty-turvey climbing wall and cool cave for exploring will keep the kids busy for hours. Bonus: the Tamien Light Rail Station is right next door so you can spy some cool trains as you play. Phase two plans include a small soccer field, outdoor stage and more benches.

Location: 1135 Lick Ave., San Jose

photo: Emeryville Community Services

East Bay

8. Wallholla—Emeryville
Quite possibly one of the most unique playground designs we’ve seen is the new Wallholla verticle playground in Emeryville. Designed and manufactured in the Netherlands, this playground was shipped to Los Angeles before it made its way north to its home at Emeryville Center of Community LIfe. The playground takes up a very small footprint but includes slides, climbing walls, nets, ropes and poles – and is large enough to accommodate up to 60 kids. The playground is used by the school during the day and is only open to the public Monday-Friday from 6:45 a.m.-8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

Location: 4727 San Pablo Ave., Emeryville
Online: emeryusd.k12.ca.us

photo: City of Concord

9. Meadow Homes Park—Concord
The Concord community is delighted to have this new playground open right next to the ever-popular spray park. Flanked by two climbing structures – one for older kids and one for tots, the park is surrounded by protective fencing and covered in tanbark. Swings for all ages are offered including one adaptive swing for bigger kids who are unable to swing on traditional swings.

Location: 1351 Detroit Ave., Concord

Do you have any new playgrounds in your neighborhood? Share the love below!

– Kate Loweth