Pop quiz. What’s the only thing better than finding an amazing Boundless Playground with tons of fun for kids of all ages and abilities? Finding one that’s completely fenced-in, of course!
So today I’m going to give you a little tour of a new-to-me place to let the kiddos burn off some serious steam while you relax and enjoy these last pretty fall days: Rainbow Playground in Southington, CT.
Today’s adventure actually begins with a refrigerator. That’s right. A refrigerator. More specifically, the decades-old refrigerator in my kitchen of which hubby and I have been skillfully avoiding replacement for oh, almost a decade. But as of late, our powers of procrastination cannot overcome our annoyance at the irreparable interior light, the deli drawer held together entirely with Gorilla Glue, and the rail on the door shelf that periodically pops off, causing all of our condiments to go crashing to the floor if we open the door with any amount of momentum.
So last weekend we decided it was time to throw in the towel and buy a new fridge. To ease the sting of having to shell out the big bucks for yet another major appliance to put in a house that we are not planning to stay in very much longer (at this point we’ve pretty much replaced everything but the proverbial kitchen sink–and even that got a new faucet!), I thought I would find a nice, FREE family activity that was
nearby, in the general vicinity of, at least not in the opposite direction from the appliance store. And that’s when I decided we’d head out to Southington’s Panthorn Park.
Getting here was very easy. I just followed the directions on the website. The only tricky part was spotting the entrance to the park. We drove right by it! So keep a lookout for that sign above, and you won’t miss it like we did 🙂
Once you turn into the park, just follow the road around to the right. You will pass the park maintenance facility and a picnic area, and then you will see the playground on your right. It’s huge and colorful. You can’t miss it.
There is parking on both ends of the playground (and both ends have latched gates to enter/exit through). This is the lot you will pass first.
While we’re looking at it, I’ll point out that there’s actually a porta-potty waaaaayyy in the distance at the end of this lot. That may be important to know if the park restrooms are not open the day you visit.
The other lot is a bit smaller, but it is located adjacent to both the playground and the restroom facilities (which were open when we were there, but there was a softball game about to start on the nearby field, so I don’t know if that had anything to do with it).
Restrooms (no changing station but you can get a standard stroller into the larger stall–yes, I tried it) are located in this building.
We parked in this lot and there was no trouble getting a spot. However, as we were leaving, there was a steady stream of cars pulling in for the impending game, so if you find this lot crowded, just head back to that first one I showed you.
The first thing I noticed was the fence and the latching gate. Score!
The second thing I noticed, now that I am back to being stroller-dependant, is the nicely paved walkway that winds around the perimeter of the playground. No wobbly ride to wake up the baby. Perfect.
And the third thing I noticed was the preponderance of parental seating. Benches everywhere and these great covered picnic areas right in the middle so you can see all the action without even leaving your seat.
Well, how do ya like them apples…
Pretty swanky, huh? As is the case with most of the Boundless Playgrounds we’ve scouted, there are two playscapes: one big, one small. Here’s the big one:
It’s got lots of interesting features to keep kids of multiple ages busy, plus those networking ramps that are the hallmarks of accessible playgrounds. They are great for allowing children of all abilities to access the playscape, and they also make for one heck of a workout for Boo when he runs up, down, and around twenty times in a row. Naptime here we come! 🙂
Boo is obsessed with those slides that have the rollers on them. I’ve never tried one, but hubby went down it a few times and concluded that it is not a comfortable ride (notice how he’s clutching tight to his LARGE coffee in one hand–can you tell we are still sleep-deprived parents of an infant?).
Separated on the other side of the picnic area is the small playscape. This one is pretty neat too, with multiple slides and cute little tunnels. It’s definitely one of the most interesting toddler/preschooler playscapes I’ve seen (sometimes the little playscapes get short shrift–but not here!).
There’s also a sandbox area.
I have such a love/hate relationship with sandboxes right now. On the one hand, Boo adores them and can play quietly and happily on his own for very long stretches of time in them (yay!). On the other hand, when he’s done he’s completely covered head to toe in sand, takes half the sandbox home with him in his sneakers, and needs a full scrub in the bathtub as soon as we set foot in the house (nay!).
A few months ago we were at My Friend’s Place playground in South Windsor and I overheard a mom tell her son that he could stay at the playground for 10 minutes if he wanted to play in the sandbox, but 20 minutes if he promised not to go in the sandbox. He picked the longer playtime, of course. I thought that was very clever, but when I tried to implement that with Boo, he chose the shorter time and the sandbox without even the slightest hesitation. Then I caved and let him stay longer anyway because I didn’t want to go home yet. Oh well.
Plus, look how much fun he has…
Building sandcastles is hard work.
Other fun playground features include this hippo to climb on.
And Boo’s new favorite things, whatever you call them.
There are two sets of swings, one near the big playscape.
And another (with a baby swing) in the far corner past the sandbox and bouncy thing-a-ma-jigs.
Many Boundless Playgrounds (sometimes also known as Accessible Playgrounds) also have musical features, which I always love.
The one thing in the playground that made me a little wary was this combination climbing ladder and sliding pole on the big playscape. They are very high up. And true to form, Boo was determined to scare the dickens out of us by attempting to climb down the ladder.
So just consider this a heads up if you have a daring preschooler. I’m sure in a few years it will be a breeze for them.
In addition to the wonderful playground, Panthorn Park has lots of other amenities as well. There are tennis and basketball courts over here.
There are lots of athletic fields and we passed a picnic area with grills on our way in. We also saw portions of a walking trail (here’s a map). And be sure to check out the town website for more info.
All in all, this was a lovely playground in a lovely park, and the perfect way to enjoy this lovely day. I may have started the morning off grumbling about our major appliance purchase, but after a visit to Rainbow Playground in Panthorn Park, I could only think about how lucky we are to have so many amazing community parks and playgrounds in this state where having a wonderful time with my family doesn’t cost a penny.
Rainbow Playground in Panthorn Park, Southington, CT
GPS Address: 485 Burritt Street, Plantsville, Connecticut
Hours & Admission:
Daily, dawn until dusk
- Lots of convenient parking
- Fully fenced-in with latching gates at both ends
- Two separate playscapes, one small and one large
- Slides, ladders, ramps, steps, climbing walls, tunnels, monkey bars, and more
- Swings and baby swing
- Musical activity
- Covered picnic area
- Benches throughout
- Combination synthetic padded surface and mulch
- Nearby restroom facility (no changing station)
- No dogs allowed in the playground area
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