When winter starts to become a distant memory, and we start thinking about pulling out short-sleeve t-shirts (especially with the weather we have been having lately), the kids are itching to get outside and play. Yet, there is only so much fun to be had in the backyard, and a search for some local parks and playgrounds may be on the agenda.
A great playground to consider is Warren Park in Wellesley, MA. It's just a mile off of Rt 128, and there is plenty of free parking. It is open from sunrise to sunset. The playground has two play areas—one for toddlers and one for older kids—minimizing the risk that a ten-year-old will accidentally run into a two-year-old. There are slides, climbing structures, sandboxes, seesaws, benches to sit on, and the equipment is well maintained. It is also fenced in. There is a big grassy area if you want to have a picnic or bring a soccer ball. It is wheelchair accessible and leashed dogs are welcome (but make sure to clean up after them!). There is a sidewalk if you want to take a quick walk down the street for a bite to eat.
If you are looking for a different experience, try Hopkinton State Park in Hopkinton, MA. There are two swimming beaches with lifeguards (summer only), stocked fishing, shaded picnic areas with lots of picnic tables, and public charcoal cooking grills. The grills are first come, first served—definitely bring the burgers and charcoal. There are also ten miles of marked trails and open field space. Leashed dogs are welcome, except at the beach, so bring the whole family! The park is open everyday at 8:00 a.m. and closes at dusk in the spring and fall and at 8:00 p.m. in the summer. If you are in the middle of potty training, rest assured there are public restrooms are available during the spring, summer and fall months.
Especially if you have younger children, a fun place is the free Arnold Arboretum on the outskirts of Boston, MA. There are plenty of paved paths to push strollers, and a little pond with ducks and lots of flowers and trees to point out along the way. Or if you would like to take advantage of easy trails, bring a heartier stroller or a baby sling. They are open from sunrise to sunset, but the visitor center is open from 9:00 to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10:00 to 4:00 on Saturday and 12:00 to 4:00 on Sunday. The visitor center houses the restrooms and some children's activities for preschool- through elementary school-age children.
The last outdoor space combines both a park and a playground. It is the Stoneman Playground on the Boston Esplanade. Walk along the banks of the Charles River and see ducks and boats drift by. Then stop by the playground with two gated playspaces: one for toddlers and one for older kids with monkey bars, swings (including a tire swing), climbing structures and slides. It is best to take public transportation to save on high parking fees. Take the Green Line to Copley and walk to Fairfield Street, crossing over Storrow Drive via the Fairfield footbridge. Pack a picnic or re-cross the Fairfield footbridge to have access to all of Back Bay with its restaurants and shops. Make sure to pack sunscreen, a blanket, water and either snacks or a lunch so you can really enjoy these fabulous outdoor spaces.
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