My Friend’s Place Playground, South Windsor

What a nice day yesterday! With temperatures in the 50s on the first day of February, Ellen and I decided to find a new playground to explore. We ended up at My Friend’s Place in South Windsor at the Parks & Recreation Department.

My Friend's Place, South Windsor

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 slides

Location: 150 Nevers Road, South Windsor; there is onsite parking.

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

My Friend’s Place is an expansive play area with multiple playscapes, numerous other features, and more rubber chips than I have ever seen in my life. Lots of opportunity for fun, but adults need to keep a close eye on their youngsters as the perimeter is open and the largest playscape is set on a lower level than the rest of the equipment.

Playscapes: There are two primary playscapes at the playground. A smaller piece seems perfect for the 2 – 4 year old set, while a larger one is clearly designed for older children.

Swings: Two sets of swings provide plenty of opportunities. The first has the three infant swings and an oversized safety swing. The second has four traditional swings, a tire swing, and another oversized safety swing.

Other Stuff: There are lots of interesting play stations spread throughout the playground. There is a music area with oversized xylophones to bang with mallets. There are what appear to be sensory tables that can be filled with sand or other materials. There are two teeter-totters of different styles, and there is a covered picnic area with garden seating area.

Facilities: I did not see any outdoor facilities, and must confess that we did not go exploring in either the Parks & Rec building or baseball field Press Box building. My bad – anyone know if there are bathrooms at this place?

Social Opportunities: High. We saw lots of other kids and parents on our visit and everyone seemed quite friendly. Since it’s a primary park in town, and is easily accessible with its own parking lot, I would expect it to be a popular destination.

Potential for Escape: Medium/High, since it’s completely unfenced. The good news is that the road is very far away, and even the parking lot is a good distance. My main concern with the setup was that the large playscape at the lower level is separated from the rest of the playground by a four foot retaining wall with a metal fence on top (to keep kids from falling). Ellen was on the upper level to (supposedly) go down the slide that feeds down to the lower level. She chose to run in the other direction, so I had to choose between going 100 feet in either direction to go around the fence or climb up the slide to chase her. Fortunately nobody was on the slide and I was able to take the shortcut up.

My Friend's Place - small playscape

My Friend's Place - large playscape

My Friend's Place - big wide open space


Related Posts:
Bushnell Park Playground, Hartford
Mikey’s Place Playground, Wethersfield
South Quaker & Flatbush Playground, West Hartford
Playground Review: Elizabeth Park, Hartford

Bushnell Park Playground, Hartford

Ellen heads downtown to check out the scene in Hartford’s Bushnell Park.

Ellen and I hadn’t been to a playground in a while, so we took a play break in Bushnell Park while running some errands in Downtown Hartford. Nothing like a slide to make us forget the agony of a trip to the bank!

Bushnell Park Playground - Both Playscapes

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 slides

Location: 65 Jewell Street, Hartford, entrance is near the intersection of Jewell and Ann.

Hours: Didn’t see any posted, so let’s go with Dawn to Dusk.

The playground at Bushnell Park is an oasis of kid fun in the grown-up environment of Downtown Hartford. Don’t miss the Carousel next door, and the swings at the eastern end of the park.

Playscape: There are two playscapes, both of comparable size. One has a surprising number of dead end paths, so it seems like it was designed more for exploring and climbing than anything else. The other has more slides and other features, and looks to be on a similar scale to the age 3+ playscapes at other parks.

Swings: There are not any swings near the playscape, but there is a swing area in Bushnell Park near the Pump House. If you’re in the park, just keep walking towards the super-tall apartment building (Bushnell Towers condos) and you’ll find the swings near its base.

Other Stuff: There are small tables and benches with a book theme, and a three row amphitheater. A very small “river bed” runs along the edge of the play area, but I have never seen it running. In theory it is an opportunity to splash and play in the summer. Expanding out beyond the playground, there are large open fields to run around and play in. There is also a pond with fountains and fish to admire. And of course, there is the Bushnell Park Carousel.

Facilities: I don’t think there are permanent bathroom facilities in the park. However, armies of port-a-potties invade the park when there are big events, so facilities are periodically available.

Social Opportunities: Medium. The playscape is not a super-busy area of the park, but Ellen and I have often found people to talk with during our visits. We are rarely the only people there even though we tend to visit at off-peak playground hours (mornings).

Potential for Escape: Medium/High. The playground is well fenced on the road side, with hedges and benches in addition to the fence. It seems to me that it would be a low risk of a kid wandering into the street. However, it is relatively open on the park side, with just a 3 foot retaining wall controlling the flow of kid traffic. I could imagine a kid getting out of sight surprisingly quickly if they took off towards the park and their parent wasn’t paying attention.

Bushnell Park Playground - Smaller Playscape

Bushnell Park Playground - Larger Playscape

Related Posts:
Mikey’s Place Playground, Wethersfield
South Quaker & Flatbush Playground, West Hartford
Playground Review: Elizabeth Park, Hartford

Playground Review: Elizabeth Park, Hartford

Welcome to the first of our new series of local playground reviews. For those just joining us, here is the initial idea.

Elizabeth Park Playground

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Slides

Location: 180 Elizabeth Street in Hartford, at the north end of Oxford Street. (Note that 180 Elizabeth is not a real address, but seems to work on Google Maps)

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

The playground at Elizabeth Park is ideal for younger children, and also has equipment that the older kids find interesting. Close parent supervision is recommended as there is no enclosure around the play area and the surroundings are active with both people and vehicles.

Playscape: There are three different playscapes in close proximity, each designed for children of different ages. The smallest was easily navigated beginning at about age 1.5 and included steps up to a four foot high platform with three different slides. The second installation is larger, with higher platforms and steeper slides in addition to different climbing options. Finally, the tallest piece of equipment has a horizontal zip-line and rings with a more challenging ladder leading up to a high slide. All three pieces are in good condition; they’re fully functional, though showing signs of wear from the significant activity they receive.

Swings: Two swings are available near the playscapes; both are designed for smaller children with the larger seats that contain leg-holes. They are a popular option and provide an opportunity to talk about taking turns and sharing.

Other Stuff: This portion of Elizabeth Park is basically a large sloping field with a couple of activity areas set up around the perimeter. The playground area also has a large sand pit, though I have never seen anyone actually playing in it. There are two basketball courts and a baseball diamond in the immediate area.

Facilities: There is usually a port-o-potty in the vicinity of the playground, but there are no permanent structures or buildings.

Social Opportunities: There are almost always other kids at the playground, so social interactions are frequent. Our experiences have all been good – everyone is generally friendly. Parents are usually paying attention to their kids and are quick to instruct their children to be aware of, and careful around, the babies. All of the equipment is closely spaced, so it is common to see larger kids moving quickly between the different sets as they chase each other around.

Potential for Escape: High – escape is possible in just about every direction. Elizabeth Street is relatively close to the main play area (100ish feet?), which is where people tend to park. Parents need to keep an eye on their children.