I have many fond memories of my childhood summers… long bright days, loads of free time, seemingly endless weeks of freedom from the regular school routine. But now, as a parent, I realize that my own parents may have found those summer days just a tad too long and too unstructured and probably also struggled a bit with finding the right balance between ‘no plans’ and ‘we’re getting on each other’s nerves’! Don’t get me wrong… I love having more time with my kids and not rushing to get to school is a treat, but after the first couple of weeks of freedom, I find we need a bit of structure to our days. Finding new things to do and new places to visit keeps us from going stir crazy. But we certainly can’t afford to spend the whole summer spending money on attractions! Enter Calgary’s fabulous playgrounds.
Public playgrounds are great places to have some active fun in the fresh air while exploring our city and perhaps making a new friend or two (kids and parents alike!). So whether you have all day with your kids and are looking to add some interest and physical activity or you’re a working parent and want to make the most of those longer-than-usual evenings you get with your kids, we recommend checking out some new playgrounds and parks, in your own part of the city and further afield. We’ve got six great Calgary playgrounds here, to help get you started! (Plus one more, for a great bonus!)
Haultain Park Playground (SW)
Where to find it: 225 13 Avenue SW
What we love: large playground with solid surface rubber flooring, lots of seating plus picnic tables, gorgeous landscaping, tennis courts, great urban setting with modern towers around and the historical Haultain School on site.
East Village Playground (SE)
Where to find it: 7 Avenue & 6 Street SW
What we love: interesting playground equipment including a natural-wood climbing structure, fun roller slide and oversized xylophone, solid surface rubber flooring, fantastic downtown views, beautiful community gardens right next to the playground, close proximity to Riverwalk Plaza and the Simmons Building, which houses the Sidewalk Citizen bakery and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters.
Bridgeland Community Association Playground (NE)
Where to find it: Centre Avenue & 9 Street NE
What we love: good modern playground installed over a solid surface rubber floor, adjacent to large sports field and a smaller open grass field, located right next to the Bridgeland Community Association building, a short walk to lots of restaurants and coffee shops in the heart of the funky Bridgeland neighbourhood, great view of downtown including the Calgary Tower and Bow Tower.
Helicopter Playground (NW)
Where to find it: 5 Avenue & 27 Street NW
What we love: large playground that’s about half on solid surface rubber flooring – including the eponymous helicopter climber that kids love, plus a great Parkdale location adjacent to a large playing field and near the pathways along the Bow River.
Currie Barracks Airport Playground (SW)
Where to find it: Officially, the address is given online as 2953 Battleford Avenue or 3951 Trasimene Crescent, but this area is under development as a new neighbourhood and it (seems to me) to really be on Dieppe Avenue. My Google Maps told me to turn onto Trasimene Crescent, but the parking lot is actually right on Dieppe.
What we love: unique airport-themed concept including an airport control tower with a huge slide, solid surface rubber flooring, beautiful setting amongst mature trees and lilac bushes and next to a large green space, equipment suitable for a large age range, a sit-in spinner that we haven’t seen elsewhere, and easy access from Crowchild Trail.
Applewood Park Playground (SE)
Where to find it: Applewood Drive & Applegrove Crescent SE
What we love: enormous playground with a wide variety of equipment for kids of all abilities and ages, tennis courts and an outdoor exercise circuit near the playground, undercover picnic gazebo with picnic tables
Confederation Park Playground (NW)
Where to find it: Confederation Park 24th Ave & 14th St NW to 30th Ave & 10th St NW — the playground is towards the east side, closer to 30th Ave
What we love: The playground has a unique feel: it’s not all plastic and the bright, garish colours we’ve come to expect from playgrounds. Set into the hills, beautifully landscaped, and strewn with wood chips, the playground has a much more natural feel than you might expect. It’s a very social place, too, with plenty of seating and a Little Free Library! Plus, there is a sand and water play area for some mud-pie fun.