Top 3 Playgrounds In the Denver Area
Hours vary by location.
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With many to choose from, we've narrowed down a few of our favorite playgrounds in and around Denver.
Denver has its fair share of parks and green space, but not every playground is created equal. As a mom of a 3-year-old and a 1.5-year-old, I’m fairly picky when it comes to what I’m looking for in a stellar play area for my kids. If we plan to be out for a couple of hours, I’m looking for a playground that has the following features:
Bathrooms in close proximity: With a 3-year-old, there’s not much time to wait once she raises the call.
Something for multiple age groups: While my 3-year-old can climb and slide and run and duck and roll, my 1.5-year-old pretty much sticks to the swings and some easy stair climbing or small slides. I appreciate a park that has options for multiple age ranges nearby, so I don’t have to run back and forth, or worse, keep the 1.5-year-old in her stroller, which is no fun for anyone.
More than just play structures: Your traditional swings/slide/climbing apparatus is great, but when young kids (or you) get bored, it’s nice to have something else nearby to check out, like a water feature or a sandbox, for example.
With those criteria in mind, the following are three playgrounds in the Denver area that I would highly recommend when you’re out and about with your littles.
1. Washington Park
Why I love it: Washington Park is a must-hit if you’re visiting Denver anyway, and the fact that there’s an awesome (and new!) kids’ park inside just makes it even more attractive. There are porta-potties very close, but there are also nicer, family-sized restrooms within walking distance. The park features swings and tunnels for wee ones, as well as climbing features and an awesome paved bike/scooter riding circuit with bumps added for fun for the older kids. The huge sandbox is a draw for kids of all ages, and the fact that it’s right across from a lake and flower garden means it’s the perfect spot to play all morning, and then relax with a lunch by the water later in the day. The fact that the wooden areas of the playground are made from repurposed wood is just icing on the cake.
What to keep in mind: Washington Park is one of the most popular parks in Denver, so it’s bound to be busy whenever you go. There is parking right next to the playground, though, which makes it easy to schlep gear. Besides the lake and park, there is a larger jogging/biking trail that makes it easy to ride bikes with kids or walk with a stroller, and the ample green space is great for more active play, so remember to bring a ball-of-choice to throw or kick around.
2. City Park
Why I love it: City Park actually has two playgrounds (one near Duck Lake and the other on the N. Colorado Boulevard side), but it’s about so much more than the playground — it’s an overall experience. If you’re looking for a place to come that ticks multiple to-dos on your Denver Bucket List, this is it. Both playgrounds are near enclosed toilet areas, and the N. Colorado Boulevard side option, in particular — which is located at 1700 York St — is an ambling wooden structure with everything your child could want or need, from slides and swings to riding animals and climbing structures — and it’s close to a parking lot. Plus, if your kid loves nothing more than running around over “bridges,” as mine do, then this place is endlessly entertaining. Although you’ll need to drive to get from place to place, the parks are also conveniently located near the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Ferril Lake, where you can rent all kinds of transportation, from land options like surreys and cruiser bikes to water ones like kayaks and swan boats. There is a small splash pad located near the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, as well, which is the perfect spot for your kids to cool off after playing. This map gives you a good overall view of the layout of the entire area so you can better plan your movements.
What to keep in mind: While you could spend hours just at the playgrounds here, the better idea would be to make a full day of it and visit some of the other features in the area, as well. Bring swimsuits for the splash pad and, depending on your child’s interests, plan to check out the zoo or science museum, as well. Obviously both of these spots are popular areas, so check out the websites to plan the best days of the week and time of days to visit to avoid crowds, if possible.
3. Ralston-Central Park
Why I love it: Granted, the Ralston Central Park and Splash Pad aren’t technically in Denver (it’s located about 25 minutes northwest), but if you’re looking for a great playground/splash pad experience, this is it. The playground area features a log-style aesthetic with a tree-trunk slide, a clubhouse with seating, and plenty of climbing and swinging spots, as well. There is plenty of covered seating and spots for eating/relaxing, and the glorious splash pad — located directly across from the playground — is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and runs from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily. The family toilets are open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and are clean and well-kept, and the parking is directly located next to the playground, although can fill up quickly during busy times.
What to keep in mind: This splash pad/playground are very popular, so the parking lot and covered picnic areas closest to the play areas do fill up fast. If you’re traveling here for the playground/splash pad and only plan to spend a couple of hours there, you can make a longer day out of it by checking out Olde Town Arvada, as well, which is only a couple of minutes drive away.
By: Cheryl Lock of Weary Wanderer