Josiah has taken to running laps through the house. Or to spontaneously jumping up and down several times (it is very cute to see him master this skill).

Cold weather brings with it many wonderful things, like scarves, hot cocoa, Christmas, cinnamon and spice flavored foods, cozy clothes, etc. Pent up energy with no real outdoor release is not one of its most promising aspects. This is a new experience for this mama. What are we to do with all of this energy?

We’ve tried to spend time at playplaces like Chick-Fil-A and McDonald’s. We’ve intentionally gone AFTER lunch time thinking it would be less crowded, but it hasn’t really worked out that way. The first time we tried this, Josiah came home with a black eye and a welt on his forehead from getting stuck in tunnels with big kids and their feet. He only has fun if mommy or daddy join him…

but, let’s be honest, that is not much fun for the mommy and daddy.

Although, the treats are good for all involved 🙂 …

Beyond the ice cream, playplaces just aren’t satisfying our playground itch.

“Play at 10 different parks” was one of the items on Josiah’s One Year Old Bucket List.

We had fun exploring new parks, and ended up visiting far more than 10. While Josiah might be OK going down the same slide over and over and over again, the mommy and daddy–who are constantly told to “come, come” (one of Josiah’s first words)–appreciate the variety. With all of our experience, I’d pretty much call myself an expert on good parks for toddlers.

So…what makes a good park for toddlers?

#1 Attraction = Slides.

There have got to be slides.

The side-by-side ones are kind of nice in the beginning as they develop the nerve to do it themselves.

Tunnels are fun, too!

Qualifying Statement: Tunnels are good for the kids…NOT the adults.

Baby swings are great fun!

Animals are a fun bonus.

(This was at Cody Park in North Platte, Nebraska. We discovered this is a great half-way-stop-and-stretch-your-legs break when we drive back to Nebraska.)

Lots of parks offer their own little “something special,” like dinosaurs…




…or rock-climbing walls (although these are really only slight distractions from slides)

Steps are definitely preferable to ladders and other “fancy” sorts of climbing things when it comes to toddlers.

But there is one main factor that really set the great parks apart from the good parks.


Yup! Woodchips.

It wasn’t until the very end of summer than Josiah’s pudgy little baby feet fit into tennis shoes. Before that he went everywhere in his crocs. At most of the parks we went to, the ground was covered with pea gravel. This does NOT go over well with crocs. Or rather, it does not stay under very well with crocs. Josiah couldn’t take a step without having to stop and empty his shoes.

Not an issue with woodchips! Even with tennis shoes, gravel seems to find a way in every now and then. We have yet to have a single “hitch-hiker” problem with woodchips.

Happy Playing! (I almost wrote “Happy Parking” and then realized that that is not what I intended to say!)

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  1. Shiloh says:

    Looks like you’ve been to some fun parks! I think for my daughter, a key part is a quiet park. We have a huge one near us, but it’s always super busy. She just stumbles around watching everyone that she doesn’t really enjoy the playground. 🙂

  2. Karen says:

    We were at a park this weekend that had this weird teeter totter that the kids stand on. My little one is not quite 2 and he got on opposite a 6 year old girl who didn’t seem to mind. He was enthralled. I don’t know if the teeter totter was so incredible or if he just couldn’t believe his luck that this pretty little “big” girl was playing with him. I’ve never seen him last so long on one attraction before!

  3. Jill says:

    Looks like you all had heaps of fun in all those parks! My girls a quite a bit older – at 6 and 8, but they love when we go on a ‘playpark tour’ around the houses – walking, skipping and running along the streets between small parks and playing on all the different swings, slides and climbing frames!
    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  4. Kim says:

    Great post! I agree about the slides – my daughter can’t get enough of them! But, we’re still at a tricky stage (15 months) where the woodchips beckon as a tasty snack rather than a play surface. Right now I’m loving the springy, squishy rubber surface you find in some toddler parks. 🙂
    –Kim in CA

  5. Carrie says:

    What a great evaluation of play parks. Your wishes will change as he grows up and some of the other things will be more important. Enjoy it! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday! I hope you will share with us again this week!

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