Looking for a fun summer outing with your toddler? Our guest contributor Kate Walker has put together an awesome collection of toddler approved playgrounds.
As any toddler parent knows, not all playgrounds are created equal. Outdoor play is a fabulous way for little ones to gain independence, learn how to problem-solve, and best of all, burn off excess energy. That being said, it’s hard to let them enjoy the experience when you are worried about the seemingly ubiquitous hazards (slides are steep!). With all this in mind, we have rounded up a few of Toronto’s best playgrounds that are geared towards toddlers and their adorable, yet often unpredictable, whims. Baby swings, soft surfaces, and size-appropriate play structures all factor into what makes a playground perfect for the littles and we think we’ve got a list of winners.
What to do in Toronto: Top Toddler Playgrounds
Jamie Bell Playground (High Park)
Located in the east end of High Park, Jamie Bell Playground is an adventure waiting to happen for your little explorers. Plenty of space to park your stroller means that you can get in on the fun unencumbered. A separate, fenced in toddler area help keep the smaller set away from a more boisterous crowd and allows them to explore the size-appropriate structures on their own terms. There is as swing set comprised exclusively of baby swings which means less wait time and worry about accidents. Head over to the nearby duck pond or check out the High Park Zoo, situated across the parking lot from Jamie Bell. Extensive walking trails and free onsite parking are icing on the cake.
Charles G. Williams Playground (Sorauren Avenue)
Cross the street from Sorauren Park proper and you’ll come across a fenced in area that practically begs for some serious toddler play. Charles G. Williams is a neighbourhood hotspot that on any given Saturday is teeming with UppaBaby strollers, latte-sipping parents, and seriously happy little ones. The play structure itself is conducive to the whims of toddlers, but it’s the rest of the park that makes this spot so great. Thanks to the kindness of neighbours, Charles G. Williams has acquired an impressive collection of ride-on toys and other fun things that allow for all sorts of creative play. A wading area is perfect on a hot summer’s day and its proximity to the kid-friendly brunch spots on Roncesvalles makes this playground absolutely worth the trip.
Tucked away in a quiet, leafy area just north of Bloor, Dovercourt Park is the kind of spot that makes you forget, even just for an hour, that you’re only a few blocks away from the construction, traffic, and general excitement that is our city. The playground occupies a significant amount of the park’s real estate and is fenced in, ensuring that curious toddlers are kept safe. Two play structures and a wading pool ensure that no one will ever get bored and there is plenty of room to run around and burn off energy. Benches surrounding the play area are great for parents wanting to relax but still keep a watchful eye and the well-tended gardens add to the dreamy atmosphere. A nearby water fountain (that also features a doggy tier) is perfect for quenching thirst and impromptu splash sessions alike.
Neshama Playground (Oriole Park)
Regardless of which part of the city you call home, you’re going to want to make Neshama Playground part of your regular repertoire. Touted as being Toronto’s first accessible playground, this spot takes playing to a brand new level. Soft, bouncy surfaces mean that there’s less worry about bumped heads and scraped knees, and allow for novice walkers to experience independence without freaking out their mamas. A music panel features a full octave of keys, as well as a chime set, perfect for little singer-songwriters to hone their craft. The play structures boasts wide access points, meaning that everyone can get in on the fun and incorporated placards feature Braille and sign language lessons. Plenty of lawn space, an abundance of toddler swings and slides, an impressive wading area, and cool features like modern merry-go-rounds make Neshama Playground a guaranteed hit with toddlers and their parents alike.
Dufferin Grove Playground (Dufferin Grove Park)
Originally called “The Big Backyard”, Dufferin Grove playground is a dream come true for urban parents and their energetic offspring. The play area features several wooden structures that appeal to all stages of development and offer a welcome reprieve from the plastic, primary coloured playgrounds that we’ve grown accustomed to. For parents who don’t mind factoring in a little post-park bath time, there’s an adventure sandpit with water features, building materials, and plenty of dirt to go around. The adobe house situated on the edge of the play space is perfect for creative play and allows unsteady walkers the chance to roam freely. Pack some towels and cool off in the seasonal wading area that becomes especially popular during our often oppressively hot summers. Thursday afternoons and evenings are the best time to visit as that’s when the park hosts its weekly farmer’s market. Pick up some local treats, spread a blanket, and make a family event of it.
Which is your favourite toddler approved playground in the city?
Kate Walker is a freelance writer who lives in the heart of the city with her beautiful little family. When she’s not exploring the urban jungle and all it has to offer, Kate can be found stretching it out on her yoga mat or taking advantage of Toronto’s awesome neighbourhoods to go on family strolls. Other interests include green juice, babies and puppies (preferably together), learning about pigeons, and her never-ending quest to find the perfect gluten-free chocolate chip cookie.playground image courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net