You’ve probably noticed that we love our parks and playgrounds here at Out and About Mom. Here are a few reasons why:
1. They get us and the kiddos out of the house.
2. They are great places to meet up for playdates.
3. They are fun and interesting for both our kids and for us to explore.
4. Many of them are FREE!
So, because we want you to love our state and local parks and playgrounds as much as we do, we’ve put together this preview guide to make it easy and convenient to keep up with all the ones we’ve posted about. As we visit more parks and playgrounds, we will update this post. And you can always find a link to the most up-to-date version in the “OAAM Guides” section under the “Extras” drop-down menu. We’ve even included a handy Playground Cheatsheet with some of our favorite destinations, so you can find your perfect playground with just a glance.
So scroll down for a sneak peek, and click through to read our full post about the places that interest you most. As the CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s motto goes: No Child Left Inside!
The playground at Clinton’s Town Beach is the perfect summer destination. A beautiful beach, an awesome playscape. Does an outdoor adventure get any more picturesque than this? We don’t think so! Plus, you can make it a day trip with a little shopping and lunch nearby.
Addison Park in Glastonbury has a fabulous Boundless Playground with three separate playscapes, including one shaped like a plane! There is also a picnic area, and water activities in the summer months. Plenty of parking, nearby restroom facilities, plus benches for mommies and swings for babies make this a hot spot for playdates.
The Playground at Ross Field is one of the town’s best kept secrets–until now! This completely fenced in playground is a preschooler’s paradise and includes, among other things, a giant sandbox filled with toys, swings, and two playscapes. Plus plenty of benches where mommies can sit, supervise, and socialize.
Bushnell Park in downtown Hartford is a wonderful public space with plenty of green grass, a smaller-scale playscape, and the pièce de résistance: the carousel. We checked out this park during Winterfest, but we can’t wait to go back to see what it’s like in the summertime. We hear there are water activities there too.
Elizabeth Park on the Hartford/West Hartford line is filled with wonderful activities. From lovely green spaces to gorgeous flower gardens to walking paths, and even a pint-sized playground, this is a family-friendly park indeed. It also has a restaurant and a snack bar (hello ice cream!). And don’t forget about the popular summer concert series enjoyed by tots and their grown-ups alike.
Goodwin Park on the Hartford/Wethersfield line is well-known for its Holiday Light Fantasia event in the winter months, and for its golf course in the warmer seasons. But did you know about the great Boundless Playground? Neither did we until a friend clued us in. It has a synthetic padded surface (no mulch to find its way into little mouths!) and a small toddler playscape too.
Hammonasset Beach State Park on Connecticut’s shoreline is perfect for a beach day with baby. Lots of parking, stroller access, spacious restroom facilities, on-the-beach snack bar, plus nearby restaurants and a carousel make this a perfect summer destination. And it’s less than an hour from the Hartford area. Staycation anyone?
Wickham Park on the Manchester/East Hartford line has three playgrounds, an aviary, a nature center, gardens, trails, fields, picnic areas and more. There’s even a snack bar on weekends during the open season. Oh, and did we mention that the main playground is completely fenced in, shaded with trees, AND located right near restroom facilities? We’ll see you there!
East Rock Park in New Haven is known for its hiking trails, but it also has lots for tots too. There’s a large playground plus plenty of space to run around. It’s even got a covered picnic area so it’s the perfect spot for an outdoor lunch.
Young’s Field in New Milford has many amenities including a fantastic playground with some of the most exciting slides we’ve seen yet (if you don’t believe us, just ask Bruiser and Sparkles). The park is stroller accessible, and there are also picnic tables and benches. Plus, great ice cream and more in downtown New Milford, which is within easy walking distance.
Mill Pond Park is home to Our Children’s Place Boundless Playground, a giant set of playscapes with the perfect mix of activities for little and bigger kids. Plus an enormous enclosed sandbox, picnic tables, benches, and baby swings.
The Putnam River Trail is a scenic 1.3 mile walk that’s stroller-friendly with plenty of benches and green space along the way. Plus, it’s just steps from some really great restaurants. So you can indulge in a delicious meal, and then burn off those extra calories. We love multi-tasking!
Dinosaur State Park has a fascinating Exhibit Center that the whole family can enjoy. There are also kid-friendly nature trails, picnic areas and tons of space to let your toddler run free. A casting area where you can make your own dino prints is open during the summer months too.
Elm Ridge Park has something for everyone in the family (there’s even a dog park for your four-legged children). Two playscapes with a separate toddler play area, baby swings, a covered picnic area, pool, skatepark, fields, and more. There’s also a great summer concert series.
Rotary Park is a Boundless Playground with oodles to explore. There are plenty of options for sliding and climbing, plus a large sandbox, baby swings, and picnic tables too. Another plus? It’s mostly enclosed with a fence, so you don’t have to spend the whole time chasing down escaping kiddos.
Nevers Park is home to My Friend’s Place, which is another great Boundless Playground. This playground has separate playscapes for big and little kids, baby swings, a sandbox, covered picnic pavilion, and more. Plus, there are plenty of benches with good views of the play areas so you can relax while your wee one burns off some energy.
Mikey’s Place playground at Standish Park is the best of both worlds with a fenced-in pre-schooler playground and a larger playscape for older kids. It’s got lots of swings, tons of slides, a large sandbox, and even a puppet theater. Plus, plenty of shady green space perfect for a picnic.
Jonathan’s Dream on the Mandell JCC campus is the Boundless Playground that started them all. Its expansive square footage of treehouse-like playscapes with ramps, stairs, ladders, bridges, slides, and more. It’s also fully enclosed so you can let your little one explore (semi) independently. You know how preschoolers love to do things themselves!
Solomon’s Path Boundless Playground on the Solomon Schechter Day School campus has lots of slides and interesting things to climb. It also has plenty of swings (baby and regular), and lots of fun activities tucked into the playscapes. This one’s only open when school’s out though, so be sure to check our post for the schedule details before you go.
The Solomon Schechter Day School also has a fenced-In playground on its campus. We call this one the “Secret Playground” and it’s only open during non-school hours too. But it’s worth checking the schedule because this preschooler-sized playground is completely fenced in and small enough that you can supervise while enjoying a seat. If you’ve got multiple little ones or you’re expecting another, this one should definitely be on your list.
The West Hartford Reservoir is a great place to get some exercise for you while the kiddos enjoy a nice, long jaunt (and maybe a nap) in the stroller. There’s plenty of parking and well-marked trails. The main, 3+ mile trail is even paved, so no jogging stroller necessary.
Westmoor Park is definitely different than your average park. That’s because it’s also a demonstration farm where you can visit with lots of barn animals and reptiles for FREE or even take a low-cost class. And only we’ve got the skinny on the best times to visit for optimal animal encounters, so make sure to check out our post before you go. There are also short walking trails on the property, at least one of which can easily accommodate a stroller.
Wolcott Park has the perfect toddler playground. It’s bright and colorful with baby swings, a sandbox, and a fun “castle” element to the playscape. But you want to know the best part? It’s fully fenced-in. Like we said, perfect!
Want to explore more? Click here for a link to all our state parks & forests.
Know of a great CT park or playground that needs to be on this list? Let us know by commenting below.