Thursday, August 18, 2011

Playground Tour Stop #13: Vanderbilt Playground

For the thirteenth stop on our tour we headed down to the newest playground in Prospect Park - Vanderbilt playground at Prospect Park SW and Vanderbilt St. The playground opened last fall to much anticipation and, as far as I can tell at least, it has not disappointed.

Nestled under chestnut trees near the lake, this playground really has a relaxing neighborhood feel. Even with a giant modern dome structure and spinning contraptions, the location/design coupled with the families here really give the place a nice vibe.

The main play structure, partially shaded by the surrounding trees, offers an array of tunnels, bridges, ladders and steering wheels, a spiral slide, a single slide, seating on the ground level under the structure, monkey bars, parallel bars and a rope bridge that consists of two thick ropes strung below two parallel bars. Also in this area is a spinning ball contraption (not much bigger than a basketball) that the kiddos can attempt (usually without success) to climb atop and balance on as it spins.

There is a large/open area in the center of the playground which houses the real highlights of this playground: a large geodesic climbing dome, a spinning basket-like seat, a spinning saucer/dish-like thing, sprinklers and a the little stream that's created from the winding, dug-out cement path that fills from the sprinkler runoff. Also in this area is a large wooden platform that is almost entirely shaded and makes for a great grown-up hang out and snack/lunch spot.

On the other side of the water/spinning/climbing attractions is a smaller play structure and a set of fenced in baby swings. The smaller structure is completely gated off and includes ladders, a slide, a bridge, steering wheels and a stage-like area.

The biggest disappointment at this playground is the lack of bathrooms... not only are there not any actually on the playground, but the only ones around are port-a-potties (that sometimes are not even open) off to the right when you're entering the park from Vanderbilt St. There are some restaurants/cafes along Prospect Park Southwest, but I am not what the public restroom availability is. So my advice is to either be sure to go right before you get there and/or bring one of those great little fold-up travel potties!

Otherwise, I really can't find much to criticize at this playground. There aren't any big kid swings, but the big kids really don't seem to care with all of the other attractions keeping their attention. We've been to this playground a couple of times before, but this last trip the kids never left this middle area for the actual jungle gym structures. Actually, this is one of the only times I can recall where we were at any playground and the kids didn't once complain about something, whine for lunch/a snack or ask to go home/somewhere else... In fact, we had been planning to go on a boat ride that day (which the kids were really looking forward to) but they opted to stay at the playground till the last possible minute. So that said, even with the bathroom issues, I think I'm going to give Vanderbilt Playground an A+.

What do you think?

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