Feb 03

142. Laura Sims Skate House

The Laura Sims Skatehouse is located in the Cobbs Creek Rec Center where Walnut Street deadends into Cobbs Creek Parkway. It’s a big, light, airy ice rink, and skate rentals will only set you back three bucks.  Zora and I, joined by our friend Jai, visited on a Sunday afternoon in January.  Zora’s just learning how to skate and mostly hung out on the rail, with brief jaunts into the middle of the ice when she was feeling particularly brave.  Jai, on the other hand, was an ice skating maniac.  Around and around they went until the PA system announced that the session was over and everyone had to leave the ice for the Zamboni to clear things up.

For hours of operation, check out the Parks and Rec page on ice rinks here.

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Visited: January 2015.

Oct 27

141. 33rd & Wallace Playground

24 33rd st

When Zora and I started this project, we rode our bicycles to the first 40 playgrounds.  They were all within two miles of our house.  By now, when we go out to have a playground adventure, it typically means that we need to first drive for more than half an hour before we get to a playground we have not yet visited.  But today we found a playground we had overlooked.  On a sunny, blustery autumn Sunday afternoon, on our way down to watch some boats race on the Schuylkill River (as part of the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta), we stopped by the 33rd & Wallace Playground.  This playground, just a few blocks from the house that I used to live in 15 years ago, has two great pieces of equipment plus hopscotch and more.   They even have a see-saw.  For the first time, Zora was able to balance me out by sitting way back on one side while I saw way up on the other side.  Seeing her delight at her new-found ability, I started to try to explain levers and Archimedes and simple machines.  Seeing her confusion, I stopped.


Philly Playground Project (not yet reviewed.)

Visited: October 2014

Oct 27

140. Drexel Park

[map coming]

True, there are no playgrounds in Drexel Park, just above the tracks in West Philly.  So why is it included on this blog?  Well, it’s a great place to run around and play soccer or frisbee.  Not so good for hide-and-seek, as Zora pointed out, because there aren’t many good hiding places.  But it’s really here because I lived in this neighborhood back in the 1990s when this lot was a cyclone-fenced-in barren swatch of rubble.  And now, look at this view.  It’s extraordinary.  Given Drexel’s pace of building lately, it might be built on soon or the view might be blocked by construction over the tracks, but for now, this is such a lovely park to hang out in, it really deserved a spot here.

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Philly Playground Project (not yet reviewed)

Visited: October 2014

Oct 27

139. Cruz Rec Center Playground

72 cruz rec ctrThe playground at Cruz Rec Center has one of the longest play structures that I can recall ever seeing at a playground.  The thing just goes on for about 60 feet.  On the sunny Sunday afternoon that we visited, it was marked by a memorial bench on one end and a geodesic dome on the other.  Zora’s getting braver every day, it seems.  There was a time when she wouldn’t go near that dome, but now she slowly, tentatively climbs it.  Not to the top, yet, but she’s pushing herself.  As Zora hung upstairs from the dome by her knees, I chatted with the two girls that were also hanging out at the playground.  They had a cute puppy, just weeks old.  The puppy’s sister was also adopted by their friend who lives just across the street from the playground.  While they petted and pampered their dog, a dozen or so middle-aged guys played softball in the field under the shadow of a long-abandoned eight-story graffiti-scarred industrial building.

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Philly Playground Project (visited: 6/20/10)

Visited: September 2014


Oct 27

138. 8th & Diamond Playground

71 8th and diamondThis is a small, well-kept playground within spittin’ distance of Temple University.  Zora and I played a few heated games of tic-tac-toe and tag on the equipment.  We only left, really, because I had made vague promises of getting lunch on Temple’s campus.  So after checking out the well-tended garden beds, we hustled over a few blocks for a burrito.

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Philly Playground Project (reviewed: 10/21/10)

Visited: September 2014


Oct 27

136. Spruce Street Harbor Park

The playgrounds that Zora and I document on this site have a few things in common: (1) they’re all in Philly; (2) they all have playground equipment or otherwise have something interesting that attracts us to them; and (3) they’re all available to the public and free.  But I bend the rules sometimes for really cool places like Bartram’s Gardens which doesn’t really have any playground equipment.  Here’s another exception: the Spruce Street Harbor Park.  Not only didn’t it have any traditional playground equipment, but it was only here for a limited period during the summer 2014.  But it was super amazing.  So amazing, in fact, that drawing a map was just impossible: there was just too much to capture.  Hammocks.  Big Connect Fours and Chess games.  Air hockey.  Lounges selling beer along the Delaware River.  Misters.  And much more.  With luck, this pop-up park will pop up again in summer 2015.

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Website from the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

Visited: August 2014

Oct 27

137. Dendy Rec Center Playground

73 dendy rec ctrFor awhile there, in the Spring and Summer of 2013, I think, Zora couldn’t get enough of the swings.  They were her favorite playground equipment, and nothing else came close.  If we went to a playground without them, she would want to leave within 20 minutes. (Our normal time at a playground is about 45 minutes.)  These days, she’s a hopscotch fanatic.  And she’s getting pretty good at it.  Dendy Rec Center was a rare playground that had TWO quality hopscotches.  We stayed for quite some time.  We were the only ones of the playground that Sunday afternoon, oddly enough.  But not nearly as odd as the artwork on the south side of the playground.  A link to more photos of the “Dolphin Play Fountain,” including information on the sculpture, is at the link after the photos.

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Philly Playground Project (visited: 9/23/10)

Link to more information about the public art on the south side of the playground

Visited: September 2014

Oct 27

135. Three Bears Park

74 three bearsThere are a few playgrounds that, upon hearing about this blog, people inquire about.  The two most common: “Have you been to Jenks Playground?” and “Have you been to Three Bears Park?”  And now that we’ve been to both of these playgrounds, I can understand why they have such a dedicated base of followers.  Three Bears isn’t big or complicated (unlike Jenks), but it’s cozy and charming and–come on!–it has a lovely statute of three bears.  It’s tucked away in Center City and easy to miss.  But if you’re strolling around Center City, it’s worth a stop.  And if you’re fortunate enough to live near this adorable park, well, you’re mighty lucky.

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Philly Playground Project (reviewed: 8/9/2009)

Friends of Three Bears Park community group

Visited: August 2014

Oct 27

134. Starr Garden

75 starr gardensZora and I were delighted to be joined on our trip to the playground at Starr Garden by Susanna.  I think she often wonders where we go when we disappear from the house for hours on our “playground adventures.”  And the Starr Garden was a treat.  Perhaps the basketball game on the nearby court was a bit spirited a times, but otherwise, our visit was perfect.  A family ate a late lunch on the picnic tables.  We talked again for the 100th time about how it’s a shame that we still haven’t been to Blackbird Pizzeria, Philly’s highly recommend vegan pizza joint.  And we played.  There’s two interesting pieces here: first, the fire engine climber.  They’re not unique–they have one of these at Malcolm X Playground in West Philly and at Water Tower Rec Center playground in Mt. Airy–but I still love them.  Second, they have a complete vertical 180 degree climber.  I have never seen one of these before.  And, especially for a park this close to South Philly, they sure have a lot of lovely shade trees.

zoraplays2a zoraplays2b zoraplays2c zoraplays2d zoraplays2e zoraplays2fPhilly Playground Project (reviewed on 8/9/2009)

Facebook page for Starr Garden Neighbors and Friends group

Visited: August 2014

Aug 04

133. Playground at John B. Kelly Pool

[map coming]

I had off from work and Zora was playing hooky from child care one recent steamy Friday afternoon so we headed over to go swimming in the Kelly Pool and play on the swings in the shadow of the Please Touch Museum.  The playground structure, as shown in the map above, is not all that exciting.  The real draw here is, of course, the pool.  It’s one of the few (public) pools that we’ve found in Philly that is in proximity to trees and has grass. And it’s huge.

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Philly Playground Project (not yet reviewed)

Facebook page

Visited: July 2014

Jul 25

132. Happy Hollow Playground

06 happyhollowHappy Hollow Playground is located at the City’s oldest continually-operating rec center.  Inside the rec center–which was locked on the sunny Sunday that we visited–is apparently a boxing gym.  The playground has a set of standard equipment, including three hopscotch games, infant and children’s swings, and two playground structures.  Up a curved path behind the playground will take you to the rest of the rec center’s fields.  And a small well-tended garden is tucked in next to one of the rec buildings.

happyhollow5 happyhollow4 happyhollow3 happyhollow2 happyhollow1Philly Playground Project (not yet reviewed)

Visited: July 2014

Jul 22

131. Daniel E. Rumph II Rec Center / Mallery Playground / Carpenter Park

04 rumphThis neighborhood park in Germantown, attached to a rec center, appears to have three names.  Daniel E. Rumph, II, sadly, was a local teen who, according to news reports, was a local teen who went into sudden cardiac arrest in 2005 while playing basketball.  After his death, his family worked to get defibrillators installed in many Philly rec centers.  Today, there are two playgrounds at the rec center.  There’s a toddler one to the north (which we didn’t have a chance to visit) and one for bigger kids to the south.  Zora most enjoyed the retro rainbow climber.  The playground was nice, but the basketball court was the apparent real draw, with many more patrons than the playground when we were there on a mild summer Sunday.

carpenterpark4 carpenterpark3 carpenterpark2 carpenterpark1Philly Playground Project review (visited 8/7/2010)

Visited: July 2014

Jul 21

130. Cliveden Park

05 cliveden“It’s the Clark Park of Northwest Philly,” this West Philly guy thought as we ran down the hill to the playground.  The park has a lush bowl just like Clark Park (which is apparently designed to be a big rain garden?)  The playground is great.  The two best features are a climber bridge between two structures and the low masonry wall circling the swings.  But really the playground is just a small piece of this beautiful neighborhood oasis.  And that’s coming from a playground guy.

clivedon1 clivedon2 clivedon3Philly Playground Project review (visited: 1/11/2011) Visited: July 2014

Jul 21

129. Pleasant Playground

01 pleasantparkPleasant Playground, just off of Chew Avenue, was, according to news reports, renovated in 2012-2013.  Today, it’s clean and fresh and beautiful.  Fortunately, we went on a hot afternoon and Zora had a bathing suit with her, because the park has this amazing water sprinkler that’s activated by a button on a nearby pole.  Push it, and water shoots 15 feet into the air.  That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?  But there’s something about giving kids control over water sprayers that makes them giddy with joy.  And I don’t think that’s just Zora.

pleasantplayground4 pleasantplayground3 pleasantplayground2 pleasantplayground1Philly Playground Project (not yet reviewed)

Visited: July 2014


Jul 20

128. Playground at Allen’s Lane Art Center

03 allens laneOne Sunday afternoon, after attending a friend’s birthday party on Lincoln Drive, Zora and I drove over–yes, we own our own car now for the first time since starting these playground adventures–to the lush Allen’s Lane Art Center.  Nestled into the trees, behind the tennis courts, is a lovely playground that was very busy while we were there.  It’s a wonderful mix of benches and trees, and great equipment, and a simple balance beam (which, on this day, captured most of Zora’s attention.)  The Art Center seems to offer a ton of great events (see the link below), too.


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Philly Playground Project review (visited: 9/3/11)

Allen’s Lane Art Center link

Visited: July 2014

May 10

127. Germantown Jewish Centre Playground

02 gjcThe Germantown Jewish Centre has a nice playground attached to it.  I had seen the GJC several times while driving on Lincoln Drive, but had never stopped until the day we explored the playground.  There’s a lot of room to run around, there’s a shady arbor, an innovative water toy (that needs to be connected to a nearby water hose to work), and–Zora’s favorite–a Tire Mountain.  The Tire Mountain was probably conceived as an after thought to prevent a hill from sliding down into the lower playground, but it was a hit with Zora.  We ran up and down it several times, jumping from the sprongy tire tiers.  The GJC gets extra points for making its playground so open and accessible to the public.  Thanks, guys!

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Philly Playground Project (not yet reviewed)

Germantown Jewish Centre link

Visited: July 2014

May 09

126. Mt. Airy Playground

09 mtairyOn the day Zora & I visited the Mt. Airy Playground, small children were mostly playing on the playground unaccompanied while their parents kept half an eye on them and half an eye on the action on the baseball field where–presumably?–their older siblings/cousins were in a heated youth baseball game. There are two playgrounds here–one for younger children on the first base line and one for older children on the third base line–and they’re both pretty great. But it’s clear that the real action is at the baseball fields and the football fields that are the real focus of this rec center. If you’re a playground fan, though, that might be for the best as it means no waiting for the swings and greater access to the climbing equipment. All of which are in a pretty good condition.

mtairy1 mtairy2 mtairy3 mtairy4Philly Playground Project (reviewed: 8/7/2010)

Visited: May 2014

May 06

125. Water Tower Rec Center Playground

08 watertowerWater Tower Rec Center appears to be a pretty gigantic rec center with lots of offerings, including pickleball, zumba, yoga, gymnastics, tennis, baseball, soccer, bocce, and a summer camp.  The playground, on the other hand, is pretty straightforward.  There’s a retro fire truck and a few simple pieces of equipment.  What really got Zora’s attention, though, were the two pipes, turned on their sides, that you could climb into and out off.  Hard to describe, really.  They’re shown in the second photo below.  On the very hot and humid day that we visited, I was super glad that the playground was very shady.

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Philly Playground Project (reviewed: 3/2/13)

Water Town Rec Center Facebook page

Visited: May 2014

May 02

123. Jenks Elementary School Playground

07 jenksEver since we started this project, people have been asking me whether we’ve visited Jenks yet.  And on a lovely May weekend day, we finally got up to see what all the fuss was about.  What a beautiful, community-driven playground!  My first thought when I saw it: this is incredible!  My second thought when I saw it: this is going to be an incredibly difficult map to draw!  Zora was enamored.  At one point, after we had been at the playground for nearly an hour, we started playing hide and go seek and, on the second or third time, Zora found such a good hiding place, that I was truly worried this whole project was about to end with a missing child.  This place has so many good hiding places and interesting spots.  If you love playgrounds–or even if you just like them a little bit–you should get yourself up to this jawn.

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Philly Playground Project (reviewed: 3/2/13)

Visited: May 2015