If there is a surefire way to cure the winter blahs, it’s by catching a case of spring fever. We’ll still have some rainy days, but don’t let that stop you from getting outside for some old-fashioned family fun. If your kids are itching to play, make a break for one of the South Sound’s many playgrounds. Here are some of the area’s best slide, swing and climb sets.
SERA Playground and Sprayground
This new playground has a great mix of features for all ages. Fort-like structures — sort of Northwest meets Swiss Family Robinson — are perfect for imaginative play. There’s a sprayground in the summer months, and the adjoining STAR Center offers a variety of classes as well as day passes for families wanting to use its play areas.
There’s something for everyone here, including the area’s only wave pool. The playground is worth a trip, too. It has lots of interesting equipment you won’t find at other area spots, including a saucer swing, updated versions of merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters, and a super-sized climbing structure.
Two words: Zip line. The playground behind the popular Center at Norpoint in Northeast Tacoma features a zip line your big kids will love, plus challenging climbing equipment and a spinning ring that is almost as fun (and scary) as the old-school toys you might remember. There also is a sprayground operating in the summer months.
The Discovery Pond at the Tacoma Nature Center
The Discovery Pond is a nature-themed playground next to the Tacoma Nature Center. Kids can climb into and over “logs,” pump water, cross a river and look out from a tree fort. This isn’t a huge spot, but it’s great for imaginative play. When you’ve had your fill, be sure to check out the exhibits inside the nature center or walk one of the trails around Snake Lake. Younger children in particular will love the playground, but this is a great destination for all ages.
High-tech playground equipment and tetherball are among the attractions at this park that honors the life and heritage of Zina Linnik.
This historic park in the middle of downtown is large for running and exploring and offers a playground, sprayground, a glass walled conservatory and some of the state’s most majestic trees.
Bradley Lake Park
This was one of the area’s first playgrounds built specifically to be accessible to children with special needs. It features bright, colorful equipment, including swings, a “car” and musical features. There is an older, traditional playground next to it, and the trail around the lake is great for beginning bike riders or strollers.
It’s worth the bridge toll to check out the fun equipment in the boundless playground at this large popular park. There also is a sandbox for younger children, plus trails and athletic fields.
Fort Steilacoom Park
Area kids call this one “The Castle Park.” It features fort-like structures made for free-ranging games of tag, plus a sandbox and separate equipment for younger children. Kids do disappear within the towers and turrets here, so this may be best for slightly more independent children.
At Les Gove Park in Auburn, there’s a large playground designed to be accessible for children with special needs. It features both traditional and non-traditional equipment, including slides, climbing obstacles and equipment for sensory play.
Lake Meridian Park
You’ll find a huge nautical-themed playground at the popular Lake Meridian Park, located on a swimming lake in Kent.
Percival Landing Playground
Located close to Heritage Park Fountain and the Olympia farmers market, Percival Landing Park boasts a playground with equipment for younger kids (toddlers to 5-year-olds), and older kids up to age 12 will enjoy cargo-netted merry-go-rounds, swings and more.
Photo: “Playground” ©2008 Phalinn Ooi and “Playing Ground #3” ©2009 Abie Sudiono, used under a creative commons attribution license.