In the South End, we don’t have the yards that families boast about in the suburbs, but we certainly have our pick of outdoor play spaces. I love the fact that I can stroll around the corner from my apartment and find a safe, fun place for my daughter to release some energy, while also having the opportunity to have an adult conversation – depending on the amount of sleep the previous night.
But with all the options, how do you choose? Well, here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular outdoor play spaces offered in the South End.
Peter’s Park, 127 Washington St: Great when you’re with kids of different ages
Peter’s Park is a big community space between Shawmut and Washington Streets. The playground has an area for smaller children with infant swings and a climbing structure with slides (recommended for ages 2-5). There is also an an area for older kids with 4 belt swings and a larger climbing structure with slides (recommended for kids aged 5-12 years). There’s rubber flooring and a fence surrounding the entire play space. This is a great option if you have kids of different ages as all the play structures are within one gated area. It’s also an ideal spot to make the most of the sunshine, but be aware that there’s limited shade on hotter days.
Ringgold Park, between Hanson St & Waltham St: Great on hot days
Ringgold park is a great option in warmer weather as the trees provide some protection from the sun. There are two gated play areas with rubber flooring – one for infants and toddlers with bucket swings, a playhouse and a seesaw. The other play area has a climbing structure with slides (recommended for kids aged 2-5 years). Next to the gated play areas, there’s a central area with a fountain and a basketball court. Local families drop off their used walkers, activity tables and ride-on toys for kids at the park to enjoy. Your little one will enjoy pushing or riding them around and around and around. In the summer (mid June through September), the fountains are on and kids can splash around with their friends to cool off. In fact, on summer evenings, the park is a hive of activity with lots of local families congregating there after work to enjoy the fountains and the cooler evening air.
Titus Sparrow Park, West Newton St: Great for space to run around
Titus Sparrow Park is another favorite with local families and is always full on weekends and in the evenings. The play area has climbing structures and swings for kids aged 2-12. In the middle of the playground, there’s a sandpit where you always see kids digging holes and building sandcastles. There’s rubber flooring around the play equipment and concrete paving between. One of the great things about this playground is the grass space right next to the play area where kids can run around and burn off a little more energy. There are some trees lining the park but they don’t provide much shade for the play area. The park is set back from the road but there’s no gated enclosure so you do have to make sure your little one doesn’t make a break for freedom when you’re not looking.
South West Corridor Path Playground, Carleton St: Great for younger kids
This is a smaller playground but a great option for kids under 5. There are two bucket swings and a climbing structure with slides (recommended for ages 2-5 years). Just like at Ringgold Park, local families have dropped off walkers, ride-on toys and activity tables that they no longer use. Younger kids will enjoy the novelty of playing with toys they might not have at home. The rubber flooring is great for cushioning those falls and there’s a secure fence so your kids can’t escape anywhere. I particularly like this playground on days when I want to make the most of the sun. Although, it can be quite hot on warmer days as there’s limited shade.
Hurley School Playground, West Springfield St: Great for families living near Mass Ave
Hurley School Playground is a great choice for families in the evening and on weekends (not accessible during school hours). There’s a climbing structure with lots of different slides, which, while best suited to slightly older kids, is fun for younger kids with supervision. There’s also a huge dinosaur sculpture, which kids will love to play in and around. The surface is pea gravel around the climbing structure and elsewhere it’s tarmac so this is not the playground for you if you prefer a rubber surface. The playground has a fence but there are openings to the street, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for any kids that might try and make a run for it.
Ellis Memorial Children’s Park, Chandler St & Tremont St: Great for kids who love trains
This is a really small play space but a great option for smaller kids, particularly if you live on that side of the South End. There’s a climbing structure with slides (recommended for ages 2-5 years), a cushioned floor and a secure gated enclosure. On hotter days, there’s limited shade, but lots of local families congregate here after work when it’s a little cooler. The downside is that the playground overlooks the Mass Pike and the train lines going into Back Bay Station, therefore it definitely has a more urban, noisier feel than some of the others. If your kid loves to watch trains then perhaps this is more of an advantage!
This is not an exhaustive list of playgrounds in the South End but hopefully it’ll inspire you to hit the outdoors this summer. Let us know if there’s a great playground that you think other families should know about.