One of my favorite parts of writing this blog is when our readers clue us in to fabulous new places that we didn’t even know existed (especially when they are practically in my own backyard!). Such was the case with Buckingham Park in Glastonbury, CT. Located at the corner of Hebron Avenue and Manchester Road, an intersection that I have driven through countless times, is a pint-sized playground just perfect for preschoolers (say that five times fast!). And you know what? I never even knew it was there!
The entrance to Buckingham Park is on Manchester Road.
There is a great big gravel parking lot, and the playground is situated near the fire station. (Note the porta-potty right next to the playground entrance, which is available spring to fall.)
The playground is not 100% fenced, but what’s there does the trick. The part without fencing is a crop of trees, so it kind of acts as a natural barrier. Works for me! Now, in the interest of full disclosure, the sign indicates that this playscape is designed for ages 5-12, but I personally think it is well-suited for the younger crowd. It’s compact, of reasonable height (no scary perches or too tall slides here), and without some of the tempting yet more advanced apparatuses found at larger playgrounds. (Of course, it does still have that spiral pole thingy–you know what I’m talking about–that’s become the bane of my existence now that Boo has seen a few older kids effortlessly swirl from top to bottom and thinks he can manage it too; ummm, he can’t–his legs keep getting stuck in the spirals and I’m terrified he’s going to break one.)
But my own personal dislike for the spiral pole aside (the kids really seem to love it), this playground has lots of great items for little ones to explore.
The sandbox was a big hit, as were the toy trucks.
And this bouncy bridge was by far Boo’s favorite playground find ever. It took a few trips across with daddy for him to get his footing, but after that, I thought we were going to have to sleep on the bridge that night he loved it so much.
There are also baby swings for the wee ones (big kid swings too), and benches and picnic tables for tired mommies (and daddies).
But my favorite feature has to be all the lovely shade provided by the surrounding trees. That is going to be downright blissful come mid-July.
Beyond the playground are the athletic fields (soccer and softball). There are also a few more picnic tables off to the side and I’m pretty sure I saw a grill. A gravel path leads all the way around the field to the far side (although, it is not a loop).
There is also a short, 1/2-mile trail through the woods, but my experience with this one rivals the Wintergreen Woods debacle of last month. First of all, it took me three tries to find the trail. It’s partly the fault of this map I found online, which misleads you into thinking the trail entrance is much further into the property than it really is (remember, the playground is right near the fire station–doesn’t that dotted line look awful far away?).
And it’s partly my fault for not reading the blurb underneath the map, which clearly states that the entrance to the trail is at the corner of the parking area near the playground (not so far away). Oops. So to amend my advice from that previous post, always ALWAYS check the map AND read any text included with it 🙂
And there it was. Right there off the parking area (the near right corner, if you were standing on the entrance road looking toward the parking lot). There’s even a blue-and-white marker in the parking lot to show you where to look.
But not too far in it became clear that Mother Nature had some other plans. First, I noticed quite a few semi-toppled trees kind of hanging onto their neighbors by a thread. Every time I heard a crackle, I had to fight the urge to duck and cover. Then I came across this fallen tree, which fortunately had been bisected to allow walkers to pass.
Of course, just a little farther in I came across another fallen tree, this time completely obstructing the path. And since I was still seeing plenty of those blue-and-white markers, I was pretty sure I was still on the trail.
At that point, I just turned around and headed back out. Hopefully the town has a little trail clean-up on tap for the spring and we can try again at a later date. Because I think this short, kid-friendly trail would be the perfect addition to a little playtime at the playground.
Another big benefit: the park is located just across Manchester Road from a Highland Park Market.
So you can multi-task with a little grocery shopping post-playtime (I love their prepared pasta and potato salads, which are especially welcome this time of year–throw in something to toss on the grill and you’ve got dinner!), or, even better, pick up some sandwiches at their deli counter and have a picnic at the park.
You can even call in your order ahead of time (although, if it’s a large order for a group, make sure you do it the day before). And if you want to avoid the park’s porta-potty, there are restrooms at the front of the store (no changing stations, but at least they are single bathrooms so no one will trip over you while you’re changing baby on the floor).
So I must send out a big ‘thank you’ to one of our loyal readers (you know who you are, I won’t embarrass you 🙂 ) who first clued me in to this perfect playground for preschoolers, which is especially ideal if you’re like me: third trimester pregnant in the heat of summer with a rambunctious almost three-year-old to wrangle. Shade, fences, and benches are my new best friends for sure!
Now the rest of you–fess up. Who’s been holding out on another secret playground for me to explore? Do tell 🙂
Corner of Hebron Avenue and Manchester Road, Glastonbury, CT
Get directions here:
- Open daily; park closes half an hour before sunset.
- Large parking lot.
- Mostly fenced-in playground with ample shade from surrounding trees.
- Playscape has slides, ladders, bouncy bridge, zip line, monkey bars, and more.
- Playground also has swings and baby swings, a sand box, plastic toys.
- Picnic tables and benches in the playground.
- Seasonal porta-potty just outside playground area (spring through fall).
- Soccer and softball fields (also a great place to fly a kite when the fields are not in use).
- Half-mile wooded trail (see notes in post about trail entrance and obstructions).
- Situated just across Manchester Road from Highland Park Market (for grocery shopping or to pick up sandwiches at their deli for a picnic).
- Reader tip: the park/playground can get crowded on Sundays during soccer season.
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